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What I Like About Conferences

This week I went to the global Association of Change Management Professionals (ACMP) Conference in Los Angeles. It was the first conference I had attended in many years. My objectives were to:

– Expand my network of change professionals
– Promote Change with Confidence
– Identify future speaking opportunities
– Observe presenters to learn new techniques
– Deepen my change management knowledge
– Meet friends, most of whom I had not seen in years

There were 800 attendees and the logistics were well managed. Some people had expectations that every session would meet their needs. This isn’t realistic given the diverse needs of attendees and speakers. There is a lot you can learn,  however, from sessions that were targeted to different audiences, like who they are and what questions they ask.

I saw a friend at the opening reception who said my book was being sold at the conference bookstore. The next morning I went straight to the store. Change with Confidence looked great among the tomes of business literature. 

I introduced myself to the person running the store and asked if she could display my bookmarks. She kindly agreed and added she would move my books to beside the cash register (the ‘hot zone’). I think she was surprised when I gave her 300 bookmarks. I told her I would check in occasionally to see if she needed any more. I wasn’t joking.

I saw a friend at lunch who said that my book had sold out in less than three hours, except for one copy that remained on display with a “sold out” sign on it. It was the best advertisement I could ask for. I immediately called my Wiley sales coordinator about shipping more copies. Overnight courier wasn’t feasible, but I know he enthusiastically pursued all options. The next day, the store manager said she had been processing orders, which was great to hear. I couldn’t stop looking at the sold out sign. It was like a magnet.

The conference was a success and I met all of my objectives. I may even be speaking in Nairobi, Kenya this October. 

During an exercise at the last seminar, I paired up with someone I had met at a Toronto event in March. She said she had liked my presentation and had wanted to buy my book. It was really kind of her to say so. I realized that there are many things to  like about conferences and all of them involve great people.


What am I selling: me or my book?

In the 90s, training videos, like John Cleese’s Meetings Bloody Meetings, were popular. They provided a novel alternative to corporate classroom learning.

This week, I thought of a video that Jim Hensen, of Muppets fame, had created called Sell Sell Sell. It was more expensive than other videos and was short, but it was entertaining and the message was clear: you must sell. 

I am now the head of sales for Change with Confidence.  This is a welcomed move because I have held sales roles before and led many sales training courses. I communicate the benefits of my product, supported by its features, to people who value my book and services. 

It’s important to know what you are selling. Are my customers buying my book or me? I think it’s both; they are buying my credibility as a change leader and my book that captures my experience and knowledge. Therefore, I need to build awareness of both. I will not be successful if either of them are invisible.

One way I’m building awareness is with “how to” videos. Lucas, Marketing Manager and great supporter at Wiley, provided me with an excellent opportunity to create a promotional video. I decided to answer the following questions:

  • How can leaders help team leaders deal with change?
  • How you can help leaders lead change?
  • What is the first thing leaders need to do when leading a big change?
  • How can people make the best of change?
  • What are the universal truths of change?
  • Why is confidence so important when leading change?

Sebastian Cluer

The video shoot took about ninety minutes to complete. The director, Sebastian Cluer, was relaxed and supportive, which made my many retakes seem part of the process versus messing up. I would have been nervous if I had known that he is an award winning film and television director. Don’t you find that the most talented professionals are humble? I don’t think I will make it onto his highlight reel, but I know he will create a great piece of work.

The video will be posted on the Wiley website, the Change with Confidence website, Youtube, LinkedIn and my National Speakers Bureau profile page. The more places I can profile me and my book, the more successful I will be.


What is it about covers that beg to be judged?

I am delighted to share the cover for Change with Confidence, although I can take no credit for it. I can’t think of any other cover that  could capture the contents of and inspiration behind my book. 

Cover design is critical to a book’s success. It must entice the reader to pick up the book or click on it on a screen. It also has to communicate the main benefit of reading it, which for Change with Confidence is building confidence to lead change. 

Two months ago, if you had asked me what the perfect cover would look like I wouldn’t have had a clue. I just knew that there was a perfect cover waiting to be discovered.

The first time I saw my cover I liked the rich blue colour and the white and orange text. I also liked the blue-tinted sun beaming into the meeting room. I didn’t, however, get the significance of the meeting room. As friends pointed out, it is a place where futures are created, decisions are made, and actions are taken. This is true for private and public businesses around the world. I didn’t get that this is an universal image of change and progress.

I tested the cover on everyone and almost everyone liked it. Many even said they loved it. It was a hit. They like the modern look of the room and thought the bank of windows suggested unlimited possibility. They saw the sun as a symbol of a new day where anything could happen and the empty chairs were seats that the reader could take, where he or she could build a better future. The cover represented hope, aspiration and confidence. It represented Change with Confidence.

My Wiley team members were extremely understanding of my request for more design options even though they all loved the cover. They were equally supportive when I finally realized that the one they had expertly designed was the perfect cover for Change with Confidence. What a team. 

The book jacket is a beauty, too. Here is a breakdown of each panel from left to right:

  1. Back Inner Flap: Author’s photograph and bio
  2. Back Cover: Front cover image and testimonials form people I admire
  3. Front Cover: Title, image, author’s name and publisher’s imprint
  4. Front Inner Flap: Overview of book and sample content

I dropped into Hudson Booksellers in Newark Airport on Monday night to study the business book covers that lined the wall. I noticed a range of styles from full-page author photos to all-text covers. I was pleased that there was only one blue cover.  I was also pleased that Change with Confidence would stand out from the rest. It was a cover that could entice the reader to pick it up. It was the perfect cover for Change with Confidence.


The Eagle Has Landed!

We did it! Last Tuesday, I met with my executive editor and editorial assistant to sign a global rights contract with Wiley for Change with Confidence. From their website: “Wiley has evolved into one of the world’s more respected publishing and information services companies. We strongly believe in the enduring value of collaborative relationships, built in a solid foundation of trust and integrity.” Perfect fit.

My book with be under the Jossey-Bass imprint. 
“Jossey-Bass publishes books, periodicals, and other media to inform and inspire those interested in developing themselves, their organizations and their communities.” Another perfect fit!

Change with Confidence will be available worldwide in 6 x 9 trim size hardcover (and e-book) in March, 2013. I couldn’t be more thrilled!
My new team members were very gracious and understanding about my excitement. I laughed when my executive editor said that in her twenty-seven year career, I was the first author to request a picture of the contract signing. Hilarious!
As I left the office, I was overwhelmed by feelings of gratitude for everyone who has helped me along the way, including those who have read this blog (you!). The intensity of appreciation is hard to capture in words. Perhaps it is best just to say “Thank-you from the bottom of my heart.”
A new phase of my journey has kicked-off and I have a lot to do. Firstly, I need to read my manuscript one last time before I hand it over to the Wiley team on Monday. There are a few insights I have learned during my recent consulting assignments that I am keen to share with my readers.  The heat is on!
Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

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