Wednesday, September 28, 2011

On the radio

That went really, really well. I enjoyed the hell out of it and it was a fun, upbeat, high-energy, informative hour of radio. Seriously.

It helped that I knew the host. She covered the statehouse as a print reporter back when I was press secretary for the AG. Glad we kept in touch.

What also helped is that they had the brilliant idea of using clips from TV and the movies. In fact, they had the idea yesterday afternoon, and I spent an hour or so tracking down youtube clips from Star Trek and Mad Men and the Fugitive and other places.

I'd love to be able to use those in my own presentations, but that wouldn't fall under fair use, unfortunately. They're the media and I'm a guy selling a book (and ultimately selling speeches and workshops). So I've got to be a little more imaginative about how I bring these scenes to life, like with role-playing and such.

Anyway, it's great to be done. I was on a super-high for hours afterwards. It was like a performance -- if I read my own book it was a performance. And though I prepared really hard, gathering all my info and materials at my fingertips and even compiling two pages of soundbites, I found I only needed it once, to look up a quote I used in the book. I'm amazed at how much of the material I've managed to internalize and am able to call up in my mental rolodex -- anecdotes, lessons, tips. It's all up here *points to head*.

And it's great to have the record of it, which I hope to use to lure other radio stations and even TV to bring me on their programs.

Ahhhh ... good to have a good day.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Calmer

I should just hire a professional to do the slides, but instead I spent, I don't know, 10 hours playing around with different themes and graphics and customizing them and such. Probably a bad investment of my time.

A good investment of my time is prepping to be a guest on a radio show tomorrow. Which should be interesting, since it's something I've never done. But I googled some tips, got some others from friends, and have printed out and organized virtually everything worthwhile that I've said about the book in the past couple of months.

If I had any energy left, I'd index it all by subject or organize it into a database or something.

Also, too, this would be a good time to have not let go of my landline, since I'll be calling in.

Anyway, remember: speak in soundbites, repeat the key points, stand up while talking (for energy) and, most of all, BE ENTERTAINING.

Tomorrow, All Sides with Ann Fisher, Columbus Public Radio, 10-11 am Central Time. You can tune in online.

Monday, September 26, 2011

You're a presentation tool!


So much to do. Following up on hundreds of loose ends while writing two different presentations, learning Apple's Keynote program, and trying to do a little DIY design work with elements of the book (above). It may be time to call in a professional.

Meanwhile, I realize I completely forgot to shower today.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Patience

Opportunities are now kind of pouring down like a waterfall. In the past week, here's what's happened:
  • My article in PR Daily, 6 Lame Excuses for Not Communicating, has been shared on social media almost 250 times and has been viewed more than 12,000 times. (Only a thousand of those hits probably came from me.)
  • Somebody at a communications firm in Poland wants to translate the article and run it on their website.
  • I've booked my first two speaking gigs. The first with the aforementioned acting group and the second is a webinar for my college's alumni association, which includes many tens of thousands of people.
  • My publisher got an inquiry from a speakers bureau in DC that may be interested in taking me on. They seem to have a large number of very famous people on their roster. We will see about that.
Someone I talked to about speaking a couple of years ago said, "You make your own luck." It's true. All of this came as a result of a lot of hard work and persistence. Two months of harassing that editor. I submitted my application for the alumni program a couple of months ago and had given up on hearing back from them. Turns out I'll be the guinea pig inaugural presenter.

And, of course, a book that was 16 months in the making (which is not long at all, actually).

It's amazing that just a few weeks ago I was somewhat despairing over my fate when results weren't coming as quickly as I would have liked. It truly is about putting your head down and taking care of all the little things, one-by-one, that will get you to your goal. Just keep doing them, keep trying everything.

And it never stops. I had a great meeting yesterday with someone who really loves the book. He's given me almost two-dozen leads to follow up on. And I've got pitches out for other speeches, other articles, other opportunities.

It's a lot like auditioning. You can't sit around worrying about booking a job, you just have to go to lots of auditions, forget about them instantly, then move on to the next one. Eventually, something will net out from your efforts.

Monday, September 19, 2011

My next book

Several actor friends have suggested I write another book that's sort of the opposite of the existing one: helping actors apply lessons from business to further their careers: how to market and package themselves and manage the business side of things, etc.

Hell, it could even have the same name -- Act Like You Mean Business.

Of course, the big problem with that book is that it would be charity, basically. A small audience of people who are mostly broke all the time.

It's also not necessarily a book that I'm particularly inspired to write, and that's the bigger problem. (I could do a little self-published e-book if I wanted.)

But an interesting thing has happened. I've been asked by the leaders of this actors' group I belong to to deliver a presentation at the next meeting. Which is great, because it will be good practice, if nothing else.

And as I scope out the content, as I try to find lessons from the book that actors can use, I'm discovering that there's a lot of material there. I don't have to really reinvent the wheel -- just reshape it or something. Wherever the logical extension of that metaphor would take you. Buy a new wheel? Rent one? Inflate it?

This all makes me realize that the book I've got is a lot broader than I thought. There are lessons for everybody here -- not just business professionals or even business people or even people who happen to work in an office. Anybody. And everybody.

How do you present yourself at networking events and cocktail parties? How do you prepare for a job interview? How do you have a difficult conversation? Or constructively confront someone you're having a problem with?

So my next book just may be this book.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Author

So this is what's it like, I guess. Being an author.

For the record, I was NOT on the Today show this morning, so don't bother checking the Tivo. But look for it in the New York Times' Sunday Book Review. Not.

Anyway, it was a relief to finally just get the official announcement done and out of the way yesterday. I got many nice responses to the emails and posts and updates and things. People sharing the info with their friends, posting on their walls and some even buying the thing. Multiple copies, even.

Hell a couple of friends' friends -- people I don't know -- bought it. Go figure.

It was a lot of work. The publisher is doing plenty of stuff, of course, but I felt I needed to at least get my own circles in order. And I'm not sure I could have done any more, with hundreds of individual appeals over the past few months leading up to yesterday's big group announcements. Even those were segmented into four groups with targeted messages.

The point is, I don't think I left anything on the field, as it were, and by mid-afternoon I was pretty wiped out.

At the end of the day I actually got my first invite to speak. It's a free thing, but it's a start.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

On Sale NOW!


Sixteen months and two weeks after I first put fingers to keyboard, Act Like You Mean Business is now on sale. Find out why one reviewer called it "required reading for every Fortune 500 CEO."

Neither a dense textbook nor a sappy self-help tome, Act Like You Mean Business offers hundreds of practical insights and tips, all presented in a way that is fun, entertaining, and highly readable. In a nutshell, I set out to write the kind of business book that I would want to read.

So if you're like me (and God help you if you are), you will enjoy this book and even learn some important things about business writing and communication.
You can order it from Amazon or direct from the publisher, which is actually the better way to go, at least from my standpoint. (Cut out the middleman, pass the savings on to me, and all that.)

To ease the pain of having to do more than one click, we're offering a $5 discount through September. Just enter the code "alymb" when ordering from Brigantine.

Still not convinced? See what others have to say. Read a sample chapter. Watch some videos. Check out the blog.

Run, do not walk, to your nearest computer or mobile device!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Payoff

I worked for two months to get one of my articles placed in this influential industry publication. And now it's happened. Check out 6 Lame Excuses for Not Communicating.

I feel pretty good about it -- about the article itself and just the sense of accomplishment after banging my head against this thing for so long.

That's five articles now published in various trade and industry media in the last six weeks:
I guess it's true what they say about persistence paying off ...

Sunday, September 11, 2011

10 years ago today

It was a weekday morning like any other, so it started in the usual way. I got up a little before 7, padded out to the front door to get the paper and to the fridge to get a diet coke, and went back to bed to read and wake up with GMA on in the background.

At some point they broke into the (tape delayed for the Midwest) broadcast with a live bulletin that a small plane had hit the world trade center. I watched the footage for a bit then played media critic, grousing about the hype they were already giving to what appeared to be an accident involving a small private plane.

Then the second plane hit on live TV. I didn't see it, but one of the newscasters did and called for a replay and there it was. I think I lay there for 10 minutes, the newspaper still hanging in one hand, watching in disbelief.

Then I got up, went to the living room and watched hours and hours of coverage like the rest of the world. It didn't even occur to me for an hour or two to check in with loved ones in New York. One of the most disturbing moments of the day was getting an automated phone message saying that the lines were down due to a tornado -- that's right, a tornado -- in the area.

I had been happily working on my own for two years and this was the first time I felt any downside to it. I thought it would be helpful to go through this experience with co-workers. I suddenly felt very isolated.

On the other hand, I discovered the virtual community that was the Internet. And since phones and offices were in chaos, my conversations with people online constituted most of my interaction. I learned from others, engaged in useless speculation, was comforted, and also did considerable spleen venting, expressing some things I regret. Vengeance and retribution and all that.

One thing I'm grateful for is that I've really let go of the anger. Now I mostly have sadness, both for the event itself and for all the horrible, useless things our nation did in response. George Will uncharacteristically summed it up well today:
"Of all the sadness surrounding this anniversary, the most aching is the palpable and futile hope that commemoration can somehow help heal self-inflicted wounds."
I hate that my feelings about 9/11 have to be so complicated now. I long for simple, unalloyed sadness.

Sometime late in the afternoon on that Tuesday, I had had enough. It felt like I had spent a week in front of the television. I turned it off and went down to the lake and was surprised to see so many other people there doing the same thing. Some seemed engaged in normal, everyday conversations, even smiling and laughing together.

It was a surreal moment, but an early signal already that things would, indeed, get back to normal. Probably faster than we'd imagine.

I am hoping that tomorrow marks the beginning of a new and better decade, filled with hope and prosperity. I thought the '70s were an awful time. How little did I know.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Epic production


Thursday and Friday were 10-hour days shooting a couple of commercial spots for a brokerage company.

I couldn't believe the scale of the thing. Based on the storyboards, I assumed they would shoot us on green screen and overlay us on footage of a trading floor. But no. They actually created their own trading floor, with dozens of video screens and FIFTY extras swirling about. Between extras, principals and crew, there were easily more than 100 people at work on the set.

I can't wait to see how it turned out. It should be pretty cool. They shot us alone on the floor, then separately shot the background players rushing around, then did a third shot with all of us together. It was an intricately choreographed ballet, with the camera synchronized to zoom out at the exact same angle each time.

Coming to TV screen near you this fall ...


Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Voila!


The book is here! Got a box full of them this afternoon, and I am ... happy, of course. Satisfied, really. Not over the moon and cartwheeling or anything.

I guess I should be, but it's been "done" in my mind for quite a while now.
There have been so many milestones along the way. First draft, second draft, etc. Draft to publisher. Final draft. Proofing, design, etc.

And I've been so wrapped up for so long in all the next steps -- all the stuff that has got to happen to help sell this thing -- articles published, reviews written, speeches booked, etc. So I feel like this is less a culmination than a beginning.

But this has been a really good day for two other reasons. First, for a few weeks now I've been contributing articles to Business Insider, and it's been going well enough. But one of the things that you want is for your article to be "promoted." That means it earns a semi-permanent position on the home page, instead of sliding down and off as other articles come up. It also means they tweet it to their tens of thousands of followers.

My first two did not get promoted. So I worked hard on the best one yet and I just got word that it made the cut! And they paired it with a hilarious picture of a starlet waving from a convertible.


You can check it out here. It's basically a summary of the book's most important lessons in 800 words.

Plus, I used these BI articles as leverage with a trade publication I've been pitching mercilessly for a couple of months now and today they bit. So it looks like another good article will be running there in a few days.

So yeah, getting the hard copies of the book is great. But these are the things -- just two of hundreds of little things -- that must be done to get the word out, build momentum and credibility and, maybe, lead to actual sales.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Booked

Ha! I got the job. After all that. In cases like this, it's good to be wrong!

Then, in a classic balancing of the universe, five minutes later I got doored on my bike. Luckily I wasn't hurt. I was knocked off the pedals, but didn't fall or anything, and no soft body parts made contact with the car door.

It was bit of a shock, and I let out a brief yell/groan. I would have been really pissed off but a) it was partly my fault -- I came whipping around a corner so I think even if he had looked before opening the door he might not have seen me; b) I was in a good mood; c) I wasn't hurt and my bike seems undamaged; and d) he was very apologetic and concerned.

Hell, he had me feeling bad for him and his door, but apparently there was no significant damage on his end.

I wonder what story he's telling right now.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

I've Got Personality-Minus!

It wasn't until several hours afterwards that I realized exactly how I blew that callback this morning.

In the initial audition, I did a good job. Obviously -- I got called back.

But today I was hung up on the direction I got then. The director told me to keep the performance small. Minimal gesture and expression. Simple, easygoing, calm.

Today the client was there and they very clearly asked to see our personalities. I heard them, but I didn't listen. Or I listened, but didn't hear. Either way, I was too stuck in what I was doing the other day to give them what they wanted.

It's a bummer, too. That would have been a nice gig. And now would be a good time for a nice gig.

UPDATE: I swear, not 5 minutes after I posted this I got a call from my agent. They put me on first refusal. It could still fall through, of course, and if I don't get it, it's quite possible that a better performance would have clinched it for sure, but I'm not unhappy with this result.