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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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Now displaying: Page 6
Apr 23, 2018

Another helping of best bits from recent episode: we're talking about 'fast books' and 'slow books' - which kind is yours? - writing with a co-author, and how doodling can help you come sideways at a book.

Tune in, sit back, and listen to insights and inspiration from these superb writers: 

  • Steve Scott on how he's written 70 books in around a decade;
  • Robert Cialdini on why it took him more than 30 years to write a second solo-authored book after Influence;
  • Joe Pulizzi on how books fit into the content marketing mix; 
  • Jurgen Appelo on the agile approach to writing; 
  • Daniel Coyle on writing as a building process;
  • Elaine Gould on the sheer relief of finishing a 'slow book'; 
  • Morra Aarons-Mele on the different tempos of social media, blogging, content marketing and books; 
  • Lyn Bromley & Donna Whitbrook on how to write together without falling out; 
  • Edgar Papke & Thomas Lockwood on why co-authorship is more than the sum of the parts; 
  • Kate Raworth on how an idle doodle evolved into the award-winning book Doughnut Economics
Apr 16, 2018

Steve Scott started writing and publishing to build his business, but pretty soon his business became writing and publishing books: he now has more than 60 to his name, all focused on helping internet entrepreneurs succeed.

In this week's podcast this multi-bestselling author reflects on what he's learned about the process and where he goes from here, and generously shares his best tips for producing and promoting books. I learned a huge amount from our conversation - I know you will too.

Apr 9, 2018

Something a bit different this week: I interview myself to pull out some of the learnings from the process of writing This Book Means Business, a book about writing a book to build your business written to build my business. Meta, huh? 

Discover how and why this podcast began and some thoughts on how podcasting might work for you, what happened when I faced the fear and took the advice of my guests, and what's next now the book is out. 

You can also listen in to the short talk given at the launch itself on 26 March at the Free Word Centre in London, and join in the toast to us - may we be the authors our readers need. 

Apr 2, 2018

Leadership expert Jurgen Appelo's advice to first-time authors is simple: 'Iterate.'

He goes on to explain: 'You need a feedback cycle. You need to know as soon as possible whether it is making sense, what you're writing. People have to read it.'

Jurgen walks the talk, building his community as he wrote #Workout and selling 5,000 highly illustrated books immediately to his own fan base, before it was picked up by a traditional publisher.

This interplay between traditional and self-publishing is one fascinating aspect of this interview, as is the importance of building a platform and community as you write, but there are many other gems such as Jurgen's approach to illustrating his own book and his up-front permissions policy.

Mar 26, 2018

On 16 March 2018, the inaugural Business Book Awards ceremony took place in London. It was an extraordinary occasion, bringing together the top names in books and business in the UK and beyond, and with shortlists including books from the biggest traditional publishers to the smallest independent presses and even self-published authors. 

This was the culmination of founder Lucy McCarraher's vision, and as Head Judge I was closely involved in the journey. In this week's episode I talk to Lucy about how she turned the idea into reality in partnership with ThinkFest, the details of the judging process, how it all turned out alright on the night, and the lessons we learned along the way. 

The 2019 awards will be even bigger and glitzier, so if you're planning to publish your business book in 2018, find out more and maybe next time we'll be talking about you... 

Mar 19, 2018

Something a little different this week: a report from the bleeding edge of the publishing industry, also known as the IPG Spring Conference. This is one of the most exciting and diverse events of the publishing calendar, bringing together publishers from all genres of publishing and from all sizes of houses, from one-person microbusinesses to key players such as Bloomsbury and Kogan Page, and with an outstanding reputation for big name keynote speakers with big ideas.

It's a packed programme over three days, and this was the first year I've managed to attend from start to finish.

Here are the key messages I came away with - essential listening for anyone interested in publishing, but with many interesting insights for entrepreneurs in any discipline:

DISRUPTION - what's happening out there, and what might it mean for publishers?
DIVERSITY - how can we better reflect the full range of expertise and experience in the world?
DIGITAL - what's next in the transformation of our businesses?
DATA - why does it matter, how do you get it and what the heck do you do with it?
DEDICATION - the secret weapon of independent publishing: passion, creativity and entrepreneurial flair wrapped up in steely determination
DISTRIBUTION - how can we get books to the readers who need them?

Mar 12, 2018

Have you ever thought of business as art? Edgar Papke and Thomas Lockwood, experts in organizational culture and design respectively, wanted to encourage leaders to design their businesses consciously for innovation and collaboration. And what better way than to write collaboratively? This is a masterclass in writing with a partner, which when done right can create a whole that is so much more than the sum of the parts.

Discover whether you need a 'writing partner prenuptial', and why post-its and coffee are central to the collaborative process.

Mar 5, 2018

Music notation may seem a world away from business books, but the parallels are striking: when music editor Elaine Gould wrote what was to become the classic reference work Behind Bars: The Definitive Guide to Music Notation, her focus was relentlessly on the musicians who had to use those marks on the staves in performance. Good notation allows the composer's vision and the performer's skill to be translated without interference into the music the audience experiences. 

'My greatest joy is going along to a concert, and the composer dashing up to me from the other end of the room and saying, "Thank you!"'

When you're translating your expertise into a book, that focus on how the reader is going to experience and use your message is equally important. Her rigorous attention to detail is inspiring, and her reaction to seeing the finished book heart-warmingly honest - I for one can empathise with this: 

'When [they] handed me the first copy off the press, I was just so overwhelmed. It was wonderful. I hugged that book all the way back on the train to London, and I think I slept with it beside my bed. And in the morning, I looked up to see, was it really there? After all these years, was it there? And then it was there, and I thought you know what? For the rest of my life, I haven't got to write that book again.'

Feb 26, 2018

We like to think of ourselves as rational beings. But over the last 30 years or so behavioural science and psychological research has conclusively proved otherwise: the bit of our brain that makes decisions does so mostly on the basis of stimuli and associations, and pretty much all the meaningful action takes place below the level of our consciousness.

One of the pioneers of this research, and perhaps the first to bring it into the mainstream and particularly into business thinking, was Robert Cialdini, whose classic book Influence: The psychology of persuasion was published in 1984.

I wrote an essay on Cialdini's theories for my MBA: it felt surreal to be interviewing him on my podcast about what's happened since Influence was published. How have the principles he articulated more than 30 years ago held up in a world that is almost unrecognisable? (Spoiler: surprisingly well.) And why did it take him 30 years after the publication of Influence to write his second solo-authored book, Pre-Suasion?

The answer turns out to be a radical statement of integrity in a world that demands more new stuff from us at every turn.

Feb 19, 2018

'I always wanted to write a book... but it was never my time. My husband wrote a book, my father passed away, I have three little kids, I mean, I have a business, you know, life gets in the way... And then finally, one day... I thought: I want to grow my business this year but I don't want to fly anymore.'

And almost by accident, internet marketer Morra Aarons-Mele discovered a new way of working that suited her as a 'hermit entrepreneur': instead of getting on a plane to meet potential clients and drum up business, she set up a podcast and wrote a book.

'Hiding in the Bathroom' has become a rallying call for anyone who's ever felt overwhelmed by the non-stop, always-on, fast-paced world of business and wants to do things differently. And Morra discovered (as I have) that 'the coolest thing about having a podcast, or writing a book, or having a blog is that you can really contact interesting people and say, will you talk to me?'

In today's episode we talk about how podcasting and books allow entrepreneurs to develop their business and their network on their own terms. But - spoiler alert - we conclude that no matter how wonderful it is that you can do this stuff in your yoga pants, writing a book also means getting out of the bathroom and hitting the streets to tell people about it.  

Feb 12, 2018

Join me to celebrate 100 episodes of The Extraordinary Business Book Club! I puzzled over how to mark this milestone for a while, but in the end I decided to keep it real: three business people just like you, carving out the time to write from the demands of the day job, none of them professional writers, all working out how to do this one step at a time. 

  • Julie Dennis is a menopause coach - her book The Hot Flush Freedom Challenge was published by Practical Inspiration Publishing in January 2017
  • Michael Brown is a trainer and consultant, who's just about to deliver to me the manuscript for My Job Isn't Working: 10 proven ways to boost your career mojo for publication in July 2018
  • Elaine Halligan is a Director of The Parent Practice, whose book My Child is Different, the story of her son Sam - who'd been excluded from three schools by the age of seven, but who went on to become Head Boy at senior school and is today a thriving young entrepreneur - is being published by Crown House in July 2018

Each of them shares what they've discovered on the journey, and their incredibly practical advice for anyone in the same situation. Each one of them inspires me with their passion for their message, and how they can make the world a little better, one reader at a time. 

I can't think of a better way to celebrate 100 episodes of celebrating extraordinary business books.

Feb 5, 2018

'We're all continually learning. Learning is a kind of scaffolding. To me, that's the most beautiful metaphor for writing a book and for learning in life, that you're continually building scaffolding. That scaffolding is expanding your capacity.'

Daniel Coyle is a New York Times bestselling author, and in this interview he reveals not only what he discovered about leadership in his latest book The Culture Code (and what happened when he put it into practice in the school writing squad he was coaching at the time), but also HOW he writes, the starting point and the tools and systems that take him from initial idea to finished book. 

There's also some exciting news about my own book, and I announce the winner of the 10-day Business Book Proposal Challenge. Make a cup of tea and settle down to the last ever two-digit Extraordinary Business Book Club episode! 

Jan 26, 2018

'If five years ago somebody had said to me, "So you know, Kate, are you ever going to write a book?" I would have said, "No, no, no, no, no. I don't write books. I draw pictures."'

But when Kate Raworth doodled a doughnut shape to capture her vision of how economics is bounded by human and ecological constraints, she unwittingly started a revolution in macroeconomic thinking. 

In this conversation we explore the extraordinary power of drawing for opening up thinking. And as Kate points out: 'You don't have to be Picasso to create something that has massive impact.'

We also touch on video, animation, the 60-second summary and the one-page overview - high-impact ways of getting your message across quickly and memorably - and the importance of bringing your own humanness to your book. 

Shortlisted for the FT/McKinsey Business Book of the Year in 2017, Doughnut Economics is an extraordinary book. And here's how it happened. 

Jan 22, 2018

David Roche has seen publishing from pretty much every angle: publisher, bookseller, author, reader, mentor, consultant and industry maven. He's been on the boards of HarperCollins, Waterstones and HMV, was CEO of Borders and Books Etc, he's the chair of New Writing North, non-exec chair of the London Book Fair, and executive chair of the publishing industry's online magazine, BookBrunch. And he's just published a crowdfunded book of poems.

So today's conversation is a look at where the industry's going from someone with unrivalled insights, plus a very personal - and very funny - view of what happens when the gamekeeper turns poacher. 

Audio, crowdfunding, subscription models, marketing, book events: bring yourself up to speed with what's happening in the industry in the company of publishing's most entertaining expert. 

Jan 15, 2018

How do you turn a great talk into a great book? It's not as easy as you might think. 

Miranda West is the founder of Do Books, which originated with the Do Lectures in Wales, focused on smart working and slow living. But as she explains, taking a message from stage to page involves more than mere transcription. 

This is also an inspiring story about what can happen when you have a crazy idea and go ahead and send the email... 

Jan 8, 2018

Joe Pulizzi is 'the godfather of content marketing'. Founder of the Content Marketing Institute and author of five books (one every two years), he has a clear vision of how books fit into a content strategy. 

It all starts, he says, with the platform, and his sane advice will be music to the ears of any entrepreneur struggling with the overwhelm of multiple channels and messages. 

'We've been built our advertising around our products and services when we should really build around: "Who's our audience? How do we love them? How do we know better than anyone else?" Deliver value to those audiences, great experiences to those audiences on a daily basis, and if you do that you will be rewarded in multiple ways outside of what you can even fathom today. That's the potential and that's why it's the best time to be in marketing that's ever been right now.'

On a personal note, this episode is dedicated to the memory of Lorraine Keelan, a great friend and former publishing colleague lost way too soon.  

Jan 1, 2018

Welcome to 2018 - what are you planning to do with it? If the answer - in part at least - is 'some worthwhile writing', this episode is for you. I've pulled together some of the best thinking and most practical advice from past podcast guests, and sprinkled in more tips from members of the Extraordinary Business Book Club. 

Let's make 2018 the year you stop with the procrastination and overwhelm and false starts. Let's make it the year you put in place your new writing habit, the year of making a difference.

  • Grace Marshall, author of How to be Really Productive, on overcoming procrastination and shifting into 'deep dive' mode
  • Tony Crabbe, author of Busy, on overcoming fear and finding your garden shed
  • Bec Evans of Prolifiko on overcoming inertia and putting in place the right rewards for you
  • Plus SO many more practical and inspiring tips from members of The Extraordinary Business Book Club. 

Let's make 2018 count.

Dec 25, 2017

Happy ChristmasPour a glass of sherry, munch on a mince pie, and put your feet up with a few of my absolute favourite moments EVER from the Extraordinary Business Book Club. 

  • On happiness - Andy Cope's epiphany in the queue in Tesco's on Christmas Eve.
  • On messiness - Tim Harford explains why we're at our most creative, potentially at least, when things go wrong.
  • On deadlines and procrastination - when you hear what Natalie Reynolds did three weeks before her deadline, I guarantee you'll feel better wherever you are with your manuscript.
  • On metaphors and why it's ok that we can never really nail it - listening to Michael Neill is like drinking melted chocolate. The fact that this is so useful and inspiring is almost incidental. 

I hope you enjoy this (not-very) seasonal selection box as much as I did. And whatever you're doing and whoever you're doing it with, have a very happy Christmas Day. 

Dec 18, 2017

The launch of Trusted was a very special occasion. When one of my authors has a book launch it's ALWAYS a special occasion, of course, but this one was exceptional for a number of reasons:

  1. It was two authors, not one, both of whom had written every word of the book over six months of online and offline collaboration without a single cross word.
  2. The launch was hosted and catered by University College, Birmingham, with the students taking responsibility for planning, setting up, welcoming, serving, and catering the evening as part of an assessed module. It was their way of repaying the authors for months of support with employability skills, and they produced the best spread of food I have ever seen at a book launch. And I've been to a lot of book launches.
  3. It's the only launch I've ever been to with its own cocktail, the T-spot. It tasted even better than it looks.
  4. It was the first live recording of The Extraordinary Business Book Club podcast interview.

Sadly, the thing that can happen with live things happened, and the audio file was lost. So today's episode is a rerun of that interview. In it Lyn and Donna talk about the inspiration for Trusted, how they wrote together so effectively, and how their book is working for their business.

And as promised, here are some pictures from the launch, beginning (and indeed ending) with that fabulous T-spot cocktail:

Trusted launch

 

Dec 11, 2017

Raj Nair hasn't written a business book (yet). As Executive Vice President and President, North America of the Ford Motor Company, leading one of the world's leading company's in one of the world's most disrupted, fast-moving and complex industries, it's hard to find the time. But he DOES make time to read them. 

Why? 

Because good business books make him think: 'There's another way to look at that.' No matter how senior or experienced an executive you may be, when a book brings a new perspective or insight it can transform the way you see your business. 

This is a report from within the arena on how business books are used by leaders, and what they're looking for when they make the decision to invest their most valuable resource - their attention - to read one.

Dec 4, 2017

Another satisfying helping of the choicest morsels of practical inspiration served up by recent guests. Listen to: 

  • Dr Lynda Shaw (business neuroscientist) on what stories do to our brains and why that's good for business
  • Matt Locke (Storythings and The Story conference) on the craft of storytelling
  • Nigel Wilcockson (Random House Business Books) on what makes a business book great
  • Donya Dickerson (McGraw Hill) on what publishers are looking for in business book proposals
  • David Newman (Do It! Marketing) with a Jedi mind trick for getting your own way with your publisher
  • Dorie Clark (Entrepreneurial You) on making money because of your book rather than from it 
  • Carole Wyer (blogger and author) on the importance of trying new stuff
  • Dan Underwood (Art of Enterprise) on taking risks
  • Rebecca Jones (Enterprise Within) on Just Getting On With It.

Warning: this show is unsuitable for anyone wishing to remain within their zone of comfort. 

Nov 27, 2017

'Neuroscience is the future of business,' claims Dr Lynda Shaw, and once you've listen to her talk about how emotion drives our decisions and how being generous helps us be more effective, it's hard to argue.

She also reveals how when we tell stories, we create neurochemical connections between ourselves and our listeners, which build trust and connection. But how can you use that powerful effect when your listener isn't in the room with you, when you're writing a business book, for example? 

In the best traditions of The Extraordinary Business Book Club, this is a fascinating mix of rich information together with tips and ideas for making it work for you in practice and with a dash of the unexpected - this is the first mention of Coronation Street as a model for writing on this podcast or indeed any other, as far as I'm aware... 

Nov 20, 2017

Matt Watkinson described Nigel Wilcockson, publishing director at Random House Business Books and his own editor, as the brains behind many of the best business books he'd ever read. Nigel is more modest about his role: 'a good editor is more like a mentor... there in the background to offer advice'.

But that advice can make all the difference. Business book authors are busy people, and while they may be used to writing blog posts or sales copy, a full-length book is a very different animal. Nigel helps his authors tackle issues such as structure and what he describes as 'short-breathedness', getting all your ideas across as quickly as possible. 

This is a fascinating insight into the hard work that goes into making the world's best business books so deceptively easy to read. There are also invaluable tips for anyone thinking about pitching themselves and their book to the top business book publishers.  

Nov 13, 2017

Something a bit different on this week's show. Meet Carol Wyer, blogger, author, and stand-up comedian.

'She know her audience so well,' Ben Cameron told me. 'She really taps into who her audience is and she has this ability to go out and do whatever it takes to promote her books.'

I trust Ben, so despite the fact I wasn't sure how useful this would be to my business-book-writing listeners, I interviewed Carol. And it turns out Ben was right: there is SO much good stuff here for Extraordinary Business Book Club listeners - on using humour effectively, on connecting with your readers, and on why it's ok if you hate your book right now. 

Nov 6, 2017

Matt Locke tells a good story. He does, after all, run The Story conference, and his content studio Storythings helps businesses including Google and the BBC tell better stories. Right now he's fascinated by attention: how we measure it, and how it's changing. 

In this episode we bring all that together. We discuss why stories are so important, how they work and how not to mess them up, and we talk about how attention is changing in the digital age and what that means for anyone creating content, particularly authors of books. 

Intelligent listening, with a side order of practical inspiration.  

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