The Extraordinary Business Book Club

The Extraordinary Business Book Club

By Alison Jones

Alison Jones, publisher and book coach, explores business books from both a writer's and a reader's perspective. Interviews with authors, publishers, business leaders, entrepreneurs, tech wizards, social media strategists, PR and marketing experts and others involved in helping businesses tell their story effectively.

Episodes

Episode 229 - Authors and events with Sasha Frieze

How are events changing in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic, and what does that mean for you if you're an author?  Award-winning events producer Sasha Frieze talks about how digital events are evolving, what the hybrid event of the future might look like, and the opportunities and challenges for speakers and authors in this new world.  From how (and when) to pitch for a speaking gig to smart tips for selling your book when you can't sit and sign it at the back of the room, this is every author's survival guide to the new normal of speaking and events. 
03/08/2041m 13s

Episode 228 - Busy@Home with Tony Crabbe

In a pandemic, we discover that we can do things we’d never imaged we could. Companies that have told staff for years that they can’t work at home have discovered that in fact they can, Tony Crabbe discovered that he could write a whole book in 16 days, and Hachette discovered that they could publish a book three weeks after it was delivered. In this week’s conversation Tony reflects on what he (and his family) discovered about working at that intensity, and shares some of the insights from the book about how to live and work more productively and with less stress in these extraordinary times. We also talk about what really restores us, and how we can navigate our way out of crisis and into a new, better normal.
27/07/2042m 37s

Episode 227 - Mission: To Manage with Marianne Page

'Systems transform lives.' After discovering the power of systems and processes in her career with McDonalds, Marianne Page now spends her time teaching small business owners that life-changing systems and processes aren't just for big companies.  We also talk about the joy of management, the power of the deadline, and the smart way to write a book... 
20/07/2038m 48s

Episode 226 - Relationships at work with Richard Fox

'It's part of building a physical legacy. The work that I do now, working with people all the time, you are aware of the changes that people make in their lives, but I've also been rather envious of this friend of mine who's an architect and he was showing the portfolio of all the buildings that he's been designing; you know, to write a book is, is part of a legacy, not only for your children, but for people over the next 10, 15 years. And of course I'll be adding to that legacy with all the stuff that I want to produce in the future.' Richard Fox has been helping people make relationships work at work for many years now, but the process of writing his book revealed new insights and connections (as it always does...) and also became an exercise in collaboration that reflected the very principles he was writing about. A fascinating insight into some of the key issues that underpin our relationships (and therefore our ability to Get Stuff Done) as well as the process of turning deep work done face to face into material for a book.
13/07/2037m 33s

Episode 225 - Leader with Katy Granville-Chapman and Emmie Bidston

"Leaders... really can bring a lot of joy into people's lives. They can uplift them, they can inspire them, they can help them connect to their purpose, they can support them, they can provide them compassion. That’s what we really care about, and the more leaders who choose to do that, because it's got massive performance benefits as well as being intrinsically a wonderful thing, the better." It's no exaggeration to say that leadership is life-changing, either for good or ill. Between them Katy Granville-Chapman and Emmie Bidston have experience of leading and training leaders in pretty much every context - military, sport, business, educational, government and public sector - and they've discovered that in every sphere the principles of successful leadership are surprisingly simple: know, love and inspire your people.  In this conversation we explore how they went about translating those principles into a book and accompanying course, and the benefits of writing with a supportive co-author. 
06/07/2036m 20s

Episode 224 - 65 Roses and a Trunki with Rob Law

"When faced with personal challenges and business challenges, it's going to take a lot of energy to overcome them. So why not use that energy wisely and focus on the things you can influence and forget about the stuff you can't?" Rob Law, aka Trunki Daddy, has faced more personal and business challenges than most. In this conversation he talks about living with cystic fibrosis (or '65 roses', as children often put it), his extraordinary journey as an entrepreneur, and the power of writing as a way of sense-making personally and professionally.  Inspiring, challenging, and, as you'd expect from the Trunki Daddy, huge fun. 
29/06/2032m 50s

Episode 223 - Smoke and Mirrors with Gemma Milne

'Writing the book was one of the hardest things I've ever done in my life... There's no quick fix. Everybody finds it hard. What differentiates people who have written books from those that haven't is the ones who wrote the books dealt with the fact that it was really hard.' Gemma Milne has come at hype from all sides in a career spanning advertising, sales, science journalism and investment, so she's well qualified to dissect it and help us understand what's really going on under the attention-grabbing headlines that bombard us every day.  But that doesn't mean it's easy.  In this frank and funny conversation she shares her frustration with the writing process and the revelation, on a flight to Austin, Texas, that transformed everything. 
22/06/2042m 44s

Episode 222 - Future-Proofed with Tom Cheesewright

Tom Cheesewright spends his life gazing into the future to help businesses identify and respond to trends and technology, but his advice for writers is rooted in the here and now. A fascinating conversation taking in principles for business survival in a fast-changing world along with super-practical tips for writing - and editing - effectively.  Plus a great tip for writers that is much more fun than most! 
15/06/2031m 6s

Episode 221 - Writing like a journalist with Rachel Bridge

'Ask yourself continually: is this boring me?... Because if you're bored writing it, there is no chance that anybody is going to want to read it.' Former Enterprise Editor of the Sunday Times, Rachel Bridge cheerfully admits that she has the classic journalistic characteristics: a short attention span and incurable curiosity. Both, it turns out, are useful when it comes to writing readable business books.  Fast, funny and fearless, this is a masterclass in cutting through the 'showy-off wibble' (technical journalistic term) and delivering the goods.   
08/06/2034m 3s

Episode 220 - The Best Bits: Whole Self Writing

One of the great privileges of hosting this podcast is the way that so many extraordinary business book authors are willing to share the vulnerable stuff - especially the fear and uncertainty around writing - with me, I hope you find it helpful too.  In this week's episode, I look back over the last few weeks and draw together examples of authors demonstrating 'whole self' writing: bringing their flaws, anxieties, strengths, superpowers, and unique ways of Getting Stuff Done to the work of writing a book. When you bring your whole self to the job, you write the book that only you can write, and the one that will most profoundly change your life.  In this week's Best Bits episode:  Chris Wilson on transforming the harshest of backgrounds and the bleakest of situations through the power of reading and writing; Bryony Thomas on the unflinching reality of just how hard this writing lark is; Patrick Dunne on turning dyslexia into a non-linear superpower; Elsbeth Johnson on the crisis of confidence for an author without a social media platform;  Julia Hobsbawm on how even professional writers can worry about tackling a book;  Lucinda Carney on the struggle to find your distinctive voice;  Greg Orme on being comfortable with the messiness of writing;  David Mansfield on living by curiosity and collecting stories; Anne Taylor on writing the book you most need yourself.  It's an exploration of the whole journey of writing, from idea through mess and uncertainty into clarity, and it's a whole-self process. 
01/06/2038m 58s

Episode 219 - Jigsaw writing with Patrick Dunne

'I decided not to do research, then write, then polish, but to have a big jigsaw approach, and do each day what I felt like doing. So if I felt like doing a bit of research, I would, if I felt actually I've got some stuff in my mind. I want to get down then I'd write and if I just fancied sort of finishing, polishing, I'd do a bit of that.' Patrick Dunne fell into writing books by accident. The main reason he agreed to write one in the first place back in 1997 was because he knew his Mum would be so proud. Little did he guess just how proud she'd be over 20 years when he won the Business Book Award in HR & Management with his latest book, Boards.  His refreshingly original approach to writing and publishing together with a complete absence of ego make this a real joy of a conversation, full of practical ideas for people who like to do things a little differently.  
25/05/2032m 8s

Episode 218 - Being a Change Superhero with Lucinda Carney

If you're overthinking things and tying yourself in knots, make a cup of tea and have a listen to this. Lucinda Carney is a woman who Gets Stuff Done, and in this conversation she reveals how she does it. It's a great example of how creating content - in this case a book and a podcast - can support whatever business you're in: Lucinda is CEO of a tech company, and both How to be a Change Superhero and the HR Uprising podcast provide the context that helps their customers make the system implementation successful.  A brilliant case study and a shot of pure writing adrenaline, all in one conversation. 
18/05/2032m 35s

Episode 217 - The Master Plan with Chris Wilson

Just occasionally, you have a conversation that rocks you to your core. One of those conversations that shows you how little you really know of life, how blind you are to your own privilege, and how feeble your excuses are. This is one of those conversations.  Chris Wilson was facing life in prison for homicide, with no hope of remission. After an upbringing marked by deprivation, violence, abuse and discrimination, his only resources were strength of character, force of will, and a love of reading.  Fortunately, those were enough.  Chris wrote out a Master Plan - a remarkably ambitious list of achievements he would aim for - and gradually ticked them all off. incredibly, he convinced a judge that he was not only no longer a danger to society, but an asset. And he's gone on to live a remarkably successful life as an artist, businessman and mentor.  This is a conversation I will never forget, and I suspect you won't either. 
11/05/2033m 5s

Episode 216 - Step Up Step Back with Elsbeth Johnson

'In leadership communication, and indeed in the process of writing a business book, the more and better the quality and time spent on the thinking, the less time and the more effective the actual production of the communication or the book.' Dr Elsbeth Johnson certainly put the time into creating her Step Up, Step Back model - the years of academic research and practical testing in organisations meant that she was able to write the book itself in just a few months. (The book proposal, on the other hand....)  In this conversation we discuss the two phases of leading change, the shift from academic writing to writing that works in the workplace, and the tyranny of the platform and why you don't necessarily need one ('other people who were coming out with books... seemed to have about one and a half million followers on Twitter, I've got about three'). 
04/05/2032m 28s

Episode 215 - Soft Skills Hard Results with Anne Taylor

'The more I shared my personal experience... the more vulnerability I showed, the more impact it had when I got feedback from other readers.' It's amazing how often the process of writing a book reflects the principles within it. That was certainly the case for Anne Taylor, who set out to write a book on soft skills for pragmatic, analytical thinkers focusing on practical, analytical tools and discovered that modelling the very soft skills she was writing about - sharing personal stories and focusing on relationships and lived experience - transformed the reader's experience.  She also discovered that although she'd feared asking for favours, when she dared to reach out to invite people to be involved in the book they were not only generous in their support but honoured to be asked - a great lesson for anyone feeling isolated as they write.  A generous and insightful conversation about how we communicate and the impact - personal and professional - of a book. 
27/04/2026m 2s

Episode 214 - The Human Edge with Greg Orme

The opportunities for celebration aren't what they used to be right now ('I treat myself and visit the kitchen every now and then..'), but Greg Orme is still enjoying his 'award-winning author' status after The Human Edge was named Business Book of the Year last month.  In this conversation he shares not only his thoughts on our human edge over AI (with a special shout-out for my personal favourite, curiosity) but also his writing process, which is reassuringly and helpfully messy.  Plus there's a lovely insight into the moment when I announced him as the winner - I only wish we'd had a two-way video feed... 
20/04/2035m 30s

Episode 213 - Watertight Marketing with Bryony Thomas

'Anyone who says writing a book is something you can do in 12 weeks or something is just telling people to write a bad book. ' It took Bryony Thomas four years to write the first edition of Watertight Marketing (although she did also give birth in that time...), but the time and energy she put into nailing the sequencing and expression of her ideas paid off.  Not only was the first edition a massive success, it became the foundation of a much bigger business. In this conversation we discuss the value of intellectual property as an asset, and also how you approach the task of revising such an iconic book. When the second edition was nearly complete, Bryony received a devastating diagnosis of pancreatic cancer: she talks frankly about the impact of that in this powerful, profoundly inspiring conversation. 
13/04/2037m 43s

Episode 212 - The Monday Revolution with David Mansfield

David Mansfield has a library of business books at home. Many of them are very good, many include great concepts and strategies. But he kept finding himself asking: 'How do you apply that to Monday morning?' And so The Monday Revolution was born - a rallying call to rethink your working week and return to 'factory settings'. What really matters? And what's getting in the way of that?  In this week's conversation he shares his writing journey, with great tips particularly on how to turn the stories that present themselves to us every day into material for a book. 
06/04/2038m 50s

Episode 211 - The Simplicity Principle with Julia Hobsbawm

'It was actually like falling in love, if I'm honest.' If you've fallen out of love with writing your book and even with your own ideas, this is just the tonic you need. Julia Hobsbawm lucidly talks through the evolution of The Simplicity Principle, with a behind-the-scenes look at the evolution of the thinking that underpins its six-part structure, and her passion for her topic will reignite your own.   Published in a pandemic that was unimaginable when it was written, this book passes the ultimate test: its principles retain their power and relevance despite the seismic shift that's taken place in the world.  Essential listening. 
30/03/2050m 51s

Episode 210 - The Best Bits: Resilience

A slightly unusual Best Bits episode, which is fitting for these unusual times. In the face of uncertainty and anxiety, we're talking about resilience: what it is, what it looks like in our day-to-day life, and how to build it.  Very grateful to my guests for their courage, honesty and insights:  Jenny Campbell on the dynamic nature of resilience Celia Gaze on bringing herself back from the brink of bankruptcy by sheer creativity  Ash Ali on finding 'unfair advantages' in the most unpromising situations Lucy Werner on finding focus and purpose in the most difficult circumstances Rob Baker on what resilience looks like day to day Hassan Osman on overcoming excuses Safi Bahcall on the best way to deal with failure and frustration Alison Jones (yes, me) on harnessing fear and making it work for you
23/03/2041m 20s

Episode 209 - Resilience and writing with Jenny Campbell

What does it mean to be resilient, and how can we become more resilient more often? That is Jenny Campbell's life work, and her findings at The Research Engine are revelatory. For one thing, your level of resilience isn't a fixed personality trait - it's contextual and dynamic. And in the process of writing her book The Resilience Dynamic, Jenny had to draw on everything she'd learned about resilience and apply it to her own journey, overcoming rejection, discouragement and complexity along the way. She shares her lessons here, in an inspiring and honest assessment of what it takes to write a book, together with the tools she developed to help.
16/03/2031m 4s

Episode 208 - Writing short books with Hassan Osman

'I'd love to write a book, but I have a full-time job and a family, I just don't have time.'  If that sounds like you, you need to hear this. Hassan Osman has a demanding full-time job at Cisco and a young family, but he's written eight (EIGHT!!) books so far, including four 'short books for busy managers' and, of course, one called Write Your Book on the Side. He also hosts the Writer on the Side podcast, helping others to do the same.  If you have excuses, be prepared to shed them now. And pick up some super-practical tips and hacks from this master of productivity. 
09/03/2030m 40s

Episode 207 - Treating your writing like a business

The dictionary defines ‘business’ as ‘work relating to the production, buying, and selling of goods or services.’ So if you’re writing a book that you’re planning to make available for sale, rather than simply writing a manuscript that’s going to stay in your bottom drawer, you’re in business. And thinking of your writing as a business is a really helpful way of thinking about what you’re doing and how you're doing it, and taking yourself and what you’re doing seriously. Because honestly - if you don’t take yourself seriously, who will? In this week's podcast I share a sneak preview of my upcoming talk at the London Book Fair's Writers' Summit, and I'd welcome your thoughts and ideas on how to develop it! 
02/03/2018m 26s

Episode 206 - Crazy ideas with Celia Gaze

When she decided to quit a good job in the NHS to develop a run-down farm, people thought Celia Gaze was crazy. When business was flagging and her response was to put her father's old bow tie on a llama and share the snap on social media, they knew it.  Now, with a string of awards and a hugely successful business to her name, those crazy decisions don't seem quite so crazy any more.  In this fascinating conversation Celia reveals the highs and lows of her extraordinary journey, and why she wrote her book - Why Put a Bow Tie on a Llama? - to encourage others to find the crazy ideas that might just change their life.  And if you're struggling to get your book written, Celia has some great tips for you! 
24/02/2032m 52s

Episode 205 - Loonshots with Safi Bahcall

What does it take to write the most-recommended business book of the year? Safi Bahcall, author of Loonshots: How to Nurture the Crazy Ideas That Win Wars, Cure Diseases, and Transform Industries, talks about learning to write (and rewrite) a business book that matters, and it's pure gold for anyone who has the same ambition.  This is straight talking and ruthlessly practical: people don't care about ideas, and people don't care about you, so how do you find a way of communicating your ideas in ways that DO engage them?  And just as importantly, how can you have fun while you do it?  Brilliant advice from one of the world's most brilliant brains. 
17/02/2041m 3s

Episode 204 - The One About Fear

Writing a book, like doing pretty much anything that matters, involves a quantity of fear. Many people let it stop them, and instead spend their time and attention on the stuff that keeps them feeling safe.  But not you, my friend. In this very personal episode I talk about what I've learned about fear when it comes to writing a book (or indeed, as noted, pretty much anything that matters). I also share some of the insights from others I've found most helpful.  Warning: may cause discomfort, curiosity, and action.   
10/02/2018m 11s

Episode 203 - Personalization with Rob Baker

'If we feel there's some of us, our fingerprints in the work that we do, and we're able to make a difference in the work that we do, and it's aligned to what's important to us, we're more likely to be engaged.' Rob Baker helps companies and individuals with 'job crafting', finding ways of personalizing their work so it 'fits' the individual's strengths and interests more closely. And of course when it came to writing the book about it, he took a route that suited his OWN way of working perfectly: using a Trello board to build a table of contents, share it with others, and gradually refine both his own thinking and the structure of the book as he wrote. He also got clear up front on his 'writing budget' and used his experience as a runner to help manage the days when sitting down and writing was the last thing he wanted to do.  It's a simple but quite brilliant approach, and it might just be one you can personalize for yourself.  (Oh, and how do you feel about that 'z' in 'Personalization'? We talk about that too....)
03/02/2030m 37s

Episode 202 - Unfair Advantages with Ash Ali and Hasan Kubba

'We followed the lean startup principles of creating a product... we actually did an MVP version of our book... we kept testing our material... And we thought, this is going well.' In this week's conversation, entrepreneurs and start-up strategists Ash Ali and Hasan Kubba reveal how they developed their 'unfair advantage' concept into a best-selling book through iterations and stress-testing, engaging an audience and attracting three publishers along the way.  We also talk about 'business smarts' - how street smarts, book smarts and creativity work together, and how reading widely can help you create more 'dots' to join up so that you can be smarter and more creative in your business, and in your writing.  A fascinating and frank conversation with two start-up legends, that will help you find and leverage the pants off your own 'unfair' advantage. 
27/01/2034m 15s

Episode 201 - Hype Yourself with Lucy Werner

If you have excuses, be prepared to shed them now... Lucy Werner's book story is quite simply extraordinary. Having entered the 10-day Business Book Proposal Challenge last January on a whim, she went on to win it. She was pregnant at the time so knew things might be tricky, but she wasn't prepared for the full enormity of what the following year threw at her. Nobody could have been.  Despite having every reason not to finish the book, Lucy hit her deadline. And then of course she had to deliver the PR campaign to support it (because you can't credibly publish a book called Hype Yourself without, well, hyping it yourself). And she did that too, with incredible results. Genius PR tips and an honest, challenging look at what it takes to write and promote a book when the world is conspiring against you. Essential listening.
20/01/2034m 5s

Episode 200 - The Bicentenary Episode

Celebrate with me - The Extraordinary Business Book Club is 200 episodes young! So along with the Best Bits of the last few (absolutely brilliant) conversations, there's some reflection on what that means, and why it matters. The bicentennial best bits are all about curiosity, experimentation, getting feedback, failing and trying again, and feature:  Buster Benson on curiosity as a guide to writing a book; Jono Bacon on the open-source philosophy as a rulebook for writing; Helen Winter with the best feedback/user-testing story EVER;  Richard Hall and Rachel Bell on collaboration as a feedback and accountability tool;  Ginny Carter on the importance of tolerating mess;  Karen Williams on strategic experimentation.  This show is extraordinary because of the hundreds of extraordinary people like these who've talked so openly and thoughtfully about their business and their book over the last three years. I can't wait to start the next chapter...  
13/01/2023m 44s

Episode 199 - New Year Special: Goal Setting

No matter how many you've seen, there's still something a bit special about a new year: however 2019 panned out for you, 2020 is a blank canvas waiting for you to create something that matters. But how do you translate your big goals and aspirations for the year into the day-to-day actions that will turn them into reality?  In this episode I share my personal goal-setting strategy, which I've refined over the last few years and which I use with my clients too to get clarity, balance competing priorities, ensure accountability, and make time for the important tasks amidst the daily clamour of the urgent ones.  Your goals are a reflection of who you are and the dent you want to make in the universe: if you don't put in place a system to make them happen, you're cheating both yourself and the universe. 
06/01/2019m 58s

Episode 198 - The Top Ten Reads of 2019

I set myself a tough challenge for 2019: read 100 business books in the year. It was a close thing, but I hit my target (if we allow manuscripts as well as published books, and I don't see why we shouldn't). In this week's episode I've picked out the 10 titles that that have particularly stood out for me and which I'd recommend to anyone who cares about good business books, in the order in which I read them. 
30/12/1925m 34s

Episode 197 – Audio first with Karen Williams

Audio books are big news. But they're also expensive and complicated to produce - or are they? Determined to find out for herself, Karen Williams published her latest book Becoming An Authority audio first (in fact it doesn't even exist yet as a print or ebook).  She discovered a huge amount about the process along the way, including how to write in a way that makes it easier to read aloud, the importance of movement, and how to get an audiobook out across all the different channels, and she generously shares it all here and in the accompanying resources. 
23/12/1934m 6s

Episode 196 - Finding what works with Helen Winter

Writing a book is hard work. One of the best things about this podcast is that so many guests reveal the brilliant, extraordinary, sometimes hilarious strategies that got them through the hard yards of planning and writing and out the other side.  This is one of those podcasts.  From smart public transport hacks to testing concepts out on her mother, Helen Winter tells us exactly how she turned her idea for The Business Analysis Handbook from a twinkle in her eye to an award short-listed book - and how she came out of the the 10-day Business Book Proposal Challenge with a proposal that had three publishers calling her up within a week! 
16/12/1930m 4s

Episode 195 - Practical Inspiration Author Day takeaways

This week saw the first ever Practical Inspiration author day. More than 40 authors at every stage of the journey - from just signed up to three years post-publication - to share stories and tips and to support each other.  There were workshops on overcoming procrastination and marketing your book, and a wealth of practical (and inspiring, naturally) ideas, from setting up your writing habit to launching successfully and integrating your book with your website.  If you were there, you'll know just how energising and useful this day was. If you weren't, here's a taste of the brilliantly practical learnings we took away with us. And maybe next time, you can be there too. 
09/12/1921m 31s

Episode 194 - Starting Up with Richard Hall and Rachel Bell

There's never been a more entrepreneurial age. The barriers to entry for setting up a business have crumbled over the last decades while our sense of purpose and desire to be in control of our lives have sky-rocketed.  But what does it take to be successful in this new world? Richard Hall and Rachel Bell interviewed hundreds of entrepreneurs and discovered that those who succeed aren't afraid to experiment in small ways, learn, adapt, trial and rethink where necessary.  In this conversation they also share how they set the pace for each other as they wrote the book and why their complementary skill-sets helped when it came to marketing. 
02/12/1938m 31s

Episode 193 - People Powered with Jono Bacon

'It's tempting, especially when you're a consultant, to not share anything. Because you're worried that what you do, what you talk to your clients about, is your secret sauce... it took me about a year or so to realise that that's completely untrue.' Jono Bacon has written a few books now, and every time he's learned how to do it better. In this conversation he shares all that learning generously, and reveals how open-source philosophy and the power of people have informed not just his career, but his approach to writing a business book.  Accent-spotters will have particular fun with this... 
25/11/1934m 20s

Episode 192 - Why are we Yelling? with Buster Benson

"Half of the reason I decided to do this book was to learn... what does it take to write a book? Not only the process that you go through but what is the personal journey I am going to have to go through to become the person that can write this book? And it turned out to be as expected very difficult, lots of ups and downs..." Buster Benson is incurably curious, and luckily for the rest of the world, he's also generous and creative in sharing his journey. In this conversation we talk about the power of writing as a daily practice, how he had to learn to draw after deciding he wanted an illustrated book, and of course why learning to disagree well expands and improves your world, the topic of his book Why Are We Yelling? The Art of Productive Disagreement. 
18/11/1932m 40s

Episode 191 - Your Business, Your Book with Ginny Carter

When you write business books for a living, writing your own brings an unexpected problem: 'Sometimes I thought it was quite outrageous, in fact: Hang on a minute, nobody's paying me to do this, how can that be?' But Ginny Carter discovered that she was richly rewarded as she took herself through the process she works through with her clients - articulating the knowledge, expertise and insights that would otherwise remain unexpressed.  In this conversation she lifts the lid on how she went about putting her own book together, and reveals two of her top tips: how to 'seed' your business into your book, and how to use the 'even if' structure to solve the reader's real problem. 
11/11/1931m 54s

Episode 190 - The Best Bits

Writing a business book is a delicate balancing act between being fully yourself and being fully in service of your reader. How do you "do you" to the max, without tipping over into self-indulgence or over-sharing?  In the last few episodes of The Extraordinary Business Book Club we've explored this question from a number of angles. In this Best Bits episode, discover: Karen Skidmore on how writing a book deepens and shifts your own thinking Andrew Hill on curiosity, clarity and curation Nancy Youssef on the vulnerability involved in telling your own story  Chris Hirst on the discipline of what to include and what to leave out   Norm Laviolette on writing in your own way and owning your material Marianne Cantwell on recognising that what worked for you won't work for everyone Kelly Glover on pitching your message to fit the audience. 
04/11/1936m 44s

Episode 189 - Podcast publicity tips with Kelly Glover

Kelly Glover is the queen of podcast promo. She's booked thousands of authors, entrepreneurs and experts as guests on top podcasts and taught them how to make the most of the opportunity, drawing on her own media experience as a radio producer, talent agent and podcast host.  In this episode she reveals the secrets of being a great podcast guest: how to get the gig, how to prepare and perform, and how to squeeze every last bit of value out of the opportunity. And it's not just what she says, it's how she says it: Kelly walks her talk and this is a masterclass in how to be the perfect podcast guest. 
28/10/1933m 59s

Episode 188 - From our Frankfurt correspondent

Another Frankfurt Book Fair, another series of fascinating book-related conversations, but this year I managed to capture just a few of them for the benefit of Extraordinary Business Book Club listeners.  Hear from:  Writer and publishing guru Joanna Penn on the latest developments in audio Literary agent Jaime Marshall on what's hot and what's not Blinkist curator Robyn Kerkoff on what makes a memorable non-fiction book Networking supremo and founder of Byte the Book Justine Solomons on the business of storytelling and the power of connection.  If you couldn't make it in person to the Messe, this is the next best thing. 
21/10/1928m 48s

Episode 187 - 10 top tips for reading business books

At the start of 2019 I set myself the ambitious target of reading 100 business books in the year. Now we are 78% of the way through the year, and I am 60% through my list. So really, who am I to be offering reading tips?  But the fact remains that you don't consume 60 books in less than 10 months without picking up some useful learnings. Here, then, are a few reflections on what I've discovered so far, and some practical thoughts on how to supercharge your own extraordinary business book reading. 
14/10/1923m 47s

Episode 186 - Talking Business Books with Andrew Hill

'It sometimes feels like I get to see every business book published.' As managing editor and business book reviewer for the Financial Times, not to mention the coordinator of the annual FT/McKinsey Business Book of the Year award, Andrew Hill reads probably more business books than anyone else on the planet. It's worth a listen to this just for his personal recommendations.  But he's also a writer, and so his reflections on the value of books in the 21st century are doubly valuable, since he's reflecting on them both professionally and personally, and as both a creator and a consumer.  Fascinating and thoughtful insights into the world of top business books from one of its most influential figures.  
07/10/1940m 20s

Episode 185 - Fear, Money, Purpose with Nancy Youssef

'But that's really vulnerable. I don't really want people to read that.' 'Well, that's your story. And if you really want to give this your best shot, you've got to go deep.' When financier, businesswoman and philanthropist Nancy Youssef decided to entitle the book about the lessons she's learned in her life Fear. Money. Purpose. she didn't realise just how appropriate those words would be for the act of writing the book itself.  In this conversation she reveals how she took up the challenge, invested in the process, and transformed her original play-it-safe manuscript into a powerful personal story that wowed her publisher and transformed her own life. 
30/09/1929m 58s

Episode 184 - True Profit Business with Karen Skidmore

 'We build the road and the road builds us.' Sometimes, writing a business book can be a profound experience of self-discovery. Karen Skidmore describes True Profit Business: How to play your bigger game without burning out, as her 'becoming' book, and what she discovered along the way has transformed her own business.  But how can an author extend that gift of deep engagement and transformation to readers most of whom, let's face it, have a stack of unread business books on their bedside table already? Karen's answer was to create a launch book club, inviting readers to engage with her and with each other over a period of six weeks and holding them accountable for taking action on what they read.  Genius, no? Find out more here. 
23/09/1936m 34s

Episode 183 - Free Range Humans with Marianne Cantwell

Writing a book is rocket-fuel for your profile, of course. But what happens five years later, when your thinking and your business have moved on and your book just won't stop selling? That's where Marianne Cantwell, author of Be A Free Range Human: Escape the 9-5, Create a Life You Love and Still Pay the Bills, found herself. Find out how she came to write a new edition and what she discovered on the way - the authors on this podcast make the mistakes so you don't have to. And along the way enjoy Marianne's thoughts on being free range, finding your own way, working with editors, and the vital importance of the Best Friend Test. Top-quality listening.
16/09/1935m 29s

Episode 182 - Leadership and Language with Chris Hirst

There's a lot of hot air expended on the topic of leadership. It can seem as though 'leadership' is a complex, arcane concept far removed from the reality of most of our lives. Here's the antidote: Chris Hirst's No Bullsh*t Leadership: Why the World Needs More Everyday Leaders and Why That Leader Is You.  In this conversation we talk about the power of language to hide or reveal the truth, the importance of writing generally as a business skill, and writing a book specifically as a thinking tool, and the importance of pushing through.  If you're writing, you're a writer. If you're leading, you're a leader. Here's how to do both a little better.  
09/09/1936m 56s

Episode 181 - Improv and business with Norm Laviolette

If you need some encouragement to write in your own voice, this could be just what you need. Norm Laviolette could have called his book 'Developing a Creative Mindset': instead, he stayed true to his roots and wrote 'The Art of Making Sh!t Up'.  In this conversation we discuss finding your voice, taking control of your life, and seeing what comes up. And also softball coaching, because improv, creativity and business success are all based on noticing unexpected connections and having the courage to act on them. 
02/09/1935m 54s

Episode 180 - The Best Bits

The last few episodes of The Extraordinary Business Book club have included some extraordinary conversations about business and books, and one thing that's become clear is that you need to be fuelled by passion to write a business book that makes a difference. Discover how these award-winning writers tapped into their deepest values and motivations, and how you can too: Chris Duffey on the imperative of providing value Andrea Clarke on how writing can help you tap into your values as well as communicating them  Debbie Wosskow and Anna Jones on the power of introspection for action-takers Harriet Kelsall on bringing your whole self to your business and your book  Charlie Corbett on finding your voice and being yourself Colette Heneghan on humility and writing the book that doesn't yet exist  Tom Cheesewright on shifting your perspective from behind your own eyes Chris Griffiths on turning passion into process Jonathan MacDonald on turning passion into process
26/08/1936m 32s

Episode 179 - Creative Thinking with Chris Griffiths

'Today, if you always do what you've always done, even if you do it faster, you're going to get left way behind... it's not knowledge that's power and it's not even the use of knowledge that's power: it's the creation of new knowledge that actually leads to something different.' As children we are naturally, unselfconsciously creative, but by the time we start work most of us have put ourselves into a box and find it almost impossible to think outside it. Chris Griffiths, founder of OpenGenius, is on a mission to help us rediscover our innovation mojo.  The Creative Thinking Handbook is part of that mission, setting out a process ('innovation isn't an event, it's a process and any process needs structure'). But in this conversation Chris reveals the creative process behind the writing of that book - we discuss the interplay of writing and visualisation, the mechanics of collaboration, and the role of technology, from paper and post-its to mind-mapping software.  A brilliantly practical and thoughtful discussion about thinking, writing and creating something new and worthwhile. 
19/08/1940m 30s

Episode 178 - Believe Build Become with Debbie Wosskow and Anna Jones

'We wanted to create a monster global sisterhood of amazing women who have each other's backs.' Old Boys' Networks have been the invisible scaffolding on which high-flying men have build their careers for centuries. Debbie Wossock and Anna Jones - high-flyers themselves as both executives and entrepreneurs - decided it was time that women had an equivalent space and support network. The result was AllBright, a women's support and success network, and the first women-only private members' club in London.  But to reach as many women as possible with their empowering message they did the only sensible thing: they wrote a book. In this conversation they reveal how their writing collaboration reflected their core values - mutual respect, optimism, humour, and gin. 
12/08/1935m 56s

Episode 177 - Powered by Change with Jonathan MacDonald

Jonathan MacDonald is extraordinary in many ways: a victim of bullying as a child who grew up to practise 'radical forgiveness', the youngest ever Chairman of the British Music Industries Association, the current British heavyweight jiu-jitsu champion.... Oh yes, and an advisor, award-winning, best-selling author and keynote speaker. How? Find out here.  We talk about diversity, change, structuring and writing a book, metaphor and coin-flipping - to name just a few - and he makes an incredibly generous offer to Extraordinary Business Book Club listeners which you'd be a fool to pass up. Get the kettle on and get ready for some top quality brainfood. 
05/08/1936m 14s

Episode 176 - Future Fit with Andrea Clarke

'The discovery process is everything. It's the whole project.' Andrea Clarke describes the three months she spent writing her book as being in 'a pure content vortex... I felt like I was on a natural high.' Discover why, and maybe catch some of her energy and enthusiasm to reignite your own writing mojo, in this fascinating conversation.  As well as talking about the skills that make humans 'future fit' for work, we also touch on the power of audio and the need to 'get over yourself' if you don't like the sound of your voice, the importance of having a 3-dimensional network, and why it's sometimes better NOT to ask for feedback. 
29/07/1933m 3s

Episode 175 - Plain Speaking with Charlie Corbett

'We've got more ways to communicate with one another than in any time in human history, and yet we've completely forgotten how to communicate with one another, or at least how to communicate in a meaningful way.' Charlie Corbett is starting a revolution. He wants to end corporate-speak and the lazy thinking behind it. Instead, he calls us to think hard and speak plainly as communicators, and challenge meaningless jargon and obfuscation as listeners.  The same goes for writing a book, and he has great advice on how to get over yourself and get started. Brilliant, bracing listening. 
22/07/1935m 29s

Episode 174 - Work Fuel with Colette Heneghan

'If you ask people do they have a plan for the week, do they know where they need to be, do they know the clients that they'll be meeting, they've prepared for that... Then you say, "What are you going to have for lunch?" And they go, "What?"' Most of us know exactly what we should be eating, few of us are actually eating it. Too often we fuel our working day with a quick-fix mix of carbs and caffeine, without realising the price we're paying in fatigue, poor decision-making and low productivity.  When Productivity Ninja Graham Allcott starting working with wellbeing expert Colette Heneghan, he was astonished at the impact on his energy and output. Together they're written the book for everyone who wants to give themselves an unfair advantage at work. In this episode we talk about things-on-toast, finding the gap, writing with a co-author, and beating the blank page.  
15/07/1935m 5s

Episode 173 - The book of the future with Tom Cheesewright

The young Tom Cheesewright found his purpose in life when his mother bought him a copy of the 1979 Usborne Book of the Future. Now he's an Applied Futurist, focusing not on teleportation or interstellar travel but on identifying what is going to take an organisation out at the knees in five years' time. He discovered that the best way to do that was to create a narrative of the future: 'We've got to be able to tell stories when we're trying to compel change.' (Which is why his book High Frequency Change: Why We Feel Like Change Happens Faster Now and What to Do About It is so readable.)  He also discovered that writing a book isn't like writing a paper, it requires a different approach to structure, and he shares how he overcame that challenge. Pure gold. 
08/07/1932m 4s

Episode 172 - Writing and creativity with Harriet Kelsall

You might not think of yourself as 'a creative', but if you're an entrepreneur or a business book author that's exactly what you are, insists award-winning jeweller Harriet Kelsall: you're creating something that didn't exist before you imagined it. And as she discovered the hard way, that means finding your own way to do what you do:  "What I need to do is what I do, not what everyone else does. That's the thing that's going to work." The need to find your own way becomes even more acute when, like Harriet, you face a challenge like dyslexia. This is a deep dive into practical creativity as brilliant and as packed with gems as Harriet's own bespoke jewellery. 
01/07/1934m 9s

Episode 171 - Writing and AI with Chris Duffey

What if you had some help writing your book: a collaborator to transcribe your ideas, do the grunt work of researching huge amounts of material, bounce ideas off, give editorial feedback and even provide their own contributions in the form of a dialogue? And what if that collaborator was available without pay 24/7, had no ego or hangups, and demanded no intellectual property rights? Sounds too good to be true, right?  Meet Aimé, or to give her her full name, AI + Me. When Chris Duffey decided to write a book on AI, he quickly realised that it made sense to develop an AI co-author to help him write a better book, more quickly.  And that's the premise of Superhuman Innovation: with AI support, humans can be and do so much more. A fascinating conversation about humans, machine, and the nature of writing with one of the world's most prominent creative technologists. 
24/06/1935m 14s

Episode 170 - The Best Bits

A few of the stand-out moments from the last few Extraordinary Business Book Club episodes -  this week we're asking.... why? Why write a book, when it's so damn hard? Here's why. Mark Burns on the stones in the reader's shoe Bec Evans on treating your book as a prototype Fiona Murden on keeping it real in a self-development book David Grayson on building a collaborative vision for a book  Whitney Vosburgh on the big picture and remote collaboration Della Hudson on writing as a thinking tool Neil Mullarkey on using the principles of improv to get started. 
17/06/1931m 58s

Episode 169 - Improv and writing with Neil Mullarkey

'Improv is always, "Let's just start something now. We don't know where it's going to go, but we'll start now. Whatever tools, whatever cast we have." That's what writing should be as well.' Neil Mullarkey, founder of the Comedy Store Players and long-time sketch buddy of Mike Myers, is on a mission to bring the joy, playfulness and co-creativity of improv into organisations around the world.  We talk about his astonishing career, the power of improv in a VUCA world, and how the principles that allow improv performers to create something from nothing apply to facing down the blank page.  Quite simply, this is top-quality listening. 
10/06/1946m 38s

Episode 168 - The Numbers Business with Della Hudson

Think you're in a profession that doesn't lend itself to writing a book? Della Hudson trained as a chemist and is now an accountant, but her book The Numbers Business: How to build a successful cloud accountancy practice was a winner at this year's Business Book Awards. And even she, one of the world's clearest thinkers, recommends writing a book as an exercise in clarity and an investment in your intellectual property assets:  'It's a nice way to structure your thoughts. Just to think clearly because you're structuring them for your readers. But you're also structuring all that information to be used in a number of different ways in future.'
03/06/1925m 25s

Episode 167 - The Learning Imperative with Mark Burns

'Think about your audience. What stones do they have in their shoes? And what possibilities do they dream of?' And with this great advice from his editor ringing in his ears, Mark Burns and his co-writer Andy Griffith planned, wrote, rewrote, tested, revised and edited their way to their final manuscript - and investing in their own personal and professional development in the process.  In a fast-changing world, people and organisations that don't learn well don't perform well. Learning really is an imperative across every sector, but how do you convince employees and managers to accept the levels of trust, vulnerability and struggle that involves? You engage their emotions. 'Metaphor and story are really powerful ways in which people can empathise, connect. And when people say, "That's me. That's just my problem," that then gives them a route. You've sold them the art of the possibility.'
27/05/1934m 22s

Episode 166 - Defining You with Fiona Murden

Self-development books are big business - but is it just navel-gazing on the hand or esoteric theory on the other?  'At the end of the day people want something that's pragmatic, and they can actually do something with.' Fiona Murden has been working with the world's most senior leaders for years: in Defining You she makes the profiling tools and techniques usually reserved for the extremes of society - top leaders and Olympians or criminals - available to anyone who wants to understand themselves better so they can make better decisions.  Along the way we talk about winning awards, writing as a woman, the role of running in writing, and the power of partnerships. Unmissable listening. 
20/05/1934m 58s

Episode 165 - Work the Future Today with Whitney Vosburgh

When we talk about 'the future', we're subconsciously distancing ourselves from some indefinite, hypothetical construct. But in reality, argues Whitney Vosburgh and his co-author Charlie, we are continually co-creating the future in the present, without fully making the connection between the two.  'Instead of being futurists, we need to be now-ists. The future only happens now, and now, and now.'  And that only happens when we build what we know into the way we live, when we go from head, to heart, to hands.  This is also a fascinating insight into how two people can write a book together despite only having met in person twice, and how authors can test the definition of the word 'book' to its limits - from book to mini-book to micro-book... .  
13/05/1931m 46s

Episode 164 - The Reality Check

Something a bit different this week: I buttonholed some of the top voices in the book industry at last week's IPG Spring Conference and asked them: What is it that authors need to know but publishers are too polite to tell them? Their answers might surprise you - and they will definitely help you if you're writing a book, and particularly if you're planning to submit a proposal to a publisher. This is insider stuff you need to know, together with some big truths you need to hear. 
06/05/1924m 6s

Episode 163 - All In with David Grayson

'What is the business case for being unsustainable?' Professor David Grayson has been involved in social enterprise before it was even a thing, and over the last few decades he has acted as the conscience of business on a range of issues from accessibility and diversity to corporate social responsibility and sustainability. In All In, he and his co-authors Chris Coulter and Mark Lee examine the practices of those companies leading the way in sustainability and challenge business leaders in every sector and at every scale to commit themselves to going 'all in' to ensure a long-term future. In this conversation we discuss how three authors in three different time zones can create a shared vision and manage the work of researching and writing such a significant book in what turned out to be a surprisingly short time...
29/04/1934m 0s

Episode 162 - How to Have a Happy Hustle with Bec Evans

'[The principles behind the book were those of] the lean startup: build, measure, learn, which meant running experiments, testing stuff with users and iterating and improving... treating it as a whole series of prototypes.' In writing her first book - How to Have a Happy Hustle - Bec Evans drew on all her knowledge of innovation strategy as well as her expertise in writing productivity. The result is not only a superb book, but a masterclass in smart book development, testing every element from problem-finding to the table of contents to the cover.  In this episode she talks us through the process, and reveals how she overcame those two classic writers' blockers, fear and procrastination, along the way. 
22/04/1931m 38s

Episode 161 - Mindfulness for Leaders with Dr Audrey Tang

‘Mindfulness is… all about recognising where we're coming from, and who we are, and how we like to think, and where we're going with all that information.’ Dr Audrey Tang is in the business of ‘applied mindfulness’ – how can it help us be better leaders, smarter learners, and happier people? In The Leader’s Guide to Mindfulness, she shows how soft skills give hard results in areas such as problem solving and creativity, and also takes us deeper, to emotional resilience, inspiration and growth. This is a masterclass in drawing together practical teaching and spiritual depth, weaving in expertise and experience as diverse as teaching aerobics and designing escape rooms.
15/04/1935m 7s

Episode 160 - The Best Bits

A few of the stand-out moments from the last few Extraordinary Business Book Club episodes - there's a celebratory feel as it marks the fifth birthday of Practical Inspiration, and this week we're focused on finding inspiration in the uncomfortable and owning your ideas. Niki Schafer on submerging yourself in things that inspire you Anjali Ramachandran on seeking out ideas outside your comfort zone  Brendan Barns on owning your story and the importance of humour Kate Minchin on the unexpected usefulness of the zombie apocalpyse approach Niklas Jansen on taking your ideas to new platforms Chris Watson on the value of process and people Miya Knights on collaboration and vulnerability  Mike Sergeant on intimacy, trust and the podcast.
08/04/1930m 27s

Episode 159 - PR for Humans with Mike Sergeant

As a journalist, Mike Sergeant's job was to communicate complex issues clearly and quickly. He had to find within huge geopolitical issues the human stories that listeners could connect with. Today he uses that experience to help business leaders communicate more powerfully.  Mike believes that PR is simply storytelling - human to human. Finding the story and creating the emotional connection, that's what saves us from spin and distrust.  In this conversation we talk about the difference between simplifying your message and clarifying it, the power of the podcast, and those weirdly productive 3am moments.
01/04/1934m 3s

Episode 158 - Always Time for Coffee with Kate Minchin

Kate Minchin claims her entire career has been built on a mountain of coffee beans. Which sounds a bit precarious, but you get the idea: getting the best out of people is based on getting to know them, and that means getting out of the office and into conversation. While there are stacks of business books written for leaders and entrepreneurs, relatively few are aimed at frontline managers (same goes for training, interestingly), and Kate wanted to right this wrong. The result is Always Time for Coffee: A Down-To-Earth Guide for Frontline Managers, Team Leaders and Supervisors, full of real-life wisdom and tactical, practical tips for happier and more productive teams. She had an interesting personal reason for writing the book too. And I can think I can safely say this is probably the only podcast episode that ever has and ever will include the phrase 'non-zombie-specific stuff'.
25/03/1935m 6s

Episode 157 - Reflections on the London Book Fair

Fresh [sic] from the London Book Fair 2019, where Practical Inspiration Publishing was an exhibitor, this week's episode is a reflection on the big themes of the Fair, and the Quantum conference that preceded it (and of which I was a Chair). Listen up for the latest on:  the growth of non-fiction - why we're all trying to make sense of a world gone mad the audio explosion - how audio books, podcasts and voice-first discovery are shaping the new publishing landscape independent publishers - why they're increasingly shaping the agenda bookshops - how they defied expectations to remain relevant in the age of Amazon, and how they're working with publishers like us to bring readers and authors together discoverability - what it is, why it matters, and some great new tools to help books get found  And very, very, VERY little on Brexit. Promise. 
18/03/1920m 40s

Episode 156 - Funny Business with Brendan Barns

'Our events are a bit like a business book; a business book should give you new ideas, cutting edge content, stuff that you haven't thought about before. But great business books can do it in a way that makes learning fun, that is entertaining to read, that also inspires the reader.' London Business Forum do events a bit differently. You don't get Tom Peters in boxing gloves at your run-of-the-mill business presentation. In this episode, LBF founder Brendan Barns talk about what makes a great talk, and why laughter is such a powerful tool for engaging attention and communicating ideas. Spoiler alert: Creating a great talk is not so different to creating a great book.
11/03/1934m 35s

Episode 155 - The Amazon effect with Natalie Berg and Miya Knights

Amazon has revolutionised retail, and it's showing no signs of stopping. To understand the Amazon effect, and consider what might be coming next, we need to analyse it through two lenses - retail strategy and technology. Which is why retail analyst Natalie Berg and technology journalist Miya Knights decided to combine their perspectives and co-author their new book Amazon: How the world's most relentless retailer will continue to revolutionise commerce.  In this conversation we talk about the Amazon effect itself (always fascinating for a publisher!) and the future of retail, but also what it takes to collaborate on a book, the difficulty of writing about a moving target, and how to fit the writing alongside the day job. 
04/03/1938m 11s

Episode 154 - Upskilling with Chris Watson

'Wouldn't it be helpful if somehow you could anticipate the key skills that would be needed in the future to support people's professional growth?' And that was the question that eventually led Chris Watson to write his first book: Upskill: 21 Keys to Professional Growth. In this conversation we explore the steps between: the research behind the book, how Chris pulled it all together and found the right writing style, and the marketing tips he's learned along the way.  Writing a good business book usually starts with asking a good business question: here's the step-by-step guide to everything in between. 
25/02/1927m 20s

Episode 153 - New narratives with Anjali Ramachandran

'Constantly trying to be open to knowing about things that we're not that comfortable with, I think that's important.' Most of us live inside a bubble of our own making: we read and talk about things that we know, we filter our feeds and our network to the voices that are like ours, whose opinions validate our own. That's dangerous, warns innovator Anjali Ramachandran, and it's also poor business. For all sorts of reasons, we need to seek out and share the new narratives that will shape the future of our interconnected world.  But can there be a place for books in this work? It's complicated... 
18/02/1932m 54s

Episode 152 - Blinkist - finding books with Niklas Jansen

'We have trailers and teasers about a movie. So why shouldn't there be a teaser or trailer for a book?' When Niklas Jansen graduated he knew he wanted to start a business, but he didn't know much about running a business. And he also realised that suddenly he didn't have as much time as he'd had as a student for reading. So where better to start than creating a business that involved reading lots of business books and distilling the key ideas?  And so Blinkist was born, 'bringing the ideas from the best nonfiction to some of the busiest people on the planet'.  In this conversation we talk about how reading is changing, why sharing ideas is essential for discoverability, and why your offline strategy matters just as much as your online content. 
11/02/1929m 13s

Episode 151 - Design, creativity and joy with Niki Schafer

Designers look at life differently, and writers can learn a lot from their approach. Niki Schafer's aim as an interior designer is to design happiness into her clients' homes. And while she was writing her book on 'dwellbeing', she discovered how to capture the joyful state of creative flow kinaesthetically, so that she could bypass 'procrastination and head-scratching' and put herself immediately into the writing zone.  A conversation for any writer who needs a dose of practical inspiration and a shot of playfulness to get their happy back. Plus the most beautiful shelfies you've ever seen. 
04/02/1931m 42s

Episode 150 - The Sesquicentennial Best Bits

There aren't many opportunities to slip the word 'sesquicentennial' into conversation, so make the most of this one by recommending it, casual-like, to all your friends. A few of my favourite moments from the last few Extraordinary Business Book Club episodes, with the focus today on serendipity. (There's another great word right there...) James Kelley on pivoting your book idea Alexandra Levit on spotting the opportunities in what's said Christine Armstrong on spotting the opportunities in what's NOT said Whitney Johnson on how opportunities - and books - evolve Graham Allcott on spotting the opportunities to turn a book into a brand Karen Morley on capturing everyday insights Mac Macartney on making your own luck Sean Pillot de Chenecey on knowing when to close the opportunity window and ship.
28/01/1930m 51s

Episode 149 - Building out the brand with Graham Allcott

Graham Allcott is one of the most productive people I know. Which isn't surprising. His book How to be a Productivity Ninja was a huge success when it was first published five years ago, and has become the cornerstone of his business, Think Productive. There's a new edition of that book on the way, but there's also a bigger conversation around the principles within it. 'It's a conversation that happens regularly, where people say, "Hey, this whole kind of way of approaching productivity and this way of approaching managing yourself, how can this apply to nutrition?" "How can this apply to parenting?" "How can this apply to email?" There are so many different facets that you could apply this to. So the idea is to create a series called 'The Productivity Ninja Guide', and they all have their own title, but they all sit under that series.' This is a fascinating case study in business, brand and book working in perfect harmony, and contains some fascinating insights too into creativity and focus, productivity (natch), and collaborating with a co-author. Stop messing about on your phone, adopt the Sri Lanka mindset, and listen up. 
21/01/1931m 21s

Episode 148 - Disrupting Yourself with Whitney Johnson

'We are learning machines. It's the biology of who we are.' We're used to thinking about disruption as a force that shapes industries, products and services. But have you ever thought about disrupting yourself? Whitney Johnson recommends that you jump to a new learning curve every five years or so, and in her new book, Build an A Team, she shows how to help everyone in your organisation get on board with that. We also talk about why NOT thinking of yourself as a writer is such a huge help when you're writing a business book, and why a book is such an integral part of any strong idea: 'When you have to actually write something down... then you know what you think. When you're just talking about it, you don't actually know what you think.' 
14/01/1934m 42s

Episode 147 - The Children's Fire with Mac Macartney

In a world facing unprecedented social and ecological challenges, Mac Macartney has a challenge for businesses: 'There is no organisation in this world better designed, resourced or equipped to create change in the world than businesses. They're designed to make stuff happen... We talk a lot about innovation and creativity. Could we really envisage something startling that would... lead us into a truly exciting and vibrant and flourishing future?' This is the central theme behind The Children's Fire, in which Mac's account of his own extraordinary journey through the heartland of Britain, wild camping without a tent in one of the harshest winters of modern times, is woven into his reflections on leadership, sustainability, and spiritual, social and ecological change.  In this wide-ranging discussion we talk about all these issues, but also more tactical points for business book writers: how to run an extraordinary book launch tour, the secrets of effective public speaking, and how to mine your database to promote your book.  Practical and inspiring, just the way you like it.  
07/01/1937m 41s

Episode 146 - The Reading and Writing Resolutions Special

What one habit will make the biggest difference to you and your business in 2019?  Billionaire Mark Cuban puts his success down to the fact that he spends 3 hours each day reading.  'I read every book and magazine I could. Heck, $3 for a magazine, $20 for a book. One good idea that led to a customer or solution and it paid for itself many times over.' Warren Buffett said the same to a class of students at Columbia University:  'Read 500 pages... every day. That's how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will do it.' If you do nothing more than commit to reading more business books in 2019, you'll make a massive difference to your bottom line. But both Cuban and Buffett went further than this: they both wrote books as well as reading them. And that's where the real magic happens.  If your 2019 resolutions include writing more effectively for your business, this is the episode for you. Seven brilliantly practical tips from Extraordinary Business Book Club guests to help you establish a successful writing habit and get that book out of your head and into the world. I've got a feeling that this is going to be a good year: start here.  
31/12/1826m 2s

Episode 145 - The Mother of All Jobs with Christine Armstrong

If you're a working parent, you won't need telling that this isn't really working. You might not, however, be aware that it's not working for pretty much everybody. In her research for The Mother of All Jobs, Christine Armstrong uncovered a conspiracy of silence that means every working mother feels uniquely incompetent when in fact the system is fundamentally broken. But even if this topic isn't of burning interest to you, Christine's warts-and-all account of how she wrangled her material into book shape and the support systems she created to make the writing possible are invaluable for any writer.   
24/12/1829m 41s

Episode 144 - The Post-Truth Business with Sean Pillot de Chenecey

Oxford University Press identified 'post-truth' as its Word of 2016, in the wake of both Trump and Brexit campaigns, and we've all been quietly adjusting to that new reality in politics ever since. But it's not just a political issue: if, as Sean Pillot de Chenecy contends, 'Consumer trust is the basis of all brand values', what does it mean when companies betray that trust? In a world of more transparency than ever before, how can businesses create and maintain trust? But the problem with writing about such a topical issue is that as soon as you go to press, there's another breaking story just screaming to be included. 'I do remember, literally when it was on the printing press, just begging the printers to allow me to lob in one more quote,' confesses Sean. But the solution isn't to keep holding back. Listen to Sean's superb advice for anyone writing a book dealing with topical issues.
17/12/1835m 46s

Episode 143 - The future of work with Alexandra Levit

The days of getting one degree and working your way up the ranks with one employer are long gone, says Alexandra Levit. In the future of work: 'You have to be comfortable branding yourself, selling yourself, and you have to be comfortable with constant reinvention, and change, because nothing is going to stay the same for very long.' Alexandra has an optimistic vision of the future of work - which is perfect, as this show is powered by optimism - and she shares the key ideas of her latest book Humanity Works in this week's conversation.  She also talks about her approach to writing books, which she sees as 'both an educational mechanism, but also a branding mechanism'. And she shares her tips on breaking down the huge task of writing a book into steps that you can take today. Pure Extraordinary Business Book Club gold. 
10/12/1833m 11s

Episode 142 - The Crucible's Gift with Dr James Kelley

Why does adversity make some leaders and break others? Dr James Kelley stumbled across the answer - he thought he was going to write a book on corporate wellness, but what emerged from his conversations with over 100 CEOs was a pattern of how effective leaders choosing to redefine a critical moment of adversity as the source of growth and strength. James's strength is the spoken, not the written, word, so he developed a brilliant methodology to write a chapter a week using a smart mix of writing and speaking, which he sets out in detail in our conversation.
03/12/1830m 43s

Episode 141 - Lead Like a Coach with Karen Morley

Karen Morley knew there'd be no problem writing about the principles of leading like a coach, and she found it relatively easy to structure her ideas and practice into a methodology. But how to bring that alive for a reader? The answer of course was to use stories, and Karen developed a brilliant system of writing as reflection woven into day-to-day practice that allowed her to find the stories as they happened and transform them into business book gold. Find out how in this fascinating conversation.
26/11/1826m 24s

Episode 140 - The Best Bits

A few of my favourite moments from the last few Extraordinary Business Book Club episodes, and this time we're thinking about grit, which comes through in different ways through all these conversations. Ayse Birsel on optimism and finding the best answers in the worst places Elaine Halligan, whose own life demonstrates the power of grit in turning tough situations around, on getting the support you need Michael Brown on finding purpose in personal tragedy Ben Hunt-Davis on translating the grit required to win Olympic Gold into everyday gold Sam Conniff Allende on not taking no for an answer Pippa Malmgren on the necessity of asking difficult questions Derek Lewis on the repeated application of grit in the pursuit of good writing Michelle Sales on how to mitigate the grit with what you're great at, and Pete Williams on why the discipline of writing brings such great business benefits.    
19/11/1833m 31s

Episode 139 - Being the champion of your book with Pete Williams

Writing a great book is a good start. But it's only a start. After that comes the marketing, which is every bit as important as the writing.  'If you're not going to be the biggest champion for your book, who is?' asks Pete Williams. The author of several best-selling books and head of Preneur Marketing, Pete knows a thing or two about marketing books, and you might be surprised by his advice. He also knows that writing a business book can bring unexpected benefits for the business itself, including setting it up to be able to scale. A fascinating conversation packed with practical inspiration. 
12/11/1837m 31s

Episode 138 - Talking out the book with Elaine Halligan

Elaine Halligan has an extraordinary story. Her journey to becoming one of the world's leading parenting experts began with her own son's difficulties at school and her determination to do whatever it took to allow the amazing potential she saw in him to flourish. But when it came to writing the book so many people had begged her to write, she didn't know where to begin. How do you turn lived experience into a coherent story that will engage and move readers? And how can you make that story meaningful and helpful to them?  My Child Is Different tells how the boy written off by so many schools became the successful, grounded, entrepreneurial young man he is today, and what his parents learned in the process. In this podcast, Elaine explains how she began not by writing, but by talking out the story in partnership with Sam, and how deeply the process affected them both. 
05/11/1836m 18s

Episode 137 - Making the Boat Go Faster with Ben Hunt-Davis

'While we're doing one thing, let's just do it as well as we can and make sure we are spending our time, of which we have so little, let's spend it wisely.' Ben Hunt-Davis knows a bit about focus. As part of the 'Sydney 8', who revolutionised the approach to rowing training and brought home Gold, he learned powerful principles about performance and process that he now brings to the business world in his business - named after his book - Will It Make The Boat Go Faster? In this conversation, he talks about how that single-minded focus translates into the messy real world, and how writing the book (in collaboration with executive coach Harriet Beveridge) clarified and deepened his message and ultimately transformed his business.
29/10/1827m 36s

Episode 136 - The Leadership Lab with Pippa Malmgren

'A 20th-century leader was very analytical, it's all about the drill-down into detail and numbers. But frankly, that did not serve us very well, and that's partly what led to everybody being blindsided by populism. So we say, in the 21st century, you can do analytical, but you have to do parenthetical... you have to be able to not just drill down, but look across. To understand how to connect the dots between silos that were previously independent. To understand, what's the feel. It's not just the math that matters now, it's the mood also.' When they wrote The Leadership Lab, Dr Pippa Malmgren and her co-author Chris Lewis structured their cutting-edge analysis of 21st-century leadership on a device that's more than 2000 years old. She explains why this navigational tool - the Kythera mechanism - is not only an effective way to communicate complex issues more effectively, but a metaphor for understanding that everything we think we know could be entirely wrong.   This is essential listening for anyone in a position of leadership in the 21st century, and anyone who want to write about it. 
22/10/1839m 14s

Episode 135 - Be More Pirate with Sam Conniff Allende

"You've got to ask yourself what is more important. Is it selling books, or starting a movement?" Sam Conniff Allende is in the business of movement-making. A young entrepreneur himself, he’s since inspired a generation of young entrepreneurs and hustlers, and when he decided it was time to write a book he began by writing ‘the worst book on earth’. Luckily it didn’t end there: find out how he found the metaphor that transformed his message from worthy to world-changing, how he learned the secret of translating the energy of the stage to the page, and how he stayed true to his pirate principles in the marketing as well as the writing of the book.
15/10/1837m 59s

Episode 134 - Real Confidence with Michelle Sales

'Now, I look at work and life and what I know in a different way, it's almost like I'm attuned to looking for opportunities to bring my thinking together and get it out there by way of a book.' Michelle Sales never thought of herself as a writer. She didn't even particularly enjoy writing her book, The Power of Real Confidence (though she LOVES having written it). Maybe you recognise how it went: 'How I had thought to structure my writing was to block out my Fridays and I would get to Friday morning, and I would do a 9:00 Pilates class. That would finish at 10:00, and I'd do it with a girlfriend, and we'd say, "Oh, we might as well have a coffee." So we'd hang around and have a coffee and a chat. And inevitably it'd be about midday before I'd get home, and then I'd think, "Oh, I have to start writing now." So I'd open it and close it and open it and close it and think, "I'm not really sure I'm into this chapter." Then at about 2:00, I'd think, "Oh, it's Friday afternoon. I think I'm done."' In this episode she describes how she found a different way to write that worked for her, and also how the process, rather fittingly, challenged and built her own confidence. 
08/10/1831m 6s

Episode 133 - Ghostwriting and Frankendrafts with Derek Lewis

'The first draft of the manuscript is just ugly. There are pieces, and parts, and this part doesn't match that part. It looks like a Frankenstein monster. And that's why I call it Frankendraft. It sets that expectation low, that this will be an ugly, ghoulish creation with parts and pieces stuck and bolted on here. And we cut that part out and put it over here. It's not supposed to be the finished draft. We just have to make it come to life.' The Frankendraft is just one of five stages through which ghostwriter Derek Lewis takes would-be business book authors to get the book in their head out into the world (but it's hands down the stage with the best name). This is a fascinating glimpse into how a professional writer works with a business expert to create a book that is distinctively their own but better than they could have written themselves, and there's lots here that you can put into practice if you're writing your own business book.
01/10/1840m 29s

Episode 132 - Design your life with Ayse Birsel

'When you're being creative, all you're trying to do is see the same things differently, and from that, see if you can drive new ideas, solutions and new value.' Ayse Birsel, multi-award-winning designer, decided to try an experiment. She tried to catch herself being creative and reverse engineer exactly what she was doing, and when she'd identified how this design thinking - Deconstruction:Reconstruction, as she calls it - worked, she tried applying it to the most complex, important project of all: her own life.  In this conversation, we talk about why design thinking is a great model for business book writing, and indeed for life generally, and why 'What if...?' is such a great start for a sentence.  And here's Ayse's business book #shelfie for your inspiration... 
24/09/1838m 27s

Episode 131 - An Unforgettable Launch with Michael Brown

This is a very special episode for lots of reasons. Firstly because it's shorter than usual. Secondly because much of it was recorded live at one of the most memorable book launches I've ever attended. Thirdly because Michael Brown, the author of My Job Isn't Working: 10 proven ways to boost your career mojo is not only a Practical Inspiration author but a graduate of the very first This Book Means Business mentorship programme. And fourthly because something unimaginable happened while the book was in production that changed everything.  Books really do matter, and today's episode is a reminder to keep our attention and focus on what matters and not let our life and our life's work slip by.     
17/09/1820m 20s

Episode 130 - The Best Bits!

A hand-picked selection of treasures from the last few Extraordinary Business Book Club episodes, with the focus on other people - how can they help you write a better book, faster, what impact will your book have on them, and how can you make them care enough to read it in the first place? Molly Beck on reaching out, and why writing a book makes it so much easier  Michelle Carvill on how listening to others' questions can help you find your writing groove Drew Davis on writing a book backwards Hugh Culver on how stories create movies in the mind Tom Schuller on finding other people's stories Jude Jennison on using a podcast for research and network building Elizabeth Dunn on collaborating without tears Sarah Windrum on how her book changed how others saw her Martin Norbury on what happens to your business when people read your book and 'get it'
10/09/1839m 7s

Episode 129 - Happy Money with Elizabeth Dunn

Money can't buy you happiness - unless you're smart about it. Dr Elizabeth Dunn reveals the surprising ways in which money CAN make us happier, and also why it so often fails to do so. Along the way we discuss the importance of getting rid of the long words, even if you're an academic, because:  'If you truly understand a topic, you should be able to explain it in simple language.' Academic research can be an invaluable resource for the business book author, and there's lots of tips here on how to find it and use it without compromising the readability of your book. 
03/09/1828m 47s

Episode 128 - Writing and speaking with Hugh Culver

Hugh Culver has done a lot of stuff in his life - from leading adventure holidays in the Antarctic to giving keynote speeches to companies and conferences all over the world.  For him, writing a book was an opportunity to reenergise and deepen his thinking, to create something distinctive, and it worked. In this week's conversation he reveals how the writing and the speaking work together, the writing mistakes he made first time round, and the speaking mistakes he sees all the time.  If you want your book or your blog to complement your speaking, or vice versa, this is an unmissable episode full of brilliantly practical - and occasionally counter-intuitive - tips from one of the world's top bloggers, speakers and writers.
27/08/1835m 2s

Episode 127 - Leading Through Uncertainty with Jude Jennison

Horses don’t care what your job title is. They’re not impressed by the car you drive. The only way a horse will follow you is if it trusts you. And it will trust you only if you’re leading authentically. Jude Jennison discovered the astonishing power of horses to transform people’s approach to leadership when she faced her own fear of horses – now she has a herd of five, and I met them all at her book launch. But how do you write about something that can only be experienced? And how do you draw out stories of uncertainty and leadership from others? Find out how Jude approached the challenge in this week’s episode, and why her launch was like no other.  
20/08/1836m 30s

Episode 126 - Writing backwards with Andrew Davis

'I've finally decided that I really should be writing books backwards.' Instead of locking himself away in a room to write a book (as he did first time round), or even getting some supporting research in hand beforehand (book 2), top marketer Drew Davis is writing his third book backwards. He's started with a hypothesis and he's testing it out week by week on YouTube, taking on board the feedback, and discovering that the outline for this book looks very different to what he'd originally thought.  This is just one of the brilliantly practical tactics Drew shares with me in this conversation: you can also discover how he overcame imposter syndrome at a stroke, and what he learned from the Muppets. No, really.  
13/08/1832m 20s

Episode 125 - Getting social with Michelle Carvill

For many CEOs, 'doing' social media is terrifying. Much easier to hire a millennial to do it for you. But in a world in which trust in corporates is at an all-time low, Michelle Carvill argues the best way to address that is to 'step outside of the boardroom and start having authentic conversations with your audience', not as a faceless corporation, but as a person. Yes, it's scary. Yes, it's hard to see a direct ROI. But there are also massive potential benefits. This isn't a message only for leaders of multi-nationals, however. It applies just as powerfully to SMEs and even solopreneurs: 'If you are the owner of a business, you are the brand. You are the heart and soul of that business... you're the brand champion. You are the voice of that business and people want to know what you've got to say.' Discover what getting social looks like for leaders, and also why Michelle - ironically - gets very anti-social in the process of writing itself. (And why she's never without a post-it pad.)
06/08/1834m 47s

Episode 124 - Finding your story with Martin Norbury

Most business book authors aren't professional writers. Martin Norbury failed his English O-level twice, but he knew that he had a story to tell that mattered. In this week's conversation he reveals how he went about turning the stuff in his head into a brilliantly readable book - from interviews with clients to interviews with himself to a supersmart process of consciously catching himself 'doing the right stuff' as he works with his clients to scale their businesses.  And you'll never look at Fridays the same way again once you've heard his story. 
30/07/1833m 45s

Episode 123 - Becoming a Superhero with Sarah Windrum

What's your mission statement?  We can get caught up in business - and indeed in business writing - in showcasing ourselves. We airbrush the version of ourselves that we present to others. And in doing so we unwittingly lose the emotional connection, vulnerability and authenticity that actually give us the power to make change that matters. Sarah Windrum is a very successful, high-profile business woman, but her book The Superhero I was Born to Be is a deeply personal account of what she's been through, including her struggles with mental health, and how she developed the resilience and energy that underpin her success.  Here's HER mission statement: 'My mission in life is to touch as many people's lives as positively as I can, and that is what makes me happy. It's what brings me joy.' This is a conversation that will encourage you to reflect on how you portray yourself, and maybe find the courage to connect more honestly.  I also talk about the Extraordinary Business Book Summer Reading List - are you in? 
23/07/1832m 32s

Episode 122 - The Paula Principle with Tom Schuller

In the 1960s, Professor Laurence Peter articulated the famous Peter Principle: that an employee in a hierarchy tends to be promoted to 'his level of incompetence'.  As he looked at the evidence of women outperforming men throughout education and into the workplace, in the face of the ongoing gender pay gap and promotion statistics, Professor Tom Schuller was compelled to formulate a corollary: 'Most women tend to work below the level of their competence.'  The Paula Principle investigates the reasons for this oddly persistent inequality, and puts forward an agenda for change. But is this a book that should have been written by a man? Several publishers thought not. And do books like this make a difference anyway?  Tom Schuller and I discuss education, equality, writing, breaking out of the ghetto and, er, Bridget Jones. 
16/07/1830m 17s

Episode 121 - Reaching Out with Molly Beck

'The more people you know, the more stuff you get done. It's as simple as that.' But reaching out is an art: targeting the right people, approaching them in the right way, getting over yourself in the first place. In Reach Out, Molly Beck shares her simple, brilliant system for creating a network of connections that will turbo-charge your professional growth.  Molly is a master of social media, and reveals how blogging and podcasting enable authors to build the readership for their book long before the book itself is published. She's also helpfully honest about what a slog the writing process can be if, like her, you're 'not a natural writer', and has some great tips for getting through it! If you're thinking of starting a podcast, this will be invaluable: Molly is the founder of Messy.fm, 'the Wordpress of podcasting', and explains why podcasting is so powerful and how to get started.  
09/07/1834m 33s

Episode 120 - The Best Bits!

Highlights from the last few Extraordinary Business Book Club episodes, with a focus on fixing the problem every writer cares about: how to get going and keep going. I guarantee you'll find at least one idea here that will get you unstuck, and one thing to make you go 'ew'.  Denise Duffield-Thomas on not waiting for permission and not being afraid to reuse your best stuff Paul Skinner on the 'symbiotic relationship' between business and book Barbara Gray on embedding writing into your business Campbell Macpherson on the joy of going 'blah' Jonah Sachs on great questions and flow theory David Burkus's end-to-end research and writing system Roger Mavity on weather-dependent writing and perseverance Sarah Kessler on the important of NOT writing Euan Semple on why a book is like a plook, and the power of the timer    
02/07/1841m 10s

Episode 119 - Writing to change the world with Euan Semple

Think that what you say on the internet has no impact? Euan Semple says think again.  'An avalanche only ever happens because the last snowflake falls. If it doesn't, an avalanche doesn't happen. Each of our conversations could be a last snowflake.' Despite the fact that he's been blogging for 16 years and has written several successful books, he still recognises the resistance we all feel: 'this is obvious', 'who am I to write this', 'who's going to read this', 'who cares'... But his answer is simply this: 'Just sit down and write it and let other people work at whether it's worthwhile.' Because not only does the process of writing force you to clarify what you think, putting that writing on the internet turns you from a passive consumer to an active participant in shaping our world. (There's also some incredibly practical tips on structuring your book and muscling through procrastination, and possibly the best tagline for this show EVER if I can just summon up the courage to use it...)
25/06/1830m 57s

Episode 118 - Longitudinal writing with Sarah Kessler

The gig economy - flexible and empowering, or exploitative and uncertain? Sarah Kessler is fascinated by how work is changing, and her book Gigged follows five very different people over three years and tracks their experiences - good, bad and downright terrifying.  In this week's conversation, we discuss the difference in writing an article (Sarah is also a reporter at Quartz, and before that Fast Company and Mashable) and a book, with the sustained timeline that implies, and the opportunity to explore not just the stories, but the context in which they're taking place.  'I wanted to have relationships with people over a long period of time rather than just talking about the hot new thing they were working on for this month.' Sarah also has some great advice for writers which involves NOT writing. This might just be my favourite tip so far. 
18/06/1824m 47s

Episode 117 - Creativity and collaboration with Roger Mavity

Former ad man, CEO of both the Granada and Conran Groups and Chairman of Citigate, Roger Mavity is also a renowned author, artist and photographer.  In this conversation we explore the twin struggles of creativity and specifically of writing: the private struggle to articulate the idea, and the public struggle to broadcast it. And if it's true as Roger argues that 'Virtually everything in the world that happens that's any good happens because there's one really bright person that lights the blue touch paper', how does this Promethean vision of creativity play out in our organisations and collaborations?  A fascinating conversation with one of the world's most colourful and creative business experts.  
11/06/1831m 15s

Episode 116 - Collaborative Advantage with Paul Skinner

We've been stuck on the idea of competitive advantage as the key to strategy for a long time now. Paul Skinner thinks it's had its day.  'Where competitive advantage assumes that the way to succeed is by being better than others, I believe the way to succeed is by supporting others and sharing the value that you can create with them.' Collaborative Advantage is what Paul describes as his 'book-worthy' big idea, and in this conversation he explains how it's unfolded from a principle that he's applied and developed through the various initiatives and enterprises he's worked with over the years into book form.  There's also great advice on creating stories where the customer, not your business, is the hero. Because those are the stories that change lives. 
04/06/1832m 13s

Episode 115 - After the Awards with Campbell Macpherson

Campbell Macpherson hasn't really stopped grinning since March, when I handed him the Business Book of the Year trophy at the Business Book Awards ceremony. In this week's show we talk about the impact of winning such a prestigious award (or even just being shortlisted), and how your book can plug into the heart of your business.  (We also note how good it feels when, on the night, you come back to sit at your table clutching your award to rapturous applause, and the commissioning editor who turned your book down leans over and says: 'I don't always make the right decisions.')  
28/05/1828m 19s

Episode 114 - High-Fidelity Publishing with Barbara Gray

"I don't want people to buy my book." That's a sentence I honestly don't think I've heard an author say before, ever. But Barbara Gray's vision for her second book, Secrets of the Amazon, was very different to that of most authors. It's part of what she calls high fidelity, and she argues it's the only response to today's retail economy. "You can't compete on a functional value basis anymore. You can't compete against Amazon in terms of price, convenience, variety or choice. They will kill you on that. Whether you're retailer or whatever you're doing. So you have to move up one layer; it has to be about creating an emotional attachment with your customers." Barbara was a guest on this show back in September 2016 talking about her first book, Ubernomics. It's fascinating to hear how her writing and self-publishing journey has evolved since then, and how she's walking her talk as a financial analyst through her books.
21/05/1839m 9s

Episode 113 - Friend of a Friend with David Burkus

Networking is (quite literally, it turns out) a 'dirty word', but Dr David Burkus brings together studies and stories that show how we've got it wrong: we don't 'do networking', we ARE a network. This is invaluable for anyone in business, but David also describes in detail how he gets from idea to finished, best-selling book, including the systems and tools he uses, so if you're also writing a business book you can't afford to miss this.
14/05/1832m 18s

Episode 112 - Apology-free writing with Denise Duffield-Thomas

"People feel like, if they haven't been 'chosen', then 'Who am I to write a book?'... I just think: don't wait to be chosen. If this is something you want to do, just do it." Denise Duffield-Thomas, author of Lucky Bitch, helps women overcome their hang-ups about money. In this episode, she helps writers overcome their hang-ups about, well, writing and life in general. It's packed full of practical tips on getting over yourself, connecting to your motivation, finding the title that works for you (even if it's controversial), and organising your life - apology-free - so that you can Get Stuff Done. Including writing the book that will change your business and your life.  Listen up, girlfriend. (And blokes, you need to hear this too.) 
07/05/1830m 46s

Episode 111 - Unsafe Thinking with Jonah Sachs

"There's this comfortable way of thinking that we're programmed by evolution to enjoy, which is thinking in patterns. That makes life so much easier and so much more approachable, when we rely on lessons we've learned in the past, when we observe other people and we do the things that they're doing, when we create predictability. It all just makes life easy to process. It's pretty good when the world stays still. The problem is, what feels safe is actually really dangerous if the world is changing around us." And that's what prompted Jonah Sachs, storyteller, author and entrepreneur, to write Unsafe Thinking: How to be Creative and Bold When You Need It Most. In this episode Jonah reveals how he went about researching the book by interviewing high-profile unsafe thinkers ("I realised if I wanted to get them to talk to me I'd have to say I was writing a book...") and explains how he uses stories to translate facts and findings into a narrative that readers will connect with, and therefore understand and remember more easily. There's some profound wisdom and practical tips for would-be business book writers, and some thoughts on what writing means for a 21st-century business owner. This is pure gold. Put the kettle on and listen up.  
30/04/1833m 26s

Episode 110 - The Best Bits!

Another helping of best bits from recent episode: we're talking about 'fast books' and 'slow books' - which kind is yours? - writing with a co-author, and how doodling can help you come sideways at a book. Tune in, sit back, and listen to insights and inspiration from these superb writers:  Steve Scott on how he's written 70 books in around a decade; Robert Cialdini on why it took him more than 30 years to write a second solo-authored book after Influence; Joe Pulizzi on how books fit into the content marketing mix;  Jurgen Appelo on the agile approach to writing;  Daniel Coyle on writing as a building process; Elaine Gould on the sheer relief of finishing a 'slow book';  Morra Aarons-Mele on the different tempos of social media, blogging, content marketing and books;  Lyn Bromley & Donna Whitbrook on how to write together without falling out;  Edgar Papke & Thomas Lockwood on why co-authorship is more than the sum of the parts;  Kate Raworth on how an idle doodle evolved into the award-winning book Doughnut Economics. 
23/04/1830m 35s

Episode 109 - Books and business models with Steve Scott

Steve Scott started writing and publishing to build his business, but pretty soon his business became writing and publishing books: he now has more than 60 to his name, all focused on helping internet entrepreneurs succeed. In this week's podcast this multi-bestselling author reflects on what he's learned about the process and where he goes from here, and generously shares his best tips for producing and promoting books. I learned a huge amount from our conversation - I know you will too.
16/04/1834m 0s

Episode 108 - The story behind This Book Means Business with Alison Jones

Something a bit different this week: I interview myself to pull out some of the learnings from the process of writing This Book Means Business, a book about writing a book to build your business written to build my business. Meta, huh?  Discover how and why this podcast began and some thoughts on how podcasting might work for you, what happened when I faced the fear and took the advice of my guests, and what's next now the book is out.  You can also listen in to the short talk given at the launch itself on 26 March at the Free Word Centre in London, and join in the toast to us - may we be the authors our readers need. 
09/04/1824m 59s

Episode 107 - Playful publishing with Jurgen Appelo

Leadership expert Jurgen Appelo's advice to first-time authors is simple: 'Iterate.' He goes on to explain: 'You need a feedback cycle. You need to know as soon as possible whether it is making sense, what you're writing. People have to read it.' Jurgen walks the talk, building his community as he wrote #Workout and selling 5,000 highly illustrated books immediately to his own fan base, before it was picked up by a traditional publisher. This interplay between traditional and self-publishing is one fascinating aspect of this interview, as is the importance of building a platform and community as you write, but there are many other gems such as Jurgen's approach to illustrating his own book and his up-front permissions policy.
02/04/1833m 2s

Episode 106 - The Business Book Awards with Lucy McCarraher

On 16 March 2018, the inaugural Business Book Awards ceremony took place in London. It was an extraordinary occasion, bringing together the top names in books and business in the UK and beyond, and with shortlists including books from the biggest traditional publishers to the smallest independent presses and even self-published authors.  This was the culmination of founder Lucy McCarraher's vision, and as Head Judge I was closely involved in the journey. In this week's episode I talk to Lucy about how she turned the idea into reality in partnership with ThinkFest, the details of the judging process, how it all turned out alright on the night, and the lessons we learned along the way.  The 2019 awards will be even bigger and glitzier, so if you're planning to publish your business book in 2018, find out more and maybe next time we'll be talking about you... 
26/03/1831m 57s

Episode 105 - Report from the frontline of independent publishing

Something a little different this week: a report from the bleeding edge of the publishing industry, also known as the IPG Spring Conference. This is one of the most exciting and diverse events of the publishing calendar, bringing together publishers from all genres of publishing and from all sizes of houses, from one-person microbusinesses to key players such as Bloomsbury and Kogan Page, and with an outstanding reputation for big name keynote speakers with big ideas. It's a packed programme over three days, and this was the first year I've managed to attend from start to finish. Here are the key messages I came away with - essential listening for anyone interested in publishing, but with many interesting insights for entrepreneurs in any discipline: DISRUPTION - what's happening out there, and what might it mean for publishers? DIVERSITY - how can we better reflect the full range of expertise and experience in the world? DIGITAL - what's next in the transformation of our businesses? DATA - why does it matter, how do you get it and what the heck do you do with it? DEDICATION - the secret weapon of independent publishing: passion, creativity and entrepreneurial flair wrapped up in steely determination DISTRIBUTION - how can we get books to the readers who need them?
19/03/1817m 46s

Episode 104 - Collaboration & design with Edgar Papke & Thomas Lockwood

Have you ever thought of business as art? Edgar Papke and Thomas Lockwood, experts in organizational culture and design respectively, wanted to encourage leaders to design their businesses consciously for innovation and collaboration. And what better way than to write collaboratively? This is a masterclass in writing with a partner, which when done right can create a whole that is so much more than the sum of the parts. Discover whether you need a 'writing partner prenuptial', and why post-its and coffee are central to the collaborative process.
12/03/1831m 57s

Episode 103 - Writing down the music with Elaine Gould

Music notation may seem a world away from business books, but the parallels are striking: when music editor Elaine Gould wrote what was to become the classic reference work Behind Bars: The Definitive Guide to Music Notation, her focus was relentlessly on the musicians who had to use those marks on the staves in performance. Good notation allows the composer's vision and the performer's skill to be translated without interference into the music the audience experiences.  'My greatest joy is going along to a concert, and the composer dashing up to me from the other end of the room and saying, "Thank you!"' When you're translating your expertise into a book, that focus on how the reader is going to experience and use your message is equally important. Her rigorous attention to detail is inspiring, and her reaction to seeing the finished book heart-warmingly honest - I for one can empathise with this:  'When [they] handed me the first copy off the press, I was just so overwhelmed. It was wonderful. I hugged that book all the way back on the train to London, and I think I slept with it beside my bed. And in the morning, I looked up to see, was it really there? After all these years, was it there? And then it was there, and I thought you know what? For the rest of my life, I haven't got to write that book again.'
05/03/1838m 35s

Episode 102 - Pre-suasion with Robert Cialdini

We like to think of ourselves as rational beings. But over the last 30 years or so behavioural science and psychological research has conclusively proved otherwise: the bit of our brain that makes decisions does so mostly on the basis of stimuli and associations, and pretty much all the meaningful action takes place below the level of our consciousness. One of the pioneers of this research, and perhaps the first to bring it into the mainstream and particularly into business thinking, was Robert Cialdini, whose classic book Influence: The psychology of persuasion was published in 1984. I wrote an essay on Cialdini's theories for my MBA: it felt surreal to be interviewing him on my podcast about what's happened since Influence was published. How have the principles he articulated more than 30 years ago held up in a world that is almost unrecognisable? (Spoiler: surprisingly well.) And why did it take him 30 years after the publication of Influence to write his second solo-authored book, Pre-Suasion? The answer turns out to be a radical statement of integrity in a world that demands more new stuff from us at every turn.
26/02/1835m 3s

Episode 101 - Hiding in the bathroom with Morra Aarons-Mele

'I always wanted to write a book... but it was never my time. My husband wrote a book, my father passed away, I have three little kids, I mean, I have a business, you know, life gets in the way... And then finally, one day... I thought: I want to grow my business this year but I don't want to fly anymore.' And almost by accident, internet marketer Morra Aarons-Mele discovered a new way of working that suited her as a 'hermit entrepreneur': instead of getting on a plane to meet potential clients and drum up business, she set up a podcast and wrote a book. 'Hiding in the Bathroom' has become a rallying call for anyone who's ever felt overwhelmed by the non-stop, always-on, fast-paced world of business and wants to do things differently. And Morra discovered (as I have) that 'the coolest thing about having a podcast, or writing a book, or having a blog is that you can really contact interesting people and say, will you talk to me?' In today's episode we talk about how podcasting and books allow entrepreneurs to develop their business and their network on their own terms. But - spoiler alert - we conclude that no matter how wonderful it is that you can do this stuff in your yoga pants, writing a book also means getting out of the bathroom and hitting the streets to tell people about it.  
19/02/1835m 38s

Episode 100 - The Centenary Celebrations!

Join me to celebrate 100 episodes of The Extraordinary Business Book Club! I puzzled over how to mark this milestone for a while, but in the end I decided to keep it real: three business people just like you, carving out the time to write from the demands of the day job, none of them professional writers, all working out how to do this one step at a time.  Julie Dennis is a menopause coach - her book The Hot Flush Freedom Challenge was published by Practical Inspiration Publishing in January 2017 Michael Brown is a trainer and consultant, who's just about to deliver to me the manuscript for My Job Isn't Working: 10 proven ways to boost your career mojo for publication in July 2018 Elaine Halligan is a Director of The Parent Practice, whose book My Child is Different, the story of her son Sam - who'd been excluded from three schools by the age of seven, but who went on to become Head Boy at senior school and is today a thriving young entrepreneur - is being published by Crown House in July 2018 Each of them shares what they've discovered on the journey, and their incredibly practical advice for anyone in the same situation. Each one of them inspires me with their passion for their message, and how they can make the world a little better, one reader at a time.  I can't think of a better way to celebrate 100 episodes of celebrating extraordinary business books.
12/02/1826m 12s

Episode 99 - The Culture Code with Daniel Coyle

'We're all continually learning. Learning is a kind of scaffolding. To me, that's the most beautiful metaphor for writing a book and for learning in life, that you're continually building scaffolding. That scaffolding is expanding your capacity.' Daniel Coyle is a New York Times bestselling author, and in this interview he reveals not only what he discovered about leadership in his latest book The Culture Code (and what happened when he put it into practice in the school writing squad he was coaching at the time), but also HOW he writes, the starting point and the tools and systems that take him from initial idea to finished book.  There's also some exciting news about my own book, and I announce the winner of the 10-day Business Book Proposal Challenge. Make a cup of tea and settle down to the last ever two-digit Extraordinary Business Book Club episode! 
05/02/1829m 34s

Episode 98 - Doughnut Economics with Kate Raworth

'If five years ago somebody had said to me, "So you know, Kate, are you ever going to write a book?" I would have said, "No, no, no, no, no. I don't write books. I draw pictures."' But when Kate Raworth doodled a doughnut shape to capture her vision of how economics is bounded by human and ecological constraints, she unwittingly started a revolution in macroeconomic thinking.  In this conversation we explore the extraordinary power of drawing for opening up thinking. And as Kate points out: 'You don't have to be Picasso to create something that has massive impact.' We also touch on video, animation, the 60-second summary and the one-page overview - high-impact ways of getting your message across quickly and memorably - and the importance of bringing your own humanness to your book.  Shortlisted for the FT/McKinsey Business Book of the Year in 2017, Doughnut Economics is an extraordinary book. And here's how it happened. 
26/01/1839m 16s

Episode 97: Publishing from all sides with David Roche

David Roche has seen publishing from pretty much every angle: publisher, bookseller, author, reader, mentor, consultant and industry maven. He's been on the boards of HarperCollins, Waterstones and HMV, was CEO of Borders and Books Etc, he's the chair of New Writing North, non-exec chair of the London Book Fair, and executive chair of the publishing industry's online magazine, BookBrunch. And he's just published a crowdfunded book of poems. So today's conversation is a look at where the industry's going from someone with unrivalled insights, plus a very personal - and very funny - view of what happens when the gamekeeper turns poacher.  Audio, crowdfunding, subscription models, marketing, book events: bring yourself up to speed with what's happening in the industry in the company of publishing's most entertaining expert. 
22/01/1838m 20s

Episode 96 - Turning talks into books with Miranda West

How do you turn a great talk into a great book? It's not as easy as you might think.  Miranda West is the founder of Do Books, which originated with the Do Lectures in Wales, focused on smart working and slow living. But as she explains, taking a message from stage to page involves more than mere transcription.  This is also an inspiring story about what can happen when you have a crazy idea and go ahead and send the email... 
15/01/1836m 17s

Episode 95 - Content marketing & books with Joe Pulizzi

Joe Pulizzi is 'the godfather of content marketing'. Founder of the Content Marketing Institute and author of five books (one every two years), he has a clear vision of how books fit into a content strategy.  It all starts, he says, with the platform, and his sane advice will be music to the ears of any entrepreneur struggling with the overwhelm of multiple channels and messages.  'We've been built our advertising around our products and services when we should really build around: "Who's our audience? How do we love them? How do we know better than anyone else?" Deliver value to those audiences, great experiences to those audiences on a daily basis, and if you do that you will be rewarded in multiple ways outside of what you can even fathom today. That's the potential and that's why it's the best time to be in marketing that's ever been right now.' On a personal note, this episode is dedicated to the memory of Lorraine Keelan, a great friend and former publishing colleague lost way too soon.  
08/01/1839m 34s

Episode 94 - New Year, New Writing Habits

Welcome to 2018 - what are you planning to do with it? If the answer - in part at least - is 'some worthwhile writing', this episode is for you. I've pulled together some of the best thinking and most practical advice from past podcast guests, and sprinkled in more tips from members of the Extraordinary Business Book Club.  Let's make 2018 the year you stop with the procrastination and overwhelm and false starts. Let's make it the year you put in place your new writing habit, the year of making a difference. Grace Marshall, author of How to be Really Productive, on overcoming procrastination and shifting into 'deep dive' mode Tony Crabbe, author of Busy, on overcoming fear and finding your garden shed Bec Evans of Prolifiko on overcoming inertia and putting in place the right rewards for you Plus SO many more practical and inspiring tips from members of The Extraordinary Business Book Club.  Let's make 2018 count.
01/01/1825m 43s

Episode 93 - Christmas Special 2017

Pour a glass of sherry, munch on a mince pie, and put your feet up with a few of my absolute favourite moments EVER from the Extraordinary Business Book Club.  On happiness - Andy Cope's epiphany in the queue in Tesco's on Christmas Eve. On messiness - Tim Harford explains why we're at our most creative, potentially at least, when things go wrong. On deadlines and procrastination - when you hear what Natalie Reynolds did three weeks before her deadline, I guarantee you'll feel better wherever you are with your manuscript. On metaphors and why it's ok that we can never really nail it - listening to Michael Neill is like drinking melted chocolate. The fact that this is so useful and inspiring is almost incidental.  I hope you enjoy this (not-very) seasonal selection box as much as I did. And whatever you're doing and whoever you're doing it with, have a very happy Christmas Day. 
25/12/1723m 20s

Episode 92 - Trusted with Lyn Bromley & Donna Whitbrook

The launch of Trusted was a very special occasion. When one of my authors has a book launch it's ALWAYS a special occasion, of course, but this one was exceptional for a number of reasons: It was two authors, not one, both of whom had written every word of the book over six months of online and offline collaboration without a single cross word. The launch was hosted and catered by University College, Birmingham, with the students taking responsibility for planning, setting up, welcoming, serving, and catering the evening as part of an assessed module. It was their way of repaying the authors for months of support with employability skills, and they produced the best spread of food I have ever seen at a book launch. And I've been to a lot of book launches. It's the only launch I've ever been to with its own cocktail, the T-spot. It tasted even better than it looks. It was the first live recording of The Extraordinary Business Book Club podcast interview. Sadly, the thing that can happen with live things happened, and the audio file was lost. So today's episode is a rerun of that interview. In it Lyn and Donna talk about the inspiration for Trusted, how they wrote together so effectively, and how their book is working for their business. And as promised, here are some pictures from the launch, beginning (and indeed ending) with that fabulous T-spot cocktail:  
18/12/1738m 59s

Episode 91 - The business book in the arena with Raj Nair

Raj Nair hasn't written a business book (yet). As Executive Vice President and President, North America of the Ford Motor Company, leading one of the world's leading company's in one of the world's most disrupted, fast-moving and complex industries, it's hard to find the time. But he DOES make time to read them.  Why?  Because good business books make him think: 'There's another way to look at that.' No matter how senior or experienced an executive you may be, when a book brings a new perspective or insight it can transform the way you see your business.  This is a report from within the arena on how business books are used by leaders, and what they're looking for when they make the decision to invest their most valuable resource - their attention - to read one.
11/12/1736m 13s

Episode 90 - The Best Bits

Another satisfying helping of the choicest morsels of practical inspiration served up by recent guests. Listen to:  Dr Lynda Shaw (business neuroscientist) on what stories do to our brains and why that's good for business Matt Locke (Storythings and The Story conference) on the craft of storytelling Nigel Wilcockson (Random House Business Books) on what makes a business book great Donya Dickerson (McGraw Hill) on what publishers are looking for in business book proposals David Newman (Do It! Marketing) with a Jedi mind trick for getting your own way with your publisher Dorie Clark (Entrepreneurial You) on making money because of your book rather than from it  Carole Wyer (blogger and author) on the importance of trying new stuff Dan Underwood (Art of Enterprise) on taking risks Rebecca Jones (Enterprise Within) on Just Getting On With It. Warning: this show is unsuitable for anyone wishing to remain within their zone of comfort. 
04/12/1734m 6s

Episode 89 - The science of stories with Dr Lynda Shaw

'Neuroscience is the future of business,' claims Dr Lynda Shaw, and once you've listen to her talk about how emotion drives our decisions and how being generous helps us be more effective, it's hard to argue. She also reveals how when we tell stories, we create neurochemical connections between ourselves and our listeners, which build trust and connection. But how can you use that powerful effect when your listener isn't in the room with you, when you're writing a business book, for example?  In the best traditions of The Extraordinary Business Book Club, this is a fascinating mix of rich information together with tips and ideas for making it work for you in practice and with a dash of the unexpected - this is the first mention of Coronation Street as a model for writing on this podcast or indeed any other, as far as I'm aware... 
27/11/1730m 45s

Episode 88 - The art of the business book with Nigel Wilcockson

Matt Watkinson described Nigel Wilcockson, publishing director at Random House Business Books and his own editor, as the brains behind many of the best business books he'd ever read. Nigel is more modest about his role: 'a good editor is more like a mentor... there in the background to offer advice'. But that advice can make all the difference. Business book authors are busy people, and while they may be used to writing blog posts or sales copy, a full-length book is a very different animal. Nigel helps his authors tackle issues such as structure and what he describes as 'short-breathedness', getting all your ideas across as quickly as possible.  This is a fascinating insight into the hard work that goes into making the world's best business books so deceptively easy to read. There are also invaluable tips for anyone thinking about pitching themselves and their book to the top business book publishers.  
20/11/1731m 50s

Episode 87 - Humour and connection with Carol Wyer

Something a bit different on this week's show. Meet Carol Wyer, blogger, author, and stand-up comedian. 'She know her audience so well,' Ben Cameron told me. 'She really taps into who her audience is and she has this ability to go out and do whatever it takes to promote her books.' I trust Ben, so despite the fact I wasn't sure how useful this would be to my business-book-writing listeners, I interviewed Carol. And it turns out Ben was right: there is SO much good stuff here for Extraordinary Business Book Club listeners - on using humour effectively, on connecting with your readers, and on why it's ok if you hate your book right now. 
13/11/1735m 3s

Episode 86 - Storytelling and Attention with Matt Locke

Matt Locke tells a good story. He does, after all, run The Story conference, and his content studio Storythings helps businesses including Google and the BBC tell better stories. Right now he's fascinated by attention: how we measure it, and how it's changing.  In this episode we bring all that together. We discuss why stories are so important, how they work and how not to mess them up, and we talk about how attention is changing in the digital age and what that means for anyone creating content, particularly authors of books.  Intelligent listening, with a side order of practical inspiration.  
06/11/1733m 7s

Episode 85 - The Publisher's View with Donya Dickerson

Donya Dickerson is Editorial Director with responsibility for business books for McGraw Hill in New York. So what does she look for when a proposal crosses her desk? And what kind of authors is she keen to get onto the list?  A fascinating insight into the publisher's perspective of the partnership that is publishing a business book, and how you can position yourself for the best chance of success when you pitch. 
30/10/1727m 31s

Episode 84 - Do It! Marketing with David Newman

David Newman describes the process of writing a book as capturing ‘lightning in a bottle’. In today’s episode he describes how Do It! Marketing has transformed his business, and reveals the brilliant book bonus tactics he used to make it a success (plus, refreshingly, some of the stuff that didn’t go so well). There’s also a Jedi mind trick for getting your own way with your publisher if you go down the traditional route. This is The Extraordinary Business Book Club at its best – inspiring, thoughtful, practical, hilarious.
23/10/1734m 50s

Episode 83 - Enterprise Within with Rebecca Jones

Rebecca Jones was told at school that she’d better hope she made ‘pretty babies’, because she’d never amount to anything. She left aged 16 with a handful of non-academic O-levels to her name. By her mid-twenties she was running her second company, and now she’s a world-famous expert in training and business growth. She believes the dyslexia that had her labelled ‘hopeless’ at school has been the driver behind her entrepreneurial success, but when it came to writing a book, it meant a whole new set of challenges. In this week’s conversation Rebecca tells me how she overcame those challenges, why red shoes matter, how she fixes businesses, and how her new book, Enterprise Within, could make possible a whole new phase for her own business.
16/10/1730m 33s

Episode 82 - Book as Toolkit with Dan Underwood

Dan Underwood is part of the ArtOf team, whose mission is to use diagrams and drawings to help people and organisations see their challenges and opportunities in a fresh and powerful way. He talked to me about how the ArtOf team have used the process of developing a book to explore and extend their own thinking and to engage with their clients - it's a great example of how books can be used playfully and dynamically in a business, as a live project rather than a static output.
09/10/1734m 18s

Episode 81 - Entrepreneurial You with Dorie Clark

'You have to open yourself up... away from making money from something and understand that nowadays you make money because of something, and that's a very different phenomenon.' As a journalist, Dorie Clark used to make her living by writing content. But now she writes for free, and makes a much better living off the back of it. In this interview we explore the opportunities out there for anyone entrepreneurial enough to seize them, and the central role that writing and books play in this new world of attention and engagement. I'm utterly in awe of this woman.
02/10/1733m 6s

Episode 80 - The Best Bits

My personal favourite moments from the last 9 episodes of The Extraordinary Business Book Club. It's an incredible selection: Daniel Priestley (Key Person of Influence) on making the book work with the business Warren Knight (Think #Digital First) on what it means to be in control of publishing your book Orna Ross (Head of ALLi, the Alliance of Independent Authors) on making the most of your publishing options Sara Kelly (journalist and academic) on why we're all entrepreneurs now Antony Mayfield (Brilliant Noise) on why small is beautiful when it comes to marketing Bridget Shine (CEO of the Independent Publishers Group) on what it means to publish with a small independent press Matt Watkinson (The Grid) on the big press experience and why it's OK if you're finding it hard to write your book Pam Didner (Global Content Marketing) on why writing is her extreme sport of choice Amanda Setili (Fearless Growth) on how not taking yourself too seriously can seriously improve your writing. Make a cup of tea and settle down. Heck, grab a biscuit too.  
25/09/1733m 4s

Episode 79 - Brilliant Noise with Antony Mayfield

Antony Mayfield runs marketing and communications agency Brilliant Noise, helping some of the biggest brands in the world transform their approach to getting their message out. He's got some fascinating stuff to say about how advertising and marketing are changing, and what it means to be digitally literate, with tips that work for microbusinesses as well as multinationals (in fact he says the reason he works with the big companies is that they need more help getting this right!).  But he also talks about Brilliant Noise's own approach to marketing, and particularly the way they create and use books within the company.  'Those books are like little avatars, little bits of you that you sent out into the world and they've got a life of their own and they're going round telling people what you think.' A fascinating, inspiring conversation with one of the world's leading thinkers in digital marketing. 
18/09/1737m 44s

Episode 78 - Fearless Growth with Amanda Setili

'I'm actually shocked at what writing now means to me relative to what it would have meant before I wrote two books. I used to dread writing... now it's a way to structure my learning, it's a place to put my creativity. It's a place to create a sense of intellectual flow in my life.' Amanda Setili runs a consulting business, and she very deliberately uses her books to explore what fascinates her and what she loves to work on in order to attract the clients she's most interested in working with. In this interview she reveals how she goes about creating the models and tools that accompany her books, and how she learned to shift from dry, technical writing to a more creative, story-led approach.  This is an episode full of practical, usable insights for anyone wanting to make their book not only more useful to read, but more enjoyable to write. 
11/09/1731m 24s

Episode 77 - Independent Publishers Guild with Bridget Shine

Bridget Shine, CEO of the Independent Publishers Guild in the UK, is at the forefront of the revolution taking place in publishing today. In this week's episode we discuss what it means to be an independent publisher, and from the author's perspective, what it's like to be published by an independent publisher. The old rules and divisions are breaking down, and there are fantastic opportunities for those with the will and the energy to explore them. She also has some great tips for approaching independent publishers, and advice for those considering setting up as publishers themselves. And if you get lost in the definitions - indie authors, independent publishers, partner publishing - she takes a reassuringly pragmatic and positive approach: 'The point about the IPG... is we're all about helping one another and supporting each other and if you start getting a bit too ground down by those definitions you would get stuck very easily. For us, it's about people sharing, it's about the spirit of independence.'  
04/09/1728m 30s

Episode 76 - Think #Digital First with Warren Knight

Warren Knight isn't your traditional entrepreneur (whatever that is). He began as a hip hop dancer, and quite simply saw the opportunities that presented themselves at each step and grabbed them with both hands. Today he helps companies around the world transform themselves into digital organisations. His book Think #Digital First came out of those conversations. First published in 2015, it's now in its second edition, but what's even more interesting to EBBC listeners is the way that Warren has created 'micro-niche' editions to serve specific market sectors. This is a great example here of creating a book that's completely tuned to its readers' needs: 'I wanted to tell my story... all of these stories of closing doors, turning over 30 million dollars. All of those stories that I needed to put down in a book, but it needed to have a purpose and a goal... I was doing a lot of coaching, working with businesses. And the thing that they kept saying was, "Oh, Warren, I know I really need to be thinking digital first with what I'm doing, with my business. I have a great offline business but how can I take it online?" So their thinking needs to shift. "We've got a good business and we know what we do well, but my thinking needs to be about what we can do from an online perspective." And I came out of having a meeting and I went, "That's it." I'd written it down three times in three different meetings. I went, "That's the title of the book.... I now know what my purpose is, I know where it needs to start. And now I know where it needs to finish."'
28/08/1732m 26s

Episode 75 - Global Content with Pam Didner

The internet may be international, but is your content? Pam Didner shares the secrets of global content marketing for businesses of all sizes, and reveals the story behind her bestselling book (spoiler alert: she wanted to write a novel but it didn't work out).  She also explains how writing fits with her speaking and consulting activities:  'Working, writing and speaking, from my perspective they are interconnected and they are all related. The way I see it, if I can put an idea in writing, it means I understand that idea well enough to write it. If I can speak about it, it means that I can put the ideas in the right context to explain to my clients or attendees who come to the conference, and if I can actually apply that idea into some sort of framework or the process that I created, it means the idea is valid and can apply to real life.' If you're tempted to procrastinate and if you've tried getting up at 5am to write and failed miserably, you'll find lots to encourage you here. 
21/08/1736m 44s

Episode 74 - Reader-centric writing with Matt Watkinson

'If you want to be a good designer, you don't really bring an ego to the work, you listen to what people say and you try and design the most customer-centric thing that you can and I've tried my best to bring that mentality to writing. A book ultimately is a product.' Matt Watkinson's first book, The Ten Principles Behind Great Customer Experiences, won the CMI Management Book of the Year award, so it's clear this approach is working well for him.  In this interview he explains how he set about writing his new book The Grid: The Decision‑Making Tool for Every Business (Including Yours). When he was asked at a conference what his second book would be, Matt answered "Oh it's a single model that's going to explain all the factors that make a business succeed or fail and it'll fit on a single page." The entire audience burst into hysterical laughter, but he was quite serious.  This is a superb example of how a distinctive model can underpin a book, and also a generous, entertaining interview.  You'll also hear the suppressed squeal in my voice as I announce some big news of my own... 
14/08/1739m 11s

The Entrepreneurial Journalist with Sara Kelly

While publishing's been going through massive disruption over recent years, journalism has had its own problems. Ironically, in a world that runs on content, it's harder than ever to be a professional journalist.  'It's not that people aren't reading newspapers. It's just that they're not paying to read them anymore, so everybody wants content, but nobody is prepared to pay for it.' So to succeed in journalism today, or indeed in any type of content creation, it's not enough simply to write well: you have to develop an entrepreneurial capability, and part of that is developing and marketing your personal brand.  In this week's episode I talk about these changes with Sara Kelly, associate professor and chair of the Department of Journalism, Film and Entertainment Arts at the School of Professional Studies, the National University in San Diego, a former newspaper editor who's also written two books, The Entrepreneurial Journalist's Toolkit and Personal Branding for Entrepreneurial Journalists and Creative Professionals.
07/08/1734m 47s

Episode 72 - Book as Business Development with Daniel Priestley

'One of the drawbacks of working in the traditional publishing world is that they're very, very big on the idea that you need to go out and sell books. I've always thought of a book as something that should go out and sell the author, so the reason I write books is to get a message out there to connect with a lot of people. For me, it's more important that the book is out there doing its job, as opposed to just simply trying to sell the book. The book, for us, fits within a broader context of a bigger business.' For Daniel Priestley, author of bestsellers such as Key Person of Influence, The Entrepreneur Revolution and Oversubscribed, a book is the ultimate business development tool. It costs a fraction of a business development manager, it never gets tired or leaves to join the competition, and it never goes off sick or off-message. His own books sit at the heart of his businesses, and in this episode he reveals the strategies he's used to integrate the two so successfully, and goes under the hood to share how he developed and wrote his new book, 24 Assets.  This is one to listen to again and again. 
31/07/1734m 28s

Episode 71 - The Independent Author with Orna Ross

'Creative writing, creative publishing, creative living' That's Orna Ross's byline, and it sums up her empowered approach to life as an independent author. Having 'won the literary lottery' and secured a deal with a major publisher, she didn't expect to get involved in self-publishing. But when she became frustrated with the way things were going, she decided to experiment with self-publishing. 'I loved self-publishing from the start. I love creative freedom, and the control that you get. Yes, there is responsibility that goes with that. Yes, it is not for those who don't like good, hard work, but if you do like good, hard work, and if you have a clear vision of who you are as an author, then I think it really is the most creative possible way you can publish.' And from her own experience, and wanting to create a community to support others on the same journey, she founded ALLi, the Alliance of Independent Authors.  In this interview she talks about her experiences with both traditional and self-publishing, the power of writing for personal development, and the need to embrace the commercial along with the creative.  Oh, and yoga.
24/07/1735m 4s

Episode 70 - The Best Bits

Pure gold from the last nine episodes of The Extraordinary Business Book Club - insights, ideas and inspiration from some of the world's leading writers and some who've just begun the journey. Hear from: Christian Madsbjerg (Sensemaking) on creativity Roman Krznaric (Carpe Diem) on an innovative way to use your book's content Bernadette Jiwa (Hunch) on making time Cory Doctorow (author, blogger and activist) on the writing habit John Hall (Influence & Co) on discipline and content strategy Tim Harford (Messy, The Undercover Economist) on how speaking and writing work together  Helen Kogan (MD of Kogan Page) on what publishers are looking for  Glenda Shawley (Founded After Forty) on how her first book changed her, personally and professionally Louise Wiles (Thriving Abroad) on how fear and self-doubt nearly stopped her submitting her winning proposal It's an extraordinarily broad and deep compilation from an extraordinary group of people. As you've come to expect.   
17/07/1732m 58s

Episode 69 - Content Marketing with John Hall

John Hall practically invented content marketing. As CEO of Influence & Co he has helped companies of all sizes, from startup to Fortune 50, become 'top of mind' with their customers by establishing trust through useful, engaging content.  In this episode we discuss what it means to have a content strategy, and how a book fits with that. He also explains the thinking behind his substantial appendix and his offer to connect directly with readers, and gives his tips on writing a book for anyone still struggling with making it happen.
10/07/1728m 18s

Episode 68 - Thriving Abroad with Louise Wiles

Louise Wiles took part in the very first 10-day Business Book Proposal Challenge. As the deadline approached to submit the completed proposal for a chance to win a publishing deal, she hesitated. "I haven't sent it in. Am I going to send it in? Oh, I'm not sure." In the end, encouraged by her husband, she submitted it. Which is lucky, as it turned out to be one of the winners.  In this week's episode, Louise describes how she and her business partner and coauthor Evelyn Simpson set up Thriving Abroad without ever having met in person, how she overcame the resistance and fear of putting the book out into the world at every stage, from initial proposal to just three weeks before publication, and what she'd do differently next time round. If you're struggling with self-doubt and resistance as you write your book, this is for you.   
03/07/1731m 33s

Episode 67 - Copyright and creativity with Cory Doctorow

'Computers and the networks that we connect to them, they're the nervous system of the 21st century.' And yet Cory Doctorow argues passionately that right now, the way we legislate the internet isn't serving the creators, or even the consumers.  If you care more about people seeing and using your content than you do about restrictive copyright law, there are alternatives. Cory released several of his own books under Creative Commons licences, and in this inerview he explains why, and why it matters.  He also gives us an insight into his own prolific writing practice, with some practical tips for getting a writing habit established and sustaining it.  This man is a hero of the internet - author, blogger, campaigner, visionary - and this is a powerful analysis of what's wrong with the creative ecosystem and what we can do about it. 
26/06/1749m 30s

Episode 66 - Carpe Diem with Roman Krznaric

What does 'Carpe Diem' mean to you? In his fascinating new book, Roman Krznaric reveals how the meaning of this famous phrase has changed over time, and how it's been pressed into service as a rallying cry for both hard work and hedonism, mindfulness and political activism.  He also talks about crowdfunding - he rejected a traditional publishing deal to publish this book through Unbound - footnotes, developing new ways to share ideas online, and creating a movement rather than just publishing a book.  'I've always wanted my books to turn into art projects and social movements... My advice is to write your business book about something that you care about, that you're passionate about, that you consider is important. Do it in such a way that anyone can understand it and work with it and make it practical, but don't necessarily try and make it fit too much into being relevant to a particular industry, or for a particular product.' I defy anyone to listen to this interview and not be inspired. 
19/06/1735m 11s

Episode 65 - Sensemaking with Christian Madsbjerg

'I wanted to write a book about how magical people are, as opposed to machines. How enormously efficient we are at understanding things, particularly each other, in a way that no machine will ever come close to doing.' Through his work with ReD Associates, Christian Madsbjerg helps companies make better decisions by better understanding what is meaningful to their customers. In a world of Big Data and machine intelligence, he argues, it's vital to remember the extraordinary power of human intelligence: the humanities, he argues, are the best starting point for business thinking. He also offers a refreshing take on writing a book, as something which can and should create controversy, provoke a reaction, and acknowledges just how hard it is: 'I find writing delightful sometimes, but most of the times I just find it quite tough.' A thought-provoking and insightful discussion that reminded me, at least, of what really matters in life.
12/06/1733m 17s

Episode 64 - Independent Publishing with Helen Kogan

Kogan Page is one of the world's leading business book publishers and one of the last big independents. The company has just celebrated its 50th birthday, and in this episode I talk to MD Helen Kogan - daughter of founder Philip - about what it means to be independent, what commissioning editors look for in a proposal, and some hands-on, down-and-dirty tips for writing a business book that sells. This is a fascinating glimpse into the workings of one of the truly great publishing houses, and to hear from the very top what they look for in the authors and books they take on.  
05/06/1733m 7s

Episode 63 - Storytelling & Reader Experience with Bernadette Jiwa

'How can I write books that people will read all the way to the end, they can open at any page and find something interesting or useful or inspiring or actionable, and they'll come back to again?' And with that question, Bernadette Jiwa - author of Difference: The one-page method for reimagining your business and reinventing your marketing, Marketing: A Love Story and most recently Hunch: Turn Your Everyday Insights Into the Next Big Thing - nails the question for any business book author.  Discover how she goes about answering it, and particularly how she uses the principles of storytelling and the backstory to write such compelling, generous books, in this fascinating interview.   
29/05/1736m 2s

Episode 62 - The Year of the Book with Glenda Shawley

I first met Glenda Shawley in January 2016 when she came along to my 'The Year of the Book' workshop, in which writing productivity guru Bec Evans and I helped a small group of entrepreneurs get clear on the book they wanted to write and plan how they were going to achieve it.  By Christmas of that year, she was holding in her hand advance copies of Founded After 40: How to start a business when you haven't got time to waste, the first of the books to come out of that session (another one was self-published earlier this year, and I'm publishing another two shortly). In this episode, Glenda reveals how she did it, with lots of practical tips for linking the book with the business and building a community around it, and reflects on what the impact has been for her, personally and professionally. It's a masterclass in how to Get Stuff Done and create an experience that not only helps but delights the reader.   If you ever find yourself thinking, 'Well, of course it's easy for THEM...' as you listen to illustrious best-selling author celebrities on this show and others, this will be a refreshing and challenging insight into how a small business owner without a big existing platform got on and did the work, and is reaping the benefits.  
22/05/1729m 12s

Episode 61 - Messy is Good with Tim Harford

You've heard the mantra: 'Focus!' You know you need to niche. You understand that multi-tasking is inefficient, and you curse yourself every time your attention wanders from the one thing you know you should be working on. You're trying to put in place systems and processes to optimise how you work, and when things go wrong it feels like the universe is conspiring against you.  Sound familiar?  The good news is that it's not that simple. Tim Harford, the Undercover Economist and author of Messy: How to Be Creative and Resilient in a Tidy-Minded World, argues that a tidy mind is unlikely to be a creative mind, and it's when things go wrong that we're likely to step fully into our genius.  This is heartening stuff for me, at least, and a great insight to have in your back pocket next time someone criticises the state of your desk...  Tim also reveals how moving between different modes of communication - from writing a book to writing articles to speaking to presenting on Radio 4 - helps him clarify his own thinking, and he has some brilliantly practical advice for anyone writing their first business book.   
15/05/1732m 16s

Episode 60 - The Best Bits

It's time for another collection of The Extraordinary Business Book Club's Best Bits! Sit back and listen to half and hour of jaw-droppingly practical and powerful tips from the top writers and publishers featured in episodes 51-59, with some fascinating differences of opinion and approach:  Mark Levy (Accidental Genius) on organising your ideas Lucy McCarraher (How to Write Your Book Without the Fuss) on the importance of structuring before you start Lisa Earle McLeod (Selling with Noble Purpose) on forgetting all about structure and just starting Ross Lovelock (ScQUARE) on writing for the reader Alan Weiss (Million Dollar Consulting) on writing for yourself  Caroline Webb (How to Have a Good Day) on her writing playlist Melissa Romo (Head of Global Content, Sage) on creating a writing ritual (and specifically how her frog helps...) Adrian Zackhemi (Portfolio Penguin) on how publishers evaluate an author's proposal Louis Rosenfeld on why publishing is about so much more than the book I guarantee there's something here that will inspire you, restore your writing mojo, get you unstuck, or at the very least make you feel like you're not in this alone. 
08/05/1730m 17s

Episode 59 - Reinventing Publishing with Lou Rosenfeld

Lou Rosenfeld is in the ideas business. He's a writer himself, and a speaker and trainer, and now with Rosenfeld Media he's created a distinctive approach to publishing that's based around ideas - and the community engaged with them - rather than books per se.  His company supports the 'three-legged stool' of the ideas business, which Lou himself discovered as an author: 'I found that I really couldn't succeed with writing if I wasn't presenting, and I couldn't succeed with presenting if I wasn't teaching, and couldn't succeed with teaching if I wasn't writing so it's a virtuous circle.'  So the publishing company he created is format-agnostic, and devotes an extraordinary amount of time and energy to supporting its authors as a co-collaborator and focus for the community. 'I still think we're reinventing publishing,' he says. 'I'm not even sure the word publish means anything like it did 10 or 15 years ago. It shouldn't really. I felt like the traditional publishing model, which to my mind emphasised quantity over quantity, is really broken. It's not anything I really want to be affiliated with so we've very studiously avoided that approach and taken a very different one.' Find out more, including his advice to authors, in this fascinating interview.
01/05/1734m 29s

Episode 58 - How to Have a Good Day with Caroline Webb

Caroline Webb writes about the everyday, the little things that make a big difference to how we feel: being interrupted, boring meetings, feeling stressed, late-night emails, giving directions to someone who's lost. So on one level, How to Have a Good Day is an everyday book. What makes it remarkable is the way that she explores these everyday experiences through a rigorous research-based framework encompassing psychology, behavioural economics and neuroscience. So now not only do you know why you feel so bad when someone interrupts you, you know why, which also allows you to deal with it and continue having a good day. It's a great example of one of the most important skills in business book writing: synthesising experience, research and stories to create a distinctive framework that not only helps people understand why things are as they are but gives them tools for making things better.  'Take a step back and think, "What is my system of thought here? What is my grand theory of how this all knits together?"' advises Caroline, and you can find out more about she achieved it herself in this fascinating interview. Also revealed, her writing playlist. I guarantee it's not what you expect.
24/04/1736m 44s

Episode 57 - Selling the Story with Ross Lovelock

'The best idea in the world is useless if you can't sell it,' says Ross Lovelock. He learned that the hard way in his 20s at Pepsi, when he was forced to scrap the 'data dump' he'd put together as a strategic plan for his sales unit and rework it as a story to present to the President of PepsiCo.  He realised pretty quickly that nobody was teaching people how to do this work: not just to assemble the facts, but to interpret them, articulate the problem, find the solution and craft the whole into a persuasive narrative to sell the solution upwards. That's why he set up SCQuARE, a strategic consultancy that supports clients to build the complete plan and present it effectively. And out of this journey too came first the self-published book Getting Everyone on the Same Page and then The One Thing You Need to Know, published by Wiley. Not bad for the kid who left school at 16.  In this episode, Ross sets out his own extraordinary journey and the secrets of taking your idea and turning it into a story you can sell to the world. 
17/04/1736m 17s

Episode 56 - The future of content with Melissa Romo

This is not just any frog. This is the frog that gets Melissa Romo into writing mode. Usually he sits atop the antique writing desk in her bedroom, but if she's travelling he comes along and perches wherever he can, so that even on a plane or in an anonymous hotel room, he quietly sends the signal to her brain: 'It's time to write.'  Melissa has a unique perspective on writing: she's a novelist, a publisher, and also Head of Global Content at Sage, so she comes at the issue of connecting with people through content from multiple angles, bringing a fascinating insight to the business of writing business books.   In this week's episode as well as discussing her own writing routines and tips we touch on bots, voice assistants, interactive content and AI stories - it's a fascinating glimpse into how one of the world's biggest companies sees the future of content marketing. 
10/04/1730m 34s

Episode 55 - Writing as Thought Leadership with Mark Levy

One of the most common pieces of advice for business book authors - and one that I often repeat myself - is to focus on the reader. What problem do they have, what is it that they're seeking, what language will resonate with them?  That's important, but it's not the whole story. As Henry Ford famously said, if he'd asked people what they wanted they'd have said faster horses.  In this week's episode writer and positioning expert Mark Levy reveals how to balance what the readers want with what you as the author want to achieve and what you are uniquely positioned to create.  He describes how you can capture your unique meaning and fascination pile, your own mix of insights from the various experience and areas of expertise you've devleoped over the years, from which you can write something genuinely original that will establish you as a thought leader. And how it works to develop your own thinking too: 'You need to use the writing itself as a discovery process.' Inspiring, illuminating and incredibly practical advice for writers who want to make a difference in the world. 
03/04/1745m 11s

Episode 54 - Writing with Noble Purpose with Lisa Earle McLeod

'Noble embodies what we're trying to do here because it is about being in the service of others but in this case in business... Noble Purpose is about the impact you have on customers.' Or, in this case, readers. Lisa Earle McLeod writes from two key drivers: frustration and passion. Her book Selling with Noble Purpose embodied everything she'd learned and passionately believed in her career as a sales consultant, that selling is for the benefit and the maximum impact for the customer, not just giving them what they think they want. 'It gives you more courage with your customers,' she explains. And there's a very clear parallel with writing for your readers, too.  There are some great examples too of how the book works with the business, with a useful taxonomy of ways in which she as the author can work with clients who've read the book and want more.  And if you're bored of me banging on about structure, you'll love Lisa's top tip for would-be business book authors: 'Think about what you're excited about and think about what you're angry about and just start writing. Everyone thinks they have to have this big outline for a book, you don't. Just sit at the keyboard, bang it out. Don't start at the beginning. If you've got something for the end in mind, start there. If you've got the middle in mind, start there. Just start.'
27/03/1733m 26s

Episode 53 - The Portfolio Penguin view with Adrian Zackheim

'There's an awful lot of talk about platform in the media business these days,' admits Adrian Zackheim, the founder of Portfolio, Penguin's prestigious business book list. 'It's an obvious strategy for publishers to seek out people with pre-existing platforms and attempt to extend them, [but] one of the attractions of this work, for me at least, is that there is this calculation that one has to make about where is that platform? How significant, how important is the platform, and how good is this person as a communicator? Then how significant are the ideas that are being developed here? You have to triangulate those three considerations in order to determine the prospects for an author.' This is a fascinating insight into how one of the world's most famous publishers of business books makes his acquisition decisions, and where he sees the industry heading. 
20/03/1735m 1s

Episode 52 - Writing without the fuss with Lucy McCarraher

How to Write Your Book Without the Fuss is just a brilliant title. And Lucy McCarraher is equally brilliant. Cofounder of Rethink press and the 'Publish' mentor for Daniel Priestly's Key Person of Influence programme, she uses the WRITER model to support her clients through the process and sets it out in this interview, along with her thoughts on how business owners can use their book to build their business.  Packed full of practical advice and expert tips - without any fuss - this is essential listening for business book authors. 
13/03/1735m 7s

Episode 51 - Million Dollar Consulting with Alan Weiss

'There's no such thing as writer's block. It's a myth. What you do is you sit down at a keyboard and you type a letter, and then you type some more letters, you have a word. Then you type some more words, you have a sentence. A few more sentences, you have a paragraph. What you write is better than you think, but what stops people is the self-editing, this little person in your head who keeps critiquing you. You got to kill that person, you just got to flick them off your shoulder, stomp on them 'til they're bloody. You have to sit down and write, and stop worrying whether people will like it. Just write for yourself.' Alan Weiss's approach to writing is bracing. If you're getting bogged down in endless rewriting or self-critiquing, this is going to be uncomfortable listening. Uncomfortable, but essential. 
06/03/1726m 8s

Episode 50 - The Best Bits

It's The Extraordinary Business Book Club's half-century episode! And we're celebrating with an extraordinary selection of Best Bits from episodes 41-49:  Michael E. Gerber on creating a legacy David Taylor on being the best you Martin Goodyer on the single strong idea Heather McGowan on visualizing information Emma Serlin on the psychology of speaking Susan Heaton Wright on overcoming the fear of speaking in public Kelly Pietrangeli on building the platform before the book Scott Pack on what it takes to crowdfund a book successfully Guy Kawasaki on crowdsourcing feedback to improve the book  It's an incredible line-up, and the themes reflect the very best of The Extraordinary Business Book Club, from the big picture to the tactical details of communicating your unique message in a multiplatform world.  Plug in and play, and lose yourself in half an hour of inspiration, ideas and insight. And cake. 
27/02/1731m 45s

Episode 49 - The Art of Speaking with Susan Heaton Wright

Susan Heaton-Wright has performed on many of the world's greatest stages as an opera singer, but it was only after she'd had her baby that she realised the skills she'd developed - being able to walk into a room with confidence, to project her voice clearly and perform in front of an audience - could be invaluable to business people.  A whole new business emerged, and now Susan helps people speak in public effectively (she also has a side-line in providing live music for events, but that's a whole other podcast...).  In this episode we talk about the beautiful synergy between writing and speaking, and how authors can create and use speaking opportunities strategically to promote their book and build their business. There's a bit of podcasting love going on too: Susan is the host of top podcast Superstar Communicator, and occasionally the interviewer/interviewee roles get a bit muddled...
20/02/1733m 40s

Episode 48 - Writing with the Crowd with Guy Kawasaki

'I don't think many authors would put themselves through what I put myself through. How many authors are confident enough or stupid enough to send their manuscript to a thousand people who they have no idea who they are, and just say, "Okay, just tell me what you don't like."' But over the course of 13 bestselling books, Guy Kawasaki has discovered that this is in fact the best way to create his best book.  'There's no doubt in my mind that the crowd improves my books,' he says. It began when he sent out his first manuscripts to a select few beta readers and noticed how invaluable their feedback was. 'Then I figured out that... maybe you don't know all the intelligent people in the world firsthand, so maybe you should broaden your net.' Now he puts up publicly the table of contents and then the full first draft, turning on the comments function and inviting anyone who's interested to give their opinion. The feedback helps in the rewriting, and it also completely changes his relationship with his readers, who become invested in the book and its success.  An incredibly inspiring episode, and Guy keeps it real with his advice on getting the darn thing done and not messing up your cover. 
13/02/1727m 53s

Episode 47 - The Communication Equation with Emma Serlin

When Emma Serlin founded the London Speech Workshop, she came at the science of effective communication from two perspectives: her professsional background in the theatre as an actor and director, and her academic background in psychology. The result is a powerful theory and practice of communication - The Communication Equation. At its simplest it's an equation:  Authenticity + Connection = Engagement In this episode we explore how understanding the principles of both performance and psychology can help you communicate more effectively, with important lessons for writers as well as speakers, and how bringing together diverse perspectives and experiences can generate creative insights for your business and your book.  There's also some practical advice on adapting face-to-face exercises for a book and the power of stories. And, as you'd expect, Emma has a really, really nice voice. 
06/02/1729m 28s

Episode 46 - Crowdfunding with Scott Pack

One of the many opportunities open to authors today is the chance to crowdfund their book: to whip up enthusiasm for the project and get friends, relatives, ex-girlfriends (yes, really) and total strangers who want to see this book happen put their hands in their pockets and pledge to support it. And one of the leading crowdfunding platforms out there for books is Unbound. But what's really involved in crowdfunding, and is it a good use of your time? In this week's episode Scott Pack, Associate Editor at Unbound - and Associate Lecturer with me on the MA in Publishing at Brookes University, where we recorded this interview - talks about how it works (and what happens when it doesn't), and who it's for (and who it's really NOT for).
30/01/1737m 31s

Episode 45 - Visualising ideas with Heather McGowan

If you're struggling to write your book, here's an idea: try drawing it instead. That's how Heather McGowan, academic entrepreneur and futurist, gets started.  'I don't usually start writing anything. I start drawing a lot of things. My starting process is: how would I put this on a single page so that people can understand it with very few words using shapes and different types of frameworks? I usually start with a series of frameworks that tell the story to me in my head and then after that I write.' Visualising your ideas has a double benefit: for you as author, to help you get clear on what it is you're saying, how your ideas fit together and flow, but also for the reader.  'When you look at text, you turn those texts into symbols that you store in your mind visually. When you look at a picture, you can be something like 30,000 times faster reading all the same information... if [blogs or books] have visuals in them, they are much more often read and understood than if they're just plain text because it breaks it up, it allows you to process things differently.' And given the astonishing quantity of information that comes at us on a daily basis, demanding our attention - the equivalent of over 280 newspapers a day - this shortcut to communicating complex ideas is a powerful competitive advantage for writers who want to be heard.   Heather and I also discuss the future of reading and writing and the skills we need to teach our young people to equip them for the future of work. A fascinating, thought-provoking episode.
23/01/1730m 54s

Episode 44 - Using stories with Martin Goodyer

'Anyone can read those things, whether they've met me or whether they haven't and go, "Yeah, that's about me," because the stories are relevant to so many people.' Coaching psychologist Martin Goodyer has a very simple idea he wants to get across to as many people as possible: we can all do better if we ask ourselves better questions. To get that idea through to the reader, he uses stories. WTF Just Happened? is a collection of stories about individuals in all sorts of situations, from losing weight (or rather, failing to lose weight) to making disastrous relationship choices to bombing in business. I guarantee you'll read at least one of them and say: 'Oh my goodness, that's me." In this interview we discuss the art and science of telling stories, particularly the tricky issues of truth and confidentiality, and explore why they work so well in engaging our attention and changing our behaviour. Martin believes most 'self-help' books don't work, no matter how brilliant the advice, because fundamentally we don't like being told what to do. Stories, on the other hand, engage our emotions, they smuggle big ideas into our brain because we let our guard down - the book is 'a form of open-eye hypnosis'. There's also a brilliant idea for an attention-grabbing book launch and an incredibly powerful question for you to ask yourself as a business-book author. 
16/01/1737m 21s

Book and platform with Kelly Pietrangeli

Back in 2012, Kelly Pietrangeli and her friends had a brilliant idea for a book. Project Me was all about helping busy mothers balance their lives with more effective time management, productivity skills and goal-setting, using tools techniques they'd developed for their own lives.  They began to write, but then: 'It just occurred to me one day, how are we going to get a book deal on this book called Project Me, when we have no website, no social media platform whatsoever, like who are we, you know? We're just a couple of mothers who are writing this book.' She persuaded her friends to do it backwards, taking the content they'd written and putting it out on a website. She built a blog, a community and an online programme, and before too long she found herself the focus of a bidding war with several publishers vying to sign her up. 'That's what the book has come from, from a book idea into a website, into online programs and coaching, and now full circle.' Kelly's story might just transform the way you think about your book and your platform, and how they work together. 
09/01/1733m 32s

Episode 42 - The Naked Leader with David Taylor

Perhaps the most powerful thing you can do as the writer of a business book is to cut through the fluff and change people's lives. Many of us feel uncomfortable making grand claims for our ideas. We hedge them around with qualifiers and we're anxious to cover off all the objections we imagine readers might have, or all the various different ways our message might apply to people in different situations.  And very often, the message gets lost along the way.  David Taylor writes in a completely different way to any other writer I've interviewed. He calls it predictive persuasion, and he's refreshingly unapologetic about the simplicity of his message and the directness of his style.  Here's why - he cares more about what people do than what people think of him.   'I don't really mind what they think of The Naked Leader or the message. I just want people to fulfil their own potential in their own way in the very short time that we each have on this planet and it is a very short time indeed.' There's so much here to inspire and challenge you about how and why you write. And even more to challenge you about how you live. 
02/01/1735m 21s

Episode 41 - Beyond The E-Myth with Michael E. Gerber

One of the first episodes of The Extraordinary Business Book Club podcast featured an interview with Michael E. Gerber talking about one of the most extraordinary business books of all time - The E-Myth Revisited. So it feels very appropriate that we end 2016 with Michael talking about his new book, Beyond the E-Myth: The Evolution of an Enterprise: From a Company of One to a Company of 1000.  Michael turned 80 in 2016, but both the book and the interview demonstrate that his passion for helping small business owners achieve success hasn't dimmed since the E-Myth was first published in 1985, in fact the sense of urgency and passion is if anything greater.  There are big questions in this episode, and the turn of the year is the perfect time to face them.  "Look at yourself more seriously. Stop thinking about how you're going to get by and start pondering what you're going to leave behind."
26/12/1637m 35s

Episode 40 - The Best Bits

New to the Club? Missed a few episodes? Or just want to revisit some of the most mind-tingling insights from recent guests? This is the place to start. A few selected highlights from episodes 31-39, including: Bec Evans of WriteTrack on establishing your writing habit (may or may not involve champagne) Productivity Ninja Grace Marshall on why procrastination is an inevitable part of writing a book and how to beat it UX legend Steve Krug on applying usability principles to writing your book Robbie Kellman Baxter with a brilliantly practical tip on using writing as a thinking tool Business coach and web strategist Robin Waite on the book as part of the personal brand ecosystem Nicholas Lovell on the Curve - using the power of free to turn followers into superfans Patrick Vlaskovits on hustle and the art of not waiting for permission The Creator's Code author Amy Wilkinson on the myth of overnight success in both business and writing, and the importance of discomfort Andy Cope on his life-changing epiphany in the Tesco's checkout queue (warning: this is the bit where I cry laughing) Think of it as an early Christmas present. You're welcome. 
19/12/1641m 19s

Episode 39 - The Curve with Nicholas Lovell

You know about the Curve, even if you don’t think of it in those terms. You’ve noticed how successful businesses have been developing offerings at a wide variety of price points, and how they’ve been focusing particularly on giving stuff away in order to get people’s attention and engagement. You probably do it yourself – it’s the entire principle behind content marketing, in fact. But have you thought strategically about how and where your book fits in? Nicholas Lovell, this week’s guest in The Extraordinary Business Book Club and author of The Curve: Freeloaders, Superfans and the Future of Business, explains it further: ‘The Curve comes in three parts. You have to find an audience. That probably, but doesn't necessarily, involve free. You have to earn the right to talk to them again. It's no good having a newsletter that you get people to sign up for if they immediately unsubscribe because your content is boring and rubbish. Then, having done those two things, found them and got the right to talk to them again, you have to let those people who really want to spend money with you, the people who love what you do, the Superfans, spend lots of money on things they really value.’ Your job, and your book's job, is to move people along that curve. Your potential superfans will finish your book and say to themselves, ‘That was great! Now what?’ This week's episode will help you give them a good answer. 
12/12/1636m 28s
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