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Category Archives: Self Publishing

The Perils of Pricing a Book: Pricing Tips for Maximum Profits

Have you dreamed about writing a book? Getting your book into the marketplace has just become easier than it ever has been in the history of writing. For the first time ever, you can pen your prose and publish to the world at large in about as much time as it takes to bake a cake (Okay, maybe a little longer).

The Expert is in 1200x1200

Gone are the days of traditional publishing: writing your book proposal, shopping for an agent, pushing your manuscript to 47 publishing houses, signing away your copyright (and the bulk of your revenue), hiring a publicist, and running the grueling circuit of a PR tour – all for the glory of being a “published author.” There’s no more need for a middle man when it comes to publishing your cherished work.

Or is there?

Let’s say you are indeed an author. You’ve just finished writing your book. It took you a year to finally get your best ideas into manuscript form, scribbling into the wee hours while your friends are out doing… well, whatever normal people do on a Saturday night.

Finally the last comma is in place, and your weekly writers group has given your book the coveted Seal of Peer Approval. In fact your work is so polished, you’re bored with it. But you’re excited to get it in front of millions of readers, who of course will become millions of raving fans just as soon as you can figure out how to actually get your book out there.

What’s the first thing you do? Well, if you’re like most first-time authors, you give your book a title, grab some swell stock imagery, throw a dart at a price-tag, and upload your book to Kindle Direct Publishing. And then you wait. And wait. And wait some more, wondering why your royalty statement is producing big goose eggs. So when will your sales reports hatch into real, hard numbers?

Welcome to the plight of the vast majority of authors.

It’s only during the fourth week after you pushed the GO button that you realize your book’s title has a typo in it, or you’ve misplaced a period in the “Ph.D.” after your name (these are real stories from real self-published authors). You also start to wonder if pricing your book at $99 dollars instead of 99 cents was a good idea. Many people read “Self Publishing for Dummies” and then start to wonder what went wrong after they hit the big green “Publish” button.

Tapping the Price Experts

Do you know the perfect pricing formula for a book? How do you find the perfect price point for your book? How is the physical book pricing related to ebook pricing? Most authors are in love with their work and want to price it confidently. They grab a number from one of their favorite books and throw it at the wall to see if it sticks. Such an approach makes for a tangled mess. It’s not long before we’re back to wondering why we keep seeing zeros on the sales report.

The odds are high that you’re an incredible writer, but not a publishing expert. Did you know that it takes a team of 30 people to get a book onto the shelves of a bookstore? How are you supposed to know what your book should cost? Here are some practical tips to consider when determining your book pricing.

Let me encourage you to price your book confidently. You actually can sell it for a higher price if you have a focused audience. But what authors don’t understand is that if you price your book at a lower price point, counter intuitively it does not create more demand for your book. In fact, often a lower price has the opposite effect. Here are a few book pricing tips to price your book like a publishing pro.

Sell For a Higher Price If…

Your topic is exclusive or about a celebrity

You are a celebrity with a major audience

You are highly credentialed or experienced

You are revealing guarded secrets

Your topic is in high demand

You have an incredible marketing strategy to launch your book

Sell for a Lower Price If….

You are writing a series of books

You are breaking into a marketplace of avid readers, like sci-fi or romance

Amazon is not the only game in town when it comes to book distribution, but they have significant influence over book pricing. Amazon does offer massive sales potential if you play the game intelligently. Therefore it’s worth giving it special attention here.

Publishing with Kindle Select is one way that authors drive traffic to their book title. The program’s main benefit is that your book is free for 5 days, sometimes generating a ton of traffic if promoted correctly. The problem is that you’re required to publish the book exclusively with Kindle Select for 90 days, and the exclusive status is set to auto-renew unless you remember to turn that feature off. After you give away your ebook for free for 5-days, where should you price it after the promotion? $.99? $3.99? $11.99?

One of the little known pieces of research is this: sadly, people who download free ebooks generally don’t read them. Your cherished manuscript just sits on someone’s tablet or phone, collecting digital dust. It languishes between the second volume of the Harry Potter saga and a scanned copy of War & Peace. Unless you’re blessed with uncommon celebrity and awesome cover artwork, don’t give your book away for free unless you have a strategy behind your pricing plan. Your accountant will thank you.

One pricing study from $12 million of ebook sales suggests the optimal ebook price point is $3.99. But is that the optimal price for a 196 page book priced at $17.99? Or is it the perfect ebook pricing for a 450 page hard cover book priced at $29.99? What about a children’s book or an electronic-only cookbook? This is where the guidance of a publisher, a battle scarred author or agent can yield rich dividends for your writing endeavors.

After pricing over 1,500 book derivatives, here are the questions we ask to determine the perfect pricing:

• How famous is the author?

• What is the genre of the book? What is true for a serial sci-fi novel may not be true for a business book.

• Will the book get reviewed by a respectable Reviewer?

• Has the book been submitted for awards?

• What is the page count of the book (or word count of the ebook)?

• What marketing endeavors will support the book launch?

• Will the physical book be sold into retailers?

Book pricing is part art and part science. Since you have invested a year of your late-night Saturday nights pounding the keyboard, spend some time researching the pricing strategy of books in your genre (over time). Don’t you think your book deserves the best possible chance of getting read? When you take the time to understand your marketplace, you can beat the odds and increase your chances for impressive royalties.

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.


icon1June 9th, 2015

Creating Desire: The Heart of Branding

People make buying decisions with their hearts and try to justify those decisions with their heads. Yet true desire can’t be rationalized. How many times have you yourself said, “I dunno… I just WANT it!”

burning_heart_by_dracu_teufel666-d49u67jBrand advertising takes an otherwise ho-hum product and incites a burning passion in the buyer’s mind. The product becomes associated with a certain lifestyle, frame of mind or emotional state. This is the soul of aspirational branding.

“What’s Love Got to Do with It?” ~ Tina Turner, circa 1984

The mark of an exceptional branding campaign is when your audience feels passion. And how can we inspire passion?

An effective brand gets the message across as succinctly, as efficiently as possible. It says that something really great is now available, and savvy folks can take advantage of it. Does that sound a bit like romance? It should. And marketers have capitalized on it from the beginning.

Take for example a slice of this car commercial from the early 1990′s. A sexy middle-aged celebrity spokeswoman enters the frame of a pale fog gray set, the kind where the floor meets the wall at some indistinct point in the infinite background.

Her eyes sparkle. There’s a slight bounce in her step, but she’s cool and confident. The soft lighting adds a whisper of halo to her honey colored hair.

She’s there with The Car, speaking in direct address to the camera. “Cars are like men. Some you want to date, some you want to marry.”

Zing! And there it is: tightly focused, painfully poignant, reaching through the television and clenching the heart of women across the land.

So what is this ad saying?

“Are you in, or are you out? You love this car, that’s clear. Are you going to buy it or take a walk? If you want to be like me, then do what I do. Drive what I drive. Live my lifestyle. Decide you’re worth it. But do decide. Time’s up!”

With the right branding, desire turns attraction into commitment. It cuts to the chase and drives the point home with such crystalline clarity, it makes the buyer say, “I dunno… I just WANT it!” before they can even formulate the idea into words.

In the blink of an eye, all doubt is removed. It’s only a matter of their finding a rational justification to support the purchase.

Where do I sign?

Vance Packard, author of The Hidden Persuaders, made it his mission to demystify the world of advertising for the average consumer. Though his slant was a bit biased against advertisers, his points can be mined for effective use in everyday business branding.

Packard identified eight human needs that effective branding appeals to. These essential eight needs include emotional security, reassurance of worth, ego-gratification, creative outlets, love objects, a sense of power, a sense of roots, and immortality.

Speaking to these basic human needs means meeting your prospect at their deepest level. It means speaking their language, and giving them permission to invest in with you.

When your brand’s message speaks convincingly to these core desires, the response from the buyer is automatically primal. The only question they have left to ask is, “Where do I sign?”

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. Check out cutting-edge work in the field of publishing with Katherine’s latest mobile app published by GOKO Publishing’s U.S. partner, Made For Success Publishing.


icon1April 27th, 2015

Aspirational Branding-What does THAT mean?

Let’s start by defining a prestigious brand. Does your brand promote a feeling of Aspiration? Better yet, does your brand have what it takes to kick start a movement?

How are you creating prestige for your brand, and what are you doing to influence your buyers?

Aspirational brands appeal to people who desire something better. They buy products with “prestige appeal.” From a business standpoint, businesses who sell products/services with prestige typically enjoy very high profit margins. When creating a Brand strategy, they will make ownership just out of reach for most people. Meaning, their buyers may need to aspire to engage.

On the other hand, an Inspirational brand is a product that’s produced to satisfy the wants or needs of everyday needs and desires. Basically, it’s a commodity like toothpaste or bananas. How do you inspire consumers to purchase a commodity product?

With an Inspiration brand, the logo on the label matters but does not align with the identity of the consumer. The product is commonplace. This applies to everyday things like orange juice, auto tires or coffee. The buyer believes quality varies across brands, but you have to shout to be heard above the noise in the marketplace through advertising and promotional tactics (i.e. direct mail, coupons or purchasing in-store display space).

The Absolute Opposite of Ordinary

The other day I received a direct mail piece that caught my attention. In fact, the skilled marketer who created this mailer “set the hook” so effectively that I have the brochure sitting next to my computer.

Yes, I’m kind of embarrassed to admit that I actually saved a piece of direct mail.

The tagline on the brochure says ” The Absolute Opposite of Ordinary.” Hmmm, I think.

This brand is obviously trying to distance itself from the commodity brand.

The product this company is selling has all the hallmarks of an aspirational brand. It is expensive. The brand is associated with quality. The products are rare and you don’t see many people using it. But when you do see this brand, the discerning eye takes notice. This is the perfect situation for an aspirational brand.

So I open-up the flyer and the first thing I note is the thick paper and high gloss printing. The photography used in the flyer is stunning – crisp in detail. The copy is minimalistic, so I can read it instantly. Here are some of the phrases they used:

“Discover the extraordinary details.”

“Take control.”

“We invite you to experience dynamic and distinctive driving, firsthand”

Well, if you haven’t guessed it yet this flyer was for a new model of car. But by the time I flipped to the 5th page of the flyer I was shocked by what I discovered. In my minds-eye the brand of this vehicle, Maserati, is out of my reach. But the “call to action” message in this flyer made me think differently….in fact, the arresting discovery made me think that I could aspire to own one of these vehicles. You see, the company is promoting a new model of Maserati that is priced lower to compete with mainstream luxury vehicles.

So all of a sudden, I’m their target market.

Exhilarating Performance is Just a Click Away

Your brand is at the core of what you do. What feelings or emotions does your business inspire in your customers? Think about how you present your brand, not just on your website but whenever you meet people, connect with them on social networks, or even in your direct mail flyers.

How are you setting yourself apart, making people aspire to own your product? What is it you do that makes you stand out from the crowd? Think about your brand around your unique strengths and go forth to generate a new level for your customer to aspire.

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.

Have You Ever thought of Having

Rip-Roaring Influence -2Being influential is as good as gold, and far more valuable. Anyone who has ever made a significant and lasting difference had the power of influence on their side. Once you have mastered the essential lessons Mark Victor Hansen shares with you, you will have the power to take your life to a bold new level. Dare to master your own personal and professional influencing power and experience the difference that having Rip-Roaring Influence will have for you.


icon1April 13th, 2015

Leadership and Drive: Accessing the Power of Teamwork

A mentor of mine once said there are two reasons for doing anything: the STATED reason, and the REAL reason. The REAL reason is the thing that impels us to act.

Group of Multiethnic Designers BrainstormingSo, what drives us into action?

The REAL reason is what makes a football player finish a championship game with a taped-up dislocated elbow – an injury that would send most guys to the hospital begging for morphine. It takes a strong dose of conviction to get back into the game with such a debilitating injury.

When I was 22 and living in Anchorage, I attended dog races for fun. The REAL reason is what causes an Alaskan musher to bundle up and drive a team of sled dogs 1,100 miles through the dark and wintry sub-arctic wilderness. Running the fiercely competitive race known as the Iditarod could only happen with a very good REAL reason. Yet it happens every year.

The REAL reason is what makes a soldier stay awake for three days, what makes a fireman return to a burning building, what makes a scientist review the results of an experiment just one more time.

The REAL reason is what’s known as Drive. The beauty of it is, we all have it.

Each one of us can be a champion under the right circumstances. With the right leadership, we can all tap into our own inner drive and bring home incredible results against all odds.

Capitalizing On the Inner Game

As leaders, we can tap into the drive that motivates the people we are charged with leading and reveal their finest strengths to the world – and to themselves.

The word “drive” is defined as an inner urge that stimulates activity or inhibition; a vigorous onset or onward course toward a goal or objective.

If you find yourself leading a team, there’s only one way you’re going to get to know what drives the players as individuals. First you have to get to know them as people, find out what makes them tick, touch their minds and motives.

No one was ever pushed across the finish line and called a winner. Winning comes from the inside, from the inner drive – from the real reason. Winning is evoked, coaxed like a feral cat out of the shadows. Winning is invoked, not imposed.

Driving the Team to Win

If you find yourself leading a typical pack, you’ll notice that they’re probably a pretty diverse group. They come from varied backgrounds, and they have plenty of different real reasons.

This is actually a good thing. Their diversity is your strength. It’s up to you to unite them to work as a team.

You’ll want to be cautious, though, not to completely dampen the wild individuality inside them. Instead, you can channel it to work for the benefit of your common cause. Here are questions you can ask yourself to accomplish just that.

Getting the Team Together: Do my people have a clear sense of where we’re going and why? Do they know the role they need to play? Is each player holding the right position?

Playing By the Rules: Are my decisions and actions consistent with our stated goals? Are my team members aware of those decisions? Are we all striding together? Does your team personally understand and agree with the direction?

Using the Right Equipment: Have I created a culture that values drive as a tool? Does our culture embrace the value of the individual as well as the cohesion of the team? Do they have the tools they need, not just to play the game, but to win?

In It To Win It: Am I rewarding my team for taking on the tough duties? For making critical decisions? For giving their all?

The reason for doing anything may seem obvious to us all, at least on the surface. Harnessing the REAL reason – the inner drive – and putting it to work will inevitably yield the fruits of victory.

What will spur you on to play your best game? Your victory cup is waiting!

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icon1February 2nd, 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

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

One Simple Act of Generosity

Be A Link In the Chain

My partner and I were working with an author named Jennifer last week on her social media strategy for her upcoming book. She told me a simple story that got me thinking about this giving season – about how it can bring together people of all kinds, regardless of their backgrounds or economic status.

When Jennifer ordered coffee at her local drive-thru that day, a stranger in the car ahead of her generously paid for her coffee drink.

Jennifer was so touched that on the spur of the moment, she did the same for the person in line behind her. When she drove up to the cashier, the barista leaned out the window and told her that she was the 40th person in-a-row to pay it forward!

Hundreds Changing Hands.

Of course, “pay it forward” is the idea of repaying a good deed by doing good for others instead of for the original person. It’s a simple enough concept, but it’s so seldom seen these days.

In this case, that same couple bucks was turned to do the good work of more than a hundred dollars. The small gesture made a difference for at least 40 people. Who knows how far the chain extended that day? After all, there’s no telling what happened after Jennifer drove away from the coffee stand.

Though drive-thru coffee may not be your cup of tea, you can still use this idea to make life a little better for someone else. Simply extend a bit of kindness with no strings on it. For centuries, people have been doing just that for friends and strangers alike.

Where Do Kind Acts Come From?

A lot of people mistakenly think this idea started with the Hollywood film Pay It Forward from the year 2000. The movie was immensely popular, about a young boy and his big idea to change the world through simple acts of kindness. The movie topped out at #4 at the box office and netted $55 million worldwide at the box office, but it went on to make big ripples around the globe.

To trace the movie’s plot to its source, you’ll find that the screenplay was adapted from a novel by Catherine Ryan Hyde. But the concept didn’t start with her. You’d have to go farther up the chain than that to find the idea’s origins.

Back in 1980, “pay it forward” showed up in a special edition Marvel comic that teamed Spider-Man and The Incredible Hulk. The story traced the path of a $5 bill from a loan by a retiree to someone down on his luck, following the five-spot’s round-about route, returning to the elderly man by way of the two superheroes.

But “pay it forward” didn’t start with Marvel Comics either. An author named Lily Hardy Hammond wrote about the idea in her book In the Garden of Delight, published in 1916. She said, “You don’t pay love back; you pay it forward.” Even a hundred years ago, the idea wasn’t new.

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote an essay in 1841 called “Compensation.” He said, “The benefit we receive must be rendered again, line for line, deed for deed, cent for cent, to somebody.”

Still, this isn’t the beginning of the chain. Ben Franklin proposed the “pay it forward” idea in a letter in April 1784. He told a friend, “When you meet with another honest Man in similar Distress, you must pay me by lending this Sum to him; enjoining him to discharge the Debt by a like operation… I hope it may thus go thro’ many hands, before it meets with a Knave that will stop its Progress.”

Would you be the Knave? Perish the thought.

From Stage to Cinema in 2000 Years

You might think that someone as smart and influential as Benjamin Franklin originated the “pay it forward” idea. It sure sounds like him. In reality, the idea predates modern civilization, making its first appearance (that we know of) in Ancient Greece.

The concept was the key to the plot of a classic Greek comedy, dating back to 317 BC. The play was called The Grouch (okay, it was called Dyskolos), written by someone named Menander. The script was lost for centuries and rediscovered in 1957.

I’m sure in the future some Broadway director will turn the ancient play into a big budget action film, spawning a line of polyethylene superhero figures, a comic book, and maybe a series of theme park rides. For the time being, it’s just a nice story about a grouch whose life is touched by an act of kindness.

Now, it seems to me I’ve seen something like this before. Didn’t I? Ah yes, I think it was my hometown stage production of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Maybe this year I’ll buy a couple extra tickets and give them to those two young adults in line behind me… and ask them why one of them keeps calling me “Mom”.

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icon1December 23rd, 2014

Leading With the Power of the Personal Touch

by Katherine Owen

two wooden heads with gears coming into collision concept

Nothing gets through to business prospects and colleagues quite like the personal touch. You can send text or email, even leave a voice mail message.

But if you really want someone’s attention, it’s the live connection that cuts through their daily clutter and gets a response.

Here’s a case in point. I’m working with a couple of partners on a project to develop a new patented technology, one that measures public response to marketing and other initiatives. It’s really very slick, and I can hardly wait until we launch the platform.

I’m so excited about this technology, I just can’t help getting worked up when I talk about its potential. Sometimes I bore my family and friends by talking about each new development in the project. Yes, I admit it – even my kids had to sign a non-disclosure agreement.

(Okay, maybe I’m joking about the NDA.)

I’ve been told you can hear this excitement in my “music” – in the words I say and how I say them when I talk about this incredible project. It just naturally comes across. I couldn’t suppress it if I tried. What I feel here is pure passion.

Recently I sent a carefully crafted email proposal to a prospect, a warm contact. I got nowhere! I sent another message, and then another. Nothing happened. In fact I didn’t get any action at all until I picked up the phone and made a personal connection.

Why do you suppose that is?

One answer is that a personal connection is happening now. It’s live. On the phone or in person, the connection has immediacy, true relevance. Once you’ve said the words, you can’t reel them back in.

Another factor in making a solid connection is the dynamic of the human voice. Some call it the most masterful of all musical instruments. From a whisper to a shout, it conveys the full range of human emotion, the animation within the heart and soul.

Your voice can compel someone to act, or it can soothe to calm reassurance. Its live, real time connection renders you intriguing beyond measure, far more than flat words on a page ever could.

These factors make it doubly important to use your voice deliberately. When you do, you gain the ability to tap the power of the personal touch.

Show Off by Showing Up

In another article, Like A Song On the Radio, Make Your Words Unforgettable, we talked about using the voice to make your message memorable – using volume, tone and rhythm to bring your message home.

These techniques are excellent and they do work. But first you have to make the connection with your intended audience. That takes the personal touch.

In Sales, the saying goes that “the fortune is in the follow up.” What that means for each of us – whether we’re in Sales, Leadership or Support – is that nothing happens until we make that personal connection. Every exposure to our compelling idea is a link in a chain.

To be effective, each exposure should be more personal than the one before. Each one relies more and more on the use of your voice in order to make an impact.

Testing: 1 2 3

Even though one-third of young professionals today prefer text over other forms of communication, the overwhelming majority of communication happens through speech, starting with phone and

voice mail, and often leading to face time.

If you want to command a degree of influence, you can start with a quality outgoing voice mail message. Call it your personal PR, your outgoing message tells a world of information about you – your energy, material facts such as your name and business identity, how and when you can be reached directly. In fact, it’s often the first impression you make with a new client.

Here are tips for getting the most from making that personal connection.

Make It Personal: When you record your message, present a crisp, positive image. Speak clearly and confidently, and extend your own brand of warmth. Say your name and company followed by concise directions. You may want to consider changing your message daily or weekly to show that you’re tuned in.

Be Professional & Courteous: If you’re using voice mail to screen your calls, it’s a great way to take control of your time. Have the courtesy to respond to your messages each day. They are important to the people who left them; in fact, it’s the reason they called.

Be Interesting & Interested: When you return calls, don’t make the common mistake of lapsing into a bored or robotic tone. Look alive. Imagine yourself sitting in front of the person you’re calling, making eye contact and a positive connection.

Have an Agenda: To maximize your time, plan your calls ahead. Draft a rough agenda of what you’d like to cover during your chat. If you need to meet face to face, check your schedule before you pick up the phone. Offering a couple of meeting times will stack the deck in your favor.

Follow up: Before you finish your conversation, have a clear idea of when your next contact will be. Confirm it with your colleague or prospect, and make it a point to follow up.


Voice InflectionsZig Ziglar advises the sales professional on how to close more sales with simply learning how to use your voice.

One of the most neglected areas of sales training has to do with the use of your voice. The most important thing you can do to close more sales is to train your voice. You start by recording your presentations. As you listen and review them ask yourself, “If I was calling on me would I be convinced – would I buy from me?” Zig Ziglar advises the sales professional on how to close more sales with simply learning how to use your voice. Download the MP3 audio recording instantly here and learn the subtle art of voice inflections in minutes.

icon1December 9th, 2014

Sheer Poetry: Composing Text, Email & Social Posts for Epic Effect

Social Media Marketing Flat IllustrationHave you ever gotten an electronic message and wondered when the author was going to get to the point? It hurts, doesn’t it?

It’s not that they were trying to waste your dwindling time with turgid prose reminiscent of Longfellow’s epic Song of Hiawatha. It’s just that you simply couldn’t fit their rambling stanzas about “the shores of Gitche Gumee” into your Twitter-constricted schedule. Let’s talk about how you can avoid becoming a text statistic, like your friend or colleague here. In our world of shrinking sound bytes, this shortage of attention means it’s more essential than ever to get to the point quickly. This doesn’t mean communication is becoming superficial. Far from it. It’s just more dense.

Is Brevity Beautiful or Banal?

In many ways, e-messages and social media present a new abbreviated form of communication so full of layered meaning, it’s almost poetic. The Japanese form of poetry known as the haiku has been lauded, jeered at, sneered at and ultimately left alone by Western society. Or has it? I’ll bet if you look closely, you’ll find that this 3-line, 17-syllable poetic format is the close cousin to many of the news bytes and electronic messages you read today. For example, see if this 3-line poem looks familiar…

Meeting is at ten
Bring me coffee and donuts
See you with bells on

Not an office jockey? Perhaps you might recognize this 17-syllable take on world news that could easily appear in a Yahoo feed…

Pod lands on comet
Rosetta makes history

Film at eleven

If you’re at all athletic, you might relate to this well-deserved gloat, inspired by the thrill of victory…

Smoked the tennis match
They said it couldn’t be done

Look out, Federer

I offer these examples to make a point. As silly as it may seem to compare daily drivel with a great and noble poetic art form, the aim is the same. Capture attention with compelling brevity, and communicate worlds of meaning in as brief a space as possible.

Wooing the Elusive Attention Span

Obviously your own messages don’t have to rhyme or be limited to three lines to be effective. However brevity is the soul of wit. You can win over your audience by respecting their tight schedules and their often harried frame of mind. Borrowing the acronym AIDA from the world of Sales, here is a technique you can adopt to make your written messages matter and move your readers to epic action.
  • A)ttention: To open, ask a question or make a statement that introduces your topic. Eg: “Is eating dinner important to you?”
  • I)nterest: Present the meat of the message, and state clearly why you’re initiating the contact. Eg: “I thought I might sport you to a meal tomorrow night.”
  • D)esire: Back up your message with relevant information so your audience can delve deeper if they desire. Cite sources and give links whenever it makes sense to do so. Eg: “This reviewer suggests linguine: http://MamaLovesItalian.com”
  • A)ction: Summarize the reason for your contact, and use a call to action if there’s a specific result you’d like to see. Eg: “Let’s mix things up a bit this week and have some fun. Ping me back with your reply, and I’ll make reservations.”
Following this formula can take you from zero to hero in 17 syllables or less. Coincidentally, this is also just about 140 characters, or the limit of half the world’s attention these days. I’m sure you get the point.

icon1December 2nd, 2014

Like A Song On the Radio, Make Your Words Unforgettable

Pretty woman mouth blowing hand drawn icons and symbols close up

Your tone of voice can have a greater impact on your powers of persuasion than the words you use. There’s no doubt that your voice is a powerful instrument.

But what are you doing to control it? There are distinct methods to make your message as haunting or as catchy as a song on the radio so that people are singing your praises.

Think of a really memorable talk or presentation you attended recently – one that moved you or changed the way you view the world.

What was it that stayed with you? Was it the speaker’s words, or was it the tone of voice that moved you? The odds are high that the speaker’s passion came through – broke through the barriers of your mind so the words could captivate your heart.

Maybe you felt it in the quiver of their voice as they told an emotional story. Perhaps it was a sudden change in their volume – a whisper or a shout that rattled you in your boots.

You might have been influenced by their tone of voice when they asked a thought-provoking key question. Perhaps it was the sheer pace of the words – staccato as a machine gun – that tumbled out of a mouth straining to keep up with inspiration.

The fact that you’re thinking about it now is a testament to the power of the human voice.

How To Become Impossible To Forget

All of these elements tap the rich array of capabilities of the voice, making it possible to influence others and communicate with passion.

It’s the sad truth that too many discussions, speeches and presentations are easy to forget. And that’s a problem because the reason anyone would want to talk with you or listen to you is to engage in memorable, meaningful communication. One of the most potent yet often overlooked facets of vocal communication is the instrument itself – the voice.

Whether you’re addressing an audience of one or one thousand, you’re engaged in public speaking each time you open your mouth to speak in a public place.

So how are you coming across? When you speak, are people reminded of the dulcet tones of a rippling brook… or are they shrinking, as if from the shrill sound of fingernails slowly raked across a blackboard?

No matter where you find yourself today, as a novice or a master, you can learn to use your voice for a more lasting effect and become unforgettable.

Speaking of Dynamics…

The dynamics of your message will come through much more clearly when you color your message with a range of volume, tone and rhythm that conveys your emotional intensity. Your voice and intonation make all the difference in how you come across.

There are three basic elements that you can tap to ensure your verbal messages are understood – and remembered – time and again.


Before you can communicate effectively, it’s essential that you really connect what you want to say, who you’re talking to, and why they might want to listen. Match the purpose of your words with your volume.

The human voice has a dramatic dynamic range, from the intensity of a whisper to the full, rich command of a shout. If your voice is too soft, you risk coming across as mousy. Too loud, and your audience will tune out. Make sure your message is fully heard so that people catch the full meaning of the important words you want to convey.


Adjust your vocal quality to match your audience. Support your tone with a breath that stems from deep in your body cavity. Relax your tongue and throat, and allow your words to flow from a mouth that seems to savor them.

Your vocal quality or timbre, the way you articulate, and the rise and fall of your voice all contribute to your tone. Like the melody line of a song, you’re composing and singing your message all day long.


Who are you speaking to? How much time do they have? How long is their attention span? What are their interests, beliefs and values? What do they share in common with others? How are they unique?

Each of these factors will influence the rhythm of your speech.

If you’ve been asked to give a eulogy at a good friend’s funeral, by all means, take your time. The dearly departed has probably earned it. There’s no shortcut here, and the members of the congregation are sure to appreciate the display of respect demonstrated in your slow, measured speech, savoring every last detail you painstakingly convey in your somber pace.

Slow thoughtful speech is the hallmark of a eulogy. If that’s your venue, take your time. Otherwise, cut to the chase.

Brevity is the soul of wisdom, and the rhythm of your speech has the power to convey a world of urgency or a casual note of nonchalance. Match your pace to the audience before you.

What do you want your audience to do as a result of your communication? What’s really at the heart of your message? By effectively using your voice in a measured, deliberate way, you can pack a powerful punch that drives your message home.

Communication is at the heart of all relationships and business dealings. Whether you’re connecting with an audience of one or a thousand, your experience can be a rich and rewarding one. Using your voice to full effect will mean the all the difference in creating a lasting impression.


icon1November 20th, 2014