December 15, 2016

Self-Described "One-Trick Pony" Goes the Distance with Book That Endures

Christopher Avery was known as “The Responsibility Process® guy” long before he wrote his long-awaited book titled The Responsibility Process: Unlocking Your Natural Ability to Live and Lead with Power.

In the early 1990s, having earned his doctorate in organizational communication, Christopher’s interest in shared responsibility and improving teamwork in high-impact cultures introduced him to the framework that eventually became his life’s passion. Nonetheless, it took him a while to permanently chronicle his groundbreaking work. He co-founded Partnerwerks in 1991 to share best practices for collaborating under competitive conditions and published his first book, Teamwork Is an Individual Skill, in 2001. All the while, his obsession with personal responsibility continued to grow.

The thing was, virtually everyone knew that taking personal responsibility was the first principle of success, but no one could tell you how to do it, or how to avoid the pitfalls so frequently encountered – only that you should take personal responsibility. With hard-earned experience in both eluding and taking personal responsibility, Christopher turned his attention from collaboration to understanding how personal responsibility actually works in the mind. He joined a team investigating the natural mental pattern that helps people process thoughts about taking or avoiding responsibility and then built the knowledge and systems to help them master personal responsibility in literally any context.
           
For the next decade, Christopher consulted with companies, gave keynote addresses, and wrote about personal responsibility, helping people activate their innate leadership ability with precision tools, practices, and leadership truths, but he still didn’t write a book. He laughs, “I was constantly asked when I was going to write a book on The Responsibility Process. I knew I should permanently document this material, but until last year, I didn’t feel ready to do so.”
           
By 2015, with his clients steadily clamoring for this amazing material to be documented, Christopher was ready. He organized his material and got to work. The Responsibility Process: Unlocking Your Natural Ability to Live and Lead with Power was published in October of 2016.

Christopher realizes he went about the book publishing process a bit differently from how most people approach it. He explains, “Usually people have some type of expertise, and then they write a book and begin speaking about it. I did it backwards. I talked about The Responsibility Process for ten or fifteen years before I wrote the book. I am constantly introducing people/audiences to The Responsibility Process. I’m sort of a one-trick pony; I keep presenting it over and over.”

Christopher wasn’t interested in selling his book to a major publisher. On the contrary, he wanted the control and leverage self-publishing gave him. His highest priority once he decided to write the book was to put out a quality product in all ways, from highly polished content to a sophisticated cover to the finished book itself. He comments, “I wanted the final product to be worth the subject matter.” Because the self-publishing landscape is so fragmented, he didn’t feel he could manage all the parts himself. Instead, he sought out a top-notch book publishing firm. He admits, “It was too big of a learning curve for me to manage on my own.”

Since the book’s release, Christopher has been focused on steadily promoting it through a series of blog posts, guest blogging on other peoples’ blogs, and keynote speaking engagements that have proven to be a highly effective method of selling the book. In fact, the first 650 copies went to participants at a conference in Munich Christopher was asked to keynote after the organizers ordered a copy for every participant. Likewise, for an upcoming keynote in Dallas, the organizers are supplying a copy of the book to the first 200 people who sign up.

Tellingly, Christopher has no advice for first-time book authors. He believes emphatically that effective leadership starts with self, and The Responsibility Process taught him not to give advice. He explains, “When you tell other people what they should do, by putting you in a position of authority, they stop thinking for themselves.”

Nonetheless, he notes that when he wrote his first book, he didn't spend much time thinking about how he would recoup the value of the investment he was making. With his new book, he’s spent a lot of time positioning himself as a speaker and of building a brand around the book and its title. He’s even looking at rebranding his business around The Responsibility Process, eliminating his personal website and using the name of the book as the website instead. He asks, “In a world of brand building, do I need to build a brand around the corporate name? I think the answer is no.”

The Responsibility Process may indeed be “evergreen,” to quote Christopher, and it’s also prolific – organizing his material helped him realize he had more tools than he needed or wanted to use in a single book. Today, he envisions a whole series as an outgrowth of The Responsibility Process.

Now that’s going the distance, one-trick pony or not.

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