This week I had lunch with an old friend who had not yet heard that I recently wrote a book. His first question was: “Why did you write a book?” It’s actually a question that I get a lot. It’s not that people believe that writing a book is a dumb idea. Rather, most people understand that it is a huge investment in time and energy on top of a day job, so they wonder what motivation drove me to make it happen. There are many answers that I give to this question. I usually talk about how I grew up with a father who wrote several books and his experiences struck a chord with me. I mention that it is a chance to help grow the profile of our business and serve as a point of pride for our agency, Bridge Worldwide. But at the end of the day, the reason I wrote the book was for people like Jason Sokol, who last week wrote “An Open Letter to Bob Gilbreath.”
In a post on his blog (please read it above or at this link), Jason shares the story of working at a large company and working to make changes in how the business does its marketing and sales. He writes about how the book was an inspiration, and he used it to craft a manifesto email for his senior leadership. The ideas in the book gave Jason “the leverage [he has] needed to make a difference.”
For me, this story represents the absolute height of personal satisfaction. When I got up at 6 a.m. every Saturday and Sunday for months to write the book, I was always thinking about people like Jason. I remembered being in his shoes, struggling to make changes in a big company that had been doing the same (broken) things for so long, and drawing on the words and suggestions of authors such as Seth Godin. I wanted to write a book that brought great ideas, along with tips on how to convince an organization to go along with them. My goal was not to sell a bunch of books, or even to have lots of people talk about it. I knew that I would fail if the book was unable to actually effect change in how companies work.
Ironically, last week Seth Godin wrote a post titled “Why write a book?” In this post he writes about the many reasons to write a book, and mentions that articles, blogs, and even tweets can all have some power to benefit others. But books can do something more:
“The goal isn’t always to spread an idea. Sometimes the goal is to make change happen…. If you want to change people, you must create enough leverage to encourage the change to happen.”
Godin’s point is that books are powerful tools that give great leverage to ideas. A book takes time to read and absorb; it is a journey into the mind of the author. The publishing process helps ensure that only a relative handful of the best ideas make it to the shelves. This power of a book is that it gives ideas more leverage to impact people’s lives and make change happen. Jason takes the idea of “leverage” further, by showing how a book can serve as the leverage he needs to make change.
This really represents the Purpose of my life: I want to figure out how the world works, and give as many people as possible ideas and tools to make positive change. I know that more than 10,000 people have purchased and read the book so far, which is great sales-wise for a marketing book after only a few months. But now I know that at least one person has been able to use my book to make positive change. That alone is worth everything that I put into it. My thanks to Jason for sharing his story—and I hope many more readers write their own meaningful marketing stories in the years to come.