‘I couldn’t have written a better book’

I’ve just interviewed Matt Watkinson, author of The Grid: The Decision-Making Tool for Every Business (Including Yours), for the Extraordinary Business Book Club podcast. He’s an extraordinarily nice bloke: today’s interview had to be rescheduled when my call recording tech failed last week (thankfully I realised before we’d got too far into the interview), and he didn’t blink at rearranging despite the inconvenience, neither did he make me feel an inept buffoon. 

The interview itself is superb – SO much practical insight into how he goes about writing his books (his first, The Ten Principles Behind Great Customer Experience, was the CMI’s Management Book of the Year, so this is advice worth listening to). You’ll be able to hear the full thing when the episode airs on 28 August. But when we were chatting after I’d stopped recording, he said perhaps the best phrase any of my guests have ever said. Sadly of course it’s not in the podcast, but I can record it here, and it still raises the hairs on the back of my neck: 

‘I know that I simply couldn’t have written a better book with my current knowledge and experience.’

Said utterly without ego, just with a sense of quiet satisfaction and a job well done. He knows this, he says, because he was relentless in going back over every sentence, every paragraph, testing it, refining it, getting feedback and honing the message. He spent two years perfecting the proposal, and ditched an early draft because the structure wasn’t right. My mantra – as anyone who’s done the 10-day Business Book Proposal Challenge will know – is ‘done is better than perfect’. But what takes a book out of the ordinary and into prize-winning, life-changing territory is when it’s done AND perfect. 

It’s not easy, but then if it were easy, everyone would be doing it.