Occasionally, we have presented an art-based book at the First Friday Book Synopsis over the past 20 years. The most famous was a best-seller which is one of Randy Mayeux‘s all-time favorites, entitled The Creative Habit: Learn it and Use it For Life (Simon & Schuster, 2006) by Twyla Tharp.
So, it is not surprising that a new best-seller about creativity has caught our eye for potential presentation. On June 6, 2017, Real Artists Don’t Starve: Timeless Strategies for Thriving in the New Creative Age, written by Jeff Goins, was released by Thomas Nelson Publishers.
We will monitor the performance of this book on the best-seller lists, and make a later determination about whether we will present it at a future First Friday Book Synopsis.
The book was an instant hit. As of this writing, it is in the top 50 in three Amazon.com best-selling sub-categories. It debuted at #6 on last week’s Wall Street Journal business best-seller list (June 17-18, 2017, p. C 10).
Who is Jeff Goins? According to Amazon.com, he is “a writer, speaker, and entrepreneur. He is the best-selling author of five books, including The Art of Work and Real Artists Don’t Starve. His award-winning blog Goinswriter.com is visited by millions of people every year. He lives with his family just outside of Nashville, where he makes the world’s best guacamole.”
In Inc.com, on March 9, 2017, Benjamin J. Hardy, interviewed Goins about the myth that artists must starve. Here is that interview. The exact URL is:
On a plane ride across the country, I just devoured Jeff Goins’ new book, Real Artists Don’t Starve, set to be published in early June of this year.
This book was extremely well written, filled with numerous stories from both historical and modern artists.
The premise is simple: A myth has been perpetuated for generations that artists must starve. This myth has stopped countless people from thriving as artists.
We’ve all been fed this lie since we were children. Hence, so many kids grow up to pursue “safe” college degrees and safe careers because being an artist of some form is perceived in our culture as “risky.” Only the “lucky” make it we’re taught.
Goins’ entire book is a strategy guide about how to thrive as an artist in the digital age.
As one who has personally been mentored by Goins, I can attest to his principles. In January of 2016, I reached out to Goins. Actually, I purchased 20 copies of his book, The Art of Work, as part of a promotion he was running. By purchasing those 20 copies, I was afforded a 30 minute phone call with the man. He generously gave me closer to an hour.
At the time of that call, I had approximately 10,000 email subscribers to my blog. I was very anxious to get a traditional book deal, as most young writers are. However, Goins told me to wait. Here’s almost word-for-word what he said (I was taking notes):
If you wait a year or two, you’ll get a 10x bigger advance, which will change the trajectory of your whole career. With 20K email subscribers, a writer can get around a $20-40K book advance. But with 100-200K email subscribers, a writer can get around a $150-500K book advance. Wait a year or two and change the trajectory of your career (and life).
I followed his advice and waited the duration of 2016, during which time I went from 10,000 to over 100,000 email subscribers. In February of 2017, I signed a $220,000 book contract with Hachette Book Group.
Had I not had that conversation with Goins, I may have jumped the gun and gotten a substantially lower deal, and been less mature as a writer. A concept Goins conveys in the book is the importance of knowing your value, and charging that value, for your work.
The entire book is filled with numerous strategies embedded within three sections:
In the first section on mindset, Goins walks the reader through the mindsets needed to shed the false belief of the starving artist.
In the second section on marketing, Goins walks the reader through the development of a platform and key relationships that make a creative career possible.
In the third section on money, Goins teaches how to build a portfolio and diversify your income streams so you have the freedom to develop a long-term career as an artist.
If you want a motivational punch in the face coupled with a buffet of practical strategies, pre-order a copy of Real Artists Don’t Starve. Your future self will thank you when you read the book this summer.
On June 13, 2017, a new book in the Team of Teams series, entitled One Mission: How Leaders Build a Team of Teams (Portfolio) was released. An instant hit, it stands today in the top 10 in an Amazon.com sub-category, and stands at # 6 on the Wall Street Journal business best-seller list released today (June 23-24, 2017, p. C 10).
It is almost a certain selection for us at an upcoming First Friday Book Synopsis in Dallas. As always, we will closely monitor its performance on the major best-selling lists, and announce our decision a full month in advance.
According to Amazon.com, the lead author, Chris Fussell, is “a Partner at the McChrystal Group Leadership Institute and coauthor of the Team of Teams, a New York Times bestseller and the first book in the Team of Teams series. He was commissioned as a Naval Officer in 1997 and spent the next 15 years on U.S. Navy SEAL Teams around the globe. He then served as Aide-de-Camp to Lieutenant General Stanley McChrystal during McChrystal’s final year commanding a Joint Special Operations Task Force fighting Al Qaeda around the globe.” The second author, C.W. Goodyear is a speechwriter and Yale graduate, specializing in economics. The foreward was written by General Stanley McChrystal, who wrote the original Team of Teams book.
Since leaving active duty in 2012, Fussell has also served as a Senior Fellow for National Security at New America, sits on the Board of Directors for the Navy SEAL Foundation, is a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and teaches at Yale University’s Jackson Institute.
In Forbes.com, on June 13, 2017, Dan Schawbel, a keynote speaker and the New York Times bestselling author of Promote Yourself and Me 2.0., interviewed Fussell in a piece entitled “How to Make Your Organizational Flatter and More Connected.” The exact URL is: https://www.forbes.com/sites/danschawbel/2017/06/13/chris-fussell-how-to-make-your-organization-flatter-and-more-interconnected/#61ceddab789e
Dan Schawbel: Why are so many teams stuck in silos and with too much of a hierarchy?
Chris Fussell: Organizational silos — in the way we think of them — were initially formed out of necessity. During and after the Industrial Revolution, grouping specialized teams with similar functions together helped organizations to scale with operational efficiency. Good examples of this include Henry Ford’s Ford Motors and Thomas Edison’s General Electric. Although society today often uses the term “bureaucracy” only in relation to government departments, it also applies to the modern hierarchical corporate structures that evolved from early ideas of silo formation. We now think of it as a negative term, but it was critical to growth for many generations, and there is a lot of stability that can come from a well-run bureaucracy.
However, modern problem sets have made a strictly-bureaucratic approach an insufficient solution. When an external environment becomes unpredictable (as our world has), teams that were once functionally unrelated must connect across bureaucratic silos. As I found while leading special operations forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, if the problem is interconnected, your organization must be, as well. What this means is that bureaucratic hierarchies, which keep teams isolated from one another, are insufficient solutions to modern corporate issues.
Schawbel: How can teams be more agile and flat? Why is that beneficial?
Fussell: Most teams are naturally flat; they have fewer members than a large enterprise, which allows for intimacy and trust to form. This makes collaborative problem solving in individual teams more straightforward.
The challenge arises with replicating this trust and agility at scale between many teams. One of the most effective ways of creating this in our Special Operations Task Force came through the use of an Operations and Intelligence (“O&I”) forum — a regularly scheduled, digitally enabled means by which our top commanders could instantly interact with the most junior person in our organization, and through which any team could interact with any other one in our hierarchy.
I profile the creation and operation of this forum in One Mission, and also profile a civilian organization that has used one to scale agility between teams throughout its organization.
Schawbel: What have you learned from both your military and corporate experience about bringing teams together?
Fussell: I’ve learned that while the benefits of interconnecting teams span both worlds, doing this successfully is rarely a smooth process. Bureaucracies and hierarchies form “strategic echo chambers” to among small teams. Since teams are limited in the number and type of interactions they can have with other corners of the organization, they become arenas where only a certain view of an organization’s external environment is seen or accepted, and the blame for what is going wrong is entirely directed to another corner of the organization, often unfairly.
When these echo chambers are finally opened to the larger organization–civilian or military–it is initially a disruptive experience. In addition, learning to use and scale the practices we detail in One Mission requires patience and an ego-free approach by leaders. Leaders in an interconnected organization must be comfortable sitting in the middle of a network, not at the top of an org-chart.
Schawbel: Can you give an example of one of your clients that has benefitted from the One Mission principles?
Fussell: One McChrystal Group client that has seen great benefits from this approach is Intuit, Inc. We detail their experiences strategically aligning their teams in One Mission.
Intuit had long been staffed by excellent teams, who were nevertheless pursing their own metrics in isolation across the company’s five main product groups. They adopted that model because it worked well for the software company for many years. Yet as technology changed and the potential for mutual collaboration between these groups increased (e.g., working together on creating product offerings for smartphones, or sharing data) traditional approaches to aligning teams proved lacking. The top-down, silo-based approach was too slow for the modern marketplace.
Through defining their organization’s aligning narrative, strengthening it through the operation of what CEO Brad Smith called the “One Intuit Forum”, and carefully linking the objectives of its multiple high-performing teams, the bureaucratic obstacles that once stood between Intuit’s specialized elements were replaced by a common vision of success.
Schawbel: What are your top three pieces of career advice?
1. Take accountability for your actions: Develop and nurture a strong, internal locus of control. In the military, and in business, the most elite and effective teams I’ve seen or been part of are filled with individuals who take responsibility for their choices. Life is a series of decisions that you make and actions you take, not a series of things that happen to you.
2. Put others first: The easiest way to make it through difficult times is to help those around you. If conditions are bleak, don’t look inward and feel like a victim; look at those around you and see how you can help them. A team whose members are constantly putting others ahead of themselves is truly greater than the sum of its parts.
3. Find three mentors: I always work to have a senior mentor in my life that I look up to, a peer who I think is doing things better than me, and someone younger who I think is living life more effectively than I was at that age. Keep a running list of people in these categories that you can watch and learn from. I use these people as guideposts in my own life, and it’s a tool that constantly forces me to reassess my own approach to living a life of meaning.
On June 6, the newest Harvard Business Review publication hit the shelves. It is already in the top 20 in two Amazon.com sub-categories, and debuted at # 3 on the Wall Street Journal best-selling business books hardcover list today (June 17-18, p. C10).
What is a builder personality? The book covers four distinct types, all of which are characteristic of highly successful entrepreneurial personalities―the Driver, the Explorer, the Crusader, and the Captain. Each is motivated, makes decisions, manages, and leads their businesses differently. You can even take a quiz to see which type you are, by visiting their website: builtforgrowthbook.com.
From the Amazon.com description: “With assessments and tools, including a brief Builder Personality quiz and in-depth profiles of each builder type, Built for Growth is the ultimate guide for how to play to your strengths, complement and compensate for your gaps, and build a successful business―from startup to scale-up. Its vivid stories and practical advice show how you can unlock the potential of your builder personality to shape your business, your team, and your ability to win in the marketplace.”
The book is receiving strong reviews, largely based upon the strength of the two authors. Here are their biographies, from Amazon.com.
Chris Kuenne is a successful business builder, growth capital investor, and member of Princeton University’s entrepreneurship faculty. He is the founder of Rosetta, a digital marketing firm sold in 2011 to Publicis Groupe, and the private equity firm Rosemark Capital. He is a frequent speaker to business and entrepreneurial audiences, including the Young Presidents’ Organization, CFO Roundtable, Association for Corporate Growth, and numerous venture capital and industry conferences.
John Danner is a senior fellow at the University of California Berkeley’s Institute for Business Innovation and serves on the faculty of both the Haas School of Business and Princeton University. An experienced entrepreneur and business adviser, he anchors executive leadership courses globally. He speaks widely on innovation, strategy, and entrepreneurship, keynoting corporate events and premier international conferences, and his work is frequently cited in major business media. He is the coauthor of The Other “F” Word: How Smart Leaders, Teams, and Entrepreneurs Put Failure to Work.
Please continue to monitor our blog to see if we select this book for presentation at the First Friday Book Synopsis. That decision will largely depend upon how well it continues to perform on the major best-selling business book lists. It is certainly off to a very strong start.
How many more books will we see on leadership? Maybe we won’t see any more when we actually see leadership, or perhaps, leadership the way we want it.
So, here is another one. The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness by Lolly Daskal debuted at # 5 on the Wall Street Journal business best-seller list this weekend (June 10-11, 2017, p. C10).
The book, published by Portfolio, was distributed beginning on May 30.
Who is Lolly Daskal? This is her biography, published on Amazon.com:
Lolly Daskal is one of the most sought-after executive leadership coaches in the world. Her extensive cross-cultural expertise spans 14 countries, six languages and hundreds of companies. As founder and CEO of Lead From Within, her proprietary leadership program is engineered to be a catalyst for leaders who want to enhance performance and make a meaningful difference in their companies, their lives, and the world. Based on a mix of modern philosophy, science, and nearly thirty years coaching top executives, Lolly’s perspective on leadership continues to break new ground and produce exceptional results. Of her many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc.com, 100 Great Leadership Speakers for Your Next by Inc. magazine, and Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR, Inc.com, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post,and Psychology Today, and others.
“Daskal reveals her proven system, which leaders at any level can apply to dramatically improve their results. It begins with identifying your distinctive leadership archetype and recognizing its shadow:
■ The Rebel, driven by confidence, becomes the Imposter, plagued by self-doubt.
■ The Explorer, fueled by intuition, becomes the Exploiter, master of manipulation.
■ The Truth Teller, who embraces candor, becomes the Deceiver, who creates suspicion.
■ The Hero, embodying courage, becomes the Bystander, an outright coward.
■ The Inventor, brimming with integrity, becomes the Destroyer, who is morally corrupt.
■ The Navigator, trusts and is trusted, becomes the Fixer, endlessly arrogant.
■ The Knight, for whom loyalty is everything, becomes the Mercenary, who is perpetually self-serving.
Using psychology, philosophy, and her own experience, Daskal offers a breakthrough perspective on leadership. She’ll take you inside some of the most cloistered boardrooms, let you in on deeply personal conversations with industry leaders, and introduce you to luminaries who’ve changed the world. Her insights will help you rethink everything you know to become the leader you truly want to be.”
Whether we present this book at the First Friday Book Synopsis in Dallas depends upon its sustained performance on the best-seller lists. Continue to monitor our blog for information about our upcoming selections.
Every year about this time, one book dominates the best-seller list, and that is Oh, the Places You’ll Go, by Dr. Seuss. The book, only 56 pages long, is described as “a perennial favorite and a perfect gift for anyone starting a new phase in their life!” That is why it is such a popular book to give for graduation gifts.
Again this year, it is at # 1 in the Wall Street Journal list (June 3-4, 2017). As I write this, it is the # 2 best-selling book overall on Amazon.com, and is # 1 in three sub-categories.
Do you know much about the author, Dr. Seuss? Here is his biography, as taken from Amazon.com.
Brilliant, playful, and always respectful of children, Dr. Seuss charmed his way into the consciousness of four generations of youngsters and parents. In the process, he helped millions of kids learn to read.
Dr. Seuss was born Theodor Geisel in Springfield, Massachusetts, on March 2, 1904. After graduating from Dartmouth College in 1925, he went to Oxford University, intending to acquire a doctorate in literature. At Oxford, Geisel met Helen Palmer, whom he wed in 1927. Upon his return to America later that year, Geisel published cartoons and humorous articles for Judge, the leading humor magazine in America at that time. His cartoons also appeared in major magazines such as Life, Vanity Fair, and Liberty. Geisel gained national exposure when he won an advertising contract for an insecticide called Flit. He coined the phrase, “Quick, Henry, the Flit!” which became a popular expression.
Geisel published his first children’s book, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, in 1937, after 27 publishers rejected it.
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1984, an Academy Award, three Emmy Awards, three Grammy Awards, and three Caldecott Honors, Geisel wrote and illustrated 44 books. While Theodor Geisel died on September 24, 1991, Dr. Seuss lives on, inspiring generations of children of all ages to explore the joys of reading.
The lead author of the book that I will present on June 2 at the First Friday Book Synopsis is a very interesting and renowned professional woman. Here is her biography, as taken from Amazon.com:
Alexandra Cavoulacos is the co-author of The New Rules of Work: The Modern Playbook for Navigating Your Career (Crown Business, 2017) and co-founder & COO of The Muse, a career platform used by 50+ million people every year to find a job, learn professional skills or advance in their careers, and by hundreds of companies looking to hire or grow their employer brand. At The Muse, Alexandra focuses on the product, engineering and operations of the fast-growing business. She spends a lot of her time on hiring, people development and management, growing employees in their careers to hit their full potential. Alexandra has been named to Forbes’ 30 Under 30 in Media, Inc’s 15 Women to Watch in Tech, Business Insider’s 30 Most Important Women Under 30 in Tech, and was recognized as a SmartCEO 2016 Brava Award winner. Alexandra is a frequent speaker on topics like entrepreneurship, productivity, and women intechnology, having spoken on WNYC and at SxSW, Work & Co, Luminary Labs, and more. Before founding The Muse to help people answer the question, “What do I want to do with my life (and how do I get there?),” Alexandra worked at the management consulting firm McKinsey & Company, primarily focused on growth strategy for Fortune 500 companies. She also spent time in McKinsey’s professional development practice and was active in their campus recruiting, helping attract, identify and develop great talent. Alexandra is an active member of the NYC and SF tech communities, and a champion for women in tech. Alexandra dedicates time each month to paying it forward, mentoring up-and-coming leaders, especially first time founders, women and non-technical founders. A self-taught coder herself, Alexandra was an inaugural advisor for Hackbright Academy, the leading software engineering school for women. Originally from Paris, France, Alexandra now lives in Brooklyn, NY with her husband Anthony. Alexandra holds a BA from Yale University and is a Y Combinator alum.