Episode 18: How to Create or Participate in a Group to Help You Write Your Book with Less Stress and Overwhelm

August 26, 2019

In this episode, David Shriner-Cahn shares his expertise on creating and using group teams to facilitate book writing to make the process faster and easier!

Resources mentioned

Smashing the Plateau Podcast www.smashingtheplateau.com 
3Day MBA podcast: http://ellenlikes.com/3dayMBA
Going solo podcast

One Funnel Away Challenge http://ellenlikes.com/ofa

David’s Office Hours: 9 to 5, Eastern time
phone number is (212)-731-0770.

3 Key Points

As a leader there are times you are not going to be comfortable talking about with your staff, your investors, your partner, your spouse and they don’t want to hear it anyway. This is when a group can be very beneficial.

It’s important to meet weekly to get the benefit.

Don’t be judgmental-and if it makes it easier, have a facilitator.

Show Notes

[.51] David Shriner-Cahn is a recognized authority on entrepreneurship, leadership development, with 40-years-experience first as an employee and then as an entrepreneur, and the host of a business podcasts, “Smashing the Plateau.” And cohost of 3DAY MBA. Also, he’s the soon to be host of a new show called “Going Solo.” David guides, entrepreneurs, and trusted teams that have their backs and can help them grow.

David and Ellen met on a podcasting pitch with Stephen Olsher, and David was nice enough to invite Ellen on his call 3DAY MBA. David said he deals with teams.

 [1:59] Why do you need a team to write a book?

The main reason is because writing a book as a very solitary process, leadership roles are very solitary and authors in business tend to be leaders.

 [2:29] Being an entrepreneur, whether you are a solopreneur, a single person business, or you are the CEO of a company that has many employees, there are lots of things that you are not going to feel comfortable talking to anybody close to you about. And you’re not going to feel comfortable talking to your staff, your investors if you have them, or to a spouse or a significant other; most of the time they just don’t want to hear it.

[3:05] And even if you’re in an organization where you’re not the top person, lots of times you’re not going to feel comfortable talking to your colleagues in the same organization about certain things, because you never know how things are going to be; it could be taken the wrong way, especially when it comes to things that you are unsure about. We all have fears.

[3:53] When you’re writing a book, particularly if you’re writing your first book, there are likely to be lots of fears, lots of things you’re not sure about. You may be afraid that you are messing up.

[4:15] You may feel that in writing a nonfiction book or a business book that you’re revealing perhaps too much about yourself, you may feel that you’re revealing too little and not getting the point across. You might feel like you’re giving away too much information and that no one is going to want to hire you for consulting, coaching, or speaking, or whatever it is that you, that your company offers, because you basically have given away the store in the book for $20, $25, or even $50. That’s very different than paying thousands of dollars to do some kind of specialty project.

[5:03] Ellen added, “That is so true.” She’s worked with hundreds of authors and there’s definitely that fear that they’re giving away too much. And one of the things that she’s found is that no matter how much information you give, people still need help implementing it.

[5:19] David agreed. He then turned to the subject of trust. So, one of the benefits of being on a team, if you’re on a team of people you trust, or people who have your back, is the more open you are with them about your fears, the more they can help you address them. So, if you think you’re giving away too much information, you can start talking about what it is you’re giving away, and how you think you’re giving it away. They’ll react to it. Particularly if they are people who understand your field, or understand enough about it to be able to share their own reaction.

[5:56] Often there could be people who are part of your team, if they’re other authors who may already have written some books so they can share their experiences of what it was like for them to write their first book. So, it’s good to be on a team where some people are a little ahead of you in whatever it is you’re working on and some people are a little bit behind you. So, that those that are ahead of you can give you some guidance and help you where you feel stuck. And then you can help others where they feel stuck as often that there are certain skills that we have that other people may not have. There are certain experiences each person has had that is unique to them.

[6:33] And it will ebb and flow depending upon the session with your team, who’s helping whom with what. So, a team can be really helpful in trying to alleviate some of those fears and then talk about some real strategies and tactics that can help move you forward.

[6:51] How should people go about getting on a team?

[6:57] David was always part of some group; he checked out associations in his field. When he went to non-profits, he looked for places where his colleagues in similar kinds of organizations spent their time.

[7:39] And he always took on a leadership role, because that also helps you go into greater depth with whatever the issue is that the organization deals with and it helps you learn leadership skills and can connect you with mentors.

[8:08] If you’re an author, particularly a first-time author, how do you find a team of other people who are either writing books for the first time and/or have written books, who may want to get together on a regular basis?

David shared that you should look ahead at who you want to be and who you want to become, and then look at whom you already know who sort of fits that profile and you could ask them, “Are there groups, are there teams of people who are working on writing a book?” Not writing a book together but working on how to write a book.

[8:54] And you can ask them who they know and keep asking people. That’s one way to do it. You can look online. You could ask in business networking associations for recommendations. You can ask somebody like David; he knows where to look for teams and for groups that can be supportive. Or, you could put one together yourself.

But, if you do there are certain characteristics that you need to set up as part of it. Otherwise, it’s not going to be particularly effective and it may fall apart and we can talk about that if you want?

[9:38] If you really want momentum, you need to meet weekly. You could meet once a month. In all likelihood, you’re not going to get very far, so I would say at a minimum to meet twice a month.

[10:09] And if you do meet once a month, David suggests you connect with some of the members of the group to have some kind of check-in on a more frequent basis. So, you could look for one person who’s a member of the group to be your accountability partner and check in with that person once a week and then you’ll meet with a whole group once a month. But if you really want momentum, once a week is great.

[10:37] Teams between six and 10 people work best in David’s opinion because, with conflicts, not everybody’s able to show up every single time. But it is important to have a commitment that you are going to show up, unless there’s some conflict that’s really tough to avoid, like you have a health issue and the only time you can see the doctor is the time when your group meets. Those kinds of things are inevitable.

[11:17] Then when the group actually meets, you need to have some basic ground rules of what should happen. Things like allowing people to speak openly and honestly, and also speak only for yourself. It’s not fair for you to speak for someone else. It’s also important to give people the opportunity to participate fully. Monopolizing the conversation is not helpful. Repeating what other people have said is not particularly helpful either. It’s better to share something if it’s something new.

[11:55] Generate an atmosphere where everyone is involved in active listening where you really pay attention and try to understand what others are speaking about. Another really important factor is setting up a culture of being nonjudgmental.

[12:13] Because one of the characteristics that will derail a group really quickly, is an individual being judgmental of others, because then other people are not going to feel comfortable opening up. And the whole point of having this group is so people feel comfortable opening up about what’s really frustrating them, or their biggest fears so that you can talk about them and try to find solutions that may work.

[12:48] And another characteristic that’s really important, is to share experiences rather than offering advice. Because offering advice then leads to being judgmental, or being perceived as judgmental.

[13:17] Ellen shared agreed. She shared that she was in a group once. With six members, each person got 10 minutes to talk. She also shared that the group deteriorated and left her with a bad taste, but she did meet one of her closest friends in that group so there was a silver lining.

[14:33] How do you avoid some of the pitfalls? It can be really beneficial to have somebody who’s a good facilitator and a guide who is not part of dealing with the issues, but is really focused on helping the group to function as effectively as possible as a cohesive team.

[15:05] That’s why sports teams have coaches so if you wanted to do a group but you wanted to be in it, maybe you would find a facilitator for your group.

[15:14] How long do groups usually stay together in your experience?

[15:19] David has been part of business networking groups where some of the members have been in the group for ten, fifteen, twenty years.

[15:33] And in really effective business networking groups, where word of mouth referrals is important, you can end up getting 80 to 100% of your business from one small group of fifteen, twenty or twenty-five people.

[15:54] One example was Dave Barnett who David interviewed on his podcast. He was talking about a mastermind group that he had been in for many years with an interesting combination of people, from a couple of very small solopreneur businesses to some multimillion-dollar companies.

[16:40] Ellen said, that was interesting because usually, multi-million-dollar companies don’t want to be in a group with small business owners.

[16:45] David then shared that the big companies benefited because solopreneur businesses had some very, very creative ways of looking at some of the problems that the bigger companies had. And people have blind spots in their own businesses, so having somebody else outside, who is impartial, ask questions can be super beneficial.

[17:22] Also, people who are authors who listen to this podcast are generally business owners as well. So, while you’re writing a book, you could have a group for that, and you could also be in another group for business.

 [17:41] Then David recalled a friend who was in a group to learn how to be a TEDx speaker. So, there can be groups for very specific purposes.

[18:02] How many groups do you think people should be in at one time as a maximum?

[18:13] You need to look at how much time you spend in each group. Obviously, you can’t spend 100% of your working time participating in groups, then there’s going to be no business. But, if you’re in a small business where you are part of the operations and part of the delivery of services to customers and clients typically you may find anywhere from 25% to 50% of your time spent on activities that are business-building activities-like marketing, sales and working on your business.

[18:58] As an example, the solopreneurs that are in the teams that David runs, typically spend five or six hours a week just in the activities related to his group. And they meet for one hour a week.

[19.42] And there may be activities they came away from the session realizing they need to work on like revising their sales process, which is going to take some time to work on. Or they need to revise their core marketing message etc.

[20:29] When you put groups together, you’re the facilitator, is that how it works?

[20:33] Yes, David is the facilitator. And in some cases, he will also bring on someone else who he will train to facilitate.

[20.44] So would someone come to you and say I want to create this group and we want you to facilitate?

[20.49] Yeah, yeah. I had someone came to me very recently, who wants to be part of a group of colleagues that are all in the same industry, servicing different kinds of companies. And she wants to be part of the group but knows that the group would work better if there’s a facilitator that’s not her. So, they’re talking about starting one.

[21:20] Is there a difference between groups and masterminds?

[21:27] David said his group is kind of a hybrid between a mastermind and a coaching process. You’re in a room with like-minded people working on similar kinds of problems and it doesn’t necessarily have somebody who is a trained facilitator running the group whereas this group thing does.

 [22:07] Plus, David has experience with the kinds of issues that the people in the group are facing. So not only can he facilitate, but he can also provide some guidance and some resources to help solve some of the common problems. So, it’s sort of combination of teaching and facilitating and guiding.

[22:34] Is there anything else that we need to know that we haven’t covered?

[22:38] David said, “Don’t be afraid to take the first step.”

 [22:41] Ellen asked, “What does that mean?”

 [22:42] David shared, that If you find yourself working on the outline, or the first chapter of your book for a very long period of time, and you sort of start it over and over again, you think you need to get it to a certain point before you even entertain the idea of being part of a group process with other authors. Don’t wait. Find your team, get started and try to get something out.

[23:10] Ellen added, that it works for a business issue too. If you’re mulling it over in your mind over and over and you’re not getting anywhere, it’s really the same thing.

[23:19] David agreed. Because business and life, they’re a nonlinear process there are things that won’t work out, but every time you try something that doesn’t work out the way you had hoped, you’re just ruling out something that you’re going to repeat and you’re going to try something else the next time. Think about the way a baby learns how to walk. They fall down a lot in the beginning, and then eventually they figure it out, and then it becomes sort of second nature.

[23:50] Ellen added. That the one thing she’s noticed is that the smarter you are, the harder it is to do it on your own. Because what happens is the mind goes, “Well, I could do this or I could do that, or I could do that other thing.” And then you get into this circular thinking and you’re just stuck. I know I’m in a group right now, and it’s for the One Funnel Away Challenge (http://ellenlikes.com/ofa). It’s a 30-day challenge, but I keep going through it because with my schedule, I couldn’t do it all in 30 days. But aside from that, I know that every time I get stuck, I don’t want to sit there and ruminate in my mind over all the things I could do.

[24:29] It’s so much easier to go into my group and say, ” What should I do now?” It’s so simple and it gets handled right then, and then I do it. It cuts the time and the energy way down.

 [24:49] If people want to reach out to you to see how you can facilitate or they can get into one of your groups, how do they do that?

[24:59] They can go to the website, www.smashingtheplateau.com and all the contact information is there. They can listen to anyone of close to 500 podcast episodes on various topics related to business. And they could also call the office. It is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Eastern time and the phone number is (212)-731-0770. And just ask to set up a time to speak with David.

[25:31] And be sure to let them know that you found out about them on the Books Business Abundance podcast.

That’s it for today. Bye bye.


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About the Author

Ellen Violette

Ellen is an 3X award-winning book, including being named one of the Top 20 Book Coaches of 2022 by Coach Foundation. She's also a multiple #1 bestselling author, a 3-time eLit award winner, podcast host, and a Grammy-nominated songwriter. She has been helping entrepreneurs increase their credibility and expert status, become #1 bestselling authors, and make a bigger impact in the world since 2004. Her mission is to make the world a better place one author and one book at a time!



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