The Wicked Podcast

Alison Jones: This Book means Business

June 22, 2021 [email protected] Episode 51
The Wicked Podcast
Alison Jones: This Book means Business
Show Notes Transcript

We talk to publisher and head judge of the UK business book awards Alison Jones about why business books matter, how they translate into reality and what the value of writing can bring to organisations.

Author page: www.alisonjones.com
Get the book:: https://alisonjones.com/book/

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Marcus Kirsch:

Welcome to the wicked podcast where we read business books you don't have time for. I'm Marcus Kirsch. And I'm Troy Norcross. And we are your co hosts for the wicked podcast.

Troy Norcross:

All right. All right. All right. I admit it. I admit it. I am jealous of the skateboards behind your head. They look so effing cool. But I have nothing but coffee cups.

Marcus Kirsch:

All right. All right. All right, while you're Matthew McConaughey.

Troy Norcross:

He's a good boy from Missouri, just like me.

Marcus Kirsch:

Yeah. Is he really? Is that Southern? As I see

Troy Norcross:

him and Brad Pitt?

Marcus Kirsch:

Well, great, lovely people. Don't did they ever write a book otherwise, I'm not interested.

Troy Norcross:

I wish I could look that up. I don't know off the top of my head. But enough about our kind of love fest here for skateboards and Matthew McConaughey and Brad Pitt, who's on the show.

Marcus Kirsch:

So today, we have Allison Jones on the show. And her book. This book means business, which is all about how to actually write a business book. And it is quite relevant. And amazing to have her because she is not only a owns a publishing company, but she may be until yesterday was the head judge of the business Book Awards and was very relevant for us being close to 50 episodes, or at the time we're bringing this live, post 50th episodes, which means we've been through a year of reading a book a week, and figuring out what's actually out there, and why are we doing this? And why are people writing these things? And can we learn anything from it? So it was a pretty special episode. And we had some great conversations, however, were you takeaways?

Troy Norcross:

Well, one of my favourite parts of the whole thing was, with so many great business books out there, why aren't more people doing something with all of this knowledge? So I'm really looking forward to kind of, you know, listening to that part, again, I think she had some really interesting insights, one of which was, there are people that are doing things, but maybe we're just not hearing about them. My takeaways were, as a business leader, even as a team member, establishing a five, six minutes a day writing practice, will overall be good for you, because it'll just help you clarify ideas, and communicate them more effectively and more efficiently. And the other one was, once you looked at setting up the book, deciding the title, the table of contents, building the community, all of that was very much product, like, how are you going to build a product that the market actually wants? So instead of kind of saying, I've got an idea who wants it? It's actually doing the research upfront and finding out who's my community, what do they want? And how can I satisfy their need? And that resonates with both of us, I'm sure. But those are my takeaways. What about you?

Marcus Kirsch:

Yeah, so I have, I think two things. So one was that, yes, the writing for leaders, I would say, in the design community for a long time, or over 10 years ago, everyone's talking about being a storyteller, and you create better things when your storyteller, and I would now being in change transformation. I would say, being able to, if you have a habit of writing or putting things on paper and clarifying it in your head, the clarity you're going to probably get in your communication to the rest of the organisation as a leader is absolutely valuable. I have been, I don't think I've been to a single project where an organisation tried to change and engage everyone who worked in there, often hundreds or 1000s of people to go, Hey, want to go this way, it's gonna be better. Let's go there. In most cases, leaders did not have the clarity, audience engaged empathy in terms of emotionally engaging people with their communication. And I think if you're right, you're gonna improve your storytelling skills. And if you improve your stories, telling skills, you've got to be a better leader. As simple as that, which is a massive value, right?

Troy Norcross:

I've got a question, though. I do journaling, which is actually in a moleskin notebook, with a pen, and a journal for one page, maybe two pages every day. And I think that it slows my brain down. And it uses a different part of my physiology to actually write actually in a book, as opposed to thoughts to keyboard or thoughts to voice recording. Do you think it's different in how you write?

Marcus Kirsch:

Maybe I don't know. I mean, you know, I'm some of the tween as you Know Me and I work a lot with posted. So I try to be a bit more visual and then having like lots of different bits and pieces on posted and putting them all up and putting them in order is one thing that helps me greatly to structure my thoughts. And the other thing is then the other extreme so to speak, I guess is I go, I said with Grammarly and just type stuff in. So I tried to do and do a 300 word thing, maybe a day or maybe two, three a week. That sort of as well explore a thought and observation or something that happened and expressing it and then going out putting it out and asking and whatever. The different things. I'm a bit more for me and others are a bit more for two things I put out there, I guess.

Troy Norcross:

Did you have a second insight? Because I think I interrupted you halfway through your first one?

Marcus Kirsch:

Yes, you didn't? Yes, I do. So the second one was, and I think that is going along a lot with you know, I've worked a lot in innovation, and you're often coming up with ideas that are ahead of the curve. So our friend Joe Pyne put out a book back in 1999, the experience economy, and we were lucky to have him on one of our first episodes. And back in the days, it wasn't an idea that was really flying, you know, and as Allison said, or maybe if the idea doesn't fly, maybe you shouldn't write a book. And I said, Well, you know, Joe is doing amazing. Well, now that he released the Book Two years ago, so it took him nearly 20 years or 18 years for this book to become more relevant. However, you wrote it back them anyways. And I find it a really good approach as well to say, look, if you believe in an idea, you can phrase and tell the story worth putting out there. So at the same time, as you say, well check the market do that in order to have a particular effect. You might also argue to say, well, a good book to write is if you if you believe in your idea, and want to go out there want to be ahead of the curve and want to be the first one out something, do it anyways. Because it might just turn out right.

Troy Norcross:

And I think that's really, really important. But you know what I also believe, I believe it's time to

Marcus Kirsch:

do what to know, go to the interview, have no idea we're talking about. Go to the interview. Hello, everyone. Today, we have Allison Jones with us. Hello, Ellison. And thank you for being with us. Hello, Mark. It's great to be here. Thank you. So as usual, we start from the top. So please tell our listeners who you are and why you wrote the book.

Alison Jones:

So I'm Allison Jones. I'm a publisher and director of practical inspiration publishing, and also a judge at the, as I say, head judge, I've just stepped down as head judge, but as head judge, this is Book Awards. And yeah, so I'm mostly a publisher, but I'm also a book coach. And yeah, that's what I do. I've been publishing all my life.

Troy Norcross:

And why did you write this book?

Alison Jones:

I wrote, well, so many reasons. Partly credibility, because when you are publishing books and telling people what a great thing it is to publish a book, you kind of you know, you have to do that. Partly discoverability because a book can make you discoverable on particularly Amazon. But you know, generally when people are looking for experts, then having a book that's good for that, partly for me, because it helped me clarify and articulate all the ideas that were going through my head. So yeah, number of different reasons.

Troy Norcross:

Or you mentioned the word experts. I'm in the blockchain space. And if you immediately want to be suspect, you tell somebody, you're an expert in blockchain. Because I tell you there there are no such things as blockchain experts, they don't actually exist. But in that space, having a book is indeed a bit of a calling card. And it's a bit of a reveal as to what are your core principles and ideologies in the world of blockchain? Because it's a very, very broad area. And I've thought about it of course, Marcus has written his own book, but it's like, is the book intended to be a revenue generator? Is the book intended to be a calling card? Or is the book intended to be you know, something else is one of the one of the big questions. And it's kind of outside our typical leadership in teams business, but we'll come to those questions later. But what do you think of those different reasons? Or are there other reasons?

Alison Jones:

I think if you are writing any book, that particular business book as a revenue generator, primarily, you're probably in for a nasty disappointment, that low price, low margin objects, you know, I think if you're looking for the return on investment in your business, and what the book will make possible, and the fact that it codifies your intellectual property, which of course, is a massive business asset, then you're probably onto something. And actually, interestingly, I mean, another reason I wrote the book, I guess was was just because it makes it easier to work with people. And people come to you having read the book, or if they come to you and you show them the book. They There's an awful lot of stuff that you then don't have to talk about and waste time on, because it's all there. So that there's that as well into a read that chapter. And then we'll, we'll take it from there, and it gets people to a particular place. So yeah, I don't know if that's a complete answer to the question. But I'd say that looking for the return on investment from direct sales of the book, it's gonna be tough.

Marcus Kirsch:

Yeah. And it's, it's interesting. user, I think you have one example, in a book where someone managed to really sell a book quite well and made 50 grand out of it or something. I think that's probably a rare one. But so the one thing I want, and I want to fully get angry on it, but it's really interesting, because when we were we asked David Marquis, where you wrote this book and say, because I'm angry, so I'm not doing something similar. And I'm going to say, so we just been through nearly 50 books, we're nearly at Episode 52. And we've done this for a year now, book a week. Before that, we've both been reading tonnes, and there's still piles and piles of there. Because there's just so many books around. At the same time, we found there's maybe five major themes in business books that sort of all agree on each other, which is okay, because there's consensus at least right, and everyone wants their own flavour. And that's totally fine. However, we also work in change and transformation in businesses. And what we found very often there is like, seemingly no one reads these books, because no one implements any of it. And we're just like, it's all out there. It's all there. Look at this, look at that. And some writers are really good at giving you really a step by step. Others are very conceptual about it. But despite all of this, are the right people really reading the books? with Michael?

Alison Jones:

It's great question. I mean, some are, you thought I talked to many leaders, business owners, who have cheerfully said that they've got where they are, or they've sold a particular problem by reading the right book. And so that does happen. And you say, there are a lot of books out there and a lot of everything that, you know, is flexing, there's no point of doing a podcast or, or a blog or an art magazine article, because there's there's lots of well, course, yes, there's lots out there, and you're never going to write the last word, you know, you're never going to obviate the need for another book in this topic. But having said that, if you can present something in a way that resonates with somebody, you can make something somebody see something differently for the first time. I mean, often it's when it's a dialogue, isn't it, when you're reading a book, it's where you're at. And what you're under the point your understanding is reached the point of the situation around you, you can read the same book twice and get two completely different things out of it. So I think that's important as well. And and that explains, of course, why on Amazon, you get people going to me absolutely useless. And other people going, Oh, this is the thing that I needed that changed my business forever. Because it is it's that dialogue. And I you know, I don't think the fact that there are a lot of books out there means that there isn't space for your book, you just have to be contributing to the conversation, moving it on.

Troy Norcross:

And so let's let's kind of pick up on that a bit. I am a product person. And a lot of what you talk about in the book is product 101. Who is the audience? What's their pain point? How are you going to connect to them? How are you going to deliver value to them? Well, I actually paid for this, can you test market the product? It was like, Oh, wait a minute, this is exactly what we do with kind of good product. Design. Yeah, product design, product discovery, you're doing a lot of the same thing. So of course, a lot of that was kind of, you know, touching me in the Heartbreaker, like, yep, she gets this, I get this, we're looking at it in in very much the same way. So how do you kind of blend that in? Because I think you did. You did a bit of product. You did a bit of company, because it's part of your company, and a bit a bit of writing? What do we tell people out there? Who are we're leaders who are entrepreneurs, who don't have the time to kind of even spend with friends, family and kids that they want to, but for some reason are crazy enough to decide they want to write a book? I guess I'm putting it. I'm putting it ahead.

Alison Jones:

Yeah, that's working on my screen I did about anybody else. Yeah, do you know I think writing a book is, there's no magic bullet, there's no fast way to Well, maybe there is a fast way to do writing a good book takes time. And I'd say that if you are a business owner, you have to kind of think about how do I get a flywheel effect, where the stuff that I already have to do can contribute to the book. So for me, I wrote my book, as an outcome from podcast interviews, as blog posts, because, you know, if you're in business today, you're gonna have to put stuff out there, you're gonna have to be discoverable. You have to have your voice heard. And therefore, if you can sort of create the book, create a table of contents that allows you to to, for that to become the engine of your content strategy over six months, 12 months, 18 months, however long it is, then actually, it's less of an onerous additional thing you have to do And it's simply an alignment where you're creating a book. But actually, you're testing the ideas out, you're getting the you're starting to own the space, you're getting engagement and building feedback and, and then you get a kind of virtuous circle like, you know, a flywheel effect, where a lot of what you already have to do his contribution towards that book. And I would go further, I would say, actually, if your book isn't aligned with the stuff that you're putting out there, it isn't aligned with the workshops you're delivering the training courses you're doing and all the stuff you have to do in the day job. Maybe that's not the right book.

Troy Norcross:

So what Marcus and I've been talking about, I'm gonna hand it over to you just hold your horses. The next big idea for our consultancy, and then how do we weave that into our podcast? And how do we weave that into into the next book, so it directly aligns with some of the conversations that we're having with regard to Okay, we've done the first 50. And no, we didn't give up too many. We did three episodes of a podcast, I got no listeners, and they just stayed off. So we just had no, we're just gonna keep going. And now we're building on the layers on top of that, and dovetailing it in, right, Marcus?

Marcus Kirsch:

Yeah, we don't care if you're not successful, right? We just keep going. You care, passion? Angry? It's one of the emotions. But I think, you know, I looked at the way I wrote the book. And it was like that, you know, I had written a lot of articles. And I never thought I would be able to write a whole book because that's 200 pages what know what just a sheer volume of it, you can actually spin a narrative across that was quite daunting. But at the same time, I think it's been simmering around for 1015 years to finally get out. And then I put it all together. And then I rewrote it twice, over over two years before it finally came out. But I think, as you said, Everyone has a different approach. And I think, yeah, I think it's gonna be interesting after Episode 50. And, you know, it's not just my book, it's now 50 other ones. How do we do that? But apart from now that I'm finally rambling on something you said earlier about? Yeah, whatever. It was something you said earlier about, maybe if it's not really kicking in and getting picked up, but maybe it's not, it's the wrong book to ride. So I was literally just doing some customer research around the project I'm working on at the moment. And we're talking about experiences and the value of experience. And then Joe Pyne came up with the experience economy, which was written in 1999. And he only ended up two years, two years ago to reissue it. And suddenly it really hit a chord. So back in the days, he was talking about the early days of Starbucks, being able to sell a cup of coffee for four pounds or whatever, and saying, look, there's value in doing something else out there. And at the time, it didn't quite kick in. And now a lot of industry has to are talking about the value of experience, not just product or service. So it was sort of right to write it, wasn't it? It's just took 20 years. So what's what's what's what's what, what is it about writing a book for the big idea you have and still believing in it, even though it might not resonate at the moment you're writing it?

Alison Jones:

Yeah, that's a great question. Because if it isn't landing with people, it's when it's like the great product design, we're back there again, aren't we, you know, if you've got a great product design, and it's not landing with people, do you carry on and say, well, we'll catch up? No, it was not ready for this yet. And I guess it depends where you are on your journey, and the kind of the kind of dent you want to make in the universe. If you want to build a successful business fast, then frankly, you're gonna have to, you know, find something that's that's resonating and find your people. But if you are committed to being the, you know, the person who breaks things, the person who is the first in, then then that's the route you got to take. And you just got to, you know, hope that you hope that you landed it right. I, you know, when you when you speak to visionary CEOs, it's really easy to construct a kind of backward facing narrative about how they spotted the gaps in the market. You know, we all know, most of us most of the time. We're just guessing, which we're just putting, you know, putting our chips down and hoping it works. I just think if you if you lock yourself away in a room, and you write the big idea book, and then you launch it on an unsuspecting world, the chances of you hitting the jackpot with that are minimal. If you start putting stuff out there if you start getting engagement. I mean, the other thing about writing a book, of course, is a great reason to reach out to people. It's a great excuse to say I'm writing a book on this Can I talk to you, and you start building relationships and that increases your luck surface area. But you know, when you see things resonate When you see someone gets what you're talking about, you see the metaphor that you're using land and you see them going, huh, I've never thought about it like that, you know, that's when you know you're onto something. And it doesn't have to be everybody that there has to be a group of early adopters who get what you're talking about. Otherwise, you are probably in a world of pain. And you know, 20 years from now, people might go, Well, you were really visionary, but they might not. And it's gonna be very lonely. 20 years.

Marcus Kirsch:

Yeah. I think my time is ticking. So it's really great. We sing because literally, that's how I had met Troy before, but he was working at the time at startup. So I interviewed him for my work. And then he was so crazy to after a couple of more wines to write a foreword for it. So, um, but as you said, as well, like, you know, and we were lucky in one of our first episodes to have Tom Peters on, and he was just, you know, like, I'm over 70. I don't care anymore. Here's what I learned. And here is how I phrase it. And he said, you know, if you if you're in a room with 100 people, and you and three people get it, you had a good day. Yeah. And it was after 40 years of, of professional life. And it's like, okay, but I had a really high I had really great experience with the book as well, the book, my book was alright, but I, there's a friend of mine. And she was like, Oh, can I talk to you about your book? Like, are you ready? Yes, I did. So but I want to sit down with you and talk about it's like, okay, which is very unexpected for me. And she showed up with my book with full of notes posted scribbles and whatnot. And I nearly cried, it was just so it's really moving that as though engaged in it, and used it and abused it and kind of really, you know, made it her own and like, and it was great. And that alone, I would argue, was worth the time investing in it. And it's such

Alison Jones:

a privilege isn't it to be that engages that they spend hours and hours with your voice in their head, it really is phenomenal. When you see somebody who's really got it, and it's really landed with them. And they've engaged with it. It's really as you say, it's very moving.

Marcus Kirsch:

Yeah, and I think it's definitely connecting to people while you're writing as well. I know I hadn't, I was worried about where I was just writing and writing. And I just couldn't make up my mind and this and this, and it starts to feel really lonely. And then the second you go and talk to someone about it, like I'm writing this was about a dozen years and suddenly get so much energy back is quite amazing. But But

Alison Jones:

let's say maybe that's the thing that's different about product design, you know, when you make a product, nobody really cares about you. But when you tell a story, when you write a book, you've got to find that balance between the empathy piece between what you're doing for the reader and and how you're presenting information in a way that they can use. But also putting something of yourself into it so that they trust you they get they know you they see where you're coming from. So there is something there about that. I was thinking it's such an exercise in them. And kind of pride in one sense in the sense of, you know, standing and saying, I've got something to say and I deserve to be heard but also humility. Because it's not really about me. So that's I think that's probably a difference in writing a book to pure product design. Is that your story?

Marcus Kirsch:

Even so i think i think there's probably a few authors where the humility might not come in that much. But it really it's it's an oddly raw and telling thing to go. How do you put yourself out? Are you going to be very structured and neutral? Or you can actually bring yourself how much you want to bring yourself in? How much you're going to open yourself up and make yourself vulnerable in some to some extent because this is, yeah, hopefully, if it's not a purely commercial effort, which is to In my case, I'm quite passionate about my work. I'm putting myself out there with a lot of detail and for people to to scrutinise it so that it's really interesting. And I know Troy's waiting for a question today. Yeah, go up on them.

Troy Norcross:

Very kind of you. Thank you. So I wrote for city I am for two years. And city I am the newspaper downtown. Back when it was in print, and now it's online. And for the first year, I wrote a practical, grounded pragmatic assessment of the industry. And everything I said was well researched. And everything I said was accurate. And it was dull as dishwater and nobody cared. And then I decided I was going to have big bold opinions that I was going to disagree with, with long standing things and and suddenly I got a huge amount of energy into it. And over the last, you know, six years, it's really just become painfully obvious to me, that critical thinking, rational logic, data driven, is not what moves people, whether it was Trump, whether it was Brexit, whether it's Bitcoin, these are emotionally driven events because if you Look at the data. I never say facts. I never say truth. Because facts require context. And they require source. And truth requires context and source. But if you look at the data, like the data is pretty obvious. And yet the emotions, throw everything up in the air. So when writing a business book, how much emotion how much empathy do you put in? How much though boring dishwater pragmatism? Mac? A, B gadag. b to c, eventually you'll make some money?

Alison Jones:

Yeah, I mean, it's a great question. And it's one of the reasons slightly will answer that question. But on a side note, I think it's one of the reasons why we value books so much. Because we live in this noisy world where people just have to shout louder and louder and say more and more outrageous things to be heard. There is something really profoundly good for the soul to just sit with a book and not be distracted and go deep into something. I think that's actually quite subversive acts these days, when everybody's out to capture your attention with the next, you know, outrageous headline. So that's one side thing was, so I think, actually, if you shout to shrilly, you, you almost negate the USP, of your book, I think it's got to be sustained. It's got to be reasoned and all the rest of it. I would say that, because that's kind of the person I am and the kind of books that I like to publish. But I do think it has to have a hook. You have to have, I'm really sorry, the neighbour is revving his motorbike outside. But you have to have a hook that allows somebody to see something in a new way. And that has to be immediately graspable. So well, the big story you're telling underneath it can be detailed and a labour of love and have some dish water in there. It must, you know, there's no reason why factual writing has to be dull, but you know, the stuff that you have to get across, I still think if you can't explain to somebody, what this book about is about why it matters really quickly, in a word picture that they get. And that framing that storytelling, is really vital. And it's not easy. And you know, somebody like Trump was a master at it. Make America Great Again, with that slogan, you know, it's powerful. So finding a way to communicate that big central idea, that big central promise of the book. And if you've been if you've been a journalist, you've got a big advantage there. But the book itself has to deliver on that and it can't just be a big series of sound bites.

Troy Norcross:

Very good.

Marcus Kirsch:

Yeah, I think I think because there's, there's a lot of if I if I look back at all the titles, the ones that are less, yeah, like descriptive on that. I'm just thinking back are some of the recent ones you know, like be less zombie and yeah, and Elvin Turner. Turn around my cat. Yeah, they are just so dead calls to action. Right. Yeah. Exactly. inspires so much. And yeah, for for multiple set of reasons they've done really well. You know, Alvin's amazing at getting out there and engaging people with the book. And it's a great starting title. And it's a very comprehensive way of looking at innovation. And, obviously, David, my case is just, he lived through it. And yes, done the same with, oh, I think one of your publishers we had on delong win over as well, you know, when coalition life stories on it and go, I went through it. And I actually have a different opinion now, like, look at it the other way around, that is such a strong, compelling thing. That it's, it's it's very striking. And it is amazing how some people are amazingly good at just with the title itself, which is really impressive. And one thing I wanted to ask on Costco, because you will probably be able to answer this better than most other people is maybe potentially debunking a myth. So just the whole thing around around Warren Buffett reading a book a week. And it's in particular, I'm curious about CEOs doing that. And you said before CEOs have read books and changed your life, but is Is it true? Is it all nonsense, because it feels obvious that those are the people who are so so busy, they are the least likely ever ever reading a book and what therefore might potentially even get a hook into their timetable to ever ever consider something like that. You know, we're really lucky to get a few people in here who are that busy and give us half an hour. And today, I'm able to spend three, four hours with a book.

Troy Norcross:

How I'm going to add to that. So Warren Buffett was a book a day, initially 600 800 words a day now reads 500 words a day is what it says kind of generally What I really loved was your fast reads and your fast read strategy. How do you kind of get through a book? Because every so often, my lovely co host who's responsible for scheduling all of our lovely authors, puts five authors back to back one after another. And suddenly, it's not a book a week, which I thought we have done for interviews back into it

Marcus Kirsch:

twice.

Troy Norcross:

So anyway, how do you do about three? Warren Buffett really do it?

Alison Jones:

Well, I have a hotline to Warren Buffett, I don't know. But what I do know is he's made a real big thing out of it. So I, you know, I can't see why he would lie about that. It's like, it's a kind of, you know, he bangs on about it. I mean, you know, Barack Obama, busiest man on the planet in office, surely, you know, was putting out his his reading list. And, you know, people, again, I think it does come down to that intentional use of your time. I mean, if I told the time I spend sort of mindlessly scrolling, actually applied it to proper reading, I'd probably get through a lot more than I do. And you've seen in the book, of course, there's there's different there's reading in this reading, you know, I've got rapid reading in the book, and a way to kind of quickly absorb the key points of the book. But there's also rich reading, where you almost engage in a kind of coaching conversation with the author. So you know, that when you say reading, it can be different things. I think there is evidence, I mean, you know, you write about data and facts and truth and all the rest of it. But there does seem to be evidence that CEOs that successful hiring people tend to read more than average people. And then you've got to ask well, is that causal correlation, you know, but I think Warren Buffett's point that actually, though, it's all out there, it comes back to what we were saying earlier, there's so much great stuff out there in books. And if you're not availing yourself of it, then you're kind of missing out on a really, actually easily, you know, cost effective competitive advantage when it comes to advancing your career and your leadership skills.

Troy Norcross:

And so moving on that point, exactly, very nicely set up, thank you very much for that is writing a book, a way that leaders can improve their internal communication skills, whether that's managing up towards the C suite, or managing down to the teams that work beneath them? Because I think there's some really interesting parts that you were talking about, you know, leadership, and writing.

Alison Jones:

Yeah, I This, this, I, I fully believe I absolutely, you know, stand by this, I think that writing a book is one of the most powerful things that you can do, to clarify your own ideas, to be able to communicate them more effectively, to deepen your thinking, to challenge yourself, and also to, to do the kind of 360 around, you know, how is this being received and the empathy piece? This is what I think is what I've learned in my life. Is that just me, you know, does this hold true for the people? How does it play out in somebody without my privilege, you know, so that I think all the skills that you develop, from writing a book if you if you really do it properly, if you take it seriously and and test out those ideas, they cannot but help you communicate better, be a better leader be a better human being.

Marcus Kirsch:

It's definitely true, because especially if you walk around, not just business as usual, but change and transformation, which is becoming more and more necessity based on you know, bigger problems ever changing landscape, especially over the last, it's not a year and a half, destructed went through the whole thing.

Alison Jones:

And it forces these things into your consciousness, there's so much that you're so busy doing life that you don't inquire about. And I think writing book forces you into kind of self inquiry, but also situational inquiry as well. Why is this happening? What are the connections and you look at the bigger picture, you you extrapolate patterns, you test out hypotheses, all that has got to help you understand the world better, and and act better within it? Absolutely,

Marcus Kirsch:

I think, you know, writing a book or in a lot of work we do writing a problem statement or mission statement or any of these things, right. It's not just about being able to communicate, I think the interesting aspect that I think goes straight into learning, right? So yes, second, and we had I think on our was a second episode, were around a book about learning. And actually learning happens more not when you do on your actioning and you're doing your tasks is actually when you take a break, step back, look at what you've done. Reflect on that. And you're basically starting when you're reflecting as we do, we're starting to tell each other again on walk and you know, we haven't

Alison Jones:

it's cold sort of cycle. It's absolutely you have to be doing or you have to write about. But if you're not reflecting, then you aren't moving forward. You're just simply doing the same thing. Never again without the word they used was not just practice, but deliberate practice deliberate practice and reflective practice. And I would go as far as even if you have no ambition to write a book, developing a writing practice is a great thing to do as a business leader, even if it's just five, six minutes a day of reflection of an inquiry, you know that, that in itself, and it also makes you a better writer, which is no bad thing today, because we have to write to be internally in an organisation but also externally getting our ideas out there. So developing proficiency in writing and articulate your ideas is a really key capability for business.

Marcus Kirsch:

Absolutely, because you know, one of the things I continuously discover in literally every organisation, I don't think there's a single one, where this doesn't happen at all, is where the people who work in the company, are just not quite clear of what leadership really wants, the clarity aspect is always missing, they say, and I'm not just saying there has to be a full blown vision statement, but the fact that there's some kind of story or narrative, that's communicated well enough. I think most organisations are massively struggling with that. And then therefore, the trickle down effect is that people assume people are confused, people don't know how to act based on insufficient information. And you're, you're you're starting to have a really non impactful, non effective organisation. So it's definitely like, it's really interesting to explore, I mean, and there's already a variety of formats in organisations like vision statement problems, all these things that, you know, are part of that. So I think, yeah, a lot of a lot of leaders would do really, really well. To to hone that skill a bit more. And as we usually are, we have more questions and time. And so therefore, he will be the last question. She can giggly today, I have no idea why. The there's so many books out there. Obviously, we discovered that. What does it then take? If you read books, and or you write books, or whatever you engage with all the stories that are out there? How do you then tell the relevant ones from the non relevant ones? How do you best go about this? How can I select the best books apart from listening to a podcast?

Alison Jones:

Well, funny, you should say that. So obviously, the extraordinary business book club podcast, which I host is a really great way of discovering business books. And I do kind of three hot new reads. And I also asked my guests to recommend a book that's really impacted them. So I get some great recommendations that way. My to read pile is to the sky. Hence, books to the sky is my handle. So ask people, you know, as people you admire, as people that you see doing really good things in the world? What do you read what what books have really struck you? And that, you know, there's no excuse for not having a look at things like Goodreads or Amazon reviews, you know, but I would say, as we said, before, you know, where you are in your life and the situation you're facing, and where your thinking has got to, all of that will impact on what you get out of the books that you read. So I think there's no shame in not finishing a book. I have quite a few books on my bookshelf that I've started and gone. Yeah, no, you know, No, not now. Often, I have come back to them and read them later. And I think there is something really helpful about having a print book there on your shelf that you can use, it catches your eye, you know, there's something really thing thing ish about it, that's really helpful just to have it there. But, but you know, try you can sample look inside on Amazon, look at the table of contents, is it clear? Is it you know, articulately put does it does it grab your attention, sample it you can send a sample to your Kindle, so you know, sample and then find one that you think really speaks to where you're at speaks to what you need right now, and give it a go. And the great thing, of course, is you can often reach out to authors on on Twitter as well. So you know, actually establishing that kind of relationship with them. It's, it's a great thing that just we couldn't do 20 years ago. So that's cool.

Troy Norcross:

I just had an A one more thought. What if I, this is me, we live in a very, very polarised society, and trying to find common ground. The next time I meet somebody that I am the polar opposite of socially, financially, whatever it is, I'm not going to try to debate the topic that we don't agree on, but I'm going to ask them what's the last book that you read? Well, what's the last good book you read? Because that might give me more insight into them than trying to find any other common ground and I might find it in a neutral space of a book.

Alison Jones:

I think that's a really helpful thing because we are actually say increasingly polarised, increasingly mystified by how other people are holding these opinions. You know, we because we're becoming siloed so much more. So yeah, maybe you're right, although I suspect that somebody might so I do read books when Yeah, there's your answer.

Marcus Kirsch:

What's that YouTube channel, please? Alright, Marcus, wrap

Troy Norcross:

this up.

Marcus Kirsch:

Lovely. Alison, it's been a pleasure. Thank you so much for your time. Thank you so much for all stories and insights. And it was lovely to have you thank you so much. It was really fun guys love talking about books.

Troy Norcross:

You've been listening to the wicked podcast with CO hosts Marcus Kirsch and me Troy Norcross,

Marcus Kirsch:

please subscribe on podomatic iTunes or Spotify. You can find all relevant links in the show notes. Please tell us your thoughts in the comment section and let us know about any books for future episodes.

Troy Norcross:

You can also get in touch with us directly on Twitter on at wicked n beyond or at Troy underscore Norcross also learn more about the wicked company book and the wicked company project at wicked company calm