February 28, 2013

Drive the Thrive

Writing a book can – should – be an uplifting experience, and first-time author Hunter Thurman certainly feels that way.

Thurman, President of ThrivePlan, is enthusiastic about his new book, Brand Be Nimble, as is evident from just a brief conversation.

“I’m excited to see it come to fruition,” he said. “Sometimes you don’t know what you’re capable of. The more I’ve written, the more confident I’ve become.”

Thurman sees the value of the book in many ways, from encapsulating his ideas to having a new tool to get those ideas into the marketplace. He is convinced the book will serve as an excellent tool for marketing his company’s services.

“It succinctly introduces your thoughts and ideas. Prospective clients … can glance at a couple chapters. It’s more efficient than cold-calling and bugging people. Authorship is inherently a marketing tool,” said Thurman.

Thurman says writing the book has already given him new insights into his field. “They say, ‘If you want to really learn something, then teach it.’ Or write it.

“The genesis (of the book) is that I have a unique point of view, how we do our work,” he said.

What exactly is that work? Thurman says describing what his firm does is difficult, and that’s one of the reasons he’s writing the book. While branding is a current buzzword in every industry as competitors try to set themselves apart, Thriveplan is concerned with brand innovation. The company looks to help its clients develop new products that will survive and thrive in the marketplace.

“We’re an innovative firm. We try to address consumer needs,” he said.

Thurman says firms typically come to ThrivePlan when they are looking to introduce new products or services that can piggyback on their current offerings. ThrivePlan combines evolutionary psychology, consumer neuroscience, and human-centered design to create what Thurman and his company have termed “evolutionary design.”

As you might imagine, defining those terms and what his company can do is no easy task. That’s why Thurman believes his book will be invaluable in introducing clients to his services.

Interestingly, Thurman says he is unsure how, or even if, he will measure his return on investment. But he is convinced that writing the book has already had a positive result.

“I don’t think there’s a metric that I’m going to put to it. I’ll use it as a calling card. Even just the process of writing it has helped me,” he said.

Thurman says he thinks – or at least hopes – people will use the book as both an introduction to his company and a handy reference guide. “There are things I still have on my desk that have value. I hope it’s like a Physician’s Desk Reference.”

Thurman's book, Brand Be Nimble: How Big Brands Can Thrive by Innovating Like Start-Ups, is available on Amazon

February 26, 2013

The Crossover of Coaching

Motivator. Teacher. Shrink

Three roles Bob Teichart plays, and plays well. But this successful business consultant wasn’t satisfied. He wanted to influence others.

The answer for Teichart lay in a dream he’d long harbored but hadn’t acted on.

“I’d always wanted to write a book,” said Teichart. “It was a ten-year dream.”

The result was his book Motivator/Teacher/Shrink, How to Attract and Develop Highly Successful Salespeople.

For Teichart, a coaching legend who had trained 35 high school All-American swimmers and worked with numerous business leaders and salespeople to help them achieve outstanding results, the decision to write a book has had far-reaching results.

Teichart worked with those who wanted to improve their sales performance and those of the people who worked for them. He had developed theories and tools for positively impacting sales, but he was looking for a means to reach more people, as well as to have a greater and longer-lasting outcome.

“I needed a tool for my workshops,” he said.
Hence the book. Teichart says he decided to become an author not only for financial gain, but to positively influence his clients. “I wrote it for two reasons: Money and impact,” he said.

But Teichart knew that he wouldn’t likely get rich from book sales. Instead, he was looking long-term for something that would help him leverage his consulting business. A book gave him the perfect vehicle to pass on the wisdom he had accumulated over the years.

Teichart credits one of his clients with putting him on track to write the book. Actually, a client’s wife.

“I had put together a 40-page manuscript, and sent it to a client to use and look at,” said Teichart. “His wife was an English teacher. She went through it with a red pen.”

Teichart realized he couldn’t go it alone, and he began working with a writer to take his ideas and translate them into his book. And the book took just a year from that red-lettered manuscript to a finished product.

Teichart says the book is an accurate reflection of his philosophies and the way he communicates.

“If you go through the book, it’s concise and direct. That’s the way I talk,” said Teichart.

Teichart’s book is different from most other books, even most other business books. The diagrams and exercises make it almost a workbook, though he calls it a “playbook” for improving the performances of salespeople. It is applicable to anyone, from the so-called sales superstars to those who have difficulty closing the sale – any sale. Teichart says it even goes beyond sales to anyone who wants to improve their performance.

Teichart says the finished book has had the impact he had intended. It has enabled him to further spread the word, providing him with a means to reach more people. It has also given him more perceived expertise. That has translated into more opportunities for workshops and speaking engagements.

February 25, 2013

The New Meaning of Business Class

For some people, the time spent on an airplane is best utilized by sleeping. Others prefer reading.

Dan Prisciotta wrote a book.

“I was flying back from the West Coast, and had five and a half hours,” says Prisciotta, a financial planner for Sagemark Private Wealth Services. “I wrote the outline on the plane.”

This wasn’t some spur-of-the-moment thing. Prisciotta had long entertained the idea of writing a book to encapsulate his thoughts regarding financial planning for his clients.

“The idea had been in my head for many years,” he said. “It would differentiate myself as an advisor.”

And Prisciotta says that is exactly what has happened. His book, titled Defend Your Wealth, has helped him gain new clients and be seen as an expert.

“I wanted to enhance my credibility with prospective clients,” Prisciotta said.

He originally thought about looking for a publisher, but after speaking with other professionals, including Bob Teichart, who had worked with us on his book Motivator, Teacher, Shrink: How to Attract and Develop Highly Successful Salespeople, Prisciotta decided to work with the Jenkins Group and self-publish. “I would have lost control of my content. Bob Teichart said he had a good experience (with the Jenkins Group).

Prisciotta began by pulling together articles he’d previously written and ideas he had developed. He then incorporated actual client plans, and included information from other professionals, giving them credit in the respective chapters. All told, he said it took about a year and a half from that plane trip to when he had a book in hand.

The end result was 270+ pages that lay out strategies and concerns for those who want to maintain and control their financial assets and/or provide for their heirs or beneficiaries when they step away. The book includes tools, exercises, case studies and advice.

“I wanted it to be client-friendly,” he said. “It’s a call to action. Wealthy people can get complacent. The dynamics and laws are changing. It’s disturbing, I wanted people to take action. 

Prisciotta said his goal was not only to offer advice and scenarios to the public, but to create a difference between himself and other financial planners. “You can’t tell one from the other,” he said.

He also intends to use it as a springboard to other media. “I wanted to use this as a foundation to develop other (products). CDs, DVDs, an interactive web site.” Prisciotta says it has already opened up new vistas for him, in terms of speaking engagements, seminars and other opportunities.

While Prisciotta is not intending to write another book, he is looking at revising this one, based upon the changes being made in tax law. “The second edition of Defend Your Wealth will reflect the new tax law,” he said.

The book is available on Amazon, and Prisciotta says he also sells it directly as well as providing copies for clients and other professionals. That often results in referrals he might not get otherwise.

And as you might suspect, for Prisciotta, the bottom line is his bottom line.

“I had the best business year of my career in 2012 by 50 percent. I can’t say it was all because of the book, but the book certainly helped.”

February 20, 2013

When Life Gives You Lemons...

What do you do when you’re diagnosed with a life-threatening disease when you’re six years old, and in fact given a death sentence by at least one doctor?

In the case of Ralph Braun, start a multi-million dollar company that provides mobility assistance for disabled people across the country.

That’s the story told in Rise Above: How One Man's Search for Mobility Helped the World Get Moving. Ralph Braun was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy while still a child, but rather than accept the doctors’ grim prognosis, he decided to not only survive but thrive. Along the way help people facing the same challenges with mobility that he faced.

Braun began by building a three-wheeled motorized scooter in his cousin’s farm workshop. The so-called Tri-Wheeler eventually grew into a company with a full line of mobility products, including wheelchair vans and wheelchair lifts, with over 200 dealerships across the country and Canada.

Jack Johnston, the company’s longtime Creative Director, says the idea for a book about Braun and his company was something that had been discussed internally for many years. “I’ve been here  20 years, and we’d kicked it around for a while,” he said.

But it wasn’t until the economic recession hit that Braun decided the time was right.

“It was all about timing,” said Johnston. “Business was down a little bit (during the recession), and that allowed us to focus on internal operations and how to maximize profits. Ralph was turning 70, and the timing was right.”

Braun contacted the Jenkins Group for advice and assistance. We provided assistance in writing, editing and design, which Johnston said was invaluable. In fact, the entire process took just under a year from start to finish (“We really pushed things,” said Johnston), enabling the company to have it for its next dealer show. Since its publication, the company has sold the book on Amazon and its own website, but Johnston says the real value of the book has been as a means of furthering the word about Braun and his company.

“We give one away with each (mobility) van we sell, and have them at trade shows,” he said. “In five years, we’ve gone through 35,000, about six or seven thousand a year.

“It was a very personal project for Ralph. It’s a great marketing tool for us. The thrust of our marketing is trying to build the company on a national level. It fits in with that.

“It is a good story. We didn’t publish it for big sales,  but it’s an outstanding marketing tool.”

Johnston even took the experience to a personal level, writing a children’s book himself, again with the assistance of the Jenkins Group.

“It just fell out of the sky. I saw a drawing my niece had done, and iI wrote the story the next day.”

The Ice Cream Hotel tells the story of a children’s resort where being a sweet, sticky mess is no problem (swimming in a hot fudge pool will do that). Johnston says he has the writing bug, but has no plans to leave his post at Braunability anytime soon.

“I have a four-year-old son and a seven-year-old daughter, and it’s for them,” he said. “I’ve certainly got other ideas, but (right now) it’s a fun hobby.”

We dedicate this post to the memory and achievements of Ralph Braun (December 18, 1940 – February 8, 2013)

February 19, 2013

Newsletters are Great, But a Book is Better

Management consultant Lisa Huetteman used to loathe writing her newsletter.

“Writing (the newsletter) was a chore,” said Huetteman from her office in Tampa.

But then she had an epiphany, or at least an idea. “I thought I can write about my company’s core values,” she says.

The result was her book, The Value of Core Values: Five Keys to Success through Values-Centered Leadership.

Not only has her self-published book sold, it has increased her visibility and gained her new clients.

“The book came out in October 2012. Within three or four weeks I got a call from the Houston Airport System,” says Huetteman.

The director of the airport system had been looking for a book on the subject and he found Huetteman’s book on Amazon. In short order, he read the preview on Amazon, ordered the book, and subsequently contacted Huetteman. Soon she had another client.

That’s a striking example of how you can use a book as a marketing tool. Huetteman was aware of the possibilities, but says that wasn’t her ultimate goal.

“I didn’t write it as a marketing tool,” says Huetteman. “But I knew it could be.”

In other words, as we’ve heard time and again, content is king. While you can – and should – use your book as a marketing tool to further your professional goals, writing a book simply on that premise is never a good idea. If you don’t offer readers benefits – if your book is little more than a commercial for you – then it will receive short shrift. Justifiably, I think.

But if you write about a subject you are knowledgeable and passionate about, it can spur further business.

Huetteman agrees, and is proof as well.

“You gain credibility if the book has it,” she says. “But the book has to have it. It has to stand alone.”

Realizing that helped her create what she believes is a much better book.

“I took out the self-promoting (material). Then the book had value. It was not a glorified (company) brochure.”

To stimulate book sales, Huetteman has gone on radio and done in-store signings. She’s also hired a professional public relations consultant.

And she continues to write, despite her previous disaffection for the activity.

“I do some writing for a quarterly magazine, and guest columns in other organizational newsletters,” she says.

Adding “author” to her resume, alongside executive coach, speaker, and management consultant, has given her additional perceived expertise. And it’s given her greater fulfillment and pride as well.

“The greatest satisfaction I get is people say, ‘I read your book. It’s so enlightening.’”

Now that Huetteman has one book under her belt, she’s got the bug. She’s already contemplating her follow-up.

“I’m kind of thinking about my second book,” she admits.

“One of my first ideas was ‘Own your own values.’ There’s a book in that in and of itself. So that’s in the back of my mind.”

February 1, 2013

So stop putting it off, and start writing.

Writing is hard. Writing is easy.

Writing is fun. Writing is drudgery.

Anyone can write. Writers are a breed apart.

And, the fun part. All the above are true, at one time or another. Yes, cognitive dissonance is our friend.

So you want to write a book, for a myriad of reasons. You have a great idea. You want to share your story. You enjoy writing to friends, on Facebook, the occasional note for your business or church or organization.

Yes, you too can write a book. But how do you actually, you know, WRITE the book?

That’s where the professionals at the Jenkins Group come in. We can help you from start (idea) to finish (publication). And everywhere in between, from the research, to the writing, editing, selecting the proper format, cover, typesetting, everything that comes with creating a book.

When it comes to writing a book, the writing itself is only one of many parts of creating the the book, though it’s the part most people think of. (It’s also the part that most people find so daunting, they never do write it.)

The writing itself can come from many sources. Perhaps you’ve been keeping a journal, or have done some writing as above for organizations to which you belong.

Or maybe you’ve been in business for a number of years and want to expound on the lessons you’ve learned.

Whatever the case, when it comes to the writing itself, I can cite many dos and don’ts. But two cardinal rules stand above all others.

First, only use your best work. If you don’t think your manuscript is up to par, potential readers certainly won’t.

Second, enjoy what you do. A reporter for the local newspaper once told me that if you don’t enjoy your story while you’re writing it, the readers won’t enjoy it either.

That’s true no matter what the story, format, genre or length is. Readers can tell when there’s passion in the work – and when there’s not.

In other words, write what you know and what you love.

But is hard, you say. That part of you that wants to write is held back by the fear of actually putting pen to paper, or in this computer age, fingers to keyboard.

That’s where we come in. We can help you with every step of the writing process, from defining your idea and your goals to editing your manuscript, from selecting an editor to working directly with a writer who will take your words, ideas and concepts and flesh them out.

The Jenkins Group works with writers, editors, designers, and other professionals across the country. We can offer you as much help – or as little – as you need to see your vision through, from coaching and encouraging to helping you select just the right people to assist you in creating the dynamic book you can use to further your business.

And make no mistake, writing – ahem, creating – a book with your name on the cover will help you become an acknowledged expert in your field.   

That’s true whether you’re writing about music, the stock market, medicine, advertising, computers, art – pretty much anything. For example, no one outside her family had ever heard about Julia Child before she wrote Mastering the Art of French Cooking. She parlayed that into another book, and another, then countless television appearances.

That morphed into parodies, such as Dan Aykroyd’s hilarious encounter with a too-sharp knife on Saturday Night Live, even a second life in a blog, book and film with Julie and Julia.

Now, is there anyone who hasn’t heard of Julia Child? Your book may not be the springboard into international acclaim like what happened with Julia Child. But it might. And until you actually write it, you’ll continue to wonder.

Contact me with your questions, concerns, and ideas. We can help you realize your dream of authoring a book.

So stop putting it off, and start writing.