I often play videos of conference talks while I work, though I have no intention of actually listening to them. The background noise helps me focus, like those recordings of crashing waves, chirping birds or a rambling brook. I remember the first time I made the mistake of trying to work over a video of Gary Vaynerchuk speaking at a conference. If you've ever seen Gary speak, you'll already know why I didn't write a line of coding during the 30-minutes of his talk.
Gary is a special guy with an unusual trait for a businessman: He genuinely cares about people. It comes through when he's on stage motivating developers, taking a sniffy-sniff on Wine Library TV, err, The Daily Grape, and in the books he's written. I've just finished the latest of those books, The Thank You Economy, and I'm feeling the same inspiration I feel after watching one of Gary's high-adrenaline YouTube videos.
On the surface, The Thank You Economy is a book about how businesses can use "social media" to have meaningful relationships with their customers, but to me it was just a guide to being a genuinely good person.
If you're going to apply Gary's advice, you can't just think about how to treat your customers better. You should learn to treat all the people in your life with respect, warmth, and patience - and hire people into your business who exhibit the same kind of character.
I am your typical introverted software developer. I show my love for the people who use my software by trying to craft the most enjoyable user experience possible. Dealing with my users directly is something I'm not as naturally good at, but that doesn't mean I don't enjoy it. The most fun period in the lifecycle of a software product is when it first hits the wire and you start getting user feedback, both positive and negative. The problem is, software scales like no other product; the work of a single engineer can easily reach millions of people, and it's just not feasible for that engineer to directly interact with every one of those customers. That's where a book like The Thank You Economy becomes useful, because it covers a lot of different ways to engage with your customers as efficiently as possible. I'd definitely recommend it to anyone running a small software business.