In celebration of the publication of Just Run It!: Running an Exceptional Business Is Easier Than You Think, Susanna sat down with author Dick Cross to discuss the process of publishing a book. Dick started working with Bibliomotion over a year ago and today marks the culmination of this process. Thanks Dick for all your hard work and for taking the time to reflect on your experience.
What inspired you to write a book? Why did you embark on this process?
Just Run It! is the product of 25 years of a career in running businesses and teaching other people how to do it. It reflects a method for answering a question that is never asked, but one that I think is one of the most important questions in America these days, particularly with the state of our economy, and that is, “How do you run a business?” It is a question that is never addressed in a business school program and one that I’ve asked thousands of people in audiences. The answer is invariably a blank stare. The reason nobody answers the question is that nobody expects there to be an answer. The method that I have developed and used throughout my career, and outlined in the book, is a solid, proven, and reliable answer. I believe it can unlock enormous economic potential in the United States, particularly in lower and mid tier businesses, by simply raising the competence and the understanding of how to do the job at the top of those organizations and how to do it well.
So you’ve been using this method, as you said, for 25 years and asking that question. What gave you the idea to write a book?
It was a two-step thought process. First of all, just the way I’m wired I write to develop thoughts, so in the process of figuring out for myself how to run a business and how to teach other people to do it well, I did a lot of writing. Mostly notes to myself, which I kept. About 7 years ago, after having taught this method at Harvard in their executive program, I decided it would be a good idea to try and assemble it. I got the first draft completed just a little over 5 years ago. At that time I was asked, and accepted, to take over the CEO position in a pretty substantial turnaround in the automotive industry, which took me 5 years. I continued to get ideas and insight through that process. As that commitment reached its end, sort of an unusual thing happened — and I really do believe that sometimes things happen at exactly the right time. Through a series of connections, I was introduced to Jill and Erika [of Bibliomotion]. I showed them the manuscript and they said, “Gee, I think there’s something really relevant here that’s timely. Let’s see if we can finish up the manuscript and convert it into a book.” It’s the product of a life’s work, which works.
What has been your favorite part of this whole process?
There are a couple of angles. Writing a book has always been an aspiration of mine, but I never had any understanding of all the dimensions that are involved — not only in physically producing a book, but also in getting a responsible work into the hands of people who can use it.
The second angle on what I’ve learned, or what I appreciate, is Jill and Erika and their approach to the whole process of publishing, which I have learned, from being involved with them, is dramatically different than what has gone on in this industry over probably a hundred years in America. I’ve always positioned myself in situations of transition, in businesses that need to be something different than they have been in the past. That’s my sweet spot, to lead them through that, and I feel like, in a sense, I’m part of that on a much larger scale with Bibliomotion and the rest of the authors establishing a new model for publishing in the United States.
Have there been any unexpected challenges to writing and publishing a book?
Ah, writing not. People have told me that I write easily. I write the way I talk. So writing wasn’t a problem. I was quite frankly surprised and gratified with the editorial process, which didn’t have a whole lot to do with the words that were written, but was a great help in helping me step back from what I’d written and understand that the sequencing of ideas might flow better if arranged differently. But the big surprise for me is what’s going on in the world of publishing these days especially in the world of social media — how different one needs to think about getting a book to your audience these days and how that was done differently as recently as 5 years ago.
If you could start this whole process over again, would you do anything differently?
The writing process, no. Working with another publisher, absolutely no. But I would write with a clearer understanding of how books are now being used, read, and marketed.
Can you give examples?
In advance of writing the next book, I think I would do more work in advance through social media to prepare the audience to receive the book, through articles, blogs, etc., which would spark the imagination and perhaps whet the appetite for what’s to come.
What’s next for you? Any more books in the future?
I feel like I’m restarting life here. I’ve spent 25 years running companies, learning how to run companies, and teaching people how to run companies through consulting. This new life for me is about doing more writing — books, blogs, other things like that — and also feeding, as a bi-product, a new style of a consulting business, training operations, speaking life, and becoming known as a lead thinker in this topic that nobody talks about, which is “How do you run a company?”
Do you have anything else to add?
Nothing else to add other than appreciations to Jill and Erika for taking a risk on a rookie!
For more information on Just Run It! or for purchasing details, click here.
For more information on Dick Cross, please visit his website.