Friday, May 25, 2018

#52books Authorpreneur

authorpreneur cover
#52Books Authorpreneur: Build the Brand, Business, and Lifestyle You Deserve. It’s Time to Write Your Book.

Format: Kindle

Have you noticed the explosion of books on Amazon?

I sense that a large percentage of those books are written by individuals trying to establish expertise in a given niche.

Jesse Tevelow comprehensively explains the entrepreneurial book writing process; from idea to the act of writing to packaging and marketing.

Tevelow argues that the act of writing a book helps the development of mastery. The research required and the attempt to explain what you are learning to others help you gain expertise in the topic.  By the time you are done writing the book, he argues, you can speak authoritatively on the topic you researched.

I feel that there is more credibility if you have applied what you are writing about and can speak to the hazards and pitfalls of your ideas out in the field.  I know I am in a more privileged position than many of Tevelow’s readers. I have been doing what I have been doing for 20+ years, and I am not trying to reposition myself as an expert in things I haven’t done before.

The research I am doing now is helping me get some new ideas for maneuvering in our current environment and get a better understanding of some of the new conversations around business. Step 2 – for me – is to put what I learn into practice. Only after I get some feedback from application in the field, that’s when I write. I’ve operated this way for my entire career. Take idea, test in environment, write about the results. 

The big issue I have with Tevelow’s advice is that it skips the application step. I’m finding that many of the books I am encountering in the “build-a-business” space are missing proof of application.  It takes some digging to tell you whether the book is written by someone who has done the work or is just a decent researcher and writer.  This is not a complaint – it only speaks to the increasing need for assessing sources before diving in headlong.  At least Tevelow practices what he preaches.

Everything else he describes strikes me as dead-on.  Knowing WHY you are writing the book and how you are positioning it (freebie for email collection, expertise development, or as a profit center), the process of writing and how to make it less crazy-making, even some marketing recommendations.  There is a lot here for those of us who like to write and want to make writing a core part of their business.

Disclosure: The book link goes to Amazon and supports my blogging.  Thanks.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Reskilling Prong 3 – Scheduled Deliverables

I do best when I know what steps I need to take and, for the scary bits, those steps are small enough that I can do that step today and celebrate the fact that I’ve taken the step.

Is this quick? Nope. I’m making progress.

Days when I am feeling more confident about what I am doing, I get more steps done.  Days where I am not right in the head – at least I did something.  I count that as a win.

Learning sticks when we apply it. Not just when we hoard information.

To that end, I create small, low-risk projects for myself to start.

What that looks like will vary for everyone.

As I get more comfortable, I increase the risk and scale.

For instance, creating a marketing architecture and plan requires a number of small steps and deliverables attached to those steps.

Small, low-risk – create a MailChimp list.  MailChimp has a free level and allows you to create a list.  Is your list created and working? Yes/no.   (BTW – that is not an affiliate link. MailChimp is a popular tool in the marketing space for a reason, it’s really simple.)

Small, higher risk – ask people to join the list.  Again, a deliverable with a measurable outcome.  How many people are on your list (that is not you and your testing accounts)?

The risk is in the ask. Getting over the fear of asking and what people will think of you. Some of us have an easier time with this than others.

Slightly larger, slightly higher risk – ask people you don’t know very well to join the list.  Yet again, a deliverable with a measurable outcome.

This time, you can work with lag and lead measures. Lag measure – how many people are on your list?  Lead measure – how many people did you ask today?

This is the deliverable I am currently working on.   Eventually – I will have enough information to be able to see a percentage of the number of people I asked vs the number of people who signed up.

When done well – you can work up to large, multi-deliverable projects at a significant risk level.

Unfortunately, many of us try to go big right out of the gate.

In my experience, 9 times out of 10 that is a huge mistake.

Failing big makes it much harder to try again.  Not only have you burned yourself out, you have also damaged your goodwill with others.

Don’t under-estimate the power of small, low-risk projects.

This is a good time to offer my personal marketing and mailing list disclaimers:

  • If you sign up for my newsletters (check the sidebar of the blog) – I will send you monthly newsletters, any freemiums I develop, and potential offers as I come up with them.  My intent is to provide value and not spam your inbox. You get enough email.
  • If you decide to watch my Masterclass – the newsletter subscription will not be automatic. I do have email follow-ups (like everyone else) – but I’m not going to hound you every 2-3 hours.  I’ll send a separate invite to a newsletter subscription, but you can choose whether you want to subscribe or not. Again, my intent is to provide value and not spam your inbox.
  • The blog is always there.  I do not intend to cease writing for free just because I am trying to make a living.  The blog is one way I reflect and process information. I’ll talk about this more in a future post.

Does the above go against common marketing practice?

Yes – I don’t want to clutter your inbox.  My goal is to build positive relationships.

Providing me with your email tells me that you trust me to provide value.  For that, I thank you.

Oh – and feel free to let me know what you would like to see me cover.  What is your most pressing problem?

I am offering a free 45-minute Masterclass.

The 3-Stage Process to Move from Overwhelm to Results.

Register Here.



Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Reskilling Prong 2 – Finding a Mentor

This one is a bit trickier for me. I’m not good at asking for help.

As I learn sales and marketing, finding a mentor provided a greater challenge than usual.

Most of my closest friends have the same problem I do – sales and marketing are not natural acts.

Furthermore, the best salesman I know is my brother, and though I can ask him advice, he’s a natural.  He probably thinks my struggle is ridiculous.

I’m also not good at receiving advice from people close to me.  This is why I don’t ask my partner for golf tips (even though he is a fantastic golfer).  I know myself well enough to know that I’m going to resist.  I prefer to keep my relationships with both my brother and my partner strong. No point in testing those bonds because I’m suffering from the “familiarity breeds contempt” fallacy.

The sales and marketing mentor I found is completely outside my network.  This works for me because he doesn’t need to be my friend. Plus, he’s been there. He’s made the mistakes. He’s far enough along that he can guide, but isn’t so far along that he can’t relate. And he holds me accountable.  This has been critical for the “hard” activities. I’m great at procrastinating when I have to reach out to people or release projects I’ve been working on forever.

Mentorship provides the accountability that is absolutely critical for learning a new skill and feedback from someone who has already done the work multiple times.  In my case, my mentor has also talked me down from a few fear-based freakouts. I haven’t been the best student 🙂


Kenny Goodman – Find the Edge.  He’s been invaluable in helping me with my first pass at developing a marketable consulting service.

I am offering a free 45-minute Masterclass.

The 3-Stage Process to Move from Overwhelm to Results.

Register Here.


Saturday, May 19, 2018

#52books Ask

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#52Books Ask

Format: Kindle

This book appeared repeatedly among the big online marketers as a “great book.”

Fundamentally, the book describes how to use surveys as a marketing tool.

As Ryan Levesque describes, you are both getting important information about your prospective customers’ needs and encouraging engagement and trust.

Part 1 is his personal story and how he came up with the approach.  It’s well written but skippable.

The meat of the book is Part 2 – his step-by-step approach for leveraging 4 different types of surveys to get information from your market and engage prospective customers.

I like the level of detail he provides.

As with all of these “marketing technique” books, the secret sauce is in how you apply the technique to your own business or product.

Application of the technique is much easier when your product and market is like the author’s.  I also suspect that applying these techniques as a beginner marketer from this book is much like following a cookbook as a beginner cook.  There is some implicit knowledge, developed through personal experience, that will be missing when you try to follow the instructions verbatim.

Of course, he has expensive consulting services to help you apply the model to your own business.  The book is a “low-cost product” step in a consulting sales funnel.

I’ve already used surveys (and will continue to use them) to learn how I can best help you.  The process Levesque provides is straightforward enough to be worth an experiment.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Reskilling Prong 1 – Collect Information

This is the easy prong for me.  I can read books and consume media happily all day.

It’s easy for me to mistake “research” for learning.

Thankfully, I’ve spent a lifetime learning and unlearning.  I’ve approached even the most uncomfortable topics with the idea that I can at least become passably OK at whatever it is I’m trying to learn.

Some topics, I find it’s easy to figure out where the “beginning” is and put together the learning plan from there.

Foreign languages, for instance, have a pretty consistent start point and a clear learning path.

Other topics, like sales and marketing, generate significant noise.

Each person has his or her “best” way.  The result is a lot of conflicting information.

Add to that the internal noise I generate when I am trying to learn things in areas I’m not entirely confident I will master.  Or, as is the case with sales and marketing, have reservations about the endeavor.

When I’m starting from “dead beginner” status – I’ll typically look for “Introduction to…”   or “…for Dummies” type books.  The general overview.

I’ll then look at the “classics” and most cited.

Is there something in that information I can hook into from my past experience?

What can I immediately leverage?  What actions can I take, and how quickly can I take them?

Where am I finding agreement or resistance to the information?

What trends am I seeing?

As I dig into the information and gain more clarity on my personal goals for learning this skill, I can start work on the other prongs.


eLearning Industry – 9 Techniques to Achieve Learning Agility and Future-Proof Yourself in an Age of Disruption

Harvard Business Review – Learning is Learned Behavior. Here’s How to Get Better At It

I am offering a free 45-minute Masterclass.

The 3-Stage Process to Move from Overwhelm to Results.

Register Here.


Wednesday, May 16, 2018

#52books The End of Power

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#52 Books – The End of Power: From Boardrooms to Battlefields and Churches to States, Why Being In Charge Isn’t What It Used to Be

Format: Softcover

It’s not really the END of power. More the end of the effectiveness of a type of power that prioritizes scale and concentration.

Moises Naim has had a front-row seat to this transition, between his tenure as Venezuela’s trade minister, serving as editor-in-chief for Foreign Policy magazine, time as an executive director at the World Bank, and his scholastic work with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

He sees three big trends that change the way power is held:

  • More – “When people are more numerous and living fuller lives, they become more difficult to regiment and control.”
  • Mobility – These people move around a lot more and have access to faster, less costly ways of moving information, money, and values.
  • Mentality – As a result, people’s expectations have changed as they see the possibility for more prosperity, freedom, and personal fulfillment and start demanding changes.

As a result, Naim argues:

  • Automatic deference to authority can no longer be assumed since jurisdictions are now porous and the populace is more numerous, healthier, and better informed.
  • Moral claims and dogma are challenged and universal values begin to take precedence.
  • There is a growing awareness of alternatives and ability and propensity to switch
  • Niches become profitable
  • The incentives to accept the status quo become weaker and the cost of loyalty increases.

The bulk of the book further details how this works in various areas: business, religion, politics, and the military get particular focus.

Naim also speaks to the ever-increasing amount of information and the growing challenge to filter and sort that information.

Essentially, power (as we traditionally understood it) is decaying, spreading, and becoming more ephemeral.  Naim is of two minds about this trend. On the one hand, “The undeniably positive consequences of the decay of power include freer societies, more elections and options for voters, new platforms for organizing communities, more ideas and possibilities, more investment and trade, and…more options for consumers.” On the other, Naim fears that these trends have “simultaneously made our problems bigger and more complex and weakened our mechanisms for addressing them.”

Ultimately, he seems to want the old forms of power back.  He fears disorder, alienation, impatience, de-skilling and loss of knowledge (because, Naim argues, no small firm can match large internal R&D), and the banalization of social movements (because we can “participate” with just a click of a mouse).

Naim’s solutions to mitigate the risks involved in this new de-centralization of power include:

  • Stop ranking each other. Focus on interdependence.
  • Be on the lookout for the “terrible simplifiers.” We need to be skeptical of those who loudly offer “easy” solutions.
  • “Bring Trust Back” Naim sees this as changing the way political parties organize and operate and in how they screen, monitor, hold accountable and promote/demote their leaders.


Personally – I see this as a pattern throughout. Are you trustworthy? Is your organization (no matter what type) promoting the trustworthy?

I was a little disappointed to see that he concludes his book by focusing on strengthening the political parties and political system.  Naim, maybe inadvertently, spoke to a much larger move towards networked, agile societies that rely on collaboration and interdependence to thrive.  I’m not so sure he meant to do that.  I would have liked to see a more robust discussion of ways to work with the More, Movement and Mentality revolutions he identified.

My sense is that he sees this re-defintion of power and how it works as a bad thing. Naim at least made a go at providing “solutions” to what may not necessarily be problems.  If nothing else, it starts the conversation around how best to maneuver in this new world.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

How I Approach Skill-Building in Things I Suck At

I mentioned in my last post that I am skill-building in Marketing and Sales.

Because I am doing this skill-building in activities I’m not naturally talented at, I have to do more than just watch a couple online tutorials, listen to Zig Ziglar tapes and presto! Sales and Marketing Genius!

Furthermore, there is a LOT of noise in this particular space.

Check your Facebook feed – how many ads do you see promising that you can make tons of money for less than 1 hour a week? Most of these folks are selling marketing solutions.

Nope, I have to use everything I’ve learned about learning and make a plan.

Treat mastery in uncomfortable topics as the project that it is.

I take a 6 prong approach.

Prong 1 – Collect information – get the lay of the land.

Prong 2 – Find a mentor – for feedback and accountability

Prong 3 – Develop a schedule of deliverables – making sure I actually DO something with what I am learning

Prong 4 – Create a safe space for experiments – to minimize risk

Prong 5 – Cultivate an experimental mindset – to minimize procrastination

Prong 6 – Share what I’ve done into the big scary world.

Through these 6 prongs, I am gaining knowledge, applying what I learn, and practicing for mastery.

I’ll talk about details in the next few posts.

I am offering a free 45-minute Masterclass.

The 3-Stage Process to Move from Overwhelm to Results.

Register Here.