Stories from those who have taken the journey
“I began working with Gerry Sindell and Thought Leaders International in my firm’s second year of operations. I was introduced to Gerry by another client of his, and I was intent on writing a book. But my business was young and developing. While my business had a clear value proposition, I did not have a clear idea of the topic of the book. “The first step with Gerry was a series of phone calls to get to know each other and begin developing some intellectual property for both my business and a book proposal. Working with Gerry was great, but the process was hard. Developing intellectual property sufficiently enough to create a book is no easy task. But Gerry was with me every step of the way, and in a matter of months we had the basis for some very solid intellectual property.
Fast forward two years to July 2006. The ideas generated with Gerry now form the basis of my business and are the centerpiece of Move the World that was published by John Wiley & Sons in April 2007. “There is one aspect of this process worth highlighting specifically, because it almost derailed the entire project. At a certain point in the creative process, the prospective author and the creative consultant can arrive at a scary and dark place: perhaps the every day demands of running the business make it hard to focus on the book development. Or perhaps the creative ideas can appear stalled. Or perhaps there are too many apparent directions to go and choosing one over the others is difficult. The creative process can be derailed by many things, and the author can indeed end up in a dark place. This happened to me at least twice, and I considered scrapping the entire idea and focusing on my day-to-day business operations. But in my experience, light has always come to this dark place. The author needs to trust themselves and trust Gerry’s process and keep working. The ideas will flow again. The direction will become clear.
“Writing a book is about more than becoming a published author. In my business, I teach persuasive speech, with an underscore on the word “teach”. And the best teachers can explain their work with words, spoken and written. The moment when you have developed your ideas sufficiently that you can write an entire book is the moment when you are truly an expert and a teacher. That is the moment when you add your maximum value to the world. “Let me repeat… trust yourself, trust the process, trust Gerry. The rewards greatly outweigh the dark moments.”
The first time Jeffrey Fox called, he wanted to find out what it would take to get his ideas about business-to-business selling into book form. We discussed the ingredients that were necessary and went to work. Fox’s company worked with primarily large industrial firms, such as Freudenberg NOK and Loctite, helping them improve their methodologies for selling gaskets and specialty chemicals. Jeffrey had developed a methodology he called “dollarizing,” and that was to be the core of the book.
Along the way in our dialogue about dollarizing, Jeff mentioned he had recently given a graduation speech and had put together a handout for the graduates, some thoughts Jeff had about how to conduct yourself as an adult in the world. Jeff wondered if his handout might provide the basis for another book. Indeed it did. When we eventually completed the proposal over a period of a few months, it consisted of 75 micro chapters of a few paragraphs each, brought together under the title How to Become CEO. I told Jeff I would fight to keep the book as it was, and found an agent for it. Within a little while the book was sold to Hyperion for a substantial advance, and was ultimately very successfully published. The publisher clamored for more little books, and dollarization was pushed to the background for another year. Finally Jeff wrote How to Become a Rainmaker, and slipped a substantial amount of his dollarizing methodology in it. What has happened to Jeffrey Fox along the way, in this process of becoming a brand himself, and then of creating his own branded intellectual property?
Jeff is now an authority. His word carries more weight than before he was published. “When I said something to a prospect or client before, it was seen, often enough, as just another opinion. Now when I speak, everyone listens. I’m even surprised to hear my words from one of my books quoted back to me, often to reinforce a point I’m trying to make. I have little difficulty reaching people for an appointment. My life is substantially easier.” What about Jeffrey’s core brand, dollarizing? Look on Amazon, and one sees it’s a bestseller in such circles as Morgan Stanley and NCR. When Accenture was recently shopping for a sales methodology for internal use, no one needed to be introduced to Fox’s ideas. His book had preceded him. That’s almost four years into Fox’s five year cycle. What would be appropriate to expect in this year, the fifth year? Working with outside representation, Fox’s branded Rainmaker methodology will be tested in several Fortune 100 organizations. If his methods find acceptance as a best practice, his intellectual property will have begun to work for him around the clock around the globe, while he gets to travel less and think more.
When Larry Ackerman began working with Thought Leaders he had twice come close to a book deal, but each time some gatekeeper turned down his book. Fortunately, we were able to take Larry deeper into his own identity, using his own principles and ideas. In the process of building the book proposal, the first fruits of the book development process emerged: Larry discovered that he knew The Laws of Identity. These were almost like laws of nature, and as he has developed and refined them, he has been able to use them to transform his practice.
While the book was still in process, Larry’s clear articulation of the Laws of Identity began to make him into a business star. The Conference Board invited him to speak in New York and London. He wrote authoritative articles on why branding without being grounded in an authentic understanding of identity, was doomed. When the book Identity and Destiny was published, two years into Larry’s five year cycle, his personal brand began to be transformed.
Rosabeth Moss Kantor of Harvard Business School wrote: “Clients of SiegalGale now didn’t just retain the firm, they read Larry’s book. Some even began to take the final chapters seriously and reorganize around Larry’s concepts of identity.” The first company to do this was global giant Dow Chemical, a Fortune 50 company. Next was the largest company in Norway, Norsk Hydro. Fortune #25 State Farm is remodeling its management structure around Ackerman’s ideas.
Unlike Fox’s popular books which have become bestsellers, Ackerman’s leverage has not come from the masses who have read his book, but from his champions at the highest levels of corporate leadership. His work is already changing the lives of tens of thousands of employees of Dow, Norsk Hydro, State Farm and InBev. Ackerman has now founded his own firm, The identity Circle (link) as he continues to change the way people and organizations learn to understand that both are living beings.