How New Trends in Executive Learning can Increase Your Success
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Episode 11 Transcript:
Chris Curran: Growth Igniters Radio, Episode Eleven: How New Trends in Executive Learning can Increase Your Success.
This episode is brought to you by Business Advancement Incorporated − enabling successful leaders and companies to accelerate to their next level of growth. On the web at www.businessadvance.com. And now, here’s Pam and Scott.
Pam Harper: Thanks, Chris. I’m Pam Harper, Founding Partner and CEO of Business Advancement Incorporated, and right across from me is my business partner and husband, Scott Harper. Hi, Scott.
Scott Harper: Hi, Pam. It’s terrific to be here. If this is your first time listening to Growth Igniters Radio, we want to let you know that the purpose of this series is to spark new insights, inspiration, and immediately useful ideas for leaders to take themselves and their companies to the next level of success.
So Pam, what are we learning about today?
Pam Harper: As we discussed in episode one, over the years we’ve seen that the most successful CEOs and executives never stop learning, right?
Scott Harper: That’s true.
Pam Harper: That’s why we developed Growth Igniters Radio. Of course, books have long played a critical role in executive learning, yet the world of publishing is really transforming, and we need to know what this means for us and how we can increase our success by taking advantage of new options that are opening up. That’s why it’s great to have Bart Jackson as our guest today. Bart is CEO of Prometheus Publishing and Bart’s Books Ultimate Business Guides… Say that fast.
Scott Harper: Ten times…
Pam Harper: A prolific author himself, he’s written thousands, literally thousands, of magazine articles that have appeared in the New York Times, Huffington Post, Cairo Today Magazine, and others. He’s also written dozens of books on a variety of topics, including The Art of the CEO, and 101 Best Business Quips. He’s also the jovial host of the Art of the CEO radio show, which shares the latest ventures of the most influential and adventurous players in the business community. Bart, welcome to Growth Igniters Radio.
Bart Jackson: Pam, Scott, I can’t tell you how nice it is to be here. I would like everyone to know that so many people claim that they help business grow, and what they really do is spread fertilizer, but your firm really does take people forward and get them off plateaus, so I’m very happy to be here.
Pam Harper: We’re very happy to have you here as well. Let’s get started. Tell us, how did you get into publishing? Was this a lifelong dream or was it a whim… How did you start this?
Bart Jackson: I started off being a writer, and that’s really what I am primarily, is a wordsmith − I love it, I have great fun. I did a lot of outdoor writing, and I always had people dragging me into business, and I discovered that the only people who are as exciting as a global explorer or a mountain climber are entrepreneurs. They both have that doer and that dreamer in them, and they’re just wonderful people to know and interview. This led me over the years to start publishing a lot of the things that I found, and then we founded Prometheus Publishing − that was strictly business books, or at least the Bart’s Books section of it − about six years ago, I guess.
Pam Harper: Okay, so six years ago, it was a very different environment. What is the role of business book and journal publishers today? In executive learning, that is.
Bart Jackson: You know what I’d like you to do? The next time you look at a book, I’d like you to think of T-Rex, the great dinosaur. He was once the king of all the landscape and had it all to himself, but then ice and mammals and man and three hundred and ninety-one thousand books published just last year all came, and so T-Rex had a choice. What he did was he evolved, and the next time you see that hawk floating cheerfully across the skies, think of T-Rex and think of the business books. We have evolved into different media and different styles, and there’s many things that they’ve moved into.
Scott Harper: One of the things, Bart, that we’ve seen when we talk to people − we go into somebody’s office and we see a book case and it’ll have business books on it, and sometimes people say, “I’ve got these books, but I don’t have time to read them. I looked at the first two pages…” or, “I’ve got a stack,” and literally, once someone said, “I have a stack of books on my bedside table about a foot high.”
Pam Harper: That’s true, all the time.
Bart Jackson: Right.
Scott Harper: Yeah, blow the dust off of it. There’s publishing and, as you said, new media. How can we avoid putting out words that nobody reads? How can executives get this education when they’re so time-stressed?
Bart Jackson: Last book expo, we ran a big television show with the heads of AMA, McGraw Hill, Wiley, the top business publishers, and what we really all said was that you’ve got to look at your client, look at your audience. The people that are going to buy business books are part of what I called “the energized elite.” These are the people who are willing to invest in whatever it takes to grow their business. They will invest in a book. Everyone says, “I can’t afford it,” but they’ll drive two hours to a networking meeting. Now, Pam, you and I have gone to Association for Corporate Growth places, and we sit in this room full of expertise, or stand and mingle and drink amazing stuff.
Pam Harper: That’s right.
Bart Jackson: Me more than most. Nonetheless, you couldn’t afford to buy all that expertise on a consulting basis, and you wouldn’t have time to do it, so what we at Prometheus Publishing said, “All right, we are going to get a lot of people together,” and we came up with a motto − “concise council from business masters.” We give our books authorities, and we interview people and distill the essence and put it down, and that’s basically one way we have been able to capture the market − is by having people read the tales of proven people and a lot of other people in a single book.
Pam Harper: Basically, you’re enrolling people in a concise way to get a lot of different views, is that right?
Bart Jackson: Yeah, exactly. The truth is, the really good business journals or books − they give you tools, because that’s what the people want. The bad ones, which are, I’m afraid, the majority, are the ones that give you stories of the rich, stories of the quickly enviable successful that spread the myth everyone’s getting rich and you aren’t and what the heck is the matter with you − and they don’t tell you how. People don’t want those stories, they want to know how, they want the tools put in their hands.
Pam Harper: Oh, that’s true. That’s right, and so on that, we agree. It always comes down to people who are saying, “Oh, I don’t have the time,” so we try to make it easier and easier to have these things that are on the go. The whole issue of The Art of the CEO, and now you have it on radio, we’re all trying to reach each other in new ways and we’ll talk more about that in the next segment, but it’s this getting people to understand that books can be an incredible investment and not cost, wouldn’t you say?
Bart Jackson: Absolutely true. The trouble is, and I will say this − that you pick up the average business book, and they love lists. “The six steps toward this, the seven steps toward that”. The truth is, most of these books have the charm of The Care And Maintenance Of The Browning Automatic Rifle. If you’re going to write a book, …
Scott Harper: I love that one!
Bart Jackson: Oh yeah, that’s one of the ones on my desk.
Anyway, the whole goal here is that a book has to be entertaining. You’ve got to have fun, that was one of the reasons we put out the Business Quips. If you open up a book with a little wisdom wrapped in laughter and you say [something like], “When our board of directors calls the roll, half these people don’t know whether to answer with ‘present’ or ‘not guilty,'” or something like that. For instance, Scott told his wife Pam that he needed a vehicle that represented the forward drive and prestige of his career, so I understand, Pam, you got him for Christmas a treadmill, right? I believe that’s a quip.
Pam Harper: I don’t know about that…
Bart Jackson: Oh okay, that’s one of our quips on you. Okay, they have to be entertaining, but the other thing is, we took a page from the most influential person on the planet whose death and resurrection we’re coming into celebrating now. He said long ago, “Unless I speak to ye in parables, you will not understand.” We have tried with The Authorities, now we’re trying with another line of books that we’re coming out called The Best in the Business. We take the people who have proven themselves to be top in the business and we’re putting out a series called The Innovators, The Dealmakers, The Sellers, and so forth, and we are trying to, again, give people the stories and let them infer the tools for themselves.
Pam Harper: We’ll pick this up again…
We’re going to take a quick break, and when we come back, we’ll talk more with Bart Jackson about emerging trends in executive learning, and what they mean to you. Stay with us.
Scott Harper: You are listening to Growth Igniters Radio with Pam Harper and Scott Harper, brought to you by Business Advancement Incorporated − on the web at www.businessadvance.com. If you subscribe to the Growth Igniters community by clicking the “join our community” button at www.growthignitersradio.com, we’ll be able to send you weekly updates to help you get more value from each episode. They’ll give you easy access to each new episode’s play button, show notes, guest bio, and links to resources mentioned in this episode.
Pam Harper: Welcome back to Growth Igniters Radio with Pam Harper − that’s me − and Scott Harper. We’re talking with Bart Jackson, CEO of Prometheus Publishing, about how to increase your success as an executive through continuous learning, which definitely includes books. Bart, tell us how people can find you.
Bart Jackson: The best way to find our books is to visit www.bartsbooks.com, and you can get a whole wealth of business tools there. If you like ,listen to the radio show, if you don’t mind my sticking in the plug, it’s www.blogtalkradio.com/theartoftheceo.
Pam Harper: Thank you Bart, I appreciate that. In fact, Bart’s program does offer a wealth of knowledge, and we are big believers in wealth through knowledge.
Scott Harper: “Wealth through knowledge” − I like that.
Pam Harper: Wealth through knowledge.
Bart Jackson: Yes, I like that, that’s very good.
Pam Harper: See, there’s a new tag phrase.
Bart Jackson: Wealth through knowledge − there’s a book title right there. I could see it, Pam is going …
Pam Harper: We’ll have to talk about this…
Bart Jackson: … to put this out. Sell a million − it’ll be great.
Pam Harper: That’s right, that’s right.
Let’s go back to the conversation. I want to ask you about how the needs of executives are continuing to transform the learning climate, because the one thing we know is that technology is changing all the time, and that changes the needs of us, who are the consumers of learning. How do you see this?
Bart Jackson: We have been brought up under a myth, I think. Publishers and business people themselves have what I call the “Sesame Street executive myth,” and that’s that everything you feed them has got to be short, it’s got to be tight, it’s got to be time-pressed, because they’re so busy, and they’re so frenzied − and that, quite frankly, is a load of… Well, it just isn’t so.
Pam Harper: Really? That’s a little contrarian.
Bart Jackson: These business leaders have read the Harry Potter books, all eight hundred and fifty pages of each of them. My point is, people will go to read what they think is useful. Also, the attention spans of the executive are much, much greater than they’re given credit for, but the truth is, you have to feed them what they want. Now, you talked about technology, and books are now available on the eBook format with the ability to read them … I personally, between me, I cannot read a book off a handheld, but that puts me in the minority. Plus, there’re iPads, there’s not eye strain…
Audio books are a thing that have been around, and are now improving, and we have done a little on this market, but the idea of “learn while you drive” is something that really makes a difference. Then there is the third tool, and that is the book as an entrée into speaking. Take someone like you two. You have a whole host of excellent ideas. If you distill them in a book, you have the ultimate marketing tool and takeaway.
Pam Harper: Sure, that’s why I wrote Preventing Strategic Gridlock, and the idea of trying to get to people in different ways. You package your knowledge − there’s what you know, and then there’s how you disseminate this, and so that was behind it. What’s fascinating to me, though, is even beyond that, you have all these different formats. You have the Kindle, you have all of these different things. How is Prometheus and Bart’s Books, then, getting involved in some of these newer ways of disseminating the information?
Bart Jackson: To share how quickly these things have changed − two years ago, Random House united with Penguin, and one of the reasons they gave was to “fight the competition from eBooks,” and I’ve always felt like this is a little bit like two orders of monks getting together to fight the invasion of the printing press. The truth is, get your own printing press. People are going to read. Some are oral learners, some want to read only on Kindle, so you as a publisher, and we have, you have to get into the various media, and it’s a very low expense. Once you’ve got your basic paper book, you can have it translated, you can have it reformatted into eBook at a price, and from the publisher’s point of view, and that includes self publishers, it’s a point of energy, not so much cost.
Scott Harper: You’re talking about diversification. We know that diversification is important for investments. Diversification is also important for getting ideas out in ways that different people who have different styles can absorb them the way they want.
Bart Jackson: I think you’re absolutely right, and one truth hangs on in all of that: you ask anyone in publishing, and they’ll tell you that “the author sells the book.”
Pam Harper: True.
Bart Jackson: That means A: his name or her name will sell the book, but also it is the effort of the author to get out there and talk to people, because the real truth is that when Pam hands me a book, that’s interesting, but when Pam stands in front of me, gives me her ideas and I hear her voice flowing into me, I want more. Because she’s going to talk to me at a keynote for fifteen minutes, at a seminar for forty, and she’s got a lot more, and I’m inspired, and I want to take it. I think there is the old, ancient link of walking by the stoa and talking to your students, and having people listen to you. If you aren’t willing to do that, I really wouldn’t expect your book to go very far, quite frankly.
Pam Harper: That’s true. That’s certainly why we have all the authors that we interview on each of our programs, because people who tend to write also have interesting things to say, and maybe it’s …
Scott Harper: That’s why they write the books.
Pam Harper: …That’s why they write the books, including you, of course, with The Art of the CEO. We’re fascinated by people who do this. We also had a program where we were talking about how more and more executives, CEOs, need to be out there promoting their own personal brand through thought leadership, so this goes neatly in hand with that.
Bart Jackson: The book is a way to do it, and the visual thing… [For example.] Joe Rigby, who is head of Pepco Holdings, one of the largest utilities conglomerates in the country − he had a vision and he had to take it to twenty thousand employees, so he set up a whirlwind tour. Think of the vision as a book − think of it as a piece of information that you want to get across to somebody. He went and he made groups of no more than ten people, and he just would talk to them; he’d have a white board, he would give his ideas, he’d take theirs back in. It was an exhausting yes. Did it work and did everyone follow it? Heavens, yes. They’re all behind it, and Pepco has soared, so what can I tell you? It’s what you have to do.
Pam Harper: It’s true; that’s true. What it really sounds like we’re saying is that as technology is coming up, and also as executives are needing to get their own brand out there − their personal brand − that there have never been more ways, and it sounds like you at Prometheus and Bart’s Books are providing them with some of those ways to get out there.
Bart Jackson: Yes, we hope so. That’s part of our Best in the Business. We have recently come across a whole series of people, as one does in the field, and we’re finding that we need people to tell their stories. Our process has been to interview a book out of them, in effect, but there are many ways. Some of the people can write their own, but if you are a CEO, and you do have that message, and you want to get it out, I would recommend working with a writer, an editor, or a publishing company first to get some help on it, but please do get your message out there.
Pam Harper: Yes, absolutely.
We’re going to take another quick break, and when we come back we’ll continue our conversation with Bart Jackson, CEO of Prometheus Publishing, about specific ways that you can take advantage of trends in executive learning. Stay with us.
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Pam Harper: Welcome back to Growth Igniters Radio with Pam Harper and Scott Harper. Over the last two segments, we’ve been talking to Bart Jackson, CEO of Prometheus Publishing, about his own journey as a publisher and emerging trends in executive learning. Bart, tell us again how people can find you.
Bart Jackson: They can find our books and all about us at our website, www.bartsbooks.com. They can also find the radio show at www.blogtalkradio.com/theartoftheceo.
Pam Harper: We’ll make sure people get over there. Now, let’s take a look at a few specific things that we can do to take advantage of new trends in executive learning. We were talking about what some of those were in the last segment, but let’s drill down a little bit.
Bart Jackson: Okay. I think, probably, number one is the one that everyone is all enamored of and have absolutely no idea how to use − social media. It’s like the best looking girl at the dance − she’s out there, and you have no idea how to approach her, but you know you really want to. I’m going to tell you how one absolutely fabulous person does it. Sharon Mann − she is one of the most powerful dealmakers in all Manhattan, and she uses social media using one factor that we have all learned: She gives value. That’s become lip service, it’s become old hat, but let me tell you how she does it, and then we’ll get back to this idea of where to put value. First, she goes on social media; she finds a firm, a company, that she wants to perhaps work with. Second, she then looks at them, she studies the company − take the discipline, my friends − and finds some person, some link, some idea, some thing that they could be doing to enhance their product.
Then, she goes on social media; she’ll go through LinkedIn and she’ll start talking, connecting, with various people in that company to work her way up. That little three-step program has worked beautifully for her, and I think it’s a beautiful way to do it.
One of the things we learned very early on when people first started making websites: The average person today is assaulted by approximately three thousand persuasive messages asking them to buy, to vote, to believe in, and so forth. Three thousand. We all discovered real early when doing websites, you have to give to get. You have got to give the person that you are approaching something of value. We saw this on websites, and so we now are seeing that you have got to do this on social media, because frankly, social media ain’t social, it’s media. It’s me telling you why you want to know me.
Scott Harper: How does the person in your example give that value? She’s connecting to people; how does she provide value to them?
Bart Jackson: She has this nugget of an idea. Let’s say that I think something that would do a marvelous idea for your firm as you’re dealing with middle market people; I feel that the middle market is a group that has been lost − they’re underrepresented politically − so I think of a few ways that they might legislatively be better upheld, so I connect you with a few people who have the ears of turning those around, or with the small business advocates which are in every region. Then I would phone you or I’d find one of your assistants. I’m a big telephone person, but a lot of people deal on the Internet. That’s the sweet thing, I can find what medium Pam likes to deal in, and I can go right to that. That’s very important, because some people only do email, some people only do phone, or some people only tweet, it’s crazy, but you deal with the person on the level they want to be dealt with.
Scott Harper: To paraphrase Marshall McLuhan very severely − the medium is not the message, the message is the medium.
Bart Jackson: Yes, yes, that’s it. The message deserves the right medium. As I always say, for instance, television, they call television a medium because it’s neither rare nor well done… I don’t know where that came from. [general laughter]
Pam Harper: What I’m hearing is that when we talk about executive learning, we really have to think expansively. We have to think not just about books, not just about radio, not just about the Internet, but about all of these different ways [that interact]. Social media is really going to be playing more and more of a role, is what I hear you saying.
Bart Jackson: Oh, yeah. The Dalai Lama said − I interviewed him ages ago − he said, “If you lost a dollar in your house, would you only search in the bedroom because you thought that’s where it was, or would you use every room in your house?” Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Now, he was talking about many lives, but as I said, you can deal in social media − that works. You can tweet and retweet to, for instance, talk about your show, but you can also get on the phone.
I had a friend, one of my early editors, Herb Ballinger. He would call up at quarter to five every day, he would call up two or three people, and pass on bits of information to them. It was a discipline, it was a habit.
Another fellow, Ken Parker, who’s head of Atlantic City Electric, started his job cutting lawns, and every time he was given a new position, he would go to everybody that that job affected, and he would ask them how he could serve them better from that position, and he let them see him taking those [suggestions]. You take those old disciplines and you move them into the new technologies. You can use those through the millions methods of chat which allow you to take those old disciplines and expand them, and you do them. I’ve been talking on forever here, but I believe it.
Pam Harper: What you are saying that I hear, that is so important, is that when we put ourselves in a position of learning, in a mindset of learning, we can learn from each other in so many ways, and that’s the key to really increasing our wealth through learning. Oh, Bart, this has been just fabulous, and believe it or not, our time is up.
Bart Jackson: Ohhhhh…
Pam Harper: Thank you so much for being our guest today. Any last thoughts?
Bart Jackson: The other day I was in the New York City bus station, and I saw a man who was wheeling a cart, and I went up and asked him all about the trash, how to empty it, and I learned how he empties four hundred and twenty-five trash cans in one day. Do it − go out there; make yourself learn. Find new things.
Pam Harper: That’s perfect. Thank you so much.
That will do it for today’s episode. If you have questions related to this episode or any other, go to “open a conversation with us” at the bottom of the episode 11 page. To find out who our guest will be next Wednesday, go to www.growthignitersradio.com and look in the sidebar for a schedule of upcoming episodes in the next few weeks.
Scott Harper: Thanks for listening to Growth Igniters Radio with Pam Harper and Scott Harper. To check out resources related to today’s conversation, share on social media and subscribe to the podcast series on iTunes or Stitcher, go to growthignitersradio.com and select episode eleven.
Pam Harper: Until next time, this is Pam Harper …
Scott Harper: And Scott Harper…
Pam Harper: … wishing you continued success, and leaving you with this question to consider.
Scott Harper: What do you need to learn about to reach unprecedented levels of success in your business, and life?