Friday 29 June 2012

And the Winning Title is...

The most obsessive part of my journey has been choosing a powerful title. Since people judge books by their covers, I know my title has to be a great one. It has to describe what the book is about, communicate an emotional benefit of reading it, and inspire further investigation (i.e. buying it!). After a year of testing over 100 titles I selected one: "Change with Confidence." My title:

  • Describes what the book is about: Managing change 
  • Communicates an emotional benefit: Confidence in doing so
  • Inspires further investigation: How do you confidently lead change?

I have observed that leaders need the most help when they are faced with a question they can't answer based on their experience. Many either went with the first information they receive or relied on their gut instincts. Unbeknownst to them, they sent their team charging down a path full of potential landmines. What they needed was practical advice on how to make the best choices based on real-life experience.

Sven-Göran Eriksson, international football coach, has observed that the “greatest barrier to success is the fear of failure,” and during big business changes there are many things to fear: not knowing what to do or say, being a poor leader, failing and, of course, looking stupid. My book provides advice to move beyond these fears to make the right choices. During a big change project, confidence is an antidote to fear. 

My title also includes a sub-title: "A Business Leader's Guide to Change Management," which identifies the audience for my book and what they are buying. Both parts of my title have provided focus for my book proposal and final edits. 

I realize my publisher will have the final say on a title, but I am confident that the best title will be chosen. Just to be safe, I purchased the internet domains of and so that there are no hiccups down the road. It is important to plan for the future. Phil

Friday 22 June 2012

My Shield of Steel

It's been years since I thought of Batfink, an animated superhero I watched on T.V. as a kid. He had super-sonic sonar radar and metallic wings. I was mesmerized by his confidence as he tackled villains, proclaiming "Your bullets cannot harm me. My wings are like a shield of steel!" 

You need confidence the most when upholding your values and beliefs or convincing someone to take action. Selling my book to publishers is a good test; they may not like my views or take action.

Just like Batfink, who carried a can of oil to keep his wings polished, the mind-set of confidence needs to be tended and maintained. Whether by positive self-talk or celebrating small wins, you need to keep your engine running on high. For example, I just found out that my "The Adventures of a First-time Author" presentation was selected to be featured on SlideShare's home page (and received more than 1,000 views). I am pumped because this is my first on-line acknowledgement. 

If confidence is like a shield of steel, then a small win now and again helps keep it shining.

Friday 15 June 2012

Loving My Public Speaking Boot Camp!

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 


Friday 8 June 2012

So, who is going to buy your book?

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.


Friday 1 June 2012

On the Air

 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.