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getting published

Taking Time to Celebrate

What a party! The launch event was a tremendous success. It is difficult to describe how I felt seeing family, friends, former colleagues and new acquaintances together to celebrate the launch of Change with Confidence. It was overwhelming in a great way.

It looked like a 70’s poster where celebrities and music icons from all eras are combined into one image. This was my celebrity poster and I was proud and honoured to have so many wonderful people be in my life.

I had first discussed my launch event with the Wiley team in August. When I asked for advice, in unison they said, “Keep it short, thank people for coming, get off the stage.” It seemed like good advice, just like when speaking at a wedding. Got it.

I had thought a lot about what I would say in my speech. My goal was to thank everyone for their support. I also wanted to share what I had learned about myself and what I had realized about change management. On a lighter note, I also wanted to share some fun facts about the last two years. 

I don’t know what happened, but my son Sam told me that I had talked for ten and a half minutes. It only seemed like four. What were the Wiley folks thinking?

Thanks to Mel Barnett for the photos

Before I knew it, two and a half hours had flown by. The caterers were cleaning up and Ben McNally, the owner of this amazing bookstore, was packing up with his daughter. It was a great night. 

Barb, Sam, Charlie and I went out for dinner to end of the night in a perfect way. The Earl’s waitress even brought us a complimentary “book launch” family dessert, which we devoured.

It is important to take time to celebrate. This is not a strength of mine, but I am working on it. It allows you to thank those who have contributed to your accomplishments and strengthens you for your next challenge. Mine is marketing my book. With the support of my family and friends, I am ready to roar.

Thanks to everyone who attended my launch event!


When the Big Day Finally Arrives

Like most big events in our lives, we think more about planning them than what we will do when they arrive. They can seem like surreal experiences where the elements are known but how they play out are not. This is how I felt when I received my first hard copy of Change with Confidence

A thoughtful Editorial Assistant at Wiley had sent me an email saying that the first copy had shown up on his desk and that he was couriering it to me. I was on assignment in New Jersey, which meant it would arrive home twenty-four hours before I did. 

The package was waiting for me on our front table as I opened the door. I maneuvered around it as a golfer does when sizing up a putt: I needed to study it before moving into action. It was late, dark and I was exhausted, so I decided to wait until the morning for the big moment. I didn’t want to compromise something that I had waited for so long to arrive. 

I am glad I did. The sun was shining and the promise of a new day matched my excitement. Without hesitation, I opened the package. It was an incredible feeling to hold my book in my hands. Barb was there too, which made it more special. 

Like a new parent who points out that their baby has ten fingers and ten toes, I said things like, “Look it’s the cover…and look, it’s the table of contents…, and the back cover, too.”  After scanning the pages I flipped them like a deck of cards and even smelled them—they smelled like paper—it was a sensory experience. 

The cover blew me away the most. It is striking in person, especially the tones of blue. E-books are convenient and portable, but they can’t beat the physical beauty of a hardcover book.

Last Sunday, my dad said he wanted to buy the first copy of Change with Confidence. I can’t wait to give it to him. Phil

Ten Things I Didn’t Know About Great Publicists

This week I met my publicist team members at their office in Manhattan. It was a great experience. Even getting there was an adventure: a 4:45 a.m. taxi ride to the Toronto airport, a 6:30 a.m. flight to Newark, an 8:30 a.m. train to Penn Station, and a 9:15 a.m. taxi ride to Mid-town East. I stood at the corner of 57th Street East and 2nd Avenue feeling like I belonged there.
It was good to meet David, whom I had spoken with by phone. I also met Steve and Eric who had complimentary areas of expertise. Our ninety-minute meeting flew by. We talked about my goals, their impressions of my book, strategies and possible tactics, and how they would partner with the Wiley publicist team. We also talked about the publishing industry and the changes it is going through. I couldn’t help becoming absorbed in the discussion, forgetting for a few minutes the purpose of our meeting.
I left the meeting refreshed and a lot more knowledgeable  about publicity and what the team will do for Change with Confidence and me. Here are the ten things I didn’t know about great publicists. They:

  1. Come highly recommended
  2. Work in teams
  3. Ask for and listen to your goals
  4. Read your book before writing a proposal
  5. Are realistic about expectations
  6. Are honest about what benefits should not be focused on
  7. Are well connected
  8. Provide advice on areas beyond publicity
  9. Call in personal favours on your behalf
  10. Are confident in their abilities

Most experiences are better when shared. This is true of my trip. My friend Peter made the journey with me before we both headed to New Jersey to work through the night on a consulting assignment. As we boarded the train back to Newark I thought to myself, “I’m in good hands.”

Man Narrowly Escapes Losing His Purpose

Last Saturday night, as I was  working through my “to do” list, I realized that the website content I was writing didn’t sound like it had been written by me. It sounded like serious corporate text that, had I included in my book, would have been edited out. I realized that the business I was describing was a business I would not want to own, one that was focused on image rather than value delivered. I was using someone else’s voice.

This realization weighed heavily on me and edged its way into an email I wrote to a friend who is helping me create a video for my site.

It would be great to start working on the Change with Confidence video when you are available. I have been thinking a lot about the feel of it (and the business) and realized that it must communicate the essence of the company (not just what it sells). It needs to be about hope, about helping people work through changes, about building their confidence so they are at their best as they create their future.

I don’t want to think about dress code because that would be vain. Yes I do! The suit jacket could be on the chair but it’s not on me. I am not a suit but a person who owns one and will only use it when he has to. I am the guy people trust and want to talk with about their stuff (including their change stuff).  I want to be me and help people.

I am the man who narrowly escaped losing his purpose. I had become so engrossed in getting things done that completion, not purpose, became the goal. 

After sending the email I started rewriting the content on my website for my business with my voice.


Is Enough Ever Enough?

I find that strategy and execution don’t go well together. I wish it was different, but when I am planning I plan, and when I am executing, I execute. It’s not ideal because you need to do both to be successful and you miss opportunities when the balance is off. I realized this (again) when I stopped executing and started thinking about what comes next. I had been busy making final “typo” edits, discussing cover design options and loading content onto the changewithconfidence.com website. 

“Next” is the book launch that will be supported by marketing efforts by the Wiley team and me. My questions were, “Are we going to do enough to get the word out about my book?” and “What happens if it isn’t enough and we miss the critical launch window?” I am having a party and wondering if anyone will show up.  

Jane Russel once said, “Publicity can be terrible. But only if you don’t have any.” I was aware of authors hiring publicists but wasn’t clear what they did or whether it was a good investment. 

I asked a couple of authors with successful book what they thought, One author said, “It’s important to invest in the right publicist – a publicist with teeth who can build awareness for you and your book.” Right. Got it.

My initial discussions with book publicists have been intriguing. I am drinking in their knowledge and experience and developing a clear and realistic picture of how they can help. Now I am reviewing proposals and soon will be starting a new partnership. After a quick strategy session, it will be time to execute again. 

Each phase of my journey has involved experts that have helped me find my way. Why shouldn’t this be true for my launch? There is never enough marketing and promotion because you can only know the answer when it’s too late to change the outcome. That probably holds true for parties, too.


Catching Excellence

I spent my post-Christmas break rereading my book (which passed the holiday gifting test!). I had received the “first pages” typeset version from my production editor on December 18th with a two-week deadline to make corrections. 

Since this was my last chance to make changes, I asked my personal editor, Ken, to review my book one last time and he worked night and day to give me his suggestions on Christmas Eve. Now it was my turn to review and transfer his changes and mine to the master document.  
Boxing Day morning kicked-off a twenty-nine hour editing marathon. There are so many content and format elements to check and cross-reference. I can understand why errors sneak past publishing teams and authors. Here are the ones I found in the 57,000 word draft:
Extra and missing words
Singular and plural forms
Continuity of formats 
There is a lot to get right and I have made these mistakes on earlier drafts. I realize that the probability of having errors in the printed version of my book is high, regardless of all precautions taken. I will not be someone who focuses on the 1 percent that we didn’t get right; doing our best and taking pride in the 99 percent will be my orientation.
There are many quotations about excellence. My favourite is from Vince Lombardi, the U.S. football coach: “Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence.”  My next step is to complete the Change with Confidence website with my designer, Kro, and communications specialist, Mel. We are going for excellence!

When Push Comes to Shove

Things are heating up as my March 11 launch date approaches. I met the Wiley marketing and publicity team this week, which was a highlight. The pieces of the marketing mix are coming together, including contact lists, press releases, sales team briefings and a launch party. Plans are being worked, milestones are being set and my to-do list is growing.

I am feeling the heat as my book and consulting commitments rub against each other. Both are important and both must be done well. Sleep has suffered but I am staying on track.

At the top of my book-related list is the ‘changewithconfidence.com’ website. My web designer and I mapped out the site and selected a template that will be customized with my content. 

Now it is up to me to write the content and for my designer to organize it in a clear and engaging way. The bulk of my work is to write chapter summaries and record videos. Each one will be accompanied by blank versions of the templates in my book that people can download for their change projects. The e-version of Change with Confidence will include embedded links so that people can retrieve them as they read. 

I am excited by the work that is before me. Often I do my best work when push comes to shove. 


If it looks like a duck…

A Duck

At a meeting I facilitated last week, someone mentioned that she had referenced the ‘duck test’ (if it looks like a duck, swims like a duck,  and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck) to her team and no one knew what she meant.

I feel like I am going through the duck test now as the hard cover version of my book is being assembled. I asked my Wiley production supervisor if she could send me a sample of the layout design and she kindly sent me a few pages. 

Fonts: Blumner MTStd, Minion Pro 
and Ocean Sans

Here’s where the duck test comes in. The layout looks like a hard cover business book, the fonts are similar to other hard cover business books, and the dimensions are common to most hard cover business book. Therefore, Change with Confidence will look and feel like a hard cover business book. I am getting more and more excited as I see the physical elements come together. Each one is a ‘pinch myself’ moment, a small win that needs to be celebrated. Celebration is an important factor of successful change management and I am seeing my motivation spike every time I have one.

Two observations came to mind when studying the layout: It will be easy to flip through my book to find specific information, which has always been a must-have requirement. Also, the templated examples are shown exactly as they were created during big change projects, which reflects the experience-based, practical nature of my book. 

 The cover is the final element of the design phase. As long as it looks like a business book (the duck) then my book will be in good shape.


What’s on the Cutting Room Floor?

I was excited to see my edited manuscript in my inbox, which kicked off the next step on my path – making publisher edits. My editor said there were no  major changes, which was a relief, but how many edits would there be? There were 152, which isn’t that many for a 257 page (52,000 word) book. Or is it?

I felt like a kid getting back a test. Did I pass? I decided to jump in and read through the changes before making the edits. My first impression was that the edit comments were really well written. It makes sense that publishing professionals would be excellent writers but I kept saying, “that’s a really good way of explaining the point. This is really well written.” Here is a breakdown of edits:

  • Clarification of meaning                 52
  • Reword/word substitution              31
  • Quote source                                 22
  • Formatting                                     13
  • Request to add text                       10
  • Confirm spelling of name               12
  • Define term                                      6
  • Bullet point order                             5
  • Compliment  to the author               1

I was asked to comment on each edit and make changes using Microsoft Word’s “track changes” feature. I usually find this way of editing a file to be messy but this was a high-end version which worked really well. There were only five edits I did’t make because they would have changed my intended meaning. That seems like a small number and is a sign of amazing editors. 

It took twenty hours to make the changes and by the end of the process I felt I had a personal connection with my editors. The final editing phase was a good one: I had a better manuscript and had learned a few tips on writing. It doesn’t matter what’s on the cutting room floor. What’s left on the table is what counts.


If He Can Do It So Can I

A universal truth of change management is that leaders must model the new behaviours they ask for before their team members will adopt them. Leaders define organizational cultures through their actions, inspiring people to think “If she can do it so can I.” If they don’t, however, little will change for the better and some behaviours may change for the worse.

I witnessed this leadership dynamic when I discussed Skyfall, the new James Bond movie, with a friend. He said that Daniel Craig’s high level of fitness had inspired him to increase the intensity of his workouts (he’s already a rock) and that he downloaded Daniel’s Skyfall workout regimen to incorporate into his. 

It had a similar effect on me. Although I hadn’t thought of downloading his plan, I did add a few exercises to my morning routine, calling it ‘Project Skyfall’ (hey, whatever works). When I did search for the Bond workout, I was surprised at how many sites came up – we were not alone. 

Leaders, both at work and in the movies, have huge influence on how people behave. What they do (versus what they say) encourages others to take on mindsets and behaviours that may be new, uncomfortable and difficult to master. 

Leaders who share their challenges adopting behaviours are more inspirational than the ones who do so with ease. James Bond’s struggle to get back into shape intensified my “If he can do it so can I” conviction. My additional exercises won’t give me Daniel Craig’s fitness level, but it will change it for the better, and changing for the better is what counts.


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