Solving Customer Problem: Answer vs Solution
Months ago, Tony Laidig wrote about the difference between an answer and a solution when solving customer problem. This is not something that I had ever thought about. If I remember correctly, he indicated that an answer is more comprehensive than a solution. So, for instance, you want to write a blog post that addresses a pressing problem that your customers have, you should provide an answer in the post and not a solution.
This is something worth thinking about. I have also heard it said that the best blog post solves a customer’s problem and will ultimately get a lot of traffic. What would happen if you wrote the answer and not a solution to a pressing problem that your customers are having?
Whenever I write a post, it is my intention to provide useful information for readers, but I seldom say, “Today, I am going to address this particular customer problem.” And perhaps that’s what I should be doing to remain relevant. However, I think you should make sure that you address the right problem – one that your customers actually care about.
Professionals Say They Have This Problem
One problem that professionals say they have is not being able to find the time to read. You can find many articles if you do a quick search that provide solutions to the problem. I have written about it myself, but as I grow older and hopefully wiser, my thinking is evolving and changing. The most successful people read about 60 books each year, and these are super busy people. In fact, in one of Theodore Roosevelt’s biography, it was reported that he read two to three books each day. If a president could find the time to read so many books while ruling a country, shouldn’t you be able to read a book each week?
The Real Problem That Professionals Have
In my opinion, the real problem is not being able to find the time to read. I see two major issues at play. One is what it means to read a book, and the other is the reason for wanting to read. Theodore Roosevelt did not read books from cover to cover, he practiced what is called selective reading. He skimmed and scanned the book, reading only the sections that interested him. He zeroed in on the sections that challenged his thinking and forced him to think critically.
When you practice reading books this way, you can read more books because you are focusing only on the meaty sections. You are only reading the sections that talk about the core ideas in the book. And you are only reading sections of the book that interest you. Whenever you do this, you will always have a very good idea of what the books are about because you have scanned the book, and dipped into the sections that have interesting and thoughtful information. You will read only 20 to 50 percent of the book.
The other thing that I think is important is knowing why you want to read more books. When you have a compelling reason for wanting to do something, you will make time to do it because it is important to you. If you are serious about wanting to read more books, I recommend that you tie that goal to a learning objective. To remain relevant and marketable today, continuous learning is a must.
With that in mind, you have to take time to find out what training you need, so that you do not lose your job to automation or get passed over for a promotion. There is no guarantee that you will never lose your job or get passed over for a promotion, but if you keep on learning and retooling you are giving yourself more choices.
So, how might I answer the question of not having the time to read books, so that it provides actionable information for a professional?
Want to Read More Books in 2018 Without Giving Up Your Spare Time?
What learning goals would you like to achieve in 2018? How will these goals help you professionally? If you did not achieve them, what would it mean for your career? On the other hand, if you did achieve them, what would it mean for your career? You can always find a book for every topic you can conceive, no matter how obscure, so it is up to you to find the books that will help you to meet your learning objectives if you read them.
If you are unsure of where to find the right books to read, I have a few ideas for you. Ask for book recommendations from the people closest to you – family, friends, relatives, colleagues and bosses. Then move on to librarians at your public library. Check to see if your library has an answer line that you can call so that you don’t have to visit it.
You can also do a search online to find book recommendations. Bloggers, podcasters, and subject matter experts often provide books recommendations. For me personally, I find book recommendations in many places. I get notification daily from three sources that offer books for free or at a reduced price, and I am always amazed by some of the books I discover this way. For instance, I learned about The MacGyver Secret this way and I downloaded it for free just over a year ago. This book is an excellent book on problem solving, which is one of the skills you need to thrive in 2020.
I was also able to buy Tim Ferriss’ Tribe of Mentors at the discounted rate, and looking at the price of the e-book on Amazon I got a very good deal. Another great book I downloaded for free is Decision Diagnosis. In this book, a surgeon provides a model for making split second decisions. It is good practice to read books that cover how things are done in sectors and industries that are different from the ones you work in, so you will learn different ways of doing things. I am learning the 10 key skills needed for future jobs and most of the books I downloaded for free this way. I must caution you that a few of the books were not very good, but most of them were, which makes it a viable option.
The three websites that I visit daily are:
You can give them a try to see how they work for you. I also find book recommendations in the books I read.
When you find the books that you want to read, carefully think about the order in which you want to read them. I learned this the hard way. I read a lot of difficult books after each other and I was mentally drained. It was not a very good feeling and I do not want that to happen to you. Before you start to read the books, so what Theodore Roosevelt did – skim and scan the book to get a sense of what it is about. Read the sections that contain the information that meets your learning objectives. By doing this, you will be able to read more books on the topic.
This is a good thing because you can get divergent viewpoints on a topic, which forces you to think critically. Whenever you read, remember to take notes, which is a form of learning. Since you are reading several books on a topic, when you finish reading all the books, review all your notes and do not be afraid to move information around to give you a deeper understanding of the subject.