Other than a hectic travel schedule and my recent philosophical ramblings—on Albert Camus, Sisyphus, Marcel Proust, and the like—a matter on my mind these past weeks has been what to do with my latest book, on storytelling and influence. As many of you know, this is not a new project, but rather something I have been working on for more than five years.
The draft of this book was ready to show to publishers more than six months ago. However, the manuscript stayed on the proverbial “back burner” for a good while, as I was extremely busy with travel and some absorbing new client work. Recently, though, I began to think that I had let this book linger in the background for too long, and I decided to begin the necessary effort to move the project forward.
My co-author Patricia Ward Biederman is well known in circles of leadership literature and publishing. She was a long-time collaborator, and sometimes co-author, of legendary leadership scholar Warren Bennis, who was an inspiration to me in my early study of leadership and human behavior.
Both Pat and I like the manuscript a great deal, and each of us has access to people in publishing. Our problem is that it has been an industry in constant flux of late, and we would like some guidance about the best ways to publish and promote such a book in today’s changed world.
From my purely personal perspective, it is important to get this book out to the world in the most effective manner possible. Among all the things I have written, this is the single work that best explains the consulting and coaching I do. In addition, and based on all the feedback I have received, I am convinced that this is something anybody and everybody can use.
As I began speaking with my contacts in the industry, several advised me to answer one central question: What is unique about this book and where is the value proposition for the reader? The points that follow are my reflection on that topic.
Our book is unique and valuable because:
—We focus on influence. Whereas most books I have read in this field present examples of top leaders for us to emulate, we hone in on how people influence others, with or without a formal position of authority.
—An emphasis on personal stories of identity, which are the key to influencing any group or organization. A number of recent books speak to the power of storytelling, or describe leaders who use stories. Our approach centers on exploring one’s past to uncover core beliefs and values, then learning to connect with others using the personal stories that reflect these beliefs and values. Leaders at any level of any organizational structure learn to use their life stories—who they are, what they stand for, why they do things the way they do, and what we can accomplish together—to inspire those around them.
—The book has universal application. It presents a methodology and a set of concepts that can be used by anyone who seeks to influence others in any context. In my coaching, I have seen these approaches work with everything from entrepreneurs, managers in large corporations, not-for-profit enterprises, church groups, sports teams, hospital administrators and employees, and public officials, among others.
—The book presents a clear roadmap. The descriptions and examples of our ideas and practices demonstrate how anyone willing to work at it can learn to use this methodology. While the book presents a wide variety of illustrations, it also follows one client as he progresses step-by-step through the entire process of the Sadowsky method. This featured client is the founder of Medicines for Humanity, a remarkable individual with whom I worked for many years, as he started and then grew that organization. His story is an outstanding illustration of how we can all master the use of personal stories of identity to move and inspire those around us.
Image: Flickr-user Sean McGrath