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The Published Author Podcast

BUILDING THOUGHT LEADERS WITH KEN LIZOTTE

Ken has been in the publishing industry for more than five decades and has helped hundreds of executives, entrepreneurs, and others to become thought leaders. In this episode Ken talks about how he came to the conclusion that every thought leader needs a book, as well as how he became an author himself. Listen in for some great tips on why and how to become a thought leader by writing your own book!

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EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

Josh Steimle:

Welcome to the Published Author Podcast where we help entrepreneurs learn how to write a book and to leverage it to grow their business and make an impact. I'm your host, Josh Steimle. Today, my guest is Ken Lizotte. Ken is the Chief Imaginative Officer of Emerson Consulting Group, a consulting firm he founded to transform executives and experts into thought leaders. Ken is also the author of more than half a dozen books, including The Speaker's Edge, and The Expert's Edge. Ken, welcome to the show.

Ken Lizotte:

Thank you, Josh. Thanks for having me.

Josh Steimle:

Well, Ken, and I were having some fun chatting before we started recording. Turns out he lives in Concord, Massachusetts. I just moved from Acton, Massachusetts, down the street. We had a good chat about Emerson Anthro and Louisa May Alcott and a lot of the history back there, but give us -- give the audience some more of your background Ken. Where do you come from in terms of your profession and your professional career? And how did you end up starting your own consulting firm?

Ken Lizotte:

Okay, so one thing I’d say to you before we really get into this is, you came -- you had lived in Acton, Massachusetts. I lived in Concord, Massachusetts, and I live on the west end of Concord. So I'm very close to the Acton Concord line. So we might have lived, we might have been neighbors, who knows.

Josh Steimle:

Yeah, we're probably within walking distance.

Ken Lizotte:

Probably within walking distance. So I've been involved in publishing in book publishing, all my adult life and career and in one form or another. I first got the bug, if you want to call it that in college, when I -- something, there was something in me that wanted to write a book. My daughter, for example, who has been out of college for about five years now. She's a writer, too. She took it up as well, but she likes to write long articles, feature articles for publications. And while I've done some of that. For me, it was always a book. So I was always trying in my earliest years to write a book. I'm like, a lot of would be writers, I had tried writing a novel at first and -- but writing a book, and it never went anywhere back in those days for me. But I started to have interaction with agents and publishers on a kind of a minimal basis. But writing a book became my dream, my goal when I was in my 20s. And so I became a freelance writer. And it took a few years before I ran into an agent, a literary agent in the Boston area, who was -- has as luck would have it. I mean, it was really a big lucky break. But I used to meet him with a group of writers that used to meet at a pub in Cambridge, Massachusetts. And I think it's once a month or I don't know if it was every week, I can't remember. But this guy, his name was Mike. He was an agent, and he liked to be there because he was kind of trying to build his own business. Well, one day I came early, and he was the only one there who's sitting there with this binder and his flaps of paper, and he's looking through and he told me that he had an offer from a major New York publisher and the publisher is Putnam, which is still a major publisher and was a major publisher of 100 years ago, 200 years ago, even. And he needed a writer, because it was swept the call celebrity, a celebrity, a biography, autobiography. And the celebrity was not a writer. And so he needed to find a writer. And he had just gone through two other writers who were not able to really work with this person. And he said, would you want to give it a try? Well, I would have done it for nothing. But it turned out they had a $50,000 advance that he had arranged. And he was looking to split that with the celebrity. The celebrity writer her name is Danielle Torres. She was actually a baseball wife, a major league baseball wife, who had gone through like a rags to riches story with her celebrity ballplayer husband. So anyway, the point is that I said yeah, and I met with her and we hit it off well, and this and that. And fast forward, the contract was signed, wrote the book, did a lot of research, the book came out. And the book got tons of publicity all around the country. It was a major book and a major hit. And that was my first one. From there, I -- Mike, continued to represent me. So he used to bring me down to New York City, and introduce me to all these different publishers and was great. We go into Random House, and he's big publishers. So I really got trained, you might say, in terms of how book publishing works in those days. And again, another fast forward, I came to a point where I had been getting involved with an organization called the Institute of Management Consultants. I was a consultant for a while not so much a management consulting some like these people were, but I spent a lot of time in the early 90s with them. And I started to understand that consultants, entrepreneurs, business owners, people who really understand that marketing has to take place on not only on here and there, it needs to take place ongoing. A lot of consultants understand that we'll be great if they would write a book, they have a dream of their own. It's not that they want to become full time writers or they necessarily want to do two or three or four books, but they know that a book can be hugely instrumental in terms of marketing your business. And -- but they didn't know how to do it. So I was put on a panel in front of these people. And it was just maybe 40, 50 people in the audience. And I was fielding questions about how, I was not doing right now what I'm doing, which is helping consultants and entrepreneurs, become authors. But that was the day that it began for me, because I had such a great time answering questions about how to get a book published, how to write, how to this, how to that. It just came natural to me. And I was at a point in my life where I really wanted to get back into writing. And because I had taken this diversion to consulting. And as a result of that, one panel, I had probably a half a dozen consultants come up to me in the next week or so or a couple of weeks. And one of them in particular said, I've been working on a book, I've been stuck. I don't know how to go forward. I don't know how to make it happen. Would you consider working with me, and that was really the beginning of the business. That was 25 years ago, it was beginning of my business, which helps people either get articles published, written and published, or books written and published. I don't write the books by the way, like I did with that first big book that I did when I was a ghostwriter. I believe that it's very important for entrepreneurs who want to become what we call thought leaders to write their own book, but I can help them get publishing how -- a publishing contract or self-published a book, whatever is needed. My mission is to help my clients get a book published. And that's what I do. So it's come -- it's over 50 years that I've been working on, on in book publishing one way or the other.

Josh Steimle:

And so did the consulting lead to the books then that you wrote The Expert's Edge and The Speaker's Edge. When did those books come about?

Ken Lizotte:

Yeah, those came about for me a few years into my work with consultants, once I really gotten the -- my business up and running and succeeding and growing. I always knew that I should do a book. So it became the idea that I was helping consultants become thought leaders, and that very first client that had seen me at that panel, he said to me, he said, what I want to do is I want to become a Global Thought Leader, he said. And at that moment, I said, myself not quite sure what he means exactly. But he had the sense of what a thought leader is somebody who stands above the crowd and have been above your competition. And what's different? Well, one of the things that can be different he knew, and a lot of my clients throughout the years know is that if you have a book, as much as it's true that so many books are published these days, so many more than ever. Nonetheless, most people in most in business or out of business will never write and publish a book, even if they're dreaming of it. Most of them will not. And most anybody listening right now I'm sure they think about their competition. Very few of your competitors, not necessarily none, but very few will have written and published a book. So I knew that I needed to do it as well. And that's why the book, The Expert's Edge, which was published by McGraw Hill, became something that was really important for me to do. And but it took me a few years to kind of get into a -- to just like a does for a lot of my clients.

Josh Steimle:

Well, as you started going through the book writing process yourself for your own book, where there are thoughts or impressions that you had where you said, you know what, I've been teaching people how to do this and telling people to do this, but now that I'm going through it for myself, it's giving me a different perspective. Were there any things that lessons or ideas that popped out to you during that process?

Ken Lizotte:

Well, remember that for me, I had already been a writer. So it wasn't that it was a new process for me. And beyond past that first book that I told you, everybody about, I went on to write a few more books and they were published mostly at ghostwriting situation. This was really the -- not exactly the first book, but the first book that just had my name on it. And I think the biggest thing for me at that point was that being clear that there are various ways that you can go about writing the book. It's not necessarily that you sit down, and you write the first sentence, and then you write the first paragraph, and then you finish the fourth paragraph and the fifth page and like that, chronological from beginning to end doesn't have to be like that. And I had an assistant for The Expert's Edge that did some interviews for me. So I would take those and I would just paste them all into a word document. And it would be rough. And they with the format's and the font would be different, and this and that. But I saw that it was a matter of getting everything down there on the screen, so that I can play around with it, rather than just write it from beginning to end. That's -- that was something that has helped me coach my clients over the years when they get a little stuck about how they're going to do the writing. Because once again, we don't like to do the writing for them. Because we want them to really be the thought leader. And when you publish a book, people say to you, Wow, you wrote a book, they won't say you published a book, they'll say you wrote a book. Wow, what was that like? And I don't want my clients to be fumbling around trying to come up with something in their head. They're saying I didn't really write a book. But I got to pretend I did. So I think that's the main thing that there's a lot of ways that you can go about actually getting the book written.

Josh Steimle:

Yeah, I recently interviewed Douglas Burdett, who hosts a podcast called The Marketing Book Podcast. And he was talking about how every once in a while he'll get a guest on his podcast, and it becomes clear, they didn't write the book, and they don't even really know what's in the book. And then he said, it gets really awkward. And he's had to cut a few podcasts off and say, we should probably end it right here. Because it becomes he likes to go deep on the podcast. And when it becomes obvious that the guests can't go deep on their own book, because they did a write it. He said, well, yeah, we just need to cut it off right there.

Ken Lizotte:

Well, I saw that with the second book that I ghostwrote back in those days, I was working with two management consultants, just coincidentally, I wasn't involved with management consulting, but I was working with two management consultants that were really well known in their fields. And they had done an academic book called The Neurotic Organization. And it was -- I was psychoanalyzing organizations and companies and some of them are, they saw as paranoid and some of them they saw as what they called dramatic and things of that nature. So Little Brown wanted to make a popular book out of it. And they needed a writer who could write that way and that was me. So I got that job. But the interesting thing about it was that first two-thirds of the book, were they're explaining or the book explaining these various psychological neurotic styles of management and leadership. And that was fine. But then it got to the third piece of it needed to be prescriptions it needed to be here's what your readers can do about this. And they were, they had no idea. I was kind of shocked, they had no idea. They didn't know what to write. So guess who came up with a lot of the prescriptions in that book. I just -- I had to use my imagination and what I learned so far, and of course, I'd run it by them at all. But I pretty much had to be the one to write that part of the book, which most ways is probably the most important part of a book like that anyway. So I did have that kind of experience with experts that really ought to be writing their entire book.

Josh Steimle:

That's fascinating. Quick break here. Are you an entrepreneur? Do you want to write a book that will help you grow your business visit publishedauthor.com. Or we have programs to fit every budget, programs that will help you write and publish your book in as little as 90 days starting at just $39 per month. Or if you're too busy to write your book will interview you and then write and publish your book for you. Don't let the valuable knowledge and experience you have go to waste, head on over to publishedauthor.com to get the help you need to become a published author. You've already waited long enough do it today. Now back to the show. So was the first of the two books The Expert's Edge and The Speaker's Edge did The Expert's Edge come first?

Ken Lizotte:

The Expert's Edge came first because it's the whole thing. If anybody wants to have my business secret formula, all you have to do is buy The Expert's Edge and read The Expert's Edge, because that's what you want to do when you have a book. Sometimes, I'll have a new client say to me, what do I hold back? I don't want to give all my secrets away and this and that. And I say no give all your secrets away. Because what you're looking for in your book is somebody reading it saying was this person really knows what he knows, he or she really knows their stuff. And I could use somebody like this to help me instead of staying, I'll just copy everything in the book. I mean, the people who are going to hire you are not going to do that. So as a result I've got everything in the book that informs what I call a Global Thought Leader. Now, 25 years later, I'm pretty clear what a thought leader is. And the book is really about how to become a thought leader. So that -- so it's called The Expert's Edge become the go to authority people turn to every time. I mean, that kind of says it all. And the most important chapter to me is a chapter on publishing a book. Because I think that that's the most significant way that you can be seen as a thought leader is to have a book. And then the rest of it has to do with speaking engagements and getting interviewed by the media, and writing articles and things like that. But think of the book as the hub of a wheel, and all of those others come out of it. And that's why The Speaker's Edge came later, came a few years later.

Josh Steimle:

And so once you had that book, what change did you see in your business? Was it easier to get clients? Did you have more clients? Could you charge more? What were some of the benefits that you saw from having the book then?

Ken Lizotte:

It does, it did allow, it did bring more visibility to me on the internet, in particular, and I would get clients that were looking for someone like me, and they would see that I had a book. And then they might see other services, but that they didn't have a book. So that would get their attention. And I think that credibility booster is the most important reason for having a book. I have this great story about a client of mine who's based in the Netherlands. And he's -- he already was a Global Thought Leader. But he was in a bookstore in London in 2011 and he saw my book on a bookshelf. And he took it off and he browse through this guy's an avid reader, he'll walk out of a bookstore was like six hardcover books to that he's purchased to read. And he told me that he browsed through it. And he saw, he says, he said, well, I know this, yes, I know that. Well, I never thought about this well. And then he put it back on the shelf, and he didn't buy it. And he left. And he said he kept thinking about it. And he went back the next day. And he took it off the shelf again, he looked at it again, try to decide should he buy this or not? And again, same thing, he said, well, I know this and he put it back, and he didn't buy it. Third day, he did come back and buy it because he couldn't stop thinking about it. He became a client of mine, in 2012. I have since gotten him published with three different publishers, three different books. And a lot of other, again, articles published and some speaking engagements and that kind of thing. He's still a client of mine, seven years. No, I'm losing track here six, seven years later, seven years later. So there's a lot of different things you can do. But the main thing is to realize that it's not so much about book sales, and it's not so much about whether business comes to you directly from your book. The importance is the credibility that you gain, that no one else around you, as I said before has a competition. And that will be just a credibility item that is far and above anyone else's.

Josh Steimle:

I've seen this firsthand that if you can just say that you have a book, immediately you have this authority that nobody else has. And especially with getting speaking engagements, I've seen speakers who are able to get on stage and I know the event organizers aren't reading every speakers book. But it's kind of an insurance policy, right? You never get fired for hiring a speaker if they have a book, because you can always say well, they have a book they I thought they knew what they were talking about, because they have got the book.

Ken Lizotte:

Yeah, there's an organization in the Boston area called the CEO Club of Boston. And I've been involved with it for years. And the director who had founded that organization 17 years earlier, I will often send him propose my clients who have just done a book to be a speaker. And he takes like 90% of them. And he says to me, he says I get solicited by all kinds of people who would like to speak in front of CEO audiences. And he said, but I can tell from your speaker -- from your clients that you propose. I can tell almost immediately if they're a good fit, because they have a book and he says I'll just go to Amazon and I'll just read a few paragraphs about the book. And I know right then and there. So a lot of times he said the title alone will tell me if this is a good fit or not. And so he wasn't reading any of the books. But he was taking all my speakers. So yeah, it's a really important item for speaking engagements if that's what's something that you want to do, and it shouldn't be something you want to do because -- I'd say my second most important chapter in this in The Expert's Edge is speaking how to get speaking engagements. And The Speaker's Edge by the way that that book, which I have here, Speaker's Edge, that that book is called, is subtitled: The Ultimate Go-To Guide for Locating and Landing Lots of Speaking Gigs. And the reason it's called that and the reason it does that is one thing that I used to find as a speaker was that I didn't see books out there that particularly addressed how do you get speaking engagements? How do you find them? And I just, one of those situations where I decided that I would write it myself. And that's what I did. And that's what it really focuses on, not how to be a great speaker. But how do you get speaking engagements? How do you find them?

Josh Steimle:

And why did you feel like you needed to write a separate book about that versus what was already in The Expert's Edge?

Ken Lizotte:

Well, there's some of that in The Expert's Edge. But it doesn't go into the kind of depth that I knew it could with a book. And I like to refer to publishing and speaking as the one two punch of thought leadership. So one being, of course, publishing, and two being speaking. And so it felt like it warranted a book, I had this concept. I love the idea. I wanted to write it. So I wrote it, I found a publisher for myself, and the rest is history.

Josh Steimle:

So you've worked with a lot of traditional publishers, yourself, as well as for your clients. What are your thoughts on the publishing world in terms of self-publishing versus traditional publishing? What's the right fit for what type of expert or entrepreneur?

Ken Lizotte:

Yeah, so I'm glad you asked me that. Because like, two minutes ago, I was going to raise it. And then we went on talking about the speakers that, but I did want to say something about that. What you were saying is so true about a book itself leading to many things being a tool to lead to many things. And what I found is that it doesn't matter if it's a book that's self-published, or if it's a book that's published by a publisher. Now, it's great to have a well-known publisher publish your book, because it feels really good. Like when with The Expert's Edge that I can say McGraw Hill publishes book, it feels good. And I make a point of saying that McGraw Hill publishes book, that's twice I've just said McGraw Hill inside of 30 seconds. But the reality is that people again, I said earlier, most people have -- might have a dream of publishing a book, but will never do it. And so most people are impressed that someone has written and published a book, whether they're someone who has never done it, or even if it's someone like me, that has done it, we're impressed. And it doesn't matter that much. If it's self-published, it matters that the person had a body of knowledge in his or her head, that could be put into a book, went through the process, did it -- made it into a package that we can all look at and got it published one way or the other. So I think that the important thing that people have to know about self-publishing, versus a publisher is that the difference between the two is that having a publisher doesn't mean that you have a printer, it doesn't mean that publisher will just does everything you say. You've got to be ready to not have full control. So for example, I have a book called Discover Your Dream Career, which I self-published in row because that in those years of consulting, that's the kind of consultant I was. I was a career consultant, and the tagline for my business and was Discover Your Dream Career, which I always thought was a great, great, great title for a book. But if I hadn't looked for a publisher, the publisher possibly would have changed that title, because most publishers keep that control. So you have to know whether you're somebody who can, I'll let yourself, give up some control, whether you're that kind of person, or this and/or this project is that kind of person, if you want full control, you've got to self-publish. And I would just say, if somebody listening and feels like they would like, control, but they're worried about, maybe the credibility is not as high. No, I think the credibility is just as high people are just as impressed, no matter which way you do it.

Josh Steimle:

Great. So with your books does this, I find that, like, you get a lot of questions from people, I get a lot of questions from people. There's part of me that says, when I'm getting the same question over and over and over again, maybe I should write a blog post, maybe I should put some content out there to answer those questions, especially because there are a lot of people who might not be able to afford consulting services. And so you're always able to just say, Well, here's the book. And then you can nurture those people along. And maybe they become a client years later or something. Is this something you've seen with your own work that sometimes people come to you and they're not ready, but then you're able to give them the book? And then maybe years later, they come back and say, hey, I'm ready now?

Ken Lizotte:

Yeah, yeah. Oh, that's it. It's a step in the right direction, whether they become a client of mine or not. But it does happen sometimes. But I think the main thing is to make yourself an authority you don't want to be holding back, you want to just show that you really everything is in there. So it becomes a stepping stone for a client down the road. That's great. But really the biggest impact or is what we've discussed so far. It's the idea of getting speaking engagements, more likely to get speaking engagements to be on a podcast or a zoom cast as well. I mean, I don't know how you are with the selecting guests. But I would guess that a lot of it has to do with whether somebody has a book or not, because there's some level of credibility there.

Josh Steimle:

Well, with this podcast, where I'm interviewing authors, that's pretty much you must have so.

Ken Lizotte:

Yeah. You don’t count.

Josh Steimle:

I'm heavily biased towards authors, you could say.

Ken Lizotte:

Yeah, I think that that's -- I think that's the biggest impact. And I think whether the book is a stepping stone toward a client is, I can't say that I -- I'm here in Concord, Massachusetts. And you and I were talking before we started about some of the people that were thought leaders back in the mid-19th century, one of them being Ralph Waldo Emerson. And he's known for saying, "Build a better mousetrap, and the people will beat a path to your door." And, and I don't know if I can say that, in my experience, either my clients are mine, about a book unless the book really takes off. And most of the books today, including the ones that my clients have done, don't take off in that way, like a runaway bestseller. But when it's a runaway bestseller, then there's event planners and clients et cetera are beating a path to your door. I think, though that the real key is not to be hung up on whether your book could be a best seller, because then you might end up having so much business, you can't even handle it. But if you have, let's call it a mini-bestseller, then there'll be a path of beating to your door in that way.

Josh Steimle:

Well I'm guessing you've seen this with your clients too, that for most of us who are in the consulting world, or the speaking world, it's not like we need a 1,000 customers, we might need 10 or 20. And if you can publish a book and get 20 new clients a year, that might be more than you can handle right there?

Ken Lizotte:

Absolutely, yeah.

Josh Steimle:

And so if you influence a couple 100 people over a 10-year period to read your book, maybe that's all you need is a couple 100 people to buy your book?

Ken Lizotte:

Well, the other thing is don't forget word of mouth, especially if you're an entrepreneur, consultant, a coach, anyone like that, who is provides a professional service, as opposed to a product. There's also the word of mouth aspect. Most of us if were asked how do we get our clients we'd say word of mouth. But how do you spur that word of mouth? How do you amplify it? And having a book helps do that? Because people who know you and know that you've written a book may spread word of mouth to somebody they meet at a party or a business event or something. And somebody says, I'm interested in some help with my technical IT of my company or something like that. So it's also a tool that helps spur word of mouth, accelerate word of mouth is and amplify, maximize, that's the word I was looking for maximize word of mouth.

Josh Steimle:

So Ken, what's your writing habit or routine that you stick to when you're writing a book, what's worked for you?

Ken Lizotte:

I'm a writer like anybody else, which means we all have to find our own way when it comes to that. And it can be tough if you've got a "day job." And we're talking about mostly day business day job in that sense. So I have to discipline myself to get away from the internet. And to not feel like getting away from the internet. So I don't check email, which I typically my day is checking email all day long, and going back and forth with that. So if I can start to carve that out, sometimes working on a weekend is better for me. But everybody's got a different way that they go about it. So it could be done two or three mornings a week, it could be done before your business really gets going on a particular day. It could be a weekend, it could be an evening. For me, it's probably a couple of mornings, once I'm in the flow of the book writing. It's a couple of mornings a week and probably sometime on a Saturday or Sunday to do it as well, that would be my style, but everybody's different.

Josh Steimle:

Yeah. Well, Ken, thanks so much for being with us here today on the show. If people want to connect with you, where's the best place for them to find you?

Ken Lizotte:

So the best thing they could do is go to my website, which is thoughtleading.com T-H-O-U-G-H-T-L-E-A-D-I-N-G with thought leadership, or to send me an email and ask for some information. And one of the things I do want everybody to know is that every month I have a raffle, and I raffle off one, both of these books. So no matter when they're hearing this, if they'd like to be part of the raffle, all they need to do is to email me and put the word raffle in the subject line. And that will enter them in a raffle, but whether or not they win the raffle. I also have digital versions of my book. They're condensed versions, but digital versions of my books. And I'm very happy to send them complimentary free of charge.

Josh Steimle:

Great. Perfect. Thank you so much again for being with us here today on the Published Author Podcast.

Ken Lizotte:

Thanks Josh.

Josh Steimle:

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