So blogging every day was a fascinating experiment, but by the end I was ready for a slower-paced, more thoughtful and purposeful way of putting stuff out into the world.
May I introduce the very first Extraordinary Business Book Newsletter? Here’s an extract from this week’s. I’m sure it’ll change over time, but if I’ve learned anything over the last few years it’s that you can only steer once you’re moving. If you’d like this in your inbox every week, sign up here.
What I learned this week
In this week’s Extraordinary Business Book Club podcast, I talk to neuroscientist Dr Lynda Shaw, author of Your Brain is Boss: Using mind power to develop influence, creativity and work satisfaction. She explained why storytelling is just so effective at engaging us:
‘When we tell a story we change it slightly according to our audience. That means that subconsciously our audience is a part of that creative process. Once they’re part of that creative process, they feel more empathy for us. We start to stimulate a neurochemical called oxytocin, which is all about bundling and trusting. You have this delicious dance between the storyteller and the listener. It doesn’t have to be a grand, elaborate story. It could be something that is incredibly relevant, a case study or a client that you’ve had or something that relates to that person. They will trust you far more, and they will feel bonded far more, and they will want to be onboard with you. It’s a great persuader.’
Obviously when you’re writing a book you can’t replicate that dynamic, real-time co-creation, but telling stories that allow your readers to empathise, either with you or with the subject of the story, has a similar effect. Stories are neurological rocket-fuel for building relationships. Fact.
What I’m reading right now (and why you might want to too)
I snagged my signed copy of Dorie Clark’s Entrepreneurial You at the launch last week, and I’m taking notes all the way through. It’s a brilliantly practical handbook for anyone in the business of positioning themselves as an expert and (and this is key) getting paid for it. She writes beautifully: no wasted words, engaging stories, to-the-point advice. What’s particularly valuable is her lack of squeamishness about figures: she talks openly about her own rates, and how they’ve developed over time, and the various ways she’s monetized her expertise over the years, and she’s somehow persuaded others to share the nuts and bolts of how they’ve build their businesses too. (If you’re a fan of Dorie’s, you can get more of her wit and wisdom on the podcast.)
There’s a useful workbook as well, which is basically the questions at the end of each chapter in a format you can download and scribble on, a great tip for anyone considering an online companion to their book.
What I’m looking forward to
TED Talks: The official TED guide to public speaking by Chris Anderson is out in paperback in January (the hardback was published in May 2016). I read this on Kindle back then and it’s superb: well written, inspiring and practical, taking you from the basics of honing your message through tactics such as what to wear and how to control nerves. Here’s a taste:
‘A good exercise is to try to encapsulate your throughline in no more than fifteen words. And those fifteen words need to provide robust content. It’s not enough to think of your goal as, “I want to inspire the audience” or “I want to win support for my work.” It has to be more focused than that. What is the precise idea you want to build inside your listeners? What is their takeaway?’
What’s going on here
A fabulous night last Thursday at University College Birmingham celebrating the launch of the latest Practical Inspiration title Trusted: The human approach to building outstanding client relationships in a digitised worldby Lyn Bromley and Donna Whitbrook. From the specially created T-Spot cocktail and the fabulous street food buffet to the live Extraordinary Business Book Club interview, it was an unforgettable evening and exemplified Lyn and Donna’s message in the book itself: an unrelenting focus on great client experience to build great client relationships. Sadly there was a tech problem that means we can’t use the recording of the podcast at the live event, but I’ll be interviewing both authors on the podcast soon.
And finally… A Little Bit of Practical Inspiration
I’m also reading Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft (I usually have at least four books on the go at any one time…) and this, one of his most famous quotes, is just too good not to share. It’s as relevant for business book writers as any other writer, maybe more so. What are you feeding your brain at the moment?
‘If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.’
I hope you enjoyed this first new-look newsletter – please hit reply and let me know if you have any thoughts on how to make it even better, and feel free to share with a friend!
Until next week,