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Category Archives: Goal setting

Social Media, Book Promotion and the Sweet Smell of Success

by Bryan Heathman

Ah, the sweet smell of success: your book is finally a household name, the topic of conversation in coffee houses and the subject of toasts in fine dining establishments. Just yesterday, you turned down a media interview due to your busy schedule. Tomorrow you’re off to Barbados for a quick dip in the salty surf, then a date with a rum-laced umbrella drink under a palm tree. Lucky you!

Or was it luck? Maybe it was all that time you put in on social media, carefully cultivating relationships with your fans and followers. You lost track of how many late nights you spent loading up your Buffer account, cheese popcorn crumbs littering the front of your PJ’s like so much dandruff.

“Oh, if they could see me now,” you mutter, catching a sideways glimpse in the mirror. Whatever happened to that polished look you cultivated so carefully for your book jacket? Gone is the mohair suit and the carefully waxed hairstyle. “Uff, it’s a good thing I’m not on my web cam…” you say under your breath.

But in reality, checking in with your fans doesn’t have to mean looking polished all the time. Unlike days gone by, you don’t necessarily have to show your face to sell a lot of books.

The thing about promoting yourself (and your book) on social media is that you can literally do the work anywhere you choose to be. The magic combination of a solid manuscript, the right book cover and a good social media promotion campaign can put your readership over the top. It just takes a little planning and a couple of good tools, then you’re off to the races! Or the sands of the Caribbean. Whatever.

Social media sites are the most efficient and cost effective way to get your message in front of potentially millions of people. Google’s $1.6 billion purchase of YouTube and Facebook’s multi-billion dollar IPO shouted a wake-up call to anyone who’d been hitting that marketing snooze button. There’s good reason for these high price tags; social networks offer a pool teaming with commercial opportunity for major players and individuals alike. As a published author, this opportunity now includes you. The playing field is about as level as it gets.

As an author you can leverage the ready-made audiences on social media. This means you can get involved with groups that either are tailored to your audience or dovetail nicely with your topic. Take a look at how big publishing companies are using social media to promote their top authors, then borrow a page from their playbook.

Using Social Media to Generate Social Proof

Social media helps you generate what marketers call “social proof”. Publishing your carefully cultivated testimonials from your readers can build the bond of trust for your would-be fans and their immediate social circles. The psychology of word-of-mouth testimonials is a powerful ally for authors who don’t yet have huge brand awareness. According to a survey by eMarketer, an overwhelming 99% of people surveyed believe that testimonials are credible and influence their buying decisions.

To leverage social proof online, follow these 3 steps:

1. Clearly understand your target audience – both their demographics and psychographics. Who are they? Get clear about their age, income, location, family life, interests and peeves. Find out what makes them hurt and what gives them pleasure.

2. Create messaging and imagery that is consistent with your target audience. For instance, if you are targeting empty nesters who are between 50 and 63 years old, you would use inspirational messages and images consistent with their outlook. In this case, you might use imagery of happy grandchildren, RV travel to national parks, beach vacations, spas or wine tasting.

3. Pick your “call to action” campaign strategies from options that are consistent with your target audience’s lifestyle. Then consider which techniques will influence their buying behavior. Do you want them to take a survey? Tell their friends? Watch a video and comment on it? Get creative, and keep your audience involved.

Keep Your Message In Front of Your Fans with a Book Marketing Timeline

You can increase your sales and your free time by creating a social media campaign timeline. Timelines are essential, and all successful authors use them to organize social media campaigns. Some authors even use their timelines to set and track their campaign goals.

Come up with your present and future goals, along with action plans for today, tomorrow and next month. Have a method for tracking sales so you can see what’s working for you. Pick a few social media networks to focus your activity, and post to them 2 to 3 times a day. Increase this frequency for the 3 weeks on either side of your book launch, and stay interested in how people are responding to you and your message.

It may seem like a bit of work to pack in, but there are plenty of automation tools such as Buffer.com or HootSuite that can help you manage the workload. You can pre-write an inventory of Facebook posts or Twitter tweets in advance and load-up your free Buffer account to stimulate engagement with your readers.

Bryan Edired 1Bryan Heathman is the President of Made for Success Publishing. Bryan works with best-selling authors in the role of publisher and marketer, including the late Zig Ziglar, Chris Widener and John C. Maxwell. Bryan is the author of Conversion Marketing, a marketing book that condenses knowledge on website conversion from 7-years running an online ad agency. Bryan’s Fortune 500 experience includes running high impact marketing campaigns for Microsoft, Eastman Kodak and Xerox.

Katherine-Owen-ImageBrought to you by Katherine Owen, CEO of GOKO. Katherine brings her expertise in the publishing industry and combines it with a powerful team. She owns and operates GOKO Publishing and is part-owner in a traditional publishing company, The GHR Press. Katherine holds a Masters Degree in Marketing and Management from Macquarie University’s Graduate School of Management (MGSM) in Sydney, Australia.

Online Business Promotion

Join serial author Liv Montgomery for a fun and fanciful look at the world of Online Business Promotion including “how to” tips for social media and YouTube videos.


icon1November 16th, 2015

Get Swept Up In the Adventure – It Was a Dark and Stormy Night In November…

In the spirit of National Novel Writing Month, take an escape into the unknown as you explore the art of writing…

He passed a well-manicured hand across his balding pate. It was an absent minded gesture, an insecure idiosyncrasy that had evolved over the course of many years, despite his elevated rank. Renard gladly would have traded some of his hard-won wisdom for the boundless vigor of his youth – along with a few traces of that glorious head of hair he once had. Now his retirement was staring him square in the face. Yet somehow he wasn’t quite ready to be “mothballed”.

What occupied his full attention at the moment was the glossy tablet in his hand. He’d found it on his desk when he arrived in his ready room. He pressed the screen, and an image came to life – his assistant’s daily video briefing with his proven “6-up daily priority” system. “Captain, here is the piece you wanted to look at. I still have a few bugs to work out, but with luck it will transport you to another time and place. I hope you’ll go easy on me, since I had only a short amount of time to…”

As the bland female voice droned on, Renard opened the file she referenced. It only took a moment for his assistant’s voice to fade into the background as a strange glow filled his peripheral vision. He looked up to see lush green tropical vines now taking the place of furniture in his ready room and the humid scent of jungle loam clung to his nose and mouth. “What the…?”

Startled, Renard stood up so briskly he was sure he’d knocked over his chair. But when he turned around to look, the chair was gone. In its place was a small rowboat, its oars still dripping from the mighty river behind it. A creature yowled in the trees above him, an unearthly sound that penetrated his spine. Suddenly he heard footsteps in the bushes beyond the boat. He heard a pair of muffled voices speak, too low to be discernible. “Is someone there?” Renard called, but there was only silence.

What happened next he never could have imagined, even if he lived to be three hundred. A buccaneer came crashing out of the brush, flying through the air backward and landing prostrate on the sand next to the rowboat! A moment later, a black jaguar came bounding after him with a scathing shriek and leapt upon his chest. “Get off me, you she-devil!” he shouted, flinging the creature back into the brush. “You’ve crossed me for the last time!”

The pirate scrambled to his feet and hurried for the boat, sweeping up Renard en route. “Come on, we’ve got to get out of here. I tell you, she’ll tear us to pieces.” Renard stood dumbly for a moment, the words sounding like a foreign language to his addled brain. But the sight of the jaguar running at full speed directly toward him shook him back to his senses. “Dammit, man, get in and get down!” Renard obeyed just as the boat left the shore and caught the swift current of the river.

Stealing himself to peek over the side, Renard watched in amazement as the jaguar stood upon her hind legs and transformed into a buxom raven-haired beauty. She shook her fist and called after the sinewy rowboat, “I hope you found what you were looking for!”

Suddenly there was a rapping sound, and Renard shook off the trance. He was back in his office, standing behind his desk. The jungle, the buccaneer and the jaguar woman had all gone. There was only his mild assistant, standing in the doorway, looking expectantly. She tucked a raven lock behind her ear. “Captain Renard? I said I hope you found what you were looking for. Have you had a chance to read the draft of my novel yet? I appreciate your taking the time to indulge in my hobby with me, and I hope I haven’t…”

Renard stared for a moment, taking in the scene, shaken but unscathed by the encounter. “Hm? Oh… yes. Yes, it was quite engaging. You could say it really swept me away. I all but felt that I was really there. You say this is your first attempt at writing…? Yes, there’s something to this.”

Where Will NaNoWriMo Take You In November?

November is National Novel Writing Month, affectionately known as NaNoWriMo. All around the world, more than 300,000 people are boldly attempting the impossible – to pound out a 50,000-word book manuscript in a single month. NaNoWriMo lends a spirit of community and support to what is normally a solitary effort.

People from all walks of life are throwing off the bonds of self-consciousness, casting aside the conventions of quality and grammar, and launching the books they’ve always dreamed of writing. Waitresses and mechanics, executives and ship captains alike have all taken the challenge. Not all will finish, but many will – enough. Some books will go on to be published, and a few will even be best sellers. Will yours be among them?

December 1st will come and go, whether or not you participate in this worldwide writing event with the kooky name. Will you be counted among the adventurous who leave the sandy shores of complacency and sail the uncharted waters of a world of your own making? There’s only one person who knows for sure, and that is the writer within you.

To learn more about National Novel Writing Month, trek on over to their website at NaNoWriMo.org. And to find out what you can do with your manuscript, check out the publishing tools and book marketing services at MadeForSuccessPublishing.com. I promise, you won’t get eaten – and you’ll be in good company!

Bryan Edired 1Bryan Heathman is the President of Made for Success Publishing. Bryan works with best-selling authors in the role of publisher and marketer, including the late Zig Ziglar, Chris Widener and John C. Maxwell. Bryan is the author of Conversion Marketing, a marketing book that condenses knowledge on website conversion from 7-years running an online ad agency. Bryan’s Fortune 500 experience includes running high impact marketing campaigns for Microsoft, Eastman Kodak and Xerox.

Katherine-Owen-ImageBrought to you by Katherine Owen, CEO of GOKO. Katherine brings her expertise in the publishing industry and combines it with a powerful team. She owns and operates GOKO Publishing and is part-owner in a traditional publishing company, The GHR Press. Katherine holds a Masters Degree in Marketing and Management from Macquarie University’s Graduate School of Management (MGSM) in Sydney, Australia.


icon1November 11th, 2015

Sample Campaign – The Tried & True Book Selling Technique

So you want to promote your new book. You’ve witnessed other authors racing to the top of the best seller charts, and you wonder what they’re doing to build mega success. If you’re like most authors, you’re not sure how to go about reaping this kind of success for yourself.

Want to know a secret? You don’t have to be original to be good.

In fact, the less original you are in some cases, the better off you’ll be. As they say, success leaves tracks. Follow the tracks, and you’ll find success.

Take for example the traditional author’s boring, stalwart best friend, the Sample Campaign. Sending samples of your book to retail buyers, bloggers, reviewers and other influencers will boost awareness with the people who matter most, gaining exposure for your book and for you as an author. Using giveaways to create buzz while you are in pre-launch can be an inexpensive and effective way to generate publicity.

The Sample Campaign involves sending either physical copies of your book to reviewers or distributing e-copies to qualified centers of influence. Both tactics involve an investment of time, research, risk and reward.

Launching a Sample Campaign may sound expensive – and it is expensive if you try to get creative with this approach, but there are ways you can be both unoriginal and highly successful.

Copycat Book Marketing and Other Cheats

If you’re going to model the best, start by looking at the Amazon best seller list within your book’s category. Find the best-selling books that are most like yours and model their marketing tactics. What do you see? Would you buy these best sellers?

The odds are high that all of these books have received the royal treatment from a staff of pros, yet the approach is kept focused and simple.

What best-selling authors know is that the goal is to get attention from centers of influence. People who have a megaphone and a crowd who are always glad to lend an opinion.

If you want to get lots of good reviews from your Sample Campaign, you’ve got to make your book buzzworthy. Make sure it’s not just a scintillating read, but engaging from the first moment readers encounter it.

First Impressions: the title, book cover and description are the most influential elements when it comes to helping people determine whether or not they will buy your book – or review it for their audience.

Professional Design: your book cover is the most important feature of your book, and it should be intriguing. Make sure your cover is a match for your genre. If you’ve written a mystery, don’t use romance imagery – the kind with windswept lovers embracing on a naked rock above a storm-wracked cove. You might raise an eyebrow or two, but where’s the mystery? A poor cover will make it harder to sell your book.

Enticing Description: Your description needs to pull people in as well. Start your description with something provocative, and use your chosen keywords right up front. Make buyers and reviewers ravenous for more. Would you buy your book if you read your own description?

How Can You Distribute Sample Copies of Your Book?

Review copies are given away free, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t come at a price for the reviewer. Select only reviewers who are the most likely to come through with their promised action. Because you will be investing your time, resources and energy in distributing your samples, be choosy about who gets to have them.

Here is a 3-step formula to generate heat in your Sample Campaign, used by marketing pros who are “in the know” about how to sell books.

Step 1: GOODREADS Set-up

You may already know about Goodreads.com, but many authors use an ineffective approach. Start by creating a reader account using your author name. Before you do anything else, get familiar with the venue (this is called “lurking”), then review several books. After you’ve become a trusted member of the community, you can add your book or have someone add it for you.

Once your book has been added, you can change your status to “author”. You’ll have to submit an application to Goodreads’ staff for review, and this takes a couple of days. Be sure to add your social media links to your Goodreads account and website.

Once you’re established on Goodreads.com, click the link to “Create A Giveaway”. These are physical books you’re giving away, so you’ll need to buy copies of your book and send them to the reviewers who request it. Be sure you conduct only one giveaway at a time or this can get expensive and confusing.


Capitalizing on blog tours is an excellent cog in the wheel of your Sample Campaign. To do this, take a title from your Kindle best seller list and Google it with the search term “blog tour.” This search will yield bloggers who customarily review books and need something to blog about.

Your next step is to contact the bloggers and ask them if they would be interested in reviewing your book. Give them plenty of advance notice, typically about 2 months. Popular reviewers are often booked well in advance, and these are the ones you want to reach.

When you contact them, include a link to your Goodreads page so they can see your alluring cover and intriguing book description. Ask for their review to be published within the first 5 days of your release, preferably on your actual release date.


Indie bookstores love authors, and many would welcome you for an author book signing. When you run your giveaway campaign, contact the store manager first before you seed the marketplace with copies of your book. Make it your goal to send out only copies that will actually yield results. Track where each one goes and follow up until you get solid results.

If you work with a publisher, ask them for a list of buyers from their Rolodex to send samples.

Book reviewers are real people with busy lives. When you request a review, don’t make the mistake of pitching your book like a used car salesman. A brief personal introduction followed by a simple paragraph describing your book should do the trick. Ask for permission to send them a review copy, and then be sure to follow up. Stay on track until you achieve the success you’re looking for.

With this kind of focused activity, perhaps someday you will find your work on the best seller list… and start reaping the success your literary endeavor deserves!

Katherine-Owen-ImageBrought to you by Katherine Owen, CEO of GOKO. Katherine brings her expertise in the publishing industry and combines it with a powerful team. She owns and operates GOKO Publishing and is part-owner in a traditional publishing company, The GHR Press. Katherine holds a Masters Degree in Marketing and Management from Macquarie University’s Graduate School of Management (MGSM) in Sydney, Australia.

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Book Awards – Resting On Your Laurels and Other Thoughts on Winning Book Writing Competitions

Competing for a writing award is an often-overlooked tactic in the book marketing list of “To-Dos”. But is it worth it? Let’s take a look.

Back in the day – I mean way back – citizens of the Greek Empire knew they had made it big when they were crowned with a wreath made from bay laurel leaves. You know the kind: the pungent herb you use to season your holiday bird.

The ancient Greeks used laurel wreaths as awards for accomplishments in sports as well as poetry. Later on the Romans copied the Greek custom and awarded laurels to victorious conquering generals. Judging from the size of the Roman Empire, they must have gone through a lot of leaves. Eventually the generals got lazy, a lot of internal squabbling happened, and the empire declined. So too did the custom of awarding laurels.

Laurel wreaths are still used today as the symbol of academic success, and they’re sometimes used in graduation ceremonies for master’s degrees. A poet laureate is someone who’s been given this distinction.

After the ceremony, there’s a lot of feasting and often a sad good-bye to days of scholarly endeavors – no more burning the midnight oil or striving for literary perfection. This is where the phrase “resting on your laurels” comes from. It means relying on your past successes and not pursuing new challenges or paths to glory. Well, at least for some….not for authors!

Popularity vs. Profitability

Why does this matter today? As a matter of habit, or maybe just human nature, we are obsessed with competition. As soon as something is invented, right on its heels comes a new kind of award. We just can’t seem to stop comparing one thing to another and crowning the moment with a token of our esteem. Ask any Nobel laureate.

And it’s fitting, isn’t it? What better way to memorialize the moment or benchmark the best? A stroke of genius deserves recognition, whether it’s a gold medal in the international Olympic games or a regional award for a new work of fiction. Usually with this recognition comes some kind of remuneration and some amazing publicity opportunities.

We just love to recognize the best, hold it up for example, and challenge anyone to do better. It makes for forward progress in the most wonderful way.

This brings us to the topic of book awards and the enormous boost they can give to your reputation – and your book sales.

Bryan Heathman’s Top 7 Book Awards for Authors

Winning an award for your book may seem unlikely at first blush. After all, the competition and requirements for submission are usually thought to be pretty stiff. But in reality, the fee for submitting your magnum opus for Pulitzer Prize consideration is only $50. Some authors spend that weekly at their friendly neighborhood Starbucks.

Imagine carrying around the title of “Award-Winning Author” on your business card. You just might get past some velvet ropes a little easier with that kind of clout (hey, it could happen).

Besides Pulitzer and Nobel, the list of prominent book awards reads like a “Who’s Who” at an acronym convention: PEN, NBA, NBCC and Booker to name a few. But there are lesser-known, more accessible challenges to meet, such as Benjamin Franklin, Independent Publishers Guild and Writer’s Digest. Besides bucking the competition for the major brass rings, you are much more likely to win the Sophomore Cup and be the proverbial big fish in a small pond.

Besides lots of celebratory perks and a cash prize, winners are announced to major trade journals, news outlets, public libraries, social media and blogs. Consider your entry for the following awards when you publish your next manuscript:

The Benjamin Franklin Awards: the Independent Book Publishers Association is a non-profit organization that offers advocacy and education. Their Benjamin Franklin Award honors independent publishers and self-published authors for excellent book editorial and design.

Independent Publishers Guild Award: the IPGs Independent Publishing Awards celebrate the achievements and successes of IPG members. Frankly it’s a great way for them to drive membership, and it’s a great way for you, the author, to connect and network with other serious professionals.

IPPYS – Independent Publishers Book Awards: the Independent Publisher Book Awards (the IPPYs) shine a light on excellent independent, university, and self-published books each year. The independent spirit comes from all corners, and books are judged on merit, not necessarily polish.

Foreword Magazine Book of the Year Awards: Foreword Reviews is dedicated to discovering new indie books. The INDIEFAB Book of the Year Awards help showcase the best indie books for readers eager to discover new stories by unknown authors.

Dan Poynter Global Book Awards: winners of this ebook award get the customary hoopla that accompanies book awards – stickers, social media buzz and press releases. As a winner you’ll also be considered for a one-year scholarship award for Dan Poynterís Para Promotion Program.

eLit Awards: the eLit Awards are committed to illuminating and honoring the best of English language entertainment. The eLit Awards include digital publishing in a wide variety of reader formats with submissions from around the world.

Do you have any favorite literary awards? If so, send me a message via www.MadeForSuccessPublishing.com/blog or LinkedIn Messaging and I’ll update this list periodically for the benefit of the writing community.

Katherine-Owen-ImageBrought to you by Katherine Owen, CEO of GOKO. Katherine brings her expertise in the publishing industry and combines it with a powerful team. She owns and operates GOKO Publishing and is part-owner in a traditional publishing company, The GHR Press. Katherine holds a Masters Degree in Marketing and Management from Macquarie University’s Graduate School of Management (MGSM) in Sydney, Australia.


icon1October 21st, 2015

Laughter is Good Medicine

“The human race has only one really effective weapon and that is laughter.” ~Mark Twain

If you are in a Leadership role, giving a presentation, or talking in front of a group, then you know how hard it can be at times to get your ideas across. Winning over your audience can be tough, especially if you don’t first establish some kind of rapport. You need to get them on track with you in order for them to hear your most salient points.

LaughThe good news is that there’s one trick that will almost always help make your job a whole lot easier. Use humor! From kings to pawns, everyone loves to laugh, take time out, and find relief from our all too serious world.

See what a new study by Bell Leadership Institute says about humor:

A new study by the Bell Leadership Institute in Chapel Hill, NC, found that when employees are asked to describe the strengths and weaknesses of senior colleagues in their organizations, “sense of humor” and “work ethic” are mentioned twice as much as any other phrases. Bell Leadership surveyed approximately 2,700 employees in a variety of workplace settings over a two-year period.

“Humor is a vital tool of leadership,” says Dr. Gerald D. Bell, the founder and CEO of Bell Leadership Institute. “People are used to associating laughter with the best medicine, but they are often surprised that ‘sense of humor’ is the phrase most frequently associated with the best in leaders.” Bell Leadership’s findings show that people appreciate leaders who have fun and work hard to get the job done. “Those who can combine a strong work ethic and sense of humor may have the leading edge in their organizations,” says Dr. Bell.

Humor serves as an effective tool for putting your clients, colleagues, listeners or readers at ease. It can break the ice and set a tone that helps loosen up the atmosphere. Humor makes your job easier and much more fun to do.

What is humor?

The topic of humor is highly subjective. One must be cautious about what they say or do so as not to be offensive to others in any way. The great news is it’s not expensive or time-consuming to put a laughter in the workplace. Share a funny story with your co-workers on your break, hold a joke contest, or if you have a great idea, pass it along to your supervisor. Employees who are happy and fulfilled are also more productive and motivated.

Even though the essence of humor itself is subjective, there is one definition that transcends every comedic law. Humor is the amusing build­up and release of tension.

Whether it’s in print, in media, or in a live setting, humor requires some degree of tension in order to be effective. This is why it’s such a great ice breaker in professional settings – the tension is already built in.

It’s also why people laugh when they’re uncomfortable or nervous. It’s the reason for gallows humor, and it even explains why some wakes are so full of laughter. When it’s applied in the right way, humor can be the perfect antidote for dark times.

How Can You Be Funny When You Mean Business?

Humor’s effect will always ride the emotional tide of your audience. Stay attuned to how your audience is feeling, and always assess the atmosphere you’re in to determine whether humor is a good choice.

How well you come across may depend on whose company you are in, where you find them in their work day, and how many pressures are distracting them. Other factors include the temperature of the room you’re in, their state of alertness, and even whether they have a headache or any number of other distractions.

There are a lot of factors that contribute to your humor’s effectiveness in persuading someone. Recognize that what may be funny to one person one day will not be funny the next, even if it’s the exact same joke told in the exact same way.

Often the mood or situation itself will make it obvious whether humor is appropriate. If you’re speaking in a religious setting, a certain amount of reverence and sobriety are naturally called for. But even here, some kinds of humor can help move your audience to your point of view.

Here are a few tips for using humor effectively:

Don’t Tell Jokes: The object of your humor is to break the ice. Because humor is so subjective, your well-­meaning joke may be funny to a few people but offend others. Even worse, it may bomb. Telling one bad joke at the start means you’ll spend the rest of the time trying to recover instead of compelling your audience.

Use Stories: Different types of humor work best in different situations. Bridge the gap with a funny story or anecdote from real life. Use the story to make a point, and let it launch you into your topic.

Let Your Humor Breathe: Sometimes you may find that you’re funny even when you didn’t mean to be. Allow your audience a moment to enjoy it. When laughs come, pause and let the roar start to fade like a passing train. Then start speaking again before the quiet fully returns.

Keep It Kind: If the object of your humor is someone else, make sure your audience is laughing WITH them and not AT them. Mean spirited humor can leave a lasting scar on your reputation.

It’s Okay to Make Fun of Yourself: A touch of self­-effacing humor can win over your audience if it’s gently applied. Don’t be afraid to be the butt of good humor. A dash of vulnerability can make you seem like a more sympathetic character. Remember, a little goes a long way.

Your own brand of humor can be an original, effective way of delivering important messages to your clients and colleagues. You’ll build stronger bonds with them and stand out from the crowd.

Katherine-Owen-ImageKatherine Owen, CEO of GOKO, brings her expertise in the publishing industry and combines it with a powerful team. Katherine owns and operates GOKO Publishing and is part-owner in a traditional publishing company, The GHR Press. Katherine holds a Masters Degree in Marketing and Management from Macquarie University’s Graduate School of Management (MGSM) in Sydney, Australia.

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Effective Leadership – the 7 C’s of Getting Result

Have you ever been cornered into buying something you didn’t really want? If you’re like most people, you’ve stocked your cupboards with more than your fair share of Girl Scout Cookies and other non-essentials sold door to door by smiling, big-eyed neighbor kids. It’s almost impossible to resist.

Good LeasdershipTime and again, people in cultures around the world have exhibited certain predictable responses to everyday situations. In fact, you see it everywhere. Because of these common reactions, it’s possible to predict behavior and influence people to adopt a specific point of view.

Unfortunately our common reactions make it possible for us to be manipulated by the unscrupulous – or simply the big-eyed cookie vendor. Politicians, salespeople, network marketers, entrepreneurs, colleagues, friends and family all have a stake in getting us to agree to their requests.

However, there is much to be mined here for the sake of effectiveness on the job.

If you find yourself in a Leadership role, you can gain from the gentle art of persuasion and take a cue from these common responses. You can apply the concept to Leadership for consistent results that look good on you – and your business. With the right approach, you can turn the tables and start getting the results you want.

Navigating the 7 C’s

There are 7 essentials for effective Leadership that you can apply to your projects or your organization starting today. They all happen to start with the letter “C”. In no particular order, here they are.

Care – Influence of any kind requires rapport. This means you have to care to some degree about the people you want to influence. What do you have to offer that will benefit them? What’s their greatest pain? What are their aspirations? Remember that people are most responsive to those who are interested in them and share common values.

The famous landmark book by Dale Carnegie, How To Win Friends and Influence People, can be summed up in two words: genuine interest. You can use your voice and body language to demonstrate your sincere enthusiasm, and make eye contact to get full engagement.

Communicate with Questions – Listen first. Communication is an interchange of information – a two-way street. Getting your message across depends on hearing and responding to the other person’s point of view. Learn from your interactions with them. Ask questions. Care about their responses, and express your expectations clearly.

Listening isn’t merely a matter of waiting for your turn to speak. Don’t wait quietly then jump in to tell your story. Make sure you ask questions and thoroughly understand their point of view. Be careful in your responses so your conversation doesn’t appear to be a verbal competition. Let it be cooperative.

Clarify – Not only do you want to get clear on your own your core values, but you also want to get clear on what people are communicating to you. A psychologist named Carl Rogers perfected a process called Reflective Listening back in the 50′s (click here for an overview on Wikipedia). When you ask clarifying questions, this will show up in your “music” – the things you say and the way you say them. When you’re clear on your own position, it’s much easier to persuade others to your point of view.

Consider – If the other person has a different perspective, find out more about why they have that point of view. The more you consider the reasons behind their thinking, the more you can understand them or perhaps help them to better understand your point of view. Weigh all sides of the question, and take the full picture into consideration.

Competence – Understand the details of the process that you and your team are pursuing. Enjoy at least a top line level of knowledge about the steps involved in completing your objective. When you do, it will be easier to understand the needs of the people you’re leading. Bringing in the project according to your objectives will be a breeze.

Consistency – Research shows that we have an in-born desire to be and to appear consistent. Once we’ve made a decision, we feel pressure to act consistently with that commitment. Once a commitment is made, we tend to table the topic and consider the matter settled.

Back in 1998, a Chicago restaurant was plagued with last minute reservation cancellations. But when they started asking customers for a commitment in the form of a question – “Will you please call if you have to change your plans?” – the no-show rate fell from 30% to 10%. To be effective as a Leader, ask your people if they will commit, and wait for their response. Require their consistency. Likewise, be consistent with your own commitments, and you’ll lead your people by example.

Completion – Personal accountability from yourself as well as your team will mean the difference between success and failure. Complete your objectives, and follow through. Don’t allow the agenda to change week by week.

Do you hold people individually responsible for meeting company objectives? When your people fail, as we all do from time to time, do you hold them responsible for sharing the benefit of their hard-won wisdom with the group? Have you created a culture that values personal accountability as a tool? Are you rewarding people for taking personal ownership for big-picture results?

To be an effective leader, it’s essential to stay in touch with the people you’re leading. It’s starts with caring about them and your mission. It takes involvement with them through the unfolding process and seeing it through to the end.

It means choosing activities and objectives that are worthwhile – appropriate for you, your values and dreams. Otherwise you might as well be selling non-essentials door-to-door. Those jobs are already filled by worthy, big-eyed 6-year-olds. You wouldn’t want to compete with the Girl Scouts, would you? No, of course not.

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icon1February 9th, 2015

Leadership and Endurance: Staying Up When Things Look Down


Everyday the world is made fresh, and no two days are alike. No one stays the same from day to day, or even moment to moment, because each experience brings new opportunities and fresh perspective.

We touched on this lightly in a previous article, Effective Leadership: Igniting the Vision for Others. You can tap this concept and put it to work on your behalf.

Today is a whole new day. Today your spouse is different. Your coworkers and colleagues are, too. Your friends and companions are 24 hours older today than they were yesterday, bringing with them a world of new encounters. Because of this, the way they think today is different from yesterday, no matter how slight that difference is.

If you keep this in mind, it will cast a fresh light on your world and your way of thinking. You can get to know them all over again each time you connect.

Even you are different.

Your cells are renewed constantly. I’m told that there isn’t a cell in your body that’s older than 7 years, right now, no matter what your birth certificate says.

If you trim an eighth of an inch off your fingernails, that means you cut away one month’s worth of growth. Think of all the things your fingertips touched in the past month, all the experiences your fingernails had during that brief span of time. Has your mind grown as much?

And what about your enthusiasm?

Does your perspective need a little freshness dating? Every now and then it’s a good idea to check the contents of your head and throw out the ideas that are past their peak.

Without even being aware of it, a repetitive routine can let boredom creep in, stale yawns trudging on the heels of monotony. Before you know it, your enthusiasm has tanked and you’re not sure why.

The Hazards of Breaking New Ground

If you’re in a position of Leadership, the habit of stale thinking can spread like a deadly-dull virus through your team and the others around you. If you’re not careful, it can spread to your home life and your other relationships too. This can play havoc with your success, both personally and professionally.

Here’s a case where maintaining a fresh perspective aboard a sinking ship was literally a matter of life and death. There’s much to be mined from it on the topic of Leadership.

About a hundred years ago, a crew of 27 men (and 70 sled dogs) led by Ernest Shackleton sailed from South Georgia Island in the southern Atlantic. Their intent was to land on the coast of Antarctica and trek across it shore to shore on foot, something no one else had done before. Unfortunately, they never even got to their destination.

The ocean between South America and Antarctica is notorious as a sailor’s graveyard, owing to high winds, deep swells and no small smattering of icebergs. Just six weeks after they began their voyage, the ship Endurance was lodged in an ice floe somewhere in the Weddell Sea. A few weeks later, it sank.

It took Shackleton and his crew some 18 months to return to South Georgia Island. During that time they camped on the ice, sailed across mountainous swells in little more than row boats, endured frostbite, hunger and desolation, never knowing if they’d see home again. But they persevered, and they did return.

It seems to me, if you were a crew member on the Endurance, you’d need a whole lot of enthusiasm for the taste of adventure. Just to get on the boat, you’d have to have a pretty tough inner game, a love of dogs, and a whole lot of gear.

You’d also need a very big idea about why the trip was necessary. There would be many chances to give up, all of them good ones.

The greatest threat to their successful return after the shipwreck was not so much the idea of quitting while they faced danger amid the storms and swells.

The greatest jeopardy to morale would have been the days on end of relative monotony – the cold, the gray, the unending sameness of their diet. There was no sound but their own voices, the wind, and the water lapping against the ice for the nearly 700 days of their journey.

The Rewards for Renewed Perspective

Surviving through this kind of ordeal takes a kind of camaraderie and a freshness of spirit that’s hard to find in this era or any other.

Every person on Shackleton’s team brought a set of skills essential for the mission. As a leader, Shackleton must have been keenly aware of this. Each one of the crew contributed a unique perspective to the group, along with the experiences gained during each whole new day. Together they persevered, and their survival itself was a triumph.

Whether you commute to work in an office, plow a field all day, or sit at home and knit, you are selecting the moments of your life and the thoughts that go along with them.

Now is a great time to give your enthusiasm a boost and see your surroundings through fresh eyes. Why not take time out for a little shift in perspective today?

You can give your doldrums the brush off while you trim your fingernails and think about where your fingers have been during the past month. If you find it dull, promise your hands that they’ll have a more stirring adventure to tell next time.

This article on Endurance and Enthusiasm is
part of our ongoing Leadership series.

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icon1January 26th, 2015

Leadership and Ambition: Get Your Dream Into High Gear

What’s your greatest ambition? Do you know where the road of life is taking you? Do you know who’s taking the ride with you – those who share your ambitions?

Ambition fuels your goals, ignites the fire of life that kindles behind your eyes. It makes smoke curl from your nostrils as the restless engine of your desire is stoked when you contemplate your ultimate success. It torques your actions into high gear, and impels those around you to act with vigor on your behalf.

Chasing The Horizon

For many people, the idea of getting a great job and staying with the same company is their ambition. However, this scenario is largely becoming a thing of the past and having three or more careers in a lifetime is now the norm. This fact carries with it both an opportunity and a daunting responsibility to become clear on your own ambitions.

Don’t Arrive by Accident

It’s all too common to find that you’ve arrived on your current path through a series of coincidences, each one taking you a little farther away from the dreams you had when you first started. For most people, there is a huge gap between the results they get and the results they want.

Whether starting your own company or as an employee, more and more people are unsure of their ambitions. If you’re one of them, maybe it’s time to take time out, sit back and have a talk with yourself.

For example, some years ago I had a buddy who was confronted by just such a challenge. When we were both fresh out of college, we both went to work for Xerox selling office copiers.

Jeff and I had met years before in college, bonding over Top Raman and the love of fast cars. Jeff drove a Porsche and we took that car to every pizza joint near our campus (my college car was a classic VW Fastback, no match for the Porsche). We both shared a passion for starting our own business and becoming the next Henry Ford. Some things just don’t need to be explained.

After college, he had a successful career with Xerox followed by stints with other Fortune 500 companies like HP and Dell. He worked his way up into an executive position, in time making a pretty good salary with cushy corporate benefits. He was tied to his job with a velvet rope, plush but limiting.

Let me say here that Jeff did not aspire to be a corporate employee. For years, Jeff would talk with me about getting the nerve to “make the jump” and pursue a tech start-up.

Once you’ve been in corporate life for a while, you may feel locked into your job and your plush lifestyle, the way my friend did. Unless you get in touch with your true ambitions, your only options are to move sideways to another company or to move upward in the hierarchy of the company.

So what do you do? The answer is to finally ask yourself that most elusive question: what do you want to be doing five years from now? Ten? Twenty? What is your true ambition?

These are the questions my friend Jeff avoided asking himself for years, as the time slipped by and the rut got deeper. If your own answer isn’t “exactly what I’m doing now” then what you need is decisive action. Not tomorrow: today.

What my friend didn’t realize is that forging out a life’s ambition, or a major definite purpose, isn’t all that difficult. He was afraid of taking a momentary step back in his lifestyle for the sake of pursuing his longtime dream of starting his own company.

Eventually Jeff got his chance, seizing an opportunity to exercise his expertise in mobile technology.

Over time, he grew his idea into a steady business with the CTO’s of major cellular phone companies. He even has staff, inventory and a schedule of glamorous tradeshows he attends on an annual circuit. It’s a career he loves, but he never would have gotten there without making a change – the thing he dreaded the most.

If you can free yourself from the fear and pessimism that commonly confront change, you can free up enormous reserves of energy to fuel your dreams.

Getting Your Goals Into High Gear

In order for things to get better, things have to change. Even if your ambition lies a bit farther down the road you’re already on, progress means change. Anything else will mean stagnation.

Whatever your ambition is, the chances are that there’s an opportunity for your next step not far away from where you are right now. The key to your dreams lies somewhere in your immediate surroundings.

If your ambition really is something you’ve seriously wanted to do, then it should be as simple as getting started and getting noticed. It’s okay to start small. If your first steps don’t work out the way you’d hoped, don’t give up. Keep your ambition in sight, letting it always fuel the passion for your dreams.

Whether you succeed or fail, it’s always better to try. At least you won’t find yourself years from now asking those two most terrible words: “What if…?”

Living out your ambition is not as hard to do as you think, especially when your actions are powered by your true passions. So what are you waiting for? Drop it down a gear and hit the gas! You never know what’s waiting for you around the bend.


icon1January 19th, 2015

Leadership and Logistics: Know What to Delegate and When

Hand Strategy Get Your Ducks In A Row

The saying goes that Management is doing things right, and Leadership is doing the right things. It sounds good on the surface – leaving the details up to the Managers while the Leaders lead. Or play golf.

But how can you be an effective Leader if you’re not aware of the logistics involved in your enterprise?

At some point – either on the way up in your career, or during on-going operations – you’ll need to understand the nuts and bolts of your project.

This essential makes the atmosphere ripe for getting a little too involved with logistics, leading to that dreaded syndrome known as “meddling.”

I know it’s not a pretty thought, but if folks are whispering about you as you walk by, it may be time to reassess and loosen your grip on your team.

Just as in that epic game involving 18 holes and a rambling lawn, business works best when you’re loose. It’s important to know when to let go your white-knuckle grasp and allow others to assume some responsibility. (Ask me how I know.)

Yes, as a matter of fact, this does include maintaining a sense of humor.

Loosening up will not only free up your time, it will help build the team rapport that’s so essential to your smooth-running operations. Once you get into the flow, you’ll be able to adapt your delegation style as the situation requires.

And the more you delegate, the easier it becomes. Actually, it can be downright addicting – leaving you more time to go home when the rest of your crew does, or even (dare I say it?) work on your golf swing.

Beware of the Sand Trap

Before you get too happy with the delegation idea, there is a caveat. When you give too much responsibility too soon, your team members can lose confidence in themselves, especially if they fall short of completing the tasks they’re given.

This means delegating big jobs should be a gradual process. The amount of responsibility you allocate as a Leader should increase only as your people grow in confidence and ability.

Here are some guidelines to help you bring your delegating skills up to par:

1. Climate: Think of your attitude about delegation within your team. Where do you fit in as a Leader? Keep in mind:

  • The culture within your team
  • Your Leadership style
  • Your own competence and confidence
  • Your physical location in relation to your staff
  • Your attitude about your staff’s delegation

2. Style: Consider the details of your current method of delegation practices. Are you using the most appropriate method you have available, considering your unique circumstances? If not, think about your alternatives, including the following factors:
  • Your team’s expertise and experience: Could they do with more guidance and supervision? Or should you be giving them more freedom to use their judgment and perform as they see fit?
  • Your team’s personal development: Are you doing enough to help them perform their jobs more effectively? Could you provide them with additional training that might broaden their skills or allow them to perform more effectively?
  • Letting go: Are you delegating enough to make efficient use of your own time? Do you sometimes find yourself holding onto tasks others could do? Letting go could free you up to spend time on strategy and other tasks that you alone are qualified to do.

3. Hone Your Strategy: Take time to write down some of your thoughts. Make a note of your delegation style, then note any ideas about what a more appropriate style could be.
  • What can you do to improve your delegation style?
  • What do you need in order to change?
  • What can you do to prepare your staff for that change?

4. Inner Game: Now spend some time analyzing what you have written. Write down three key action points which you will try to carry out in practice over the course of the next few months.

When delegating tasks, try to match tasks to the skills and potential of team members. Spend a few minutes thinking about their skills and areas where they might have a desire to develop, expressed or implied. These talents can be incorporated into your final action plan.

5. Approach: Be mindful of making team members’ jobs interesting and delegating logically.

Create an action plan to cover the aspects of delegation you’ve identified. The framework will differ depending on the number of tasks there are and how they’re allocated to your team.

Both you and your team members need to come together to share expectations for the project. Ultimately, you want to run a happy shop. Comparing your expectations will show where you are in agreement and where you need to come closer together.

Keep the Long Range In View

Before acting on your plan with your team, make the effort to agree on a deadline for completion of the tasks and a date and time for a review session.

This session will give you a chance to revisit the points you agreed on and ensure that everything is on track. If you meet before the deadline, you’ll have a chance to answer any questions or address any problems that arise in the course of the project.

When you and your team do meet the deadline, make sure you take some time to celebrate… say, at the 19th hole. In fact, setting this up could be the very first task you delegate.

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icon1January 12th, 2015

Effective Leadership: Igniting the Vision for Others

I recently read an antique book on Time Management called How To Live on 24 Hours A Day. It was written by a man named Arnold Bennett at the dawn of what we now know as the Personal Development movement, way back in 1910.

Image of businesswoman looking in telescope standing atop of roc

You’d think a book written at that time would be full of outdated ideas and dull platitudes. That wasn’t the case. In fact, you’d probably find it surprisingly easy to read, relatable and uplifting. I was amazed by how little Western culture has changed in the 100+ years since Bennett penned this work.

Much of what he discusses in the book has to do with the mentally exhausted middle class, people who have time for little more than their daily commute and a 40-hour work week.

Without saying it in obvious terms, his topic is really about Self-Leadership.

Instead of giving in to the status quo, Bennett offers a more deliberate approach, one that infuses life with vitality. He takes aim at the creeping feeling that time is ebbing away, that life is slipping through your fingers day by day, and he offers a solution that’s so simple, few actually practice it. Then as now, the simplest solutions often had trouble gaining credibility.

Besides Self-Leadership, I believe these ideas can and should be applied to leading a team. Infusing life with passion, crafting a vision and keeping the vision aloft for others can mean the difference between the ordinary and the extraordinary, both in business and life.

Why Leadership Requires Going On A “Time Diet”

Bennett suggests that by investing small amounts of time on a regular basis in a goal or topic that deeply fascinates you, every part of your life will change. Your senses will become heightened, and you’ll bring a new intensity to everything you do.

For my part, I agree with him, and many of my own activities reflect this habit. Besides running my own publishing company and a thriving consultancy, my work as a published author keeps me hopping from event to event. I also have plenty of outside interests and an active social life. By staying fully engaged, I feel truly alive in everything I do.

I was surprised to find that back in 1910, Bennett touched on this same point in his book. He goes on to say that each of us is given a whole new bank of time each day to use as we please. No one can steal it from us, and our “purse” of time is refilled continually.

For me, this reinforces the need to set goals and to employ some kind of structure in my schedule, what I call a time diet. Each of us has the option – in fact, the obligation – to deliberately choose how we spend our time and not waste it. This kind of focused effort speaks to the essence of Leadership.

It’s common knowledge that the wise ones shepherd their money, investing it instead of spending it, shrewdly calculating their next move, always keeping the end goal in mind.

And so it with time. The wise ones plan carefully, cultivate a vision, and work meticulously to reach the worthy goal. If you try to distract someone who is bent on an ambition, you’ll have a hard even getting their attention. Their major definite purpose obscures just about everything else.

What I love about this is the sense of freshness and renewal it brings. The start of the New Year particularly is perfect for reviewing the successes of the past year – and those unfortunate “oops” moments, the ones we so lovingly call “opportunities for improvement.” We’ve got a fresh calendar to work with, a clean slate without a blemish on it. It’s an excellent time to set goals and schedule tasks to achieve them. It’s an excellent time to corral others and recruit them to share your vision.

The Essence of Leadership

If you find yourself in a position of Leadership, you might be facing the New Year with a little extra weight on your shoulders. Not only do you have a glorious opportunity to shape the course of the coming year for yourself at home and at work, but you may have the chance to inspire others.

Many believe that leaders are born and not made. True, it’s useful to be born with certain qualities that give you a head start. However most of the traits of a good leader are learned.

In upcoming articles, we’ll be discussing the qualities of Leadership. We’ll take a look at the essence of Leadership, creating an inspiring vision, and ways you can communicate that vision to your team effectively.

Ironically, the word Leadership can be used as a Mnemonic device, touching on the elements of Leadership itself.

L – Logistics
E – Enthusiasm
A – Ambition
D – Drive
E – Effectiveness
R – Respect
S – Sensitivity
H – Humour
I – Integrity
P – Passion

In real life applications, your own approach to Leadership will need to be tailored and modified to fit your situation. Ultimately it starts with you and your determination to invest time in yourself – in those things that make you feel vitally alive.

Once you begin to fully engage, the ripple effect will touch the lives and deeds of those around you and those you are leading. You can influence them and perhaps even inspire a new generation of leaders.

Leaving a 100+ year legacy is surely a worthy goal, and in this case it was achieved by Arnold Bennett, author. Hats off to you, Mr. Bennett; your time was well spent.

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icon1January 5th, 2015