Lisa Robbin Young

When I was in first grade, my teacher saw me browsing the titles in the 4th grader section of the library. She tried to guide me back to the beginning readers, but I was undeterred. I wanted to read Charlotte's Web.

Mrs. McKellar wasn't convinced, so she opened to a random page, pointed to a paragraph, and asked me to read it. I did, adding character voices as I read along.

She never stopped me from reading ever again.

So yeah, I'm a reader. I'm often a double fisted (or more) reader. I have books everywhere, much to my husband's dismay. I also get asked to read and review new books from time to time. So, it made sense to me to give you the opportunity to see what I'm reading, what I like (and don't) and why.

Thus, this new "book of the week" post comin' atcha!

A photoshopped image of a giant-sized Lisa, hanging from the Eiffel Tower, holding an even bigger copy of Mike's book, "Get Different", with a caption featureing the URL to buy the book:

Better isn't better. Different is better.

That's the premise behind Mike's book, Get Different. Mike Michalowicz has a brilliant, linear mind. He can distill anything into a useable framework or system - his past books (Fix This Next, Clockwork, Profit First), all illustrate this very well. But Mike's also good at making that framework understandable and USEABLE by just about everyone. So OF COURSE he developed a framework for marketing.

Justin Wise is the innovator of this system, and he and Mike bring it to life in this book. It's rich with case studies and examples - including from Mike's own business - to help you see how to implement and execute on the Different Is Better framework. The framework is simple - Differentiate - Attract - Direct (D.A.D) - but that doesn't make it easy.

Experiment to find your "different"

I gave this book 4 stars because the opening chapter is SO bro-markety that it feels out of alignment with everything else Mike has ever written. It's definitely DIFFERENT, but I'm not a big fan of the guy he mentions, so the pot-smoking, pool playing, and name-dropping felt icky and not what I've come to expect from Mike's work. I'm no prude, mind you, it just felt out of integrity with the fun-loving, wise-cracking, caring approach Mike takes in his books.

But if you an get past that first chapter (and I did), you'll find a framework that's easy to understand and simple to use. Notice, I didn't say EASY to use. You'll have to test, tweak, and experiment to "find your different." But that's what marketing is all about anyway, so Mike just gives you permission to do more of it. The forms and instructions are very straightforward. It's easy to plug in your customer information and start testing/playing around with it. But you've gotta DO the work. You've gotta reach out to folks to confirm what sets you apart in the eyes of your best customers. You've got to iterate and evolve, too, because different today is samey-same tomorrow.

Overall, it's a solid read and, while I got an advanced (and autographed!) copy from Mike as part of his street team, I also bought several copies for my clients. It's a doable, understandable approach to marketing your business in a way that WORKS.

When "Now Discover Your Strengths" came out, let's just say I was a very late adopter. So late, in fact, that I had already bought "Strengths Finder 2.0" first. After taking the test to find my strengths, I was non-plussed. I felt like I already knew what my strengths were, and the book and quiz basically confirmed it.

My Strengths Finder Results: Strategic, Woo, Communication, Context, ConnectednessFor those of you keeping track, my top five strengths are: Strategic, Woo, Communication, Context, and Connectedness - in that order.

Call me slow, but once I knew what I already knew, the book sat on my shelves for years. Since I "already knew everything" it was relegated to the bookshelf that I rarely touch - the one I'm cleaning out now to move into my studio.

When I clear off bookshelves, I always dive back in to some random pages and see if the book still holds any value for me before I let it go. Some books I read once and pass off immediately. Not because they aren't good, but because I really feel like I've gotten everything I could from the book.

Yes, sometimes that means buying another copy of the book when my hard-headedness wears off, but not usually. I have a learning addiction, so I'm constantly absorbing new material, and like any user, once it's all used up, we discard it and move on to the next fix.

For whatever reason, I held onto an entire collection of books by Marcus Buckingham, Tom Rath, and Donald Clifton. I kept telling myself that they'd come in handy for client work, and since I'm taking on fewer one-on-one clients now, it seemed like a good idea to go back through them and see what good they'd do me.

So as I flipped back through the book, I read the descriptions of each of my strengths. I found myself nodding. Then, I found myself writing them all down - and highlighting! I haven't highlighted a book since college!

Clearly something was happening in my brain. It was almost unconscious... like my hands were operating independent of me. By the time it was done, I'd re-worded the five lengthy paragraphs to look something like this:

What makes me so awesome? It’s a unique combination of clear, meaningful strategy and communication with a positive impact.

Clear, Meaningful Strategy: Strategy is a distinct way of thinking, a special perspective that allows me to see patterns others don’t. It's a big reason I was appointed to a government-sponsored think tank as a teenager. It’s an advantage that helps me find potential obstacles before you hit a road block, a dead-end path, or the land of confusion. Clarity is king with me.  I also believe we are on this rock for a purpose. Yes, we make our own decisions and we are accountable for those choices and actions, and still we have a greater gift to share with the world. Whatever your connection of choice (Spirit, God, six degrees of separation, etc.), we are all connected to each other in some small way. This perspective helps me understand how today’s strategies impact tomorrow’s results.

Communication With A Positive Impact: Words are my palette. I've won multiple awards for my writing, music and performances. I have a deep need to bring ideas, stories and events to life, energize them, and make them exciting and vivid. I use examples that make it easier for you to relate, understand, and apply to your specific situation. People like to listen to me because I’m a knowledgeable, passionate communicator and I inspire them to take action in meaningful ways. I also believe that words are meaningless unless they mean something to you. So I want to learn who you are, what makes you tick, where you’ve been and where you want to go. Your back story helps us understand how to plan for the future. You'll make better, more confident decisions when you understand your back story. This keeps you from making the same mistakes or re-inventing the wheel on your path to success.

If you've read the book, you'll recognize some of the language, but it's decidedly my own spin on what Clifton, Rath, and Buckingham have described as my top 5 strengths. I've already added it to my about page, and will soon have micro versions on my social media profiles and new one-sheet as well.

You can do this for yourself, in a few simple steps:

1. Buy the book and take the test. Make sure you get a copy of the book that has an unused access code for the test. Once you've taken the test, make note of your top 5 strengths.

2. Copy down all 5 strengths descriptions. The paragraphs are way too long for a bio. You'll be editing mercilessly in the next step. For now, just copy it all down.

3. Edit mercilessly. Change all the "you" statements to "I" statements, and re-write the paragraphs into something very client focused. I was able to eventually take the Strategy and Connectedness paragraphs and blend them into one. For me, I wanted to show people that Strategy is worthless without a bigger picture meaning.You can see that I used the phrase "I also believe..." as a transition from one thought (strategic) to the next (connectedness). You want to streamline all this information into something digestible for an average reader. You're not necessarily trying to condense each strength into one or two paragraphs like I did, though. It could be 5 smaller pargraphs if your strengths don't seem to logically go together like mine did. In any case, do what works for you, since this is your bio, and you want to be proud to share it with people.

4. Sprinkle in your credentials.  The idea is to give a nod to your accomplishments, but stay focused on how they help your clients. You'll want to find no more than 1 or two things that illustrate each of your strengths. Here I've mentioned my appointment to a think tank as a teenager to illustrate and affirm my strategic abilities. I've also mentioned that I'm an award-winning writer, musician, and performer - which hopefully serves to both inspire my audience and encourage them to experience the different ways I communicate with context.

5. Check for grammatical issues. Cutting and pasting words and ideas often leaves a trail of errant punctuation, capitalization, and stray words that just don't belong. Look for fragments, incomplete ideas, and anything that doesn't clearly represent your unique value to your clients. Remember, your bio needs to be client-focused, even if it's talking about you.

6. Rest. Not everyone writes or edits well. You'll likely need a few passes at this, but even if you're a fantastic writer, I recommend at least one re-write. Once you've made your first round of edits, let it rest for a day and come back to it with fresh eyes. You'll probably see a few tense changes you missed, as well as some ways to refine the language and make it sound more like you.

7. Repeat the edits. Even I caught some glaring things I could fix as I was writing this post. Make sure your credentials are the ones you feel the most positive about - they don't have to be the most glowing praise, but the ones you feel proudest to share with people. If it doesn't work for you, you won't share it with people. The whole purpose of a bio is for people to get to know you. Repeat steps 6 & 7 as needed.

8. Let 'er fly! Share it with a few trusted people and get their response. You may find, as I did, that some people have no idea about what makes you so awesome. They may also point out some things you missed. That doesn't mean they're right and you're wrong. You still have permission to do things your way!

This approach can actually work with most of the personality-type assessments people take. You may notice that I included my fascination advantage "anthem" (knowledgable, passionate communicator) - which is taken from Sally Hogshead's work, "How The World Sees You." Strengths Finder is just one approach that worked surprisingly well (and fast) for me. I may go back and look at the results from some of the other assessments I've taken and see how I can incorporate them, but for now, I have something useful, meaningful, and intriguing for my clients and potential clients to get to know me better.

Back in November, as I do every year, I made my book "The Secret Watch" available for a limited time at a special price. The first year, I just wanted to see how many people I could share it with, so I said I'd do a back flip if 1000 people would download it on kindle. We gave away over 1000 copies of the book, which prompted my first lesson in doing a back flip (more of a back "flop" really, but I digress). This past November, I wanted to see if we could hit best-seller status on Amazon.

I worked with Winnie Anderson, a best-selling author and the Sherlock Holmes of business development, who has also been my accountability partner now for more than 2 years. Since most everyone I knew already had a copy of the book, I wasn't holding my breath. Winnie suggested we do a 99 cent sale anyway, just to see what would happen.

I nearly lost my mind when "The Secret Watch" hit MULTIPLE best-seller lists in both the US and the UK. Two continents! Color me humbled and proud.

Yes. Even a coach needs coaching, mentoring, and support  from time to time!

So when my friend and client, Pam Belding, mentioned that she might want to re-launch her book, well, it was a no-brainer to recommend Winnie.

Headshot photo from Pam's website

Pam's book, You're The Boat, was inspired by her own emotional roller coaster. At one point a few years ago, her husband's job sent the family to Brazil for a year, which meant packing up the entire family, homeschooling their son, and navigating a foreign country... not to mention the regular day-to-day activities of a wife and mom.

In an overwhelming state of frustration, Pam asked "no one in particular" for guidance, and the image of the boat was born.

Her book trailer describes it better than I can:

If you're ready to end the overwhelm, and chart a course for yourself that you actually look forward to living, I highly recommend you register for Pam's teleclass this Friday. You'll hear Winnie interview Pam about the different "systems" of the boat analogy, and how you can implement them in your own life.  Plus, she's sharing some of the behind-the scenes details about how she created her book, lessons learned, and other great stuff. You'll also get the scoop on how you can get your own Kindle copy for less than a dollar.

Can we make her book a best-seller on two continents, also?

Pam's boat analogy has only improved my life. And I don't just say that because Pam was a client. She's also become a good friend and part of the "crew" of my boat. It's a quick, informative read that will have you seeing your world in a new way, and help you relate to the world with more meaning and joy. I have no doubt that after Friday, Pam will be able to add "best selling author" to her title.

This is what becoming a best-selling author looks like.

Creating a best-selling book is as much about the marketing as it is about the book itself. Yes, you need to be a skilled writer, but you also need to "dig your well before you're thirsty" and become a skilled connector, too. It's about sharing your story with your fans as well as reaching out to friends and colleagues who will help spread the word about the Great Work you're putting out into the world. That's what Pam and Winnie asked of me, and I was more than happy to say yes. This book is a perfect fit for my audience - people who are trying to forge their own path to the Noble Empire and inspired life of their dreams.

Life isn't like Ray Kinsella in "Field of Dreams" - you know... "If you build it, he will come."

As creative entrepreneurs, we can't just put something out into the world and trust that the right people will find it. As nice as that would be, it just doesn't work that way. Heck, even Ray had a LOT of work to do to let people know about his field and save his farm from bankruptcy.

With confidence in our work and courage in our hearts we can stand in the truth of who we are.
(Click to tweet)

With clarity, confidence, and courage, we can ask for the help we need, and share our Great Work with the world in alignment with who we are and what we're about in the world. I've experienced first-hand the insights of both Winnie and Pam. If they have their fingerprint on a project, I want to be involved. Sharing this event with you was the best way I knew to do just that. I hope you'll join us!

FTC NOTICE: FYI, the Federal Trade Commission requires that I inform you the only compensation I get for sharing this story with you are the few pennies Amazon pays me when you click a link in this post and make a purchase there. If you'd rather deny me my "mad money", just visit Pam's site and make your purchase there. It's a touching and inspiring book!