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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
Sep 26, 2022

Interested in social media, podcasting, business books and business? It's hard to think of someone who can speak with more authority on all of those than Bruce Daisley, ex-European head of Twitter, host of the No.1 business podcast Eat, Sleep, Work, Repeat, author of The Joy of Work and all-round business guru. 

So it was a joy to talk to him about all of this, and particularly his new book, Fortitude, and why it's NOT called Resilience. Along the way we take in TikTok, Elon Musk, the tombstone aesthetic, and why the platform you build for your book is at least as important as the book itself. 

Listen, and be ready to take notes. 

 

Sep 20, 2022

'Strategy is effectively the map which takes you to your destination... tactics are the vehicles you're going to use to get there.'

Jenna Tiffany has worked with many businesses who mistook tactics for strategy. She decided the best way to help them - and many others - was to write a book. Because books, as her foreword writer Dan Barker points out, 'can literally perform magic', providing all the value of the most expensive course on earth, in a fraction of the time, at a fraction of the cost. 

In this fascinating conversation, we discuss not only marketing strategy, but the way in which that strategic approach is so essential for writing a business book. 

Sep 12, 2022

Students of finance don't typically expect to be grappling with theology and philosophy. But over a long career in Wall Street, Dr Kara Tan Bhala has collected many fascinating real-life stories that demonstrate just how central an understanding of ethics is for a career in finance.

She's also shown that it's possible to write about complex ideas in a clear and straightforward way, using stories rather than abstract theories. (Parable, as she points out, is simply an ancient name for case study.)

A fascinating topic, and an equally fascinating conversation with a groundbreaking woman. 

 

Sep 5, 2022

The internet is a funny old place. Most of us can't live (or certainly work) without it, and our online relationships and conversations are just as real and valuable as those we have offline. But we're complex beings with lots going on under the surface, and the internet is no different. 

Psychologist Ian MacRae is fascinated by the 'dark' side of online - the 'unconscious of the internet' - and how we can use a more nuanced understanding of that to better inform our online lives. 

He also has some wise words on how to go about pulling complex ideas and vast quantities of research into a readable book - even when it means creating a volume of untold stories as a byproduct... 

Aug 29, 2022

When it comes to writing a business book, are you a planner, or a pantser?

If your natural style is more seat-of-the-pants than perfectly planned, you'll love this unapologetic take on writing from Lucy Cohen - lying on a settee, writing from the heart, ideally after a large glass of red wine. 

But don't be fooled: there's nothing insubstantial about her take on the realities of entrepreneurship and where you need to focus for long-term success (hint: forget the first million). 

A joy of a conversation, taking in business, anxiety, oversharing, and powerlifting. 

Aug 22, 2022

How do you generate, manage and sustain the energy that's needed to write a business book? Physically, mentally, socially and even spiritually, there are many aspects to this question. 

Luckily there are many great writing and business brains on hand to answer it. Learn from the best: 

Simon Alexander Ong on the different types of energy and how they work together to create flow; 

Rob Wozny on how the spiritual energy of purpose can power writing; 

Sam Dogen on why writing is like exercise, and the interplay of mental and social energy; 

Mark Hayes on drawing energy from others and particularly the power of the podcast; 

Bernard Marr on the flywheel effect of the conversations you have at work and the conversation you have on the page; 

Katy Murray on breaking down big creative projects and generating the 'starting energy' you need to tackle them; 

Felicity Cowie on the importance of being fired up, and the need to contain that fire; 

Sara Tate on managing the energy-sucking effects on uncertainty and coming out the other side stronger; 

Zena Everett on just getting started. 

Whether you're energized or exhausted as the holidays draw to a close, I guarantee you'll find something here to light you up. 

Jul 25, 2022

'[We're] not actually dropping into the deep flow work and thinking that we have when we write, because that feels wonderful; we're switching all the time from one thing to another.'

Are you crazy busy? Of course you are. Me too. Rubbish, isn't it? Stop multitasking (you know it's not working) and take half an hour to listen to Zena Everett, author of The Crazy Busy Cure, and purveyor of sane, practical advice on how to stop wasting time on stuff that doesn't really matter and focus on the stuff that does. 

Like writing. 

Jul 18, 2022

'If you stay consistent, you grow your brand, you grow your message. I think sooner or later, something good will happen and you won't be able to anticipate what it is.'

What story about money do you buy into? Sam Dogen, aka The Financial Samurai, wants you to rethink financial freedom, and he's used writing as the way to enable his own extraordinary life-after-work. 

Think you're too busy to write? Don't listen to this if you want to be able to keep telling yourself that... 

Jul 11, 2022

'How often does anyone really start with a blank sheet of paper? Certainly not at my age, you know? You don't, you start from where you are... we want to make the effort to rebuild something that we love and we've invested in, a business or a relationship, whatever it might be. And that is both more complex and more interesting.'

Sara Tate and Anna Vogt were fascinated by the idea of failure, or rather, what we do AFTER failure, for both personal and professional reasons. It's a truism to say that we learn from failure: what is REALLY happening in that period of time between failure and success? How do we rebuild - personally and professionally - when we're knee-deep in rubble? 

From their own experiences and from those they spoke to in their podcast The Rebuilders they created a book - which in itself was a process of rebuilding for Sara after a lifetime of avoiding writing because of her dyslexia. 

A powerful, inspiring and often moving conversation about life, grief, resilience and hiding from our children. 

Jul 4, 2022

'It's not very difficult to write a book, but you need to start writing... I put my content on LinkedIn, for example, and this is where you then get feedback and it just gets you into this routine of writing. And you can then very quickly build up a really good volume of content, that you can then turn into books.'

Futurologist Bernard Marr created history at the Business Book Awards this year by having two books published in the year, both of which went on to win in category, and one of which - Business Trends in Practice - went on to win the overall Business Book of the Year award. It was, he says, 'slightly embarrassing'. 

Discover how he did it in this fascinating conversation - and prepare to have your mind blown along the way as he reveals some of the trends he's been writing about and the impact they are set to have on our businesses and our lives. 

Jun 27, 2022

"How do I discover my change making contribution, and how do I do that in a way so that I don't fry myself in the process?"

The balance between stepping up to make an impact in the world and stepping back where necessary to protect our own wellbeing and energy can seem an impossible one to find. And that's why Katy Murray argues that change-making is first of all an inner process: recognising and overcoming the various barriers that hold us back, and identifying the most effective way to use our energy to maximise our impact. 

She also shares the process she used to plan and write her book, which involves decorator's paper, getting outside, and listening to wailing women... 

Jun 20, 2022

'The process of writing, the process of reflecting on where we are right now and what must happen for us to move forward towards where we want to be, this is a process of living with greater intention.'

What's your most precious resource? Time? Money? Or is it, in fact, your energy? 

No matter how smart or skilled we are, if our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual energy is depleted, day after day, we won't be showing up to do our best work.

In this conversation, Simon Alexander Ong reveals how we can design our lives to maximize our energy, so that we can maximize our impact. Spoiler alert: writing is one of his secret weapons...

Jun 13, 2022

Ever wondered how a journalist picks which expert to provide a quote on a story in your industry, or why a national paper runs a story on your competitor and not you? 

Media relations might seem like a dark art, but when you understand what journalists are looking for, it's easier to pitch a story that will grab their attention, so that YOUR business can benefit from that powerful exposure. 

In this week's conversation, Felicity Cowie talks about life as both a journalist being pitched and a consultant helping businesses pitch effectively, and she shares the two essential questions every journalist asks themselves that decide whether a story will run or not. 

 

Jun 6, 2022

'Having a book has really begun to change how I think about my business and my brand... I am truly surprised about the ripple effect it's having.'

At the risk of being meta, there's a lot about conversation in this conversation. Conversations between managers and their sales team that empower and enable; conversations that spark ideas and reveal needs; and the conversation that the author has with the reader - on the page, and beyond the page. 

Fascinating insights into sales coaching, the writing process and the impact of a book on a business. 

 

 

 

May 30, 2022
Storytelling is one of the most basic human impulses. And in the digital age, it's also one of the most complex and confusing: how do you choose between the multitude of channels and tools to help YOUR story connect with the people who matter the most to your business?  Rob Wozny has been in the storytelling game all his life, as a journalist, content strategist and professional business communicator, and he's put that lifetime of expertise into his new book, Storytelling for Business: The art and science of creating connection in the digital age.  In this conversation we talk about both the art and the science of business storytelling, and also the misery and magic of writing a book about it... 
May 23, 2022
In 1907, pioneering psychologist William James wrote this: 'The human individual lives usually far within his limits; he possesses powers of various sorts which he habitually fails to use. He energizes below his maximum, and he behaves below his optimum.'

That insight reflects the message of my guests on this podcast recently, and inspired the title of this episode: we CAN do hard things.

This isn't just about writing a book – although writing a book is a damn hard thing to do – but more generally about the things that simply feel beyond us, too big, too far out of our comfort zone.

Prepare to be inspired by insights from: Tim Bradshaw, Richard Rumelt, Corinne Sawers and Eric Lonergan, Graham Eisner, Daniel H. Pink, Catherine Sandland, Louise Third, Brian Moran and Michael Lennington, and Peter Elbow.

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. 

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