Nonviolent Communication The Cluetrain Manifesto
The End of Business as Usual

By Rick Levine, Christopher Locke, Doc Searls and David Weinberger
Reviewed by Uma Outka

For many networkers, especially those who have been at this business for years, reading The Cluetrain Manifesto promises to be an ironic experience. It’s a book about the Internet, not network marketing, but what’s stunning—and validating for the newer, less confident networker—is the almost seamless parallel between what the authors argue is the Internet’s greatest strength and what this industry has been touting all along: The power of conversation, specifically (as they call it) networked conversations. The ironic part is the authors’ excitement—they see this as something new, something with immeasurable potential that they have figured out ahead of everyone else. Well, we know that’s not so; still there’s a potency, a perspective, and a strength of belief in their writing that has something of genuine value to offer networkers.

The book is comprised of a series of essays written by the authors in the fast-paced, irreverent style typical of info-age prose. All are organized around 95 principles which they list early in the book as their “theses” (shades of Martin Luther!), the most important being that “markets are conversations” … and the parallels with network marketing begin. “We’re not those neatly predictable consumers business remembers from yesterday,” Cluetrain asserts. “Tell us some good stories and capture our interest. Don’t talk to us as if you’ve forgotten how to speak. Don’t make us feel small. Remind us to be larger. Get a little of that human touch.” This theme provides the cohesion in the book across all four authors’ contributions.

Chris Locke puts it bluntly: “We are not seats or eyeballs or end users or consumers. We are human beings, and our reach exceeds your grasp. Deal with it.” Of course, you hear this it’s-a-people-business theme in network marketing too, but not consistently—you also hear a lot of references to eyeballs, consumers, and the numbers game. What this book says to networkers is, it really is okay to be an alternative to the mainstream business world! The Cluetrain Manifesto outlines the compatibility between the kind of conversations that are being fostered in the culture at large by the Internet and the relationship-basis of network marketing. It’s been said before, but not like this; Levine et al. go far beyond explaining the benefits of e-mail to paint a picture of the future you can bet your business on.

Paperback, 190 pages
$14.00 Perseus Publishing