You know those business book authors who tell you, 'Dip in and out, read this book any way you choose'? Andy Cope, author of The Little Book of Emotional Intelligence, is not one of them.
"I specifically set this book out so it starts easy, and then it gets a little bit stodgy in the middle, and then it knocks your socks off at the end... It's like going to the swimming baths. You get your bathers on, and then you go out, first of all, you step through the chlorinated little bath, where your feet get wet but nothing else happens, so I take you through the chlorinated foot bath of academia first, because it's not very challenging, and then we go in the shallow end, and we splash around a bit and get a bit wet, until we get our confidence, and then, and only then, are you allowed in the deep end. If I chuck you in at the deep end first, you'll die. We do get to the deep end in the book, but we start in the shallow foot bath of chlorinated academia."
And it was at this point that I found myself actually crying with laughter, which is a first for this podcast.
Andy describes himself as "in a very lonely part of a Venn diagram", as he's most of the way through the world's longest PhD but also writes stories for 8 year olds (mine loves them). I promise this interview will make you laugh, but it will also give you some incredible insights about life in general and writing about big ideas in particular.
Amy Wilkinson pulls off an extraordinary feat with The Creator's Code: she interviewed 200 top entrepreneurs to discover what had made them successful, then rigorously distilled down her findings into 6 universal skills - the Code.
The research, on 'the biggest data set currently in the entrepreneurship world on high-scale or high-impact entrepreneurs', took 5 years. The 300 pages of the book were distilled down from 10,000 pages of transcripts.
As you'd expect from someone who lectures at Stanford and Harvard, the research was rigorous and the grounded-theory approach behind it is cutting edge. But as you might NOT expect, the output is not an impenetrable scholarly paper, but an engaging, readable narrative.
If you're struggling with translating a large body of material into an accessible story, or if you simply want to find out what's behind the success of 200 top entrepreneurs, all of whom have taken companies from zero to $100m in annual revenue in under a decade, this is an unmissable episode.
Amy also draws out the parallels between starting a business and writing a book that matters, and reminds us that if it's not easy, that's OK:
'It's difficult to be a first timer in any field, really. You talk to people that are first timers in writing books, in starting companies, first-time professors, first-time doctors that are just getting started, first-time lawyers. Everyone is learning and growing, and it takes a lot of energy, and effort, and focus, and it takes some time. The thing about the modern economy is that we are all beginners all the time.'
As always, for the full transcript see www.extraordinarybusinessbooks.com.
When Patrick Vlaskovits told his dad he was writing a book called Hustle, his father was baffled: 'Why would you want to write a book about stealing?'
And that's part of the interesting thing about this book - it's about giving things a name, or in this case taking back a name, giving shape and weight to things we know but perhaps haven't articulated to ourselves. It's full of phrases that hit home, such as 'cycle of suck', 'mediocrity of meh'. Patrick argues that this is a key duty of the writer in our society:
'The greatest impact that authors can have is to give names to phenomena that don't have names yet. That things perhaps are felt, perhaps are sensed but haven't been articulated...'
In this episode we also explore the pros and cons of writing as a team, with some great practical advice on how to do it well, and the power of storytelling.
Patrick doesn't hold back, and his advice is awesome. Brace yourself.
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 21-29, including:
Sit back, relax, listen, enjoy. Be inspired.
We spend our lives just one click away from the answer to any question, with instant access to entertainment, education, distraction, connection to the hive mind. Our digital culture makes so much possible, but what's the cost to us?
In this episode Tom Chatfield explores the nature of attention and creativity, how print books engage us differently and why that matters.
Write This Book is a beautiful, tactile experiment in interactivity and physicality, because as Tom says,
'We need things to have friction and texture. Really, memory and understanding are information plus emotion, if you like, and to make things stick in our minds, to make things really belong to us, to work out what we mean rather than just what is out there in the Web of information, is becoming more and more valuable as we're lucky enough to have more and more information at our fingertips.'
If you're interested in how print books serve us in an increasingly digital world, this is a fascinating listen.