Friday 26 April 2013

How would you react to your first book review?

It felt like I had been waiting a long time for the first review. My Wiley Senior Publicist counselled me that reviews of leadership books take longer because the reviewers invest time in thoroughly reading the books. That was helpful but didn't make waiting any easier or go any faster.

I thought of all possible scenarios. Would it be positive or negative, long or short, academic or conversational? The burning questions was, would the interviewer like my book, or more personally, like what the author wrote.
Jim Taggart

My first reviewer is Jim Taggart, a leadership thought leader who lives in Ottawa, Ontario. He sent me a LinkedIn invitation saying he had been contacted by my publicist and was going to write a review of Change with Confidence. I was thrilled and offered to answer any questions he might have, although I guessed he wouldn't need any help.

A week ago, Jim posted his review, "Are you ready to CHANGE WITH CONFIDENCE?" on his website, Changing Winds. It was re-posted the same day on The Leadership Hub, a "Top 30 Hidden Gem Leadership Blog" award winner. It fascinates me to see the connectivity and communication power of social media blogs and networks like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Google+. This is where my book will take flight.

Jim's review is everything I could have hoped for. He liked design decisions that were important to me and took a lot of time to get right. For example, he noted that I write "clearly and succinctly". It took five month of editing to achieve this goal. My book needed to be stripped of jargon and complexity to appeal to a wide audience including corporate, public and academic audiences. Writing jargon was a lot easier. 

The one criticism Jim had is that there are too many Cadbury stories. This is a fair point. Fifty-five organizations are profiled in my book but there is a weighting toward Cadbury stories . It was important to me to share my experiences of good and bad change capabilities. The cost of doing so are more references to a few organizations. 

Jim offered a suggestion about an alternate subtitle. I smiled when I read it because I had thought of a similar one as I was in my writing stage. I know where he is coming from and I am delighted and thankful that after reading my review that he probably would say the same. 


Friday 19 April 2013

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.


Friday 12 April 2013

Top Ten Tips for Conducting a Radio Interview

I had my first radio interview this week with Dr. Alvin Augustus Jones on WJFK-AM 1580 CBS Radio Washington WNEW-FM 99.1. When I received the request I was thrilled but I also knew I was entering new promotional territory.

Dr. Jones' radio show is called "Where World Thinkers and Leaders Come to Chat." Love it. He is a pro with an interview archive of over one hundred interviews. He has interviewed a who's who of business thinkers―Stephen Covey, Jack Canfield, Harvey MacKay, Zig Ziglar, and Brian Tracey― and celebrities―Barbra Streisand, George Foreman, Howie Mandel, Stedman Graham and Ashley Judd. I had a lot of work to do to prepare.

The first thing I did was review media pointers that my publicist team had given me. I complemented this information with a Google search on "how to conduct a radio interview". I also listened to a few of Dr. Jones' interviews. He is an eloquent and professional interviewer, which was good to know, but also put pressure on me to be an eloquent and professional guest.

I prepared my interview space by placing notes around my desk in large text and with highlighted soundbites. I also had a glass of water by my side in case of emergencies. I was as ready as I could be.

The interview went by in a flash. I made a few stumbles but nothing major. The more I relaxed, the better my answers sounded. 

Listening to the interview again for the first time, just minutes before I wrote this post, I noticed how many times I said "actually" (10) and "I think" (6)10 and 6 too many times. Overall, I am happy with my answers and the tone of my voice but know there is more work to do.

Here are my top 10 tips for conducting a radio interview:

- Prepare three key messages you want to communicate and stick to them
- Rehearse your introduction and close
- Have notes in front of you and don't use them (the preparation process is the benefit)
- Tell stories and give common examples
- Keep your answers to thirty seconds (any longer and you may lose focus)
- Be conversational
- Smile while you are talking (it will come through your voice)
- Don't speak too quickly (practice speaking just before the interview)
- Use a headset to improve your flexibility and gesturing (I missed this one)
- Thank your interviewer after the interview - Dr. Jones was the best

I learned a lot from my first radio interview and my next one will be better. It has opened up a new promotional vehicle for Change with Confidence, one that I am keen to go afterIt has also given me a conversation starter if I ever meet Barbra Streisand.


Friday 5 April 2013

Could this be the "big one"?

Marketing a book is like spinning plates: you try to keep as many potential opportunities―writing articles, creating speaking proposals, building presentations, shooting videos, conducting interviews and giving presentationsin the air without any of them crashing to the ground. 

Since book marketing is new to me, every opportunity could be "the big one". I'm finding that it is difficult to prioritize my time when each activity could be the best use of it.

I realize that I'm in a risky position. As the amount of activities increases, the danger of the quality going down also increases. Any activity poorly executed could create a lasting impression that could damage my reputation and my book. I feel like I can't afford to pass on any of them and also I can't afford to fail. 

My best strategy is to maximize my productivity while I track my results. I need to quickly build a fact base so that I can see which activities produce the best results. Then I can apportion my time accordingly. 

I created a Marketing Grid to record my activities and ensure I effectively communicate them through social media. Most of  them will happen in the next two months so I will get data soon. 

For now, I will keep spinning more plates, building my skill and making sure that none of them fall.  Phil