Things I Know About Writing A Book, Part 2


By the time my new book, Igniting the Invisible Tribe, officially releases in a few short weeks, I will have been working on it for three and a half years. I’m aware that’s not an entirely unusual timeframe in “book-writing time,” but here in “regular-people time” it feels like f-o-r-e-v-e-r.

And it has been quite an adventure.

As mentioned in Part 1, I started the book as a project for grad school. I graduated at the end of 2009, and went into 2010 looking intently for a job to pay back my enormous MBA loans. Between interviews and my first independent consulting client, I spent a lot of time getting the first major draft done. Back then the book was called The Silent Revolution, and most of it was my logical processing through the immense amount of research data I was synthesizing. (I still wonder if I should release some of that content someday; the vast majority of it never made it into the final book.) In the summer of 2010 I started my consulting practice, Strengths Doctors, with some friends from grad school and signed with a literary agent that fall. And, of course, I kept writing. The title got changed to The Mosaic Mind.

The entire year of 2011 I was signed with the aforementioned literary agent and we shopped the book to large traditional publishers. Name a big one, and we likely talked to them. This experience was a great time for learning (and it’s what I’ll talk about more in Part 3). Then, in the spring/summer of 2011 I essentially ended up rewriting the entire book. The manuscript wasn’t as focused or cohesive as I wanted it to be, and although the feedback we were getting was already good, I was becoming clearer and clearer about what I wanted it to say. The title got changed to Igniting the Invisible Tribe. 

I never meant to rewrite it all, it just kind of happened that way. If you’re curious about what’s left from the original, I think it’s only Rules #2 and #4 — about building a mosaic and the necessity of change.

At the close of 2011 I very amicably parted ways with the literary agent — large publishers wanted far too much and gave far too little — and set out on my own to find a small- to mid-size publisher. I signed a contract with a great boutique publishing company called A Silver Thread in May of 2012, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Perhaps you already know that there are a LOT of ways to get a book published these days. I suspected this when I started, but had no idea just how many paths there were. There is an incredibly broad spectrum of publishing, with completely self-published (where you do everything) on one end and a large traditional publisher on the other end. You can find companies/contractors at almost every point on this continuum, and my primary lesson here was to make sure I found the right fit for me.

I wanted to maintain the final say on all things creative (cover, title, layout, etc.) and a large publisher would never have done that. I also wanted help navigating the treacherous waters of printing — something I couldn’t have gotten if I were entirely on my own. So a middle of the road, slightly skewed towards more hands-on, was perfect for me.

LESSON #2: If you want to publish a book, don’t think there is just one or two paths to make it happen. There are many, and you can find the right partners to help you do whatever you need to release your work into the world!


P.S. Here are the other things I know about writing a book: Part 1 & Part 3.


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Dismissing Generation Y

Legacy, Life

This weekend I had the pleasure of bringing the keynote message to a student leadership retreat for a group at a private university in Denver, Colorado. This was particularly exciting for me because exactly ten years ago, I was them — I was a student leader watching from the crowd.

I have to confess; I love the university environment. I aways have. I love the energy, the passion, and the optimism. I love the world-changing ethos. I love the youth and the naïveté. This weekend reminded me of all that.

It also reminded me how completely brilliant Generation Y can be.

These students were amazing and remarkable people. They sincerely cared about their leadership roles and thought deeply about the world. They brought insightful questions and an enormous amount of focused attention.

I know there’s a lot of negative impressions of Gen Y out there. Primarily I know this because people complain to me about them. I understand that they are a bit different in the way they see the world (people say: “annoyingly technology-obsessed”). I also understand that they are looking for more mentoring and development at work (people say: “needy and entitled”).

But, if I wasn’t convinced before, this weekend proved to me that these dismissive and disparaging blanket assumptions need to stop.

If you think “all Gen Y’ers” are like the bad rumors you’ve heard, I’m here to tell you that those rumors are grossly misguided. I was honored to meet these exceptional “kids,” and you’d be lucky to have them join your organization.


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Things I Know About Writing A Book, Part 1


With my book releasing (very) soon, I thought I’d share with you some thoughts and reflections about the book writing and releasing process.

My  new book, Igniting the Invisible Tribe: Designing An Organization That Doesn’t Suck, (go here to sign up for a release notification) initially grew out of a project I did for grad school back in the early parts of 2009.

In my cohort, we didn’t have to do a “thesis” but we did have to do a “project.” Most of my classmates created some kind of organizationally driven program, but I was in the process of leaving a nonprofit and joining a consulting practice, so it seemed to make more sense to focus on something a bit more concrete than the shifting sands of my job.

I originally started my research by delving into the impact of multiple generations in the workplace and the troublesome effect this seemed to be having on teamwork, collaboration, communication, etc.

I quickly discovered, however, that whatever “the problem” with work was, it was much bigger than a generational one.

SO… my book did its first “pivot” and the scope of my research exploded with the reach of a nuclear bomb.

If generations weren’t the problem, what was?

I dug in, and held on for dear life.

My book would go on to do several more of these “rotations” throughout the last three and a half years as I continually narrowed down the “big point” of what I was trying to say.

LESSON #1: Your book will likely change (dramatically) in scope, purpose, and target audience — potentially multiple times — through the process of writing. This is normal. Go with it. And keep writing.


P.S. Here are the other things I know about writing a book: Part 2 & Part 3.


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