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.

November 3, 2016

"Touch versus Tech' - a Cardinal Threat to Business Success and a Flawed Customer Experience

Before he wrote The Empathic Enterprise: Winning by Staying Human in a Digital Age, global business performance consultant Mark Brown was one of many independent advisers helping firms and individuals improve their business performance via leadership development and executive training.

Mark wasn’t always as fully intellectually engaged as he wanted to be, but he liked his work. To expand his advisory/consulting business, he toyed with the idea of writing a book, but he wasn’t entirely sure what his core message would be.

He began working with a strategic content advisor/marketing expert, who
looked over his original idea and concluded, “You can do better.”

Mark recalls, “After we looked at the competition, I realized there were thousands of books out there on the very general topic of how to improve business performance. I wanted to create my own original material, and with my consultant’s help, I realized I had the knowledge to write about strategy. This was very enlightening, and it set me on a different path.”

This new path highlighted Mark’s realization, garnered through his consulting work, that the casualty in an era of increasing reliance on technology was the human touch. After careful analysis, Mark concluded that in several industries, people wanted more human touch, while in other industries, they wanted less.

This was a turning point for Mark. He decided to write about the increasing over-reliance by companies on technology, how the customer experience was suffering as a result, and the need for balance between “touch and tech.” In addition to framing a problem many were aware of but no one had defined, he offered a roadmap for fixing the imbalance. 

To further enhance his book’s marketability, Mark took the advice of his marketing coach and created an ancillary tool around his book that would get his foot in the door of prospects, an assessment grid that measured how empathic an enterprise was in meeting the “tech versus touch” needs of its customers.

As Mark had hoped, The Empathic Enterprise was the catalyst for clients to both engage and re-engage his consultancy. His book immediately garnered rave reviews from existing clients as well as prospects who approached him for help assessing and balancing their “touch versus tech” scales internally and externally.

Mark comments, “Almost immediately, the book gave me a right to sit at the table, a right to play, if you will. It moved me into a brand new space, the empathy and technology conundrum. People wanted to talk to me about this idea; they wanted me to be a thought partner with them. Basically, the book expanded my portfolio and gave me more areas where I can serve clients and make money while being fully intellectually engaged.”

Today, in the leadership programs he facilitates, Mark gives away two copies of the book “raffle style” at the end of each program. He already incorporates content from the book into these courses, and participants are always pleased to receive a signed copy. He also gives copies to potential clients and refers editors to the book as well as to his online writing when pursuing opportunities for freelance articles.

Regarding book sales, he notes that word of mouth, his personal networks, and incorporating book content into his client work in leadership and strategy have been the most effective techniques, while online marketing has been less important.

Looking ahead, Mark is in the process of developing a new expertise – coaching for innovation – and is finding interesting synergies between innovation best practices and some of the key concepts in The Empathic Enterprise. He comments, “I expect to meld those fields and resources going forward and to leverage this in my work with clients as well as in additional book sales.”

May 3, 2016

Working, Speaking, and Making Your Mark

For his 1974 book, Working, renowned oral historian and radio broadcaster Studs Terkel spoke with dozens of working-class people across the United States about what they did for a living and how they felt about their work. The first interview of the nearly 800-page compilation takes place between Terkel and a disenfranchised Pennsylvania steelworker by the name of Mike LeFevre. More a candid conversation than a formal inquiry, the interview covers the gamut of experience, including workplace politics, misplaced aggression, and the division of labor, though perhaps the most poignant part of the conversation concerns LeFevre’s thoughts on recognition for his efforts.

LeFevre says that, as a laborer, he’s a member of a “dying breed.” The work is often thankless, but it pays his bills. And, more importantly, it helps him to provide for his family. He says that, since he never had the chance to go to college, he intends to make sure that his son finds his way into the upper class by giving him a proper education, and so he pulls steel, day in, and day out. And though each day for LeFevre tends to blend with the others in his memory, he finds a way to make his mark on his work, as it were, by dinging up the beams that come across his line with a hammer just to distinguish them from all of the others. He says he’d like to see a foot-wide strip on every building listing the names of those that helped to construct but, as it stands, his method of anonymously signing his beams with the head of a hammer had to suffice for him. “Picasso can point to a painting,” LeFevre says, “…a writer can point to a book.” But, he says, for the general laborer there is no identifier; no pride to be had in the finished product. But human beings need that something tangible, he says: something to prove that they’re impact on the world was real; that they were, in fact, there, and that what they did counted for something. “Everybody should have something to point to,” he says.

And so it goes on the professional speaking circuit, as well.

Writing a book—be it self-published or distributed by a major industry player—is generally regarded as one of the best ways to position yourself as a leader in any field. And with respect to public speaking, having that “something to point to” is a great way to prove to potential clients that you’ve got the know-how to entertain, educate, and influence the audience that they’re hoping will (or, in the case of some business conferences, obligating to) attend. Lisa Tener, winner of a Silver Stevie Award as 2014’s Coach/Mentor of the Year, was once quoted in the Women’s Advantage Calendar as saying, “To be seen as an expert, write a book. To write a book, become an expert.” Thus, the question begs to be asked— where do you start?

The bottom line is this: you are already an expert at something, even if that something is based on the lessons you’ve learned by living your own life. You’ve already failed in some unique way, learned something in that failing that only you can translate to the greater public from your perspective and, finally, you succeeded, if not by becoming a multi-millionaire (yet), then by finding a way to continue surviving. And if that alone is not enough to motivate you to share your expertise with the world, then consider the fact that book signings after speaking engagements are a great way to tack-on a few hundred dollars at each stop while working on the road. And those books you sell will continue to work for you, as well, sending your personal message out into every community you visit long after you take your leave to speak in the next town.

Last year, the National Speaker Association inducted five professional motivators into an elite club called the Council of Peers Award of Excellence (CPAE) Speaker Hall of Fame. Beyond their ability to motivate a crowd and make a living off of it, Simon T. Bailey, Walter Bond, Jeffrey Hayzlett, Stephen Shapiro, and Laura Stack all have something else in common, and it has nothing to do with advanced degrees, a history in politics, or a bunch of letters stuck onto the ends of their names. Rather, in addition to being great public speakers, these people are also all dedicated writers, each with multiple titles to offer under their belts.

Keynote speaker, best-selling author, and contributor to both and (often on the subject of public speaking, itself), Micah Solomon is well aware of the connection between authorship and speaker credibility. “While professional speaking is a skill of its own,” Solomon says, “nobody wants a speaker who doesn’t have something to say.” And, says Solomon, “one way to prove to yourself and to potential audiences that you have something to say is to put it in writing.” Naturally, though he’s been published across multiple formats several hundred times, Solomon says he has “no plan of reducing (his) written output.”

After all, talking in front of a crowd is one thing, and professional speaking can certainly be a great source of income for in-demand rhetoricians. Regardless, if those speakers intend to stay in-demand and thus continue to command between $2000 and $50,000 for every 45-to-90-minute speech they are called to deliver, even the best speakers on the planet are going to need something to point to.

March 3, 2016

What Rhymes With Orange? Money, Honey

Hitting it big in the fitness industry takes chutzpah and persistence, but the only things guaranteed to keep you on top are results and happy clients.

Orangetheory® Fitness (OTF) has all four in spades. Founder Ellen Latham’s signature workout sparked the business in 2010, which has exploded into hundreds of studios worldwide.

But her journey wasn’t all wine and roses. Latham’s jagged path demanded her to push through adversity, the dominant creed in each OTF workout.

Demand for her story sparked Push: A Guide to Living an All Out Life: The Story of Orangetheory® Fitness. Latham’s book is not only a marketing tool but a guidebook for pushing past fear in and out of the studio.

Was your book written with the intention of becoming a marketing tool for OTF? If not, why did you write it?
When you find something that works, you want to share it! That was the premise behind PUSH and writing the book. The OTF workout is not only effective; it is unique and versatile.

The basic foundations of the workout are applicable to every aspect of life. We have found that the same thought process pushing you through a challenging workout is also how you work through difficult life situations.

The ability to focus your energy and PUSH through life’s adversities is one of the indispensable values that this workout embodies. Our fans, members, and even staff have found success transitioning OTF principles off the treadmill into everyday life.

This powerful holistic approach keeps us focused on overall client wellbeing. Through the book, we wanted to communicate the history of the workout, how OTF came to be, and the fundamental pillars of our dynamic studio.

How are you using the book to promote OTF? What has been the reaction so far?
So far, we have received great reaction from our clients and community. I think this book gives the reader an intimate and transparent view of the company in general.

This is not a glamourous success story; I experienced hardship and defeat in the process of constructing one of the most exciting fitness brands in the world. That passion is evident in the workout and the support clients receive in and out of the studio.

Our goal is to use the book to supplement our client’s connections with their OTF studio and to engage more people in a workout we know works.

Discuss the sales of the book so far. What has worked; what hasn't worked?
Overall, the book world is new territory for us! It has been an educational and exciting ride. The book has been well received both in and out of the fitness industry. We think it demonstrates a very unique ‘insider’ perspective of the studio, the team that established it, and the passion that went into developing the workout.

In terms of reflecting on what has, and in some cases hasn’t, worked, I think overall the team would agree it has been a very positive experience. Public speaking energizes me, so harnessing my industry connections created a lot of buzz for that venture.

When I speak, I go deeper into detail so audiences feel they are getting a special scoop on the brand and the OTF story. The book helps cement the relationship, becoming a go-to guide for fitness and life.

Do you have other book projects in mind? What are they and how do you anticipate marketing them?
We are always looking for ways to strengthen the brand and engage our clients. Since the principles of OTF apply to so many aspects of life, it’s exciting to plug into that potential.

Any other thoughts on how you use your book as a marketing tool?
Using the book purely as a marketing tool was never our intention. The brand, the principles behind it, and client results stand alone as a story. My entrepreneurial journey and how I share it gives audiences a truly transparent view of the company. The book just ties it all together so people can learn how to get comfortable being uncomfortable. It’s the only way to move powerfully through life – on or off the treadmill.

Orangetheory Fitness is the energizing group personal training, interval  fitness concept that is sweeping the nation.  Backed by the science of  excess post-­exercise oxygen consumption  (EPOC),  Orangetheory Fitness is a 60-minute workout broken into intervals of cardiovascular and strength training. Participants burn from 500 to 1000 calories per 60-minute training session (individual results vary), using a variety of equipment including treadmills, rowing machines, TRX suspension training™ and free weights.  Learn more at

February 1, 2016

A 50,000 Print Run? It’s the Age of Jim Blasingame

Independent publishers are by nature outliers, but one in particular stands out: Jim Blasingame.
The self-made, multi-media personality has a lot to say about the publishing industry, the crux of which is this: Write books. Publish them yourself. Keep the money.

But for Blasingame, there’s a twist. He writes, he publishes, but he also entices corporations to use his books.

Tens of thousands of them.

In a multi-pronged approach, Blasingame folds his books into other services he offers, such as speaking engagements or consulting contracts with companies.

“I don’t think it’s a big deal to sell 2,000 books,” said Blasingame, whose latest, The Age of the Customer, is a multiple award-winning book with more than 60,000 copies sold. “Most people want to sell the books, but I show companies how to use my books. There’s a difference.”
Although he won’t reveal who his customers are, the industries he sells to run the gamut from insurance, to technology, to online sellers.

For Blasingame, it’s not about dropping a pallet of books off at the dock. He’s all about adding value.
“I say to them, how many customers you got? Prospects? Salespeople? I will show them how to use the book to reach those customers,” said the syndicated radio host, whose three books have sold more than 150,000 copies to date.

Beyond the corporate sales, Blasingame has also used his books as a value-add tool for his speaking engagements.

“To speak and then be in the back, selling books? That’s not who I am,” he said. “Instead, I’ll include the book’s price in my fee and give everyone in the audience a free copy. Then I’ll stay and autograph them. I’ve sold a lot of books that way.”

While he’s not afraid of Amazon and sells a lot of books “onesie, twosie,” Blasingame says one of the biggest mistakes authors make is equating success with being published by a major house.
“There are people who are publishing house snobs who don’t think they are successful unless their book is chosen by a publisher,” he said. “A sale is a sale. That’s what I tell people.”

Jim Blasingame is one of the world’s leading experts on small business and entrepreneurship. He is the creator and award-wining host of the syndicated radio program, The Small Business Advocate Show, now in its 19th year; syndicated columnist; and award-winning author of The Age of the Customer: Prepare for the Moment of Relevance (SBN Books). For more, visit and