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The Extraordinary Business Book Club

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.
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The Extraordinary Business Book Club
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Now displaying: 2022
May 16, 2022
'If you've got something that's important, meaningful to you, that needs to be heard, why not say it on one of the biggest platforms?'

Have you thoughts about giving a TEDx talk? If so, you've probably got lots of questions. How do you apply, for a start? How do you put together a TEDx-worthy talk? How on earth are you supposed to do it without an autocue? And perhaps most fundamentally of all, given the huge amount of time and energy involved: why do it in the first place? 

In this episode I draw on the wisdom and experience of a wide range of TEDx speakers and particularly Catherine Sandland, the fabulous speaking coach at TEDxNorthwich, to answer all these questions and more. 

The red dot is waiting... this is where you begin your journey. 

May 9, 2022
'Writing is a form of figuring it out. And in fact for me, sometimes it's essential. It's like, what do you think about this? I don't know, I haven't written about it yet.'

Dan Pink has written quite a few books, and they've done pretty well. So how does he do it? It's about showing up, he says, especially on the days you don't want to, and it's also about curiosity, hunches, thinking onto paper, and structure. (The structure REALLY matters.)

Discover too why regret is such a positive force for good, and why feeling better doing necessarily make us do better. 

(But you certainly won't regret the time you spent on this.)

May 2, 2022

'We don't compromise rigour and intellectual honesty, but we try to make it as accessible as possible.'

I don't know what you and your life partner achieved in lockdown. Eric Lonergan and Corinne Sawyers wrote a book. 

They brought their complementary skillsets - Eric in economics and monetary policy, Corinne in climate and sustainability - and produced Supercharge Me: Net Zero Faster, a call to action for policy makers and individuals alike to embrace the challenge and indeed the opportunities of reimagining our world more sustainably. 

They also discovered a way of writing together that preserved those individual perspectives while creating a unified argument. And a lot of it happened over the dinner table... 

Apr 25, 2022
'The basic failure of strategy work is a failure to define the challenge that you're trying to meet.'

Richard Rumelt is one of the world's leading authorities on strategy. He's also a keen rockclimber, and it was climbing that gave him the inspiration for his new book: The Crux. 

In this wide-ranging conversation we talk about why strategy is such a controversial concept in business, and also why writing is such an important discipline for business thinkers. 

Apr 18, 2022
Do you make a difference? Or do you make excuses? 

Tim Bradshaw has done many remarkable things in his life, from military training to endurance events, and when I spoke to him he had just returned from a relief mission to Ukraine. 

He's simply living out his mantra: #BecauseICan. And it turns out that writing a book was the adventure that took him further out of his comfort zone than any that had gone before... 

Ready to be challenged? 

Apr 11, 2022

"We all want to grow our business. And we often do that by spending quite a lot of money... But the reality is in front of us, we have all the new clients we need."

Graham Eisner perfected his technique for asking clients for referrals without embarrassment on either side at Goldman Sachs, and has been teaching business owners how to do it to grow their business ever since.

At its heart, his method involves a simple but profound shift in mindset: a belief that people genuinely want to help. It turns out this is an incredibly helpful mindset when it comes to marketing your book, too - and Graham generously shares his pro tips in this energising and practical conversation. 

Apr 4, 2022
'You cannot go into PR without building relationships.'

Louise Third has embraced this principle in the planning and writing of her book PR on a Beermat, first by partnering with the originators of the beermat idea to develop it for PR, by writing collaboratively with partners, and by involving journalists and other media professionals to share their expertise in her book. 

In this fascinating conversation we talk about PR, the role of a book as part of a business's storytelling, visual thinking, self-publishing and more. Energising and inspiring listening. 

Mar 28, 2022

'I think it's kind of a miracle. How can a human mind... all by itself, come up with an idea it never had before? You know, in a dialogue, I can understand how I can get a new idea from you, but how can I get a new idea from myself? That's amazing.'

So much of writing is about trust - trusting yourself, that you will find something worth saying; trusting that the words will come and that others will find something of value. If you can't trust yourself to take that first step, you'll never write anything. 

Peter Elbow knows this from experience. Having been shut down by a supercilious tutor at university he ended up dropping out of graduate school, simply unable to write the papers he was required to submit. But what he discovered in the process was to transform his own writing and that of the thousands of people he's taught it to since then - free-writing. 

What's more, he discovered that free-writing isn't simply a tool for getting unstuck, it produces writing with more energy and clarity. This episode might just change your life. 

Mar 21, 2022
'Accountability is... probably the most empowering concept you have to live the life you want to live, when you understand it.'

When we speak about accountability in business, very often the context is negative. It's about consequences and blame. But if we see accountability as ownership, it's a radically different, more empowering concept. That's what Brian Moran and Michael Lennington discovered, and they drew on their long-standing accountability to each other as business and writing partners to bring out the full significance of that understanding in their new book. 

This week's conversation is not only a fascinating rehabilitation of a tricky term, but also a masterclass in writing collaboration. 

Mar 14, 2022

Put an author in front of schoolchildren and you can guarantee that before too long, one of them will ask: 'Where do you get your ideas?'

It's a good question, and one that's just as important for business book writers. In this week's 'best bits' episode we look back over recent conversations to see, well, where DO authors get their ideas? 

(So if someone asks you that question from now on, you can tell them: The Extraordinary Business Book Club podcast.)

With insights from: Cathy Rentzenbrink, Robert Kelsey, Jinny Uppal, John Howkins, Christian Busch, David Grayson, Helen Beedham and Catherine Stothart

Mar 7, 2022
'[Writing] is a craft. It's no different to knitting or painting by numbers or whatever, you just have to learn the craft. It might take practice and it might take learning a few rules, but, you know, they're not that scary.'

For Robert Kelsey, writing is an essential business skill in the knowledge economy. And he won't accept excuses. In this conversation he shares his fear-free approach to effective business communication, and his tips for getting started and keeping going.

We also talk about the new landscape of publishing, and the extraordinary resilience of the printed book. 

Energising and insightful listening. 

Feb 28, 2022

'I delighted in writing it. That doesn't mean I found it easy.'

Time management has been seen as an issue for individuals for too long: Helen Beedham argues that the real issue is systemic. The way that organisations manage and value time, she says, is broken. And it's not just a productivity issue, it's hurting our wellbeing and working against inclusion and diversity, too. 

Developing that insight into a book was something of a rollercoaster - as her family will attest... 

Feb 21, 2022
'Expressing an idea and getting it out there is a very skilful process... the principle is to get the other people as interested in the idea you are.'

Creative work is to a large extent invisible - which makes it tricky for managers to manage. It also means that we're left with the challenge of making our invisible ideas visible if we're going to do anything with them. 

In this fascinating conversation I talk to creativity expert John Howkins about that process, the naming, defining and describing of a new idea, together with his best advice for writers (and his confessions about his own writing process...). 

Feb 14, 2022
In a world that screams 'Just Do It!', inaction has a bad reputation. 

But sometimes, strategic inaction is exactly what the situation demands - and much more productive in the long run than the rush to do something, anything.

In this week's conversation I talk to Jinny Uppal about how she learned this for herself, and about writing, publishing, crowdfunding and curiosity.  

Feb 7, 2022
Anyone can have an idea for a book. Writing, publishing and marketing it? That means becoming an author, and that involves a whole lot of learning. 

In this week's podcast I chat around the virtual campfire to seven members of the Extraordinary Business Book Club - some have just begun their first book, others have written several - about what they've learned so far in their journey as authors. 

Practical, thought-provoking and often very funny, these dispatches from the front line are essential reading for anyone considering writing a business book. 

Jan 31, 2022
Back in episode 286, I set out a list of things that editors hate and how to avoid them. Apparently that was very helpful, but lots of people have suggested that I needed to do a more positively focused companion episode, so here it is: what makes editors' hearts sing? 

These ten tips come partly from my own experience of nearly 30 years as an editor (ahem), but also from the Practical Inspiration Publishing development editors and other editors who responded to my call on social media. 

From pitching a great proposal to delivering your manuscript to responding to feedback, here are some practical tips straight from the horse's mouth to help you get the best out of the relationship with your editor, the person who can, if you let them, take your book from good to great. 

Jan 24, 2022
"We knew that a handbook had to be incredibly practical... we tried to help people to really work through the stages that you need to think about." There could hardly be a more important topic for businesses to engage with today than sustainability, and yet most businesses are still at the very early stages of formulating their sustainability strategy. So when David Grayson, Chris Coulter and Mark Lee were invited to write The Sustainable Business Handbook, they knew it had to be a practical tool that any business leader could use to get their own sustainability initiatives off the ground. 

In this conversation we talk about what that meant in practice for structure and style, and how three authors in three different time zones can collaborate without tears... 

Jan 17, 2022

'It starts off as me working out what I think, and then it becomes something I'm going to share with other people... The point at which I allow myself to start imagining a reader is really important.'

Writing isn't just a tool for communication, and your book isn't just a product. In this thoughtful and practical conversation, best-selling author Cathy Rentzenbrink reveals how she approaches both life writing and how-to writing, and charts the looping, iterative progress that allows you to develop your ideas from exploration to exposition.

She also shares her own writer's tricks for managing energy and getting unstuck, and explains the importance of avoiding kitchen-sinking...

And if you're thinking that you're not a writer, there's good news for you: your business communication skills may be more transferable than you think. 

Jan 10, 2022

They told Christian Busch that it would be 'academic suicide' to do a PhD on the science of luck. But it turns out that luck isn't a random force at all: the results may be unpredictable, but the process of becoming luckier is a simple matter of creating more connections and joining the dots more effectively. 

In this conversation, he explains more about how to become luckier by adopting a 'serendipity mindset', and also how you can benefit from 'peak-hour writing' to get your own book written. 

This just might be your lucky day... 

Jan 3, 2022

A great way to celebrate a new year and a tricentenary episode: a 'best bits' compilation of wisdom from recent guests talking about one of the most important and rewarding aspects of writing a business book. 

Whether you need to focus on building your following or your partnerships, or simply be a bit braver at making new connections, there's inspiration and ideas for you here.

Hear from:

  • Eloise Cook on why publishers look for a following
  • Sonya Barlow on creating serendipity
  • Michael Buckworth on the value of talking about your idea
  • Dorie Clark on professional communities, aka 'making friends as an adult'
  • Trevor Thrall on collaborating with trust
  • Michael Leckie on reaching out to your heroes
  • Lucy Ryan on finding writing buddies
  • Jo Bottrill on finding the right publishing skills.

 

 

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