Book Review: Digital Leader by @equalman

Many people read author Erik Qualman’s (@equalman) first book, Socialnomics. If not, you may have viewed one of his videos on YouTube regarding the social media revolution such as this one:

Qualman has aided several companies in building leading digital strategies, focusing heavily on the use of social media.

His latest book is Digital Leader. In it, Qualman provides an easily digestible (if not necessarily easily launchable) strategy for individuals to maximize their leadership potential in the social media/digital space.

Digital Leader breaks down into five main parts, each set around what Qualman sees as a truth that will help you develop your own digital STAMP. They are: Simple, True, Act, Map and People.

I personally enjoyed reading Digital Leader. Qualman writes with a style that is both conversational and motivational. Professionals who have spent time trying to articulate a vision for social media to supervisors and colleagues will find several “a-ha” moments in the ways that Qualman distills transformative technology into parallels with the non-digital world.

Qualman uses the book to challenge the reader to assess who they are currently in the digital world and to recognize the potential of who they could be in that same space. His suggestions are also quite realistic. Although Qualman wants people to take full advantage of the full spectrum of social media possibilities, he does recognize the need to power down and go offline. In fact, he recommends committing to checking email only twice a day. This is welcome advice for those of us who check our email with the fervor of Pavlovian dogs.

I have only two criticisms of the book. The first is that Qualman appears to implore people to use the digital space for only “big” moments. In parts of the book, he shows impatience for using time to talk about the TV show you watched as opposed to spending it creating content for a blog about changing the world. He does this because he feels that every step we take in the digital universe leaves a lasting footprint—with the theory that we would want our footprints to stand out. I agree with this to a point. However, if our digital persona and our “IRL” (in real life) persona are indeed one and the same, authenticity only comes when we share all of ourselves. I think Qualman underestimates the long-term value of future generations knowing some of the day-to-day things that we found interesting in the present day. For purposes of future research, we are all now primary sources.

My second quibble is that at times he tends to remind the reader about some of the famous people he has shared the stage with or worked with. His ideas are strong enough to stand on their own without him needing to seek an imprimatur from a well-known CEO or world leader.

This book is full of great ideas without being dense. It is the perfect read for an airplane trip (although I recommend the hard copy so you do not have to power down below 10,000 feet).

Qualman is on Twitter @equalman, and he interacts often with readers and answers questions.

If anyone else has read Digital Leader, I would be curious to know what your own assessment of this book is in the comments.

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