Do you ever read Esquire?
I subscribe for a number of reasons, but one of my favorite things they do are the “What I’ve Learned” pieces where they have personalities give the honest truth about what they’ve learned. No questions, no promotion—just straight first-person wisdom from someone who has been there, done that.
The format works tremendously well because it cuts through the clutter that so often litters interviews and gets right to the insight we’re all reading for—what this person has learned along the way.
When I go to conferences I find myself trying to distill a presentation into 2-3 one-liners that really resonate with me.
This week I am in Milwaukee for the 800-CEO-READ Author Pow Wow and I spent the day listening to some of the brightest minds in business book publishing. We played personality poker, talked about vuvuzelas and debated the merits of traditional vs. self-publishing.
For those who aren’t familiar with them, 800-CEO-READ is a business book distributor that has built a tremendous brand by catering to the needs of corporate clients and establishing an online platform for new ideas via their Change This Manifesto, among other things.
They host a conference each year (The Author Pow Wow) focused on helping business book authors understand as much as possible about the industry they are apart of. It’s a gluttony of ideas and rather than try to recount each panel, I thought I would give you an Esquire “What I’ve Learned” rundown of one-liners:
“The person you like the least is the person you need the most in business.”
~ Stephen Shapiro, who started out the day with a tremendous presentation centered around Personality Poker and the fact that the worst thing we can do is hire someone just like us to help us build a company.
“E-books are publishing’s favorite parlor game.”
~ Portfolio’s Adrian Zackheim musing on the fact that where we’re headed in terms of digital books anybody’s guess.
“The consumer will tell us what they want and it’s our job to make sure they get it.”
“If you can’t sell a book in five words, you can’t sell it.”
~ Deb Lewis, Manager of Trade Sales at Penguin discussing the attention spans of book buyers for major chain stores.
“Amazon.com cares much more about its customers than authors and publishers.”
~ Tom Wilson, National Accounts Manager at Wiley, reminding us why Amazon is a great stock to own.
“I got screwed when the Pope died.”
~ Portfolio’s Allison McLean reminding authors everywhere that breaking news trumps scheduled interviews.
“Journalists are first and foremost responsible to their readers.”
“The key to writing a newsworthy book is to not only advance new ideas, but also teach new ways to apply them.”
“To be an effective speaker you need to tell two stories in every presentation: 1) Who you are (why should they pay attention?) and 2) one that communicates the idea you want the audience to takeaway.”
~ Advice on winning an audience from the best storyteller I know, Steve Denning
“Never give the same speech twice.”
“I didn’t want to trade time for money.”
Honestly, of all the lines above, I’m challenged most by Chris’s line about trading time for money when you provide services or consult for clients. I’ve never thought of it that way, but it’s exactly right–even when you truly love what you do.
Those of you who consult–do you think of it that way?
Perhaps the greatest thing the book industry has to offer is the ability to scale a good idea as a packaged product that can be consumed by a reader without requiring your personal time. This is important, as you’ll need all the personal time you can get to market it.