It feels like I have joined a public speaking boot camp. This week’s workout was at a high school where I spoke with 100 students and teachers over two sessions. The topic was my life’s timeline and the lessons learned along the way. For fifteen and sixteen year olds, this had the potential of being boring, or worse, sleep inducing, so I added lots of excitement: a costume change, candy rewards (Kraft/Cadbury brands of course), high-kicks, and brutally honest stories (and the emotions behind them). It was a lot of fun and they seemed engaged by the good and bad decisions I made.
It felt strange sharing my life with an audience. Although I prefer the present over the past, I had forgotten some of the experiences that have made me who I am. My lessons learned are:
– Believe in yourself – no one can do it for you
– Decide what you want in life and go for it
– Be good at something, anything – “The more I practice the
luckier I get”
– Keep your options open – be open to new things
– The more you do the more opportunities you find
– Be referable – that’s how you get ahead
– First impressions count
– Be positive– you don’t accomplish much when you are
– If something isn’t working, try a different approach
– Ask for help (and give it too)
– Don’t burn bridges
– What goes around comes around
Like most public speaking talks, you learn from your audience
and I am still thinking of the students’ and teachers’ thoughtful
questions. Now, how do I write a thank you note to 100
When I started writing my book, I had a clear picture of who would read it. They helped guide my content and formatting decisions, and knowing they are time-starved business people, anything that didn’t provide quick access to practical advice was deleted. At least 30 percent of my first draft was edited out because it was not adding value. As I wrote my publisher’s proposal, I realized there are other audiences that could gain from my book and that I would need to market to them when it becomes available. Here are my three audiences:
1. Leaders of Change (primary)
2. Teachers and Students of Change (secondary)
3. Cadbury and Kraft Enthusiasts (secondary)
Leaders of Change
Leaders and their teams working on big change projects, including executive sponsors (who fund and have overall accountability for projects), project managers (who run the day-to-day operations), and team members (who have project-specific roles).
Teachers and Students
Universities that offer change management/organizational development degrees and MBA programs (most include change management courses). My book includes 100 mini-case studies (fifty good practices and fifty poor practices), accommodates all four learning styles, has recommended actions that promote lecture discussion and assignments, and all content is based on practical experience.
Cadbury and Kraft Enthusiasts
Current and former Cadbury/Kraft employees. My book includes forty-four mini-case studies on Cadbury and Kraft, almost all of which have never been published.
It excites me that these audiences will look at my book through different lenses and focus on what they find useful. Regardless of your intended destination, the reader is in the driver’s seat.
I had the pleasure of co-presenting at the DRIVING CHANGE: What does it really take to succeed? event hosted by the Strategic Leadership Forum. It was exhilarating being in front of an audience again. Presenting has been a large part of my career and it felt like home standing in front of a great group of professionals. I also appreciate working with amazing co-presenters and organizers during the months leading up to the session. Being part of an engaged team is a privilege, which I miss. A party of one is not always a party.
Here are the “things to remember” I jotted down after the session:
|On the air!
– Think like the audience
– It’s about the stories
– Less is more
– Pictures are worth a 1,000 words
– Props are good when used sparingly
– Different perspectives work really well together
– Preparation is key
– There’s so much to learn from everyone
|Phil, Sheila Legon, Len Nanjad, and Gail Severini
A highlight happened just before my presentation. Someone I had worked with many years ago had sent an email about me to the leader of the event, Gail, which she read out as my introduction, just like at a wedding. I was blown away by the kindness of the note especially since she had sent it from the US and would have attended with more notice. I am feeling gratitude for my friend from long ago and everyone who made this event a success. Thank you.
P.T. Barnum said, “A terrible thing happens when you don’t promote yourself…nothing.” I’m sure this is true for authors so I jumped into writing my Promotion Plan with vigour. The goal is to state what I will do to sell my book (with vigour). There are many articles about how the author (not publisher) must drive awareness and sales. If not, then something terrible happens.
Passion, confidence, and commitment are three themes I have woven into my promotion plan. It has six elements:
Book Distribution to Audience Influencer: Sending copies to members of my three target audiences: leaders working on big changes (my primary target), post-secondary teachers and students, and Kraft and Cadbury employees and supporters.
Social Media Notifications:Communication about my book to my networks and business associations.
Magazines and Blogs: Reviews, interviews, and serializing content in magazines and blogs.
Keynote Speaking Engagements: Presentations at conferences, association meetings, and schools.
Book Web Site: A dedicated site including this blog, author Q&A, chapter summaries and support materials.
Award Submissions: Participation in media and association award programs.
Please let me know if I missed any promotion opportunities. I would appreciate your thoughts.
I just bought Michale Hyatt’s Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World to fortify my plan. He is offering $350 of bonus resources if you buy a copy by the end of today. Now that’s a promotion!
I have enjoyed switching gears to the book proposal writing phase. It’s familiar territory (how many proposals have we written in our careers?) and doing research again is fun. I even went to a public library and signed out two books on winning proposals!
Writing a proposal is like making a cake: each ingredient must be added in the right amount and in the right order for it to create something special. Experimentation is risky.
Most advice contains the same sections and a lot of the same tips:
- Overview – What is your premise and how does it satisfy a need?
- Markets – Who will buy your book?
- Competition – What books are similar to yours and why is yours different?
- Author – Why are you the best author for this book?
- Promotion – What can you do to help sell your book?
- Table of Contents
- Sample Chapters
In the past, I would create a proposal framework and then fill it the sections sequentially, building the narrative. This time, I dove into writing a draft as I was researching. This was a mistake because it missed the big picture and was less organized. After a day of “free-wheeling” I went back to a more structured and effective approach.
One hundred and one reasons for becoming my publisher is a stretch, especially since my goal is to convince one that my book will sell enough copies to make a profit. All other reasons are icing on the cake.
A friend asked me to speak with her high school class about my career and my book. I have done this a few times before and they can be tricky, like the time a student folded her arms on her desk, put her head down and slept for the rest of the class. I didn’t get her vote.
I asked our teenage sons for advice. Sam recommended using quick games as metaphors of my experiences. Makes sense. When I said I was planning to engage the group in discussions, he said, “They won’t say anything unless you reward them, so bring candy.” Done. Charlie counselled, “Don’t deal with kids who aren’t paying attention or acting up because you will just dig yourself a bigger grave.” As with adults. He also said “Don’t talk in the voice you are talking to me in now: it’s too optimistic and has to be grounded in reality.” I thought it was both.
This is what I have learned:
– Identify how my path is relevant to the students
– Let them experience my experiences
– The less I talk the more fun they will have
– Motivate them to participate
– Follow their interests
– Make it enjoyable
Most principles hold true for my book:
– Identify how my experiences are relevant to the reader
– Let them experience my experiences (provide the who, what, why, where, when and how)
– Motivate the reader to apply my advice to their situation
– Make it easy for them to follow their interests
– Make it enjoyable
I must do everything in my power to get people’s votes – one vote at a time.