Hey! This video is not my typical topic. I exist to help leaders and educators make connection and engagement really easy online and off. Most of my videos are around how to make virtual engagement easy, how to create conversations that matter, how to skip past the small talk, how to shift from icebreaker to connection before content. But today, I’m going to answer a little bit of a different question. I got a question from a lovely human being named Chris Danilo around “How to organize your thoughts to write a book?” That’s what today is about. Without further ado let’s play a little uplifting music intro  and dive right in. Teleporting over to Chris and his beautiful question. Here we go.

Blog Note: The following is an adapted and edited transcript of one of our daily YouTube tutorials. We know sometimes it is easier to scroll through written content which is why we are publishing here. Because of that, there may be typos or phrases that seem out of context. You’ll definitely be able to get the main idea. To get the full context, visit our YouTube channel hereAnd if you want to watch the video on this topic specifically, you can scroll down to the bottom of this post to access it as well. 

-Hey, Chad. It’s Chris and I’m coming at you from sunny Denver, Colorado. It’s about 7 a.m. And I was thinking of you because of this little book that you made about human connections and some of the other tools that you’ve built but I’m wondering, a lot of people I think want to  build stuff like this or they want to write a book. And they want to tell the world about an idea they have or share a toolkit, etc. And I’m wondering you know you’ve been through this process. I’m wondering what are some of the lessons that you’ve learned? What are some of the things you would never do again? What are the some of the things that you wish you had done more of when you created something like this? I can’t wait to hear your thoughts and I’ll talk to you soon. Later. -Thank you, Chris. Beautiful question. I wished that I had watched the video that you’re about to watch before Will and Rod and I created these 2 books because I made plenty of mistakes along the way. Let’s tackle your questions in order.

Done is Better Than Perfect

First of all, lessons learned. I live by and love this quote, “Done is better than perfect”, Sheryl Sandberg is the COO of Facebook, actually. And so, she knows a thing or 2 about producing and creating in the world. The reason that done is not better than perfect… And here’s my lesson learned. Done is not better than perfect is when will and I were producing and putting out Ask Powerful Questions, we originally released a version in 2016 that was filled with typos. We didn’t do… And we didn’t  invest enough in editors the first round. It was… It just needed a like a giant overhaul. Even though we released it… Like did a soft launch a little bit and an event that we spoke at. We rained that back in very quickly. Those failed copies are still out in the world somewhere. But we ran that in very quickly and we ended up spending over a year or 2 revamping  and re-editing the book to put it out. When you’re writing a book, done is not better  than perfect? I don’t think because it’s not easy to change. Sheryl Sandberg leads a company a software company that’s easy to change software. A book is not very easy to change. You can do it, right? But there’s like 6 steps in the process to get it to publish live and be printing updated.

You want it to be really, really good. You want it to be your best work. And for me, I’m not capable of uh doing my best work alone. The other lesson learned is invest in somebody to help. We partnered with an awesome company called Roundtable companies. I think roundtablecompanies.com. Amazing! And they handle… There’s a beautiful way to professionally self-publish a book. This book went on and still sitting as a number one Amazon bestseller on multiple lists on Amazon whereas most books, self-published books launch, they have a little spike and then they kind of just fizzle out and die.

I think the reason that Ask Powerful Questions has continued to do well is the actual content is great. Like a book can spike because of the cover and the promise. But I think the sustainability whether a book does well or not is (what it is in here) really, really useful lessons learned from this book is don’t be attached to a book format. As you’re trying to organize your thoughts to write a book, I would suggest actually rethinking that and saying, “How do I organize my thoughts so that they can be delivered in multiple avenues?”

In this video, I’m going to share a phenomenal tool called the pink sheet that I used to organize my IP that came from the brilliant Matte Church and there’s a book on it. And actually let’s just put that up now really quick as a screenshot.

The Pink Sheet

This is the best methodology to capture ideas. You can go to pinksheetprocess.com you can download the template to this. I’ll walk you through it. If you don’t want to go download it in just a short form. But the whole principle of this  is think once and deliver often. What if you could organize your thinking and then that could become a podcast? Or a card deck? Or a book? Or a toolkit? Or whatever. Rather than being so tied into the format. It’s actually poor design (I believe) to be really, really attached to what the final product is. What if you organize your ideas and you realize, “Wow! This would be so much better as like a giant poster canvas that people could buy and actually write on to fill out their ideas and get clear about their vision map” or something. Like, you could write about a vision map in a book but do people really need to consume 200-300 pages about that idea or do they just need a really concrete quick tool?

Don’t Be Attached To The Outcome

This is the first lesson and the reason i’m saying that in relation to the pocket guide is we originally had designed this or had the brilliant idea to make this an app. We wanted to create an app for educators and leaders to go to just like a hub and a library for  collaborative learning, experiential learning, connecting, trust-building activities. And then we realized, “Wow. That’s really, really expensive.” And this is kind of like shoestring project we want to crank out relatively quickly. And by quickly, I mean like within a year. For us like we didn’t… I didn’t have the skill or at that time, the funding to invest in like creating  a really great app. Creating a little mini-book. I think we originally went from app  to book to mini book, right? The idea of something that can just fit in your pocket. Be open to what the final product might actually become. What are some of the things I would never do again? I would not be involved in the back end side of publishing at all. I would save up enough  money. I would work with roundtable companies so that I or anybody internally at We and Me was not spending any time on like the back end of Amazon or Ingram sparks which is a common place to  self-publish, professionally self-publish books.

That is a big time thing for somebody who doesn’t know. I’d find somebody who knows how to do that really well right from the very beginning. And now, perhaps the most valuable question, “What do I wish I would have done more of?” Pink sheets. Here’s the deal: When you have an idea, I would argue that you actually have a  particle of an idea, right? So, if you think of a story, that’s a part of an idea. If you think of an analogy, that’s a part of an idea. If you find out a stat that you just discovered and you share  that, that’s a part of an idea. And to write a really great book that’s compelling, that’s interesting, that keeps people’s attention; you need to have full-spectrum ideas as Matt Church would call them. Again, Pink Sheet process is the place to find this. But basically… We could spend like 15 hours just on this one 8½ x 11 piece of paper. But I’m going to give you  the quick snapshot of what it is. It’s basically a map for a full spectrum idea. From this side, a more left-brained rational, logical… Catering to a more rational, logical side. And this side of the Pink Sheet catering to a more creative, emotionally, story-driven mindset. And so, the idea is if you have a concept.

Let’s say let’s take this. “Done is better than perfect”. On a Pink Sheet that’s one part of an idea. That would go right in the middle in this statement. You can almost think about this like a book title and a subtitle. But each before an idea. The concept at a zoomed out level is before I would ever open up a document to write words on a page, if I were to… And I am actually working on another book right now. And I’m doing it all first via Pink Sheets. And the reason is once I have all of my ideas recorded in this Pink Sheet, I can use them in multiple different ways. They can become a part of my workshops, they can become a part of a book. Some of them may spin off into a card deck, a video series, etc. The really quick map is here you’ve got a visual model. Now, for ask Powerful Questions, the book is actually organized. 

Here’s a visual model. These are the chapters of the book Ask Powerful Questions. Here’s the model for Ask Powerful Questions. The flip side is another dimension. Each chapter in the book is organized in that model. Every chapter has a picture of that pyramid and we build on it. So much easier to write a book when you have visual model which is really a combination of squares, triangles, circles. Maybe with arrows drawn between them that connect a system of ideas. And if you have one master model and you write your book about that, you’ve got your structure. You don’t actually have to spend the time thinking about an outline. You just base it on whatever that model is and you spend the rest of the book unpacking that model. Now, over here, we got metaphor. Some brains really love consuming analogies. Coming up with a metaphor or an analogy for the idea done is better than perfect would cue some readers brains or turn them on or be useful to them in some capacity. Sharing a story would be another way to unpack that. Sharing a study would be another way. Now imagine… And this is what we actually have for Ask Powerful Questions.

I have 40 or so Pink Sheets that make up this book. Each with a statement that I feel like is true, useful, beneficial to the reader, valuable to the reader. And with that, it’s in part of that Ask Powerful Questions pyramid model. There’s a metaphor that helps describe it, a story that helps make it come to life. And throughout the book, the studies actually show up as little gray text boxes right here. For people who like the science of Ask Powerful Questions, they can digest all of that right there. Very simply how to organize your thoughts in a book. Go to Pink Sheet process, watch the video and make Pink Sheets on your book idea before you start writing a word in any sort of google docs or more professional book editor. You know that was just the tip of the iceberg. There are plenty of other videos on YouTube that can help you unpack this. If you want to see and download actually the first chapter of Ask Powerful Questions for free, the link in the description. Has a link to a whole  bunch of free resources and one of them is the first couple chapters of Ask Powerful Questions. Hope this was useful. Have an awesome day.


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