In the online world, the echo chamber is getting bigger by the day. If you're struggling with how to harness your authentic voice and get your ideas heard, then this article and book are for you.
For My Book Club this month I read Louder Than Words: Harness the Power of Your Authentic Voice by Todd Henry which talks about how to find your true, authentic voice and do more than check off lists and complete projects. On your path to finding your true voice, you need to define what you stand for, develop a clear visions, and learn to express yourself effectively.
If you follow this blog regularly (and please do subscribe for updates while you're here!) or follow me on social media, you know that I love to encourage everyone to be their best self and not a copy of someone else. It's harder and takes more work but this is the way that you'll find your own voice, grab and grow your own big idea, and create the work that you can truly call your own. And be proud of!
From Penguin, “There has never been a better time to build an audience for your idea or product. But with so many people clamoring for attention online and offline, it's also more challenging than ever to do work that deeply resonates and creates true and lasting effect.
How do you set yourself apart in such a noisy, crowded world? How do you do work that is truly remarkable?
The key is to develop your authentic voice. Whether you're an entrepreneur, a writer, a designer, or a manager building a brand, the more clear and compelling your voice, the more your message will connect with your audience. The result will be more impact, and greater personal satisfaction with your work.”
Louder Than Words offers a strategy for uncovering, developing, and bravely using your authentic voice to create a body of work you are proud of, that resonates deeply with others, and that ultimately impacts the world.
Here are ten ideas from my interview with Todd and his insightful book, Louder Than Words, to help you on your path to finding your authentic voice so that you can spread your ideas with the world.
“While your work speaks about you, does it really speak for you? Does it represent you well? The key to making your work resonate is to uncover, develop, and then bravely use your authentic voice.”
[clickToTweet tweet=”It’s not just what you know that matters, it’s what you do about it that matters.” quote=”It’s not just what you know that matters, it’s what you do about it that matters.”]
“When you are pouring yourself into your work and bringing your unique perspective and skills to the table, then you are adding value that only you are capable of contributing.”
“A strong, authentic, compelling voice is the expression of identity, guided by vision, and achieved through mastery.”
[clickToTweet tweet=”You will see true growth only when you take action. via @ToddHenry, Louder Than Words” quote=”You will see true growth only when you take action.”]
“People are in such a hurry to get short-term attention, right, to build a platform to get all of these eyeballs on what they’re doing. They haven’t taken the time to think about what are the implications of the work I’m doing. Am I really about impact or am I just about serving myself?”
[clickToTweet tweet=”Your work tells tales. via @ToddHenry” quote=”Your work tells tales.”]
“People are in such a hurry to get short-term attention, right, to build a platform to get all of these eyeballs on what they’re doing. They haven’t taken the time to think about what are the implications of the work I’m doing. Am I really about impact or am I just about serving myself?”
“If we want to ultimately create long-term value, if you want to succeed in the bigger scheme of things, we can’t be chasing vapor, we can’t be chasing a temporary acclaim. We have to be committed to long-term value even if that means we compromise short-term attention in the process which is a difficult tradeoff to make, but it’s one that we have to be committed to if we want to ultimately succeed in the biggest way we can define that word.”
[clickToTweet tweet=”We need to overcome this fear of insignificance and replace it with a mind-set of contribution.” quote=”We need to overcome this fear of insignificance and replace it with a mind-set of contribution.”]
“What fuels your best work is an understanding of who you are, what you care about, the battle lines you’ve drawn, the things you’re going to go to the matt for every single time because you care about them so much.”
I hope these quotes get your ideas started and inspire you towards a path of searching for your truest voice. I encourage you to pick up a copy of Louder Than Words and spend some time delving into your own authentic voice. As Todd recommends in the interview, spend as much time thinking about a book that you read after you finish reading it to really let it take hold and plant some new seeds in your thought process.
Please enjoy my interview on My Book Club with Todd Henry and the full transcript below.
Peg: Hi, this is Peg Fitzpatrick and I am here with my book club and my friend, Todd Henry, to talk about his book, Louder Than Words: Harness the Power of Your Authentic Voice which is a very debated topic in social media. A lot of people want to learn about this, get to know what it’s about, so I am super excited to have you on your first Blab and talk about your book, so welcome, Todd.
Todd: Thank you, Peg, it’s great to be here.
Peg: Yeah, so I’m going to start in with a little reading from your book because I loved this part in the intro. While your work speaks about you does it really speak for you? That’s such a great question. Does it represent you well? The key to making your work resonate is to uncover, develop, and then bravely use your authentic voice. There’s never been a better time to build an audience. I think a lot of people see that, but they really aren’t sure how to do it. Can you share a little bit about your journey and how you got to write about this topic.
Todd: Sure, yeah, so I spend most of my time working with companies, working inside of organizations and helping them generate ideas and for several years did that. I wrote my first book, The Accidental Creative, in 2011. Then after The Accidental Creative people were saying hey, great, thanks for helping us get organized around the creative process and thanks for helping us generate ideas under pressure, but I feel we’re not really doing the best work, the work that we really should be focusing on.
That then naturally led to a second book which was about how to make sure that you’re centering your efforts around your best work. Then as often happens immediately following the release of that book I was [inaudible 00:01:34] having clients and they were saying hey, thanks for helping us center around our best work and getting [inaudible 00:01:39] stuck, but the problem now is it seems like the work that we’re doing isn’t resonating with people.
Todd: Among the people whose work was resonating I discovered they had almost like this secret little aptitude that other people didn’t have which is they had really planted … grilled down and planted their work, founded it upon something of substance, something they really cared about, something that was rooted in genuineness and authenticity and founded upon who they really were. They weren’t fabricating an external shell of who they wanted to present themselves as. They were actually creating work that was rooted in something genuine and authentic.
I wanted to dive into that, explore that, and that’s really where the idea for Louder Than Words was born which was really about how do people develop a voice. Then present work that is routed in what they care about, who they are, founded upon that, but also serving their intended audience simultaneously because we have to keep both of those things in mind if we want our work to resonate. That was the genesis of the idea. I was a little surprised at some of what I found as I dove into the research for the book, but that’s where it came from.
Peg: The main thing I heard was it’s best to buy all three of your books, so buy all three of Todd’s books.
Todd: I think they’re a trilogy, right. Listen, I didn’t mean for that to sound like a book plug, but really …
Peg: [Inaudible 00:03:00] are you kidding.
Todd: It’s funny because really as often happens when you do work one thing leads to another leads to another and as you solve one problem another problem emerges. You realize oh, there’s a whole conversation to have about this thing and that’s how the three books were sequenced.
Peg: I was just teasing you. I do the same thing. I come up with a lot of my best ideas from the people that follow me and read what I write, too. They say that’s really great that you taught us ‘x,’ but can you help us with ‘y’ because a lot of people really don’t get the … They either don’t know how or don’t have the time to figure out all the steps, so they really do need … I don’t know how people are ever going to get by without books. I just love books so much. I’ve learned so much of what I do from books in my whole life. Are you the same way?
Todd: Agreed, yeah. I think there’s something that happens when you’re reading a book that doesn’t happen when you’re reading a blog post or even listening to a podcast. I think that when your attention is captured for a long period of time and you have to pay attention to an argument made over many, many pages, right, thousands of words, it forces you not only to interact with the idea about the concept, but it forces you to consider what does this mean for me which I think is the more important part of reading any book.
It’s not so much are you accumulating knowledge, but it’s are you considering how these ideas should shape your life moving forward because it’s not what we know, it’s what we do that matters. That’s really what moves the needle. I love books, I’m with you. I think books are critical. Obviously, I write them, right, but I think books are critically important for our ability to not only accumulate information, but to then consider how does that information transform the way that I engage my life.
I always recommend to people and this is something that’s come up in my previous books, right, and even in this one, in Louder Than Words. For every period of time you dedicate to reading something dedicate a period of time for processing that and absorbing it and thinking about it and considering how it applies to your life because again it’s not just what you know that matters, it’s what you do about it that matters.
Peg: Exactly, that’s awesome, super smart. Hey, how come we’ve never talked before, Todd? It’s pathetic.
Todd: You’ve never invited me, c’mon.
Peg: I know, I know. Yeah, I don’t even know how we’ve never connected in conferences or anywhere, but anyway, we are now, so let’s keep going. Let’s see, we did a little bit about your journey. I love your thoughts on books versus blog posts because it’s the three or four-minute read versus really delving into something. It’s hours to read a book. I’m a pretty fast reader, but still, it still takes hours which is great and then to get the price of the book which I never, ever complain about books now that I’m an author. It’s like people are like books are so expensive, but you’re paying for people’s knowledge, so …
Todd: Absolutely, and I think if people understood as well … not that [inaudible 00:05:52] an author. I think if you consider that a book if you buy a hardcover is probably going to cost you at discount $15 or $16, if it gives you one idea out of the two hundred something pages, if one idea changes how you do something totally worth it, right. Would you pay $15 for a life changing insight, of course, and so that’s …
Peg: Or you can read and do this.
Todd: Or you can read and do that, right, which is what I do with my books as well. My books are marked up. Yeah, absolutely.
Peg: I hesitate because I love them so much. They always stay pristine, but then I do mark things and especially if I’m going to write about it like I am about this.
Todd: Yeah, absolutely.
Peg: It helps you dig into it more and really learn, I feel.
Todd: Absolutely, no question.
Peg: Yeah, so let’s dig into your topic of your book a little more. How do you set yourself apart in a noisy world? It is getting really, really, really crowd on the Internet, blogs are popping up. It’s like, I don’t know, a million blog posts a day or something.
Todd: No question.
Peg: An insane amount of content, so how do you stand out?
Todd: Yeah, that’s a great question and I think one of the things that we see is that as it becomes easier and easier to build a platform and to get an idea out into the world we’re also noticing little echo chambers popping up, right, and people chasing one another’s tail and trying to emulate tactics and practices that garner a little bit of short-term attention, but may not necessarily translate to long-term value. Really the whole purpose of writing Louder Than Words was to attempt to convince people that if you want to build a body of work you can be proud of, one that you can point to and say yes, that represents me, that represents who I am, represents what I care about, represents the change I want to see in the world as a result of my effort because listen, your work is too important to not care about the results, not care about the impact …
Todd: … that you’re having, right. If you want that to be the case, you want to point to a body of work with pride you have to found your work upon something substantive, something that you deeply care about, you have to invest yourself in your work, right, which means … At the end of the day which means that you have to figure out what is it I really care about and how do I build my work around that. That doesn’t mean that you should necessarily be enraptured every time you go to work or enraptured every time you engage in a project, oh, I’m just in bliss. No, work is work, it’s hard.
What fuels your best work is an understanding of who you are, what you care about, the battle lines you’ve drawn, the things you’re going to go to the matt for every single time because you care about them so much. Then turning around and investing that in your work, so people can see that you have skin in the game. The subtitle of Louder Than Words is Harness the Power of Your Authentic Voice. It’s not about just opening the kimono, it’s not just about saying hey, I’m just going to be myself and if you like me you do, if you don’t you don’t. That’s fine if that’s what you want to do, but that’s not a way to achieve impact or resonance with the people you’re trying to serve.
The way to do that is to invest yourself to the point that people see that you really have skin in the game, that you really care about what you’re doing. To put that out there and that’s really how I tried to reframe authenticity in the book. It’s about more than just transparency, it’s about investment, it’s about showing that you care about what you’re doing. As you do that you begin to separate yourself from the pack because there are a lot of people out there just … Pardon the pun, blabbing, and trying to follow everybody else’s tail, right. If you want to stand out you have to genuinely invest yourself, show that you have skin in the game and let people see what you care about.
Peg: That’s awesome, so people, your goal is not to be Gary Vaynerchuk or Guy Kawasaki, your goal is to be you. All these people that try to copy and follow so much they really aren’t hitting the mark on that and you nailed it with the … It’s not going to be your own ideas, copying someone else’s style and everything is definitely never going to get you ahead in the game, I totally agree with that.
Todd: There’s a great quote by one of my heroes. I’m going to botch this quote even though I’ve said it a million times. It’s by a guy named Thomas Merton who was a 20th century mystican monk, cloistered out of Louisville, Kentucky, but he said some of the most profound stuff about life and about … frankly about business and life in the creed [inaudible 00:10:01] world I’ve ever heard which is really funny because the guy was cloistered as a monk. He said there can be an intense egoism in following everyone else. Hurry ruins saints as well as artists. They want quick success and they’re in such a hurry to get it they cannot take time to be true to themselves.
When the madness is upon them they argue that their very haste is a species of integrity, right. They want quick success and they’re in such a hurry to get it they cannot take time to be true to themselves. I think that’s what we see a lot in the marketplace. People are in such a hurry to get short-term attention, right, to build a platform to get all of these eyeballs on what they’re doing. They haven’t taken the time to think about what are the implications of the work I’m doing? Am I really about impact or am I just about serving myself?
Peg: Then what happens next? These people think they’re on a fast track to what, fast track to being the best speaker, the best author? Every single thing you do, it’s like the next day you wake up, you rate your book and then what?
Todd: Absolutely, and I think that gets to the question of what are you chasing, right. At the end of the day what are you chasing because if you’re chasing … Believe me, I’ve met so many of these … I’ve been privileged to sit down with some of the top minds, some of the top business leaders in the U.S. and around the globe, right, and have in depth conversations with them. Most of those people have something that they’re chasing that is not what everybody else would look at, not a metric that everybody else would look at.
It’s something that fuels them, fuels their work that goes beyond this quarter’s results. It’s about something more than that. If you’re chasing that temporary acclaim, if you’re chasing recognition, if you’re chasing those things you’re going to get some of that and ultimately it’s going to feel hollow to you if it’s not rooted in something that you care about. At the end of the day you’re chasing vapor and I find a lot of people who are running away from pain points instead of running toward opportunity, right. They’re not choosing after something, they’re moving away from something painful.
If we want to ultimately create long-term value, if you want to succeed in the bigger scheme of things, we can’t be chasing vapor, we can’t be chasing a temporary acclaim. We have to be committed to long-term value even if that means we compromise short-term attention in the process which is a difficult tradeoff to make, but it’s one that we have to be committed to if we want to ultimately succeed in the biggest way we can define that word.
Peg: Seth Godin is a great example of that because he writes these little teeny blog posts. He doesn’t do any social media, so he cares if people read his content I’m sure, but he doesn’t spend any time at all on it. It’s really the writing process for him. He just writes all these little ideas and they turn into bigger books. Honestly, I don’t even know how many books he’s written now, 18 or 20.
Todd: It’s pretty close to that, yeah.
Peg: Yeah, it’s a lot of books and his writing process he does share what he writes, but he’s really coming up with his own ideas and he shares a little teeny piece of it. He’s really more invested in his own thoughts, he shares a little thing, so it’s interesting that he does the opposite of what everybody else does and yet he’s still one of the bestselling authors, most famous speakers, all of those things.
Todd: You know why and I’ll tell you why that is and I know a little bit about that. He really cares, he cares about people. There’s an urgency to what he communicates because he really cares about what he’s saying. He’s not trying to come up with the next angle, he really cares and I think that comes across. We talk about authentic voice, he’s a great example of that because he’s been hitting the same nail on the head for years and years and years and years and years, right. It’s funny, I think Chris … I was talking with Chris Brogan and he was [inaudible 00:13:40].
Peg: Let’s drop all the names, we’ll drop all the names and just [inaudible 00:13:43] everybody.
Todd: I was talking with Chris Brogan in an interview. He was interviewing me about Louder Than Words and he said that he was talking to Seth Godin, this triangular thing, right. He said to Seth hey, you’ve written the same book three times in a row and Seth said of course I have because nobody read it, right. I have to keep saying something. When you’re committed to an idea, when you’re committed to a thing that you care about then you have to be willing to do that to hit the same nail on the head, to continue to show up every day, every single day as a matter of discipline because you’re committed to a long arc of impact, not to a little bit of short-term attention.
Peg: I have to say Guy Kawasaki does the same thing. He’s been telling people to repeat their tweets since 1980 [inaudible 00:14:25] so long ago and now people are testing all of his theories and they’re like, wow, you do get more traffic. He’s like, wow, really because I said that [inaudible 00:14:35], I don’t even know what year it was, but it was so long ago. [Inaudible 00:14:39] it’s just funny. You do have a great idea and how many great ideas really are you going to have in your lifetime that are book-worthy. Hopefully, it’s more than one. Hopefully, it’s five or more. I don’t know if I’ll get to Guy’s level of 13 or Seth’s level of 20, but I better get writing, I better get off here and get writing if that’s the case.
Todd: That’s the thing, that’s the important thing, right. It’s the discipline of putting work into the world. It’s the discipline of writing. I write, I attempt and strive as part of my dailies which again I talk to you about Louder Than Words. The daily is I try to write a thousand words a day even when I’m not on deadline, even when I don’t have a book deal, right. Right now I’m in between book deals. I’ve been working on a new project, but I’m still writing every single day. Why? Because that’s a part of my craft, that’s a part of me becoming better at what I do. What are the elements of your craft that you need to practice every single day even when you’re not … Nobody’s paying you for it, nobody’s looking at it, but you need to practice it because it’s important for you in your ability to get your work out into the world.
I think that’s [inaudible 00:15:38] think about, right. We don’t consider, but it is absolutely critical. Another little secret here, I don’t like to write. I don’t enjoy writing. I’ve written three books now in five years and that’s a lot of words, but it’s not something I necessarily love to do. Once I’m in the process I enjoy the process, but sometimes the things we have to do to get the impact we want are not things we like necessarily. They’re things where we love the outcome of what we’ve done. We have to commit to doing things, sometimes walking through things we don’t like in order to get to an outcome that we love and that’s what [inaudible 00:16:14] in authenticity is all about.
Peg: Even if you love writing it’s hard.
Todd: It is, absolutely.
Peg: Writing something good is really hard. People are guessing what our next name [inaudible 00:16:25] will be, but I won’t share who.
Todd: By the way [inaudible 00:16:29] sound like a name dropping. You brought him up, I was like this is … I think it’s a great example of that, of doing the same thing, hitting the same nail in the head over and over and over because it’s what you care about and putting it out there, yeah.
Peg: Yeah, and it is important. People aren’t going to catch something when you say it
once, twice, maybe not even three times.
Todd: Right, right, absolutely.
Peg: Who are we to argue with Seth Godin. Can you talk a little bit about personal narratives and what they are and how people can work with those.
Todd: I had a great conversation with Lisa Congdon who’s a brilliant artist and she was telling me that one of her art school teachers told her that every creative project has a U shape, right. You start on one side of the U and then you [inaudible 00:17:10]. I always imagine walking down into a valley. You walk down into the valley and you get to the bottom of the U and that’s when things get really difficult.
This is, I think, a great lie that we tell ourselves as creative professionals. We tell everybody that … or starting something or writing a book, whatever. We tell people that the hard part is getting started and that’s a lie, that’s not the truth. Then we tell people the hard part is finishing and that’s a lie, too. That’s not the hard part either. The hard part is squarely in the middle of the process. It’s when you’re in the depth of the valley of the refining fires of the creative process, right, because when you get into the bottom of the valley you can no longer see your objective, it’s obscured. It’s dark, there are animals around who are ready to eat you for lunch and you start to question your path when you’re in the midst of the valley because you see that the hardest part is still ahead of you, you have to hike up the other side.
When you’re in the depth of the valley there are many different forces that can begin to derail you. One of them is personal narratives, narratives that begin to creep into your mind. These could be things people have said to you over time, these can be things that your organization has imposed upon you. I work with a lot of companies, right, big companies and there are just these fossilized assumptions they have about what is and what isn’t possible. You get in the middle of something really difficult and all of a sudden you start hearing, well, that’ll never fly here.
Peg: Right, or we’ve always done it this way, we’ve always done it …
Todd: We’ve always done it this way, exactly.
Peg: Just always do it the same way because that’s the only way we can do that.
Todd: That’s exactly right.
Peg: The first thing.
Todd: Or it could be something as simple as somebody once upon a time told you
you’re not good at this, this is not something that’s in the cards for you. We have to have people in our lives in the midst of the valley, people who will speak truth to us. By the way, speak truth to us, not just encourage us, right. Encouragement is fine, but there are people sometimes who because they won’t take their own risks will encourage you to take a risk because they want to see you jump off [inaudible 00:18:59]. Yeah, you can do that, let’s go see you do that. Those aren’t the kinds of people we need, right.
We also don’t need people who are just naysayers, people who just tell us oh, you should quit, go do something easy and comfortable. We need people who will speak unvarnished truth to us [inaudible 00:19:12]. We need to understand what we’re really striving for, the outcome that we’re trying to achieve. Not just the objective, not just the goal, not just a project, but what is the outcome that we’re committed to, what is our productive passion. That word passion comes from the word pati which means to suffer. I mentioned this before, right. That when we’re passionate about something it means that we’re willing if necessary, it doesn’t mean we’ll always have to, but we’re willing if necessary to suffer on behalf of an outcome because we care so deeply about it, so we invest ourselves in it.
When we’re in the depth of the valley we have to pay attention to those narratives that crop up, we have to have people in our lives who will speak truth to us. No, that’s not you, that’s not true, why are you believing that? That’s not really who you are. We have to be careful not to let those narratives derail us or cause us to settle into comfort, the circle of the wagons. It’s so easy, so as encouragement to people. Just know it is the pit of the valley in which the creative process is refined and purified and that is where you have to prove your medal, it’s not the beginning or the end. Getting started is the easy part and finishing it once you’re mostly up the other side of the hill is the easy part. It’s in the middle that you really have to really pay attention to those narratives, those fossilized assumptions.
Peg: Awesome, that reminds me of the theory of you are a combination of the five people that you spend the most time with. Choosing those people wisely, so you’re not getting the negative people or the people who are willing to tell you the unvarnished truth, that you can ask what do you think of this and get an honest, real answer. Those people are invaluable and the more, I don’t want to say famous, but whatever, the more … I don’t know how to even word it, but as you go on in life you reach certain levels. Those people become farther and fewer between because everybody wants to be a yes sayer and suck up and suck up people are not going to help you.
Todd: Absolutely right, and that’s one of the things … I mentioned I’ve had the chance to sit down with some really amazing people and ask them hey, what do you struggle with. One of the first things almost everybody says is nobody will speak truth to me, why don’t you tell me the truth because the people around me are trying to get something from me in some capacity, right.
Todd: That’s the [inaudible 00:21:23] people say, right. Trying to get something from me or they see that I hold the gun, right. I’m the one with the power and so they don’t want to say something that’s going to upset me because I’m the one with the power in the room. It’s important that we have people who are willing to speak truth. It’s funny because a couple of the people said there are people that I have promoted or people that I have given extra attention to or helped along simply because they spoke difficult truth to me in a moment when I needed it.
Todd: I trusted them. They had no right to do it and I didn’t give them permission to do it. They did it and as a result I trusted them even if they didn’t have the same skills. If they weren’t an all star I wanted them around me because I trusted they would tell me the truth. I think it’s really important to have those feelings.
Peg: It is, it is and it’s important to be a person that tells other people the truth because that’s part of your own authentic narrative is that you are a person who will tell people the truth and not just gloss things over.
Peg: You can be a thought leader in a lot of different ways. Let’s see, we have six minutes left. We’re not even going to get through all of our questions because [inaudible 00:22:33] so awesome. You wrote about the divergent phase in a difficult challenge, so can you talk about the divergent phase and what that means.
Todd: Yeah, so …
Peg: You guys are going to have to read the book first of all. Get all of the nuances.
Todd: As we develop, as we grow we close … Some of you may have seen this interview with Hour Glass, we talked about the gap. I don’t know if you’ve seen it, but you haven’t Google it, Google hour glass creative gap or something and it’ll come up. He talks about how the problem is that we as people who want to do things and people who are creative by nature we have taste. We have things that we look at and we admire, but the problem is our skills don’t match up to the thing that we want to be able to create. We start to get frustrated and his advice was you have to work at it, you have to create work, you have to push yourself through.
There’s more defined phases that we go through as we do that and you mentioned divergent phase, so there are four of them. The first one is discovery which is when we discover something that inspires us we want to aspire to be like that. The second phase is … Sorry, [inaudible 00:23:37] my mic here. The second phase is emulation phase, so as we begin to grow often we emulate other people in our environment who are already doing it really well. For example, if you’re in an organization maybe you have a manager and you say hey, I’ll emulate that manager because that manager is really good at what she does and so I want to emulate her and try to develop some of those skills and learn to be like her.
At some point if we want to develop our own voice and we want to have our own standing we have to go to the next phase which is divergence phase which means we begin to take little risks with our work. We begin to incorporate our own insights, our own intuitions into what we’re doing and begin to do something unique. We begin to sail perpendicular to the shoreline and so in sailing you’re parallel. That’s when a lot of people become really contributive, it’s when they begin to develop a voice that resonates deeply, that’s unique to them, they become known and that’s fantastic.
The problem is we often get stuck in emulation, right. We get stuck in a place where we’re getting enough results by emulating other people that we don’t feel the need to diverge which is a problem because we don’t develop our own voice. Then in divergence phase we often get stuck as well in what I call crisis and crisis is when we’re still getting results for our effort, we’ve diverged, we’ve created this unique thing, but it’s not satisfying anymore and we recognize we’re filling it in. Things that once scared us are now just commonplace. We feel we’re in a place that [inaudible 00:25:04].
This is also a really dangerous place because emulation’s about copying other people, but crisis phase is about copying yourself. It’s when you get to a place where you’re just emulating the things that have worked for you in the past. Even though they’re unique to you you’re just basically emulating yourself and you’re no longer growing, you’re no longer developing. The path forward from that place is to go back and discover something new and to begin to emulate and develop new skills and to begin to incorporate those into what you do and then diverge again, right, and that’s the cycle of growth.
We go through this many, many, many times, but at some point many people get stuck either in emulation phase or they get stuck in crisis because they’re emulating someone else or they’re emulating themselves. It’s easy to do that when you get to a certain point where you get comfortable and you realize I can coast out my career, I can just keep doing the same thing over and over again. It’s really easy to do that if you don’t have your eyes fixed on an outcome that you’re committed to, right. It’s really easy to get stuck in that place.
Peg: Wow, so much to think about everybody. Okay, so I’m going to ask one more question and then I will ask the question because somebody in the audience had one. Ooh, let’s see which one should I pick. I have so many questions. I’ll put them all in a blog post. I love the term book bully. Can you talk about what a book bully is. I think everybody needs this kind of bully.
Todd: It’s so funny, I just met with my friend Ben the other day. That’s where this term came from. He used to call people a music bully because they would shove music into other people’s hands and say you have to listen to this, right. This was back when he actually physically handed music to other people.
Todd: He told me, one time he said you’re a book bully is what you are. You’re always pushing books into other people’s hands. It’s true because like you mentioned if I find a book that has impacted my life I will buy 15 copies and then suddenly give them away to everybody. When I send my book to people as a thank you for their influence or whatever, for blurbing the book or whatever, for many people I included another book in there.
Todd: Not my book, but another book and I said hey, and by the way, here’s a book that really has meant a lot to me recently and I think you’re going to enjoy it, too, and so my friend Ben called me a book bully. I think we need book bullies in our life and we need to be a book bully, right. It’s how ideas spread. I think so often we have an insight and we keep it to ourselves, but those insights aren’t for us, those insights that we have are to be shared with other people. We have to commit to not just hoarding ideas, but sharing ideas because that’s really where impact happens in the world.
Peg: Yes, I agree. I’m a book bully, too, because I send books to everybody. Number one, I try to make people read at least once a month by hosting a book club and talking about it.
Todd: That’s great.
Peg: It gets people interested. My original goal for book club was to have a book and then have everybody read it and then come together and discuss it like a traditional book club, but people didn’t read the book ahead of time. I was like oh, people, so I at least encourage [inaudible 00:27:53] after I read it. Please, read a book. I think there are people and I know my friend Jody’s on here, she’s read a ton of the books that I’ve suggested, so I’m kind of like a global book
Todd: That’s awesome.
Peg: I read good books, so what can I say. Of course, Todd and I are both Penguin authors which I should mention that Penguin did sponsor our book club.
Todd: Oh, good.
Peg: There is a book club giveaway on my book club, so if you want me to book bully you you can sign up to win a copy of Todd’s book. I think it’s by 3:00 today in my Facebook page.
Todd: [Inaudible 00:28:24].
Peg: I’m going to answer one … I’ll ask one of the questions from the audience which is from D. [Kerig 00:28:31], I don’t know what their first name is. Todd, for those of us beginning in our journeys what advice do you give to us struggling to give the attention to the right thing with respect to writing? How do you know when you’re struggling if you’re on the right path?
Todd: As a writer because [inaudible 00:28:48] a writer.
Peg: Yeah, yeah.
Todd: I heard that Dan Pink who is a business book author, one time he was giving a graduation speech and he said that one of his professors in school said that you write to discover what you have to say. My best advice for any writer and by the way all of my books have started this way, number one. You have to write to discover what you have to say. You may think you know what you want to say or you may think you know what you’re trying to do, but sometimes you have to write to figure that out. Write as much as humanly possible and you’re going to write a lot of terrible stuff. I know I do and I’m sure everybody who writes writes terrible stuff.
Todd: In the midst of that you will discover some really beautiful stuff, so that’s number one. Number two, make sure that you’ve defined your intended audience. I talk about this in Louder Than Words, but all of my books, all three of them have been written to one person. Not the same person, each book was to a different person, but as I wrote the book there was one specific person I had in mind, a real person, and I wrote the book to that person. That helped me when I got stuck because I would think how would this person respond to this or how would they receive this information, right.
It forced me then to have to consider that person sitting across the table from me and write to them. Those would be the two things I would really encourage you to do. As you write to one person your work is precise and it cuts and people can clearly see if they’re in or they’re out which is really important. Write a lot and write to one person whenever you write something and I think that’s a good way to get moving.
Peg: That’s awesome. Fantastic advice. I’m going to wrap up because we’re at the half hour mark, so thank you so much, Todd …
Todd: Thank you.
Peg: … for joining us and sharing your awesome ideas. This is the book, Louder Than Words. I will write a recap on my blog and I will put links to all of Todd’s stuff and you can also read it yourself, of course, everybody. I’d love to know what you’re reading and I will talk to you next time on my book club.