The Complete Executive by executive coach Karen Wright launches today. Karen’s book is a concrete guide to attaining happiness, health, and business success all at once. Who doesn’t want to aim for this goal in life? We sat down and talked with Karen pre-launch on the process of writing a book. Congrats to Karen!
What inspired you to write The Complete Executive in the first place?
Over the years that I’ve been coaching, I’ve always readily shared successes from one client to another. In fact, I think that one of the reasons that my clients like working with me is because, particularly as the years go on, I’ve got more and more examples, stories, and case studies that I can share. So when one client would say, “Gee, I’m really struggling with how to get exercise into my routine,” I would say, “Well listen, I’ve got another client who does this. Why don’t you try that?” I could see that I was accumulating a list of best practices in a number of different areas of life importance and it struck me that I could create a list, or a self-assessment that I could share with clients, and more broadly.
As I started to build the assessment out, I realized that it also reflected my personal belief that health, happiness, and business success could be achieved all at once, that it’s entirely possible to craft a life, and a way of being, without sacrificing one area for the other. So with that philosophy, I started looking at clients and seeing who were demonstrating best practices. I started to see something really interesting that I began to work with more formally. So it came about organically, based on an accumulation of examples from the years of executive coaching.
What has been your favorite part of the whole process of writing and publishing a book?
Other than working with Bibliomotion? Working with the Bibliomotion team has been an absolute treat because you’ve been so helpful, so supportive, and so patient. As a first time author, the fact that I had a publisher who was interested was a tremendous opportunity, and I’m just really grateful that Bibliomotion liked the idea and saw it for what it was.
The process of getting it done has been firm, but fair. There was a really aggressive timetable, but I think we’ve created something we all can be proud of and I’ve felt really well supported every step of the way.
There was a specific step in the process that challenged me, that was surprising to me. As part of the last steps in preparing the book for publication, I had to let some people read it before it was completely finished. To that point it had been quite private, quite personal, a description of what I believe and what I’ve learned — all very meaningful to me, and only a couple of other people had taken a look at it. When it came time to pull together the endorsements, I had to let a number of people read it, people whose opinions I value and who I really respect. I felt really vulnerable because, for the first time, I had real fear about how it would be received. Thankfully, I’ve received some really nice feedback which was not only really gratifying but, frankly, a huge relief.
Have there been any unexpected challenges throughout the whole process?
I’m typically very concise – at least in writing! Some of the items in the book are, to me, so obvious that I didn’t think I had to explain them. But when you’re writing a book, you can’t write 12 words about one thing and three pages about another. You have to balance it. I had to dig deeper into what I had to say, to challenge myself to be a little bit more thorough, and fill in my rationale for including that item. Generally I work individually with people and when he or she gets something, we move on. But in a book you can’t treat it that way. You can’t assume that people are going to get something. I really had to be clear about why I was including something in the assessment. And in a couple of cases, if I couldn’t come up with enough substantiation for something, I had to take it out. So I actually changed the model and improved it a few times through writing the book.
If you could start the whole process over again, is there anything you would do differently?
I would confront my own remarkable ability to procrastinate. I have a thriving business and a busy life, and I work best with deadlines. But I did get myself backed into a corner a couple of times. If I’d been smart, I would have gotten more organized and more structured — almost regimented — in planning out my writing time. More discipline around the writing process would have served me well. It all worked out, but my kids might have eaten less pizza if I’d been more organized.
What is next for you Karen? Any more books in your future?
I’m not a terribly superstitious person, but I’d hate to plan on a second book without knowing if anyone likes the first one. That said, I have had some inquiries into variations on this book — The Complete Female Executive, The Complete Creative Executive, The Complete Social Entrepreneur. We’ll wait and see – if this one goes well, then there may be others, but no plans yet.
For me this book is the foundation on which I’m building a whole new offering of coaching programs and that’s what is really exciting. There’s going to be yearlong group program that will be quite exclusive and the participants will have to apply to get in, and I think that program will be a very powerful experience so I am looking forward to it. I’m also going to link up with some other coaches so that they can use the material in their own coaching practices. And I’m looking to sell bulk orders of the book into organizations so that they can use it as a top talent development tool.