The Impact Equation (book review)

My next read - The Impact Equation
The Impact Equation (Photo credit: HighTechDad)

I recently finished reading “The Impact Equation” by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith. Overall I give the book good marks although (secretly?) I was hoping for a bit more “how to” instructions that I could put into action for immediate success — probably I’m just looking (just like everybody else is, I suspect) for the “secrets and short cuts” section that makes everything easy. The authors insist it doesn’t exist.

Anyway, I did take away a few really good thinking pieces from this book, two of them being in the form of equations:


C = contrast: this essentially is differentiation of your message. Are you just providing more of the same, or are you being “remarkable” (as in, some message that others “remark” about)? This is the multiplier so improvements here have the biggest impact.

R = Reach. Number of people you reach — subscribers, readers, followers, etc.

E = Exposure. Basically about how often people get soaked in your message.

A = Articulation. The clarity with which you deliver your message. Is your message understood, instantly, or does your audience have to work at it?

T = Trust. Another equation they provide (from their earlier book Trust Agents, I think): C*R*I/S = TRUST, where C = Credibility (backed up by your credentials), R = Reliability (meeting expectations, doing what you said you were going to do), I = Intimacy (connecting at a personal level — probably I think might like “echo” below), and S = self-interest. So to build trust, leverage your credentials, strive to build a high level of  reliability, develop intimacy while limiting your own self-serving reasons for doing what you are doing. Makes sense…

E = Echo. As near as I can tell, this is about how much your audience “resonates” with your message and how personally important it is to them.

The other big thing I took away from this book was their themes of IDEAS (contrast, articulation), PLATFORM (reach, exposure), and (human) NETWORK (trust, echo). Basically their contention is that if the work you are doing is not focused on one of these areas, then it is generally busy work and not helping you achieve impact. This was a pretty helpful categorization of themes, and helped me to map my own current work/time categorization into their “impact equation”.

As a quantitative thinker (these are the musing of a business engineer, after all!), what I like about this is that you can sort through all of this and put some sort of number on it all to use as a baseline and to direct your future activities. If you score each of the 6 attributes from 1 to 10, you can end up with a maximum score of 500. So how do I figure I am doing at this stage, out of 500?

CONTRAST: I think I’m doing OK here, with my tightening around “transform/21” as the branding that pulls all my activities, interests, and ideas together. There are lots of “transformation” and “change” messages out there however I feel I am putting a unique and helpful spin on it — so I’ll award myself a 7.

ARTICULATION: Getting good reviews on this from my readers and associates — tight, punchy, and memorable. So I’ll score myself 9.

REACH & EXPOSURE: Both fairly low at this stage. My total audience is only a thousand or so, my blogging is irregular, and my newsletters are only every 2 to 3 weeks. So maybe I deserve 3’s here for each of these. And frankly, that might be generous…

TRUST & ECHO: I’m certainly not a fan of the “school of hard-sell” and I truly do want to help my audience do things that are important to them, so I’m feeling OK on the limited self-interest thing. I’ve got the credibility of lots of work experience, solid education, great testimonials and case studies from my work. I’m getting some signs that I’m developing some “echo” however again it is early days here. So overall, I’m going to give myself an 8 on Trust, and a 6 on Echo.

IMPACT = C*(R+E+A+T+E) = 7*(3+3+9+8+6) = 203. As a percentage out of 500, that is a stunningly low 41%. Gulp.

In summary: I believe my IDEAS are well developed, my PEOPLE/NETWORK capabilities are reasonably solid, but my PLATFORM is dramatically under-developed. The good news here — their equation helps me to zero in on where to get the best uplift from my efforts. The best place to focus here is (1) getting my contrast up, and (2) focusing on building reach and exposure. Growing reach and exposure, I think, is fairly mechanical and straightforward. More regular blogging and newsletters, and making more people aware via events, webinars, speaking gigs, and the like. Driving up contrast is a little less obvious, however I think that will naturally grow as I get better at sharing my stories, insights, tips and plans with a growing audience.

Of course, now that I’ve done the exercise above, I think their book is actually a lot more solid and valuable than maybe I suggested in my opening paragraph. Apparently, it has certainly made me think in some new and useful ways. Can you ask any more of a book?


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