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Jim Canfield on Launching a New Career with a Book

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How an author rewrote a classic business book and changed his life.

The CEO’s CEO

Jim Canfield has spent much of his career helping business owners and entrepreneurs from diverse industries succeed. He’s done this through the facilitation and oversight of peer-to-peer CEO groups.

Through thoughtful engagement and listening, he had the opportunity to learn from the successes and failures of the leaders with whom he worked.

But he also learned about successful leadership from personal experience. Having started several businesses of his own, he said the biggest lesson he learned was that “leadership has to be malleable.”

Jim said, “Like a lot of CEOs building a company from scratch, I didn’t realize that, as a company grows, it needs a different type of leader at each stage of growth. I learned leadership had to be malleable. You always have to ask, ‘What type of leader does my organization need to grow?’”

And it was that malleability allowed Jim to grow his own businesses. One of his companies, in particular, was a collaboration with his brother. It proved successful because they leaned into their complementary skills.

Jim said, “I’m great at getting something off the ground. But we found my brother was a better leader when it came time to implement a distributed management system.”

This flexibility of thought permeates everything Jim does. Throughout his career, he’s learned to adapt to new situations, collaborate more effectively, and seize opportunities for himself when the way forward seemed closed.

One opportunity Jim always wanted to seize was to write a book that captured his knowledge. However, he had trouble getting it off the ground. Even though he had collected strong content, he didn’t know what story he wanted to tell to hold the book together.

Just like in his CEO peer groups, though, he found the way forward through the support of another leader. It began when Jim met Nancy Erickson, The Book Professor®, at an event.

Jim said, “What piqued my interest at first was that I could write methodically over a period in a group setting. For me, the creative process was always, ‘I’ll do it when inspiration hits.’ But I appreciate structure, and I believe in the power of a group. Groups can inspire us to do better.”

Jim started work on his book with the Group Coaching Mastermind. But a sudden shift in his priorities made him decide on a different course of action—and a much tighter timeline.

Time for a Change—and a Nonfiction Book

In 2018, while he was in the middle of his book with The Book Professor, Jim put in a bid to purchase the CEO peer-to-peer company he had run since 2006. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out.

Disappointed, Jim decided it was time to strike out on his own. He said, “I decided my future was better in my own hands than someone else’s.”

Jim wanted to build a new business that communicated the principles he taught CEOs, and he knew the best way to launch that business was through a book of his own. It was time to act quickly and complete a book he could leverage into a speaking career.

And he had a great idea to accelerate the process. His friend, Kraig Kramers, had written a book he loved called CEO Tools. Kraig had since passed away at the age of 72, and one of his fellow peer group members, Aprio, had purchased the intellectual property contained in CEO Tools.

Jim and Aprio CEO, Richard Kopelman, both wanted to perpetuate Kraig’s legacy—and at the same time give the book a fresh take. Kraig had written CEO Tools in a different era. Though the ideas were timeless, someone needed to update the book if it were to remain relevant. Jim wanted to do that.

Additionally, he knew if he wanted to teach Kraig’s principles in a way that would resonate, Jim would need to re-create the book. The new draft would need to reflect his own experiences, voice, and up-to-date research.

After he received permission to adapt the book, Jim went to Nancy in June of 2018 and said, “I need to change directions. I want to recreate CEO Tools, and I have two objectives for it. First, it needs to be done, and done well. Second, I’ll need to publish it in December. Would you take on a project like that?”

Nancy said, “Yes,” and they went to work.

Writing a Business Book in Six Months

With their strict deadline, Nancy helped Jim create a schedule through all stages of her book-writing process to keep the project on target. To do this, the Group Mastermind would no longer work. Jim decided to hire Nancy as his Personal Book Writing Coach.

Jim said, “The initial problem I ran into was just staying on schedule—hitting my marks. I tried two different methods to get on track. At first, I wrote just a little bit each day. But I felt like I would get into a flow with a thought, idea, or direction, then not be able to finish it.”

So, Jim began to schedule one or two eight-hour writing sessions into his week.

He said, “I would tell myself, This is a writing day. I knew it was my only task. I’m a pretty structured person, so when I scheduled time to write, I’d get up and go! And all the time, I was tracking toward the deadline.”

The book itself demanded much of his creativity, and each chapter had to incorporate three separate elements seamlessly.

First, Jim presented Kraig’s concepts in his own voice with new anecdotes. Second, Jim created a story about a fictional CEO named Jack to illustrate the principles of the book vividly.

Finally, Jim wrote case studies from companies that exemplified the concept presented in the chapter. He included three types of companies:

  • Those he knew from personal experience
  • Those he discovered through research
  • Those that came through referrals from other leaders

One of the companies Jim featured in his book came through an introduction from Nancy Erickson. The CEO of that company was author Craig C. Hughes, a client of hers who wrote the book The Self-Driving Company.

After Jim and Nancy had created his BookMAPs®, the two developed a rhythm that allowed them to complete a little more than a chapter a month. During that time, Nancy would offer her feedback, and Jim would incorporate it quickly.

He said, “Nancy gave me three types of feedback. The first kind was what I’d call structural feedback. It’s when she would read something and say, ‘I don’t follow you here—flesh this out a little bit more.’

“The second kind of feedback was where Nancy and I would just have a difference of opinion. For example, I had written a chapter that was very technical but contained a crucial lesson. Nancy thought it took away from the flow of the book. We went back and forth on it, trying to figure out what was best. In the end, we decided to include the chapter, but as an addendum.

“‘The third kind of feedback was just clean-up. It’s funny, even after reading through my book several times, we’d still find little gaps where there was a missing word.”

“It’s what every author hopes for.”

Amazingly, through rigorous work, Jim was able to write and publish his book in just six months. The book itself became the cornerstone of his new speaking career.

Jim said, “My plan all along was to speak to CEO peer groups. I love it. Usually there are twelve to fifteen CEOs in a room. I spend two to three hours telling the story of the book and talking through the concepts. And for the most part, I follow the structure of the book when I give my talks.”

Jim says that, as a speaker, he’s able to sell between one hundred and two hundred books a month. Several times a year, he’ll sell closer to one thousand copies in bulk for larger engagements.

His speaking earned him the award of TEC Canada’s U.S. Speaker of the Year. His book and talks have garnered him endorsements from Ken Blanchard, Jack Canfield, Debbi Fields (Mrs. Fields Bakeries), and Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh.

But, for Jim, the real reward is watching the book help business owners and executives thrive.

“I’m always surprised to see the impact the book has on individual CEOs. The implementation of these concepts really revolutionizes businesses. It’s what every author hopes for.”

Jim attributes his ability to finish the book with speed and excellence to his decision to work with Nancy. He said, “I think she does a great job. Her system balances the right and left brain very well. I appreciate the structure she provides in addition to her new and fresh creative ideas.”

You can buy Jim Canfield’s finished book, CEO Tools 2.0, right here.

Would a book help launch the next chapter of your career?

We’ve all gained a lifetime of knowledge from hard-won experiences. Often, that knowledge represents how we found success in an area of life. People need that knowledge! And you can leverage it to help move your career forward.

But even the most disciplined people need help to stay on track and avoid the pitfalls that lie along the path to a published book.

As The Book Professor®, Nancy Erickson guides people to complete their books. Then, she helps authors get their books to market so other people can benefit from the knowledge they hold.

If that’s what you need to move your career to the next step, contact Nancy here.


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The No-Excuses Guide to Writing a Business Book

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Establish yourself as an expert. Increase credibility. Attract a following.

Will this help you move your career forward?


Entrepreneur Brian Marcel has had a wildly successful career. As one of the founders of the barcode industry, his work helped shaped the world we live in today.

He is, by any measure, an expert in his field.

Others in his industry recognized his expertise, and for years they asked him to write a book about it. They saw others pass away, and their knowledge died with them. They hoped Brian would capture his experiences and the lessons he learned in a book.

But Brian thought no one would be interested by his work in a tiny niche! He failed to grasp how broad his knowledge was, how compelling his story could be, and how much the general public could gain from him.

This very common self-perception has stopped way too many talented businesspeople from sharing their knowledge in book form. Maybe it’s stopped you. Perhaps you’ve thought, “No one will be interested in what I have to say.”

As someone who’s helped dozens of businesspeople write inspiring and noteworthy books, here are some of the common roadblocks I’ve helped them overcome.

Can you relate to any of these?

Roadblock #1: I feel like my knowledge appeals to too narrow an audience.

For Brian, having grown up in a niche industry, he thought only a handful of people would be interested in what he had to say. But authors from niche industries write great books all the time! The question is this: How do you maximize your book’s potential?

First, know that being “specific” is good. It helps you speak directly to those who are most interested in what you have to say.

Plus, specificity is helpful for marketing. A clearly defined audience translates into a clearly defined marketing plan. You’ll be able to find those you want to reach through industry publications, podcasts, radio shows, blogs, and events.

However, general principles will nearly always emerge from your writing. It’s sometimes hard for authors to see the broader application of their experience.

Authors need an outside perspective. When working on your book, you need to find someone with a talent for seeing the bigger picture. That’s where I come in. Read on to discover how that works.

Roadblock #2: I don’t have any principles to share, just a story to tell.

If you’ve had any success, your story will reveal general principles that could apply far beyond your life and experience.

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The way authors discover these principles is by breaking their story into problem/solution sets using BookMAP™ 2. Each chapter title will reveal a problem the author solved. Once identified, the solutions and the stories will flow from there.

Brian thought his knowledge was too industry-specific, but here are some of his chapter titles that apply to every business owner:

  • Begin with a Plan
  • Hire the Best People
  • Focus on Process
  • Look for New Markets
  • How to Survive in the Market without Sales

As you can see, these are universal principles that emerged as Brian worked on the structure for his book. Anyone in business can relate!

That’s why it’s vital to spend time on your book’s structure first. Don’t cut corners. If you skip ahead, you’ll confuse yourself and, eventually, your readers.

Roadblock #3: I know what principles work, but I don’t have an exciting story.

A lot of business book authors tell me they can’t think of any good stories. But I’ve found this: If you’ve experienced a problem, then discovered the solution, there’s a story you can tell.

Here’s the formula for a great story:

  • What it used to be like
  • What happened
  • What it’s like now

During the second module of the book writing course, “Write without Ruts,” I teach my authors how to write a great story. I show them how to write in scenes and invoke sensory language so readers can truly experience what the writer experienced. It’s something anyone can learn how to do.

When we move to the third module of our book writing process, “Polish and Perfect”, magic happens. So many of the writers I work with are shocked at how well they can write!

(For more inspiration, read this story about self-proclaimed non-writer Terry Lammers.)

Roadblock #4: What if I give away too much information, and no one wants to hire me?

You may want to write a business book because you’re a consultant with great information to share. You realize you need a book for credibility. Still, you fear if you lay out your knowledge, you’ll devalue your services as a consultant.

I tested this one out for you. I wrote a book called Stop Stalling and Start Writing: Kick the Excuses and Jumpstart Your Nonfiction Book. I put my whole process in that book. I gave everything away.

But I’ve seen that giving my knowledge away doesn’t make me unnecessary. It establishes me as the expert I am. Not only that, but my book has also served as:

  • A sales tool
  • Something people can buy when they can’t afford my services
  • Fodder for my seminars, keynote speeches, and online courses
  • Material for articles, interviews, and blog posts

Listen—there’s no need to have an attitude of scarcity when it comes to your knowledge. There’s enough for everyone. Share, and it will come back to you.

Roadblock #5: What if my ideas are too “vanilla?”

I’ve worked with writers who have authored books on very similar topics. In fact, three of my clients are podiatrists, and it’s hard to believe three podiatrists have something wildly different to say.

I’m here to report that each of those books is uniquely fascinating.

The difference in your book is you. It’s your experiences, your language, and what you’ve gleaned from others that will make your book enjoyable. But that’s not all.

A well-defined target audience will help you create interest. Imagine you’re a financial planner. Most financial planners have similar knowledge, so you spend time thinking about what group of people other financial planners haven’t reached. You think, What if I write my book for resident physicians?

These are people who haven’t earned much money—at least, not yet. They don’t know what you know, and no one has spoken directly to their needs or situation.

Maybe you could help them.

Because, in just a few years, those residents will have large incomes that will need expert management. If your book reached them when they had nothing, maybe they’ll call when they have so much money, they don’t know what to do with it!

Don’t worry about uniqueness. Your book’s individuality will reveal itself as you engage in the process.

You can write a great business book.

Businesspeople, experts, entrepreneurs: You know more than you think. You have something to say, even if you don’t feel like it. If you’ve made a life for yourself, you have something to teach others.

A book can do a lot for you. It can:

  1. Establish you as an expert
  2. Increase your credibility
  3. Help you attract a following

But it’s rare to find a person who can do all of this without some help. If you want to work on and finish a business book that can stand shoulder to shoulder with anything on the market, we should talk.


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Business Book Author Brian Marcel: Niche Experience, Broad Appeal

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With a career’s-worth of experience, this barcode industry entrepreneur created a marketable nonfiction book with The Book Professor®.

Finding Opportunity in a New Technology

Brian Marcel felt starved for inspiration.

It was the mid-1970s, and he worked for the London-based paper manufacturer Reed International. His small division represented a Portuguese paper mill, and he needed a change. Marcel said (in his charming British accent), “It was really boring and very limited, so I said to my boss, ‘Can’t we do something else?’”

Marcel’s boss agreed to let him explore any opportunity. He started by visiting the commercial departments of London’s European embassies. Initially, Marcel hoped to find more papermills Reed could represent in the UK. Though he found none, one German-based business caught his attention.

They specialized in barcode technology, a relatively new industry, and Marcel realized it would fit hand-in-glove with Reed’s clientele. With little more than a phone call, Marcel brought Reed into the barcode business, and it changed his life.

After Reed gained a fourteen percent market share, an American competitor recruited Marcel. Unfortunately, they filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy a year later. Marcel saw it as an opportunity.

He said, “I took all my customers—and the company car—and set up business. I had always wanted to start my own company because my dad was an entrepreneur. It was a no-brainer, really, but it took something like that to make me do it.”

That was in 1982. By 1987 Marcel was looking for new markets to expand and figured the wall might come down in Berlin, opening the Soviet Bloc to the West.

The corporation he started then, IBCS Group, has become the top mobility integrator in Central and Eastern Europe. Now, as one of the few people with a front-row seat to the entire history of this industry, his colleagues began to push him into facing another challenge.

Finding an Audience for a Nonfiction Business Book

Marcel is part of a trade association called AIDC 100—one hundred colleagues who work in automatic identification and data capture (AIDC). There are few people left to tell the history of their business, so several association members asked if he would write a memoir.

Marcel said, “I never really wanted to write a book because I thought it would be too much hassle.” Then, he said, “I thought I couldn’t do it because my memory’s crap. And I’ll never remember everything—certainly not enough that’s of interest to the public.”

He mentioned his struggle in a mastermind group that included The Book Professor®, Nancy Erickson. She told him about her Group Mastermind program.

Marcel explored Erickson’s website, which intrigued him. He said, “She had a process. I looked at her three modules and I thought, Oh, that looks interesting. And there were weekly calls, which meant I could be held to a deadline. I need that to happen if I’m going to do a good job of anything.”

In the first classes, Erickson had asked the group to identify their target market. Marcel said he was writing it for the people in his industry, as well as his family. When he totaled up the number of readers who he thought would be interested, he only could imagine about a hundred.

Marcel quoted Erickson as saying, “Well, that’s not very ambitious. Would you like to sell more copies than that?”

Marcel responded, “Yes, I’d like to sell more, but who the hell’s going to be interested?”

But Erickson changed his mind, helping him see a much larger opportunity for a business book that would speak to anyone who wanted to start a thriving business.

Leaning into The Book Professor’s Framework

Marcel had plenty of wisdom to share. He could teach people how to start a business, how to work with different cultures, and how to connect an untapped market with a new technology. Besides, he had already been working with mentees in other industries, teaching the principals of business through his life experience.

Once he was working through Erickson’s first module—”From Concept to Concrete Plan”—he felt like ideas started to flow. The process included questions to answer, and he found the direction useful. He created the two BookMAPs® to establish the structure for the book.

However, when he reached Module Two—Write Without Ruts—Marcel was afraid his memory would fail him. When he went to work, though, he found the BookMAPs kept him going, saying, “They were able to suck memories out of me.”

He continued, “Having the weekly phone call was useful as well because it forced me to write. I had a process, a framework, and a deadline. Those were the three key things.”

The book he found himself writing was unique both to his industry and to the business book cannon. Accessible for any entrepreneur, each chapter consists of problems he faced personally, mistakes he made along the way, and the solutions he discovered.

The finished book can connect with, as well as instruct, entrepreneurs from any industry.

New Opportunities through a Nonfiction Book

Marcel said, “The new book has provided some useful opportunities for my business. I find if you have a book, you have more credibility.”

The way Erickson helped him structure the book gave it a built-in marketing plan. He released some of the book’s takeaways through social media, wrote articles based on chapters, and gave several interviews for a variety of podcasts, radio shows, and magazines.

The media attention became a valuable part of his LinkedIn profile, and he said the book is a “good tool to move things forward.” The final chapter, “Spot the Next Trend,” hints at some of the new developments and opportunities he sees, including subscription-based models and blockchain technology.

Entrepreneurs who need a practical guide to business ownership can find Brian Marcel’s Raise the Bar, Change the Game: A Success Primer for Budding Entrepreneurs Who Want to Change the World, on Amazon.

A Success Strategy for Nonfiction Authors

The most productive people in the world know that success isn’t something you can improvise. It takes hard work, accountability, and repeatable disciplines that can become part of your daily life.

At TheBookProfessor.com, we give authors:

  1. A proven process that has worked for hundreds of others across a variety of nonfiction genres
  2. A framework with proprietary tools to lead authors from initial concept to published book
  3. Weekly check-ins and deadlines to keep you on track

If this is what you need to move your career forward, create new opportunities, and get your knowledge to those who need it most, we can help.

Send us a message and tell us about your book right here.


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Even a Business Leader Needs Help

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You’ve been a professional and a leader for quite some time and have learned a few things along the way, haven’t you? Your years of experience, education, ideas, and expertise are what other impassioned leaders need in order to gain the success that you’ve achieved. Perhaps you’re already a mentor to others, and you know that what you know can benefit more than you can reach in person. If you want a greater influence, you need a bigger platform! It’s time to take your solution and help others solve the problems they can’t fix on their own. Yes, you’re successful, but sometimes even a successful business leader needs help reaching others.

Why Should a Business Leader Write a Book?business leader

As a business leader with years of experience, you know deep down that you’re a true leader. Writing a book helps to establish yourself as an expert with those who don’t know your talent-that’s where I can help.

Business leaders write a book for a number of reasons:

  1. You have something to share that will benefit others.
  2. You want to leave a legacy that will impact the future.
  3. You see others struggle and have learned how to overcome obstacles.
  4. You want to showcase your business and the path to success.

Listen to what our writer, David J.P. Fisher, author, business leader, and entrepreneur had to say after he wrote his first book Networking in the 21st Century: Why Your Network Sucks and What to Do About It:

“Writing the first book was definitely a big hurdle, but I found that it was like running a marathon. Once you do one, you look back and want to do it again. I’ve published three shorter books in the ten months after publishing my first book, and there are more on the way. It’s definitely helped build my professional credibility and stature as an expert in my field.”

What do you have to lose? When will there ever be a better moment than now? It’s time to build your personal brand and establish yourself as the expert you are.

If you’re a business leader that has always wanted to write a book, reach out to us, and we can help you take the next step!


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Author Feature Jim Canfield: A Classic Rewrite of CEO Tools by Kraig Kramer  

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Leading an organization to success and maintaining that success is no easy feat. People sometimes look at successful companies and think “Wow, that’s a great company,” without thinking about how that company became a success. Executive leaders often find themselves scrambling to create a winning strategy that will take their company to the next level.

But what if there was a manual to help you answer questions like: Is your business positioned to profit in tough times? Can you make sense of what your CFO is telling you? Do you know what really creates sales in your business? Do you know how to hire, grow, and keep top talent? If you’re an Executive Leader and want to confidently answer those questions, CEO Tools by the late Kraig Kramer, updated and rewritten by Jim Canfield, may be just the book you need.

Meet Jim Canfield: Managing Director of CEO Tools, Author and Executive Coach

As managing director of CEO Tools and consultant to Aprio LLP, a CPA-led advisory firm, Jim provides winning strategies and business performance tools that empower CEOs to drive profitable growth. He brings a unique blend of experience, including extensive learning in leadership theory and practice as well as “been there, done that” practical experience from running several companies.

Jim has a long history of working with Executive Leaders. Before joining CEO Tools, Jim served as CEO of Renaissance Executive Forums, a leading membership organization for CEOs. He also worked with Vistage, the world’s largest CEO organization, as Chief Learning Officer and VP of west coast operations. He facilitated several CEO groups in Memphis, for which he won a “Chair Excellence” award. He has also logged over 10,000 hours as an executive coach.

When he’s not working, Jim enjoys a variety of hobbies including golf, cooking, yoga, and competitive athletic events. His goal this year is to compete in at least one competitive event every month in 2017. So far, these events have included several 5k races, a 32-mile bike race, a sprint triathlon, and an obstacle course race.

We were excited when Jim came to The Book Professor and wanted to rewrite Kraig Kramer’s, CEO Tools. The new version is titled CEO Tools 2.0.  It is updated with a new format and new case studies from companies that have followed and benefited from the book since its original publication.

It’s a challenge to take a classic business book that is known and loved by thousands and update it. The goal is to remain faithful to the original concepts and constituency, while attracting new readers to the work. Jim and his colleagues at Aprio will use the CEO Tools content as a launchpad for a suite of online tools, workshops, presentations, and a certification program for coaches and consultants.

 This book will be available in January! Stay tuned for its release date—you won’t want to miss this one! If you or someone you know has always wanted to write a book, reach out to us, and we will help you make it happen!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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