Friday, January 30, 2015

How Do You Define Success? (Part 2 of 3)

"I'm angry at God," my writer-friend said over lunch. "I want to be a best-selling author and God won't let me."

In shock, I stared at him. "You told me you'd published nine novels and countless articles. How many authors do you know who've sold that many books?"

"But I'm not a best-selling author."

Although that conversation happened four months ago, I think of it often. I told him that many authors would envy his record.

"But I can't make a living from my writing."

Then I understood. He needed to have books on the best-seller lists and earn enough to support himself from book sales. I don't know him that well, but my guess is that even if he achieves his goal, he'd still feel unsuccessful.

His dreams of hitting the top of the charts is a fine idea. And it may happen. But even if he does, will he feel like a winner?

Success is an inside job.
It's who we are and not what we produce.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

How Do You Define Success? (Part 1 of 3)

"I want to be like you when I grow up." I've heard that comment from writers of all ages. And I understand.

"You're my role model," is another way I've heard it.

Both comments mean they've defined me as successful. And yes, I am, but it's because I've decided I'm a success.

My definition has shifted through the decades. When I began publishing articles, and before moving into books, I envisioned halos of success around those who had published a book—a real book through a royalty-paying publisher. In my mind, that author had arrived.

Then I sold my first book, followed by a second and a third. My concept of achievement changed to think anyone who had published more books than I had or produced bigger sales figures was successful. Thus, for me, professional triumph was a moving target.

At this stage of my development, I admit that I'm successful—but not for the reasons I once understood. At the end of my email signature each month, I write one of my maxims. Here's what I wrote one month: The greatest privilege I have in this life is to be exactly who I am.

Almost every morning I awaken and thank God for what I call my joyful contentment. I truly like my life and relish being who I am. Others may be (and are) more successful with larger sales, more published books, or any other measurement. And if I focused on external measures to judge whether I was a star, I'd probably say, "Not quite."

I'd always find reasons I wasn't successful.

And so will you.

But if you and I measure internally, it means we don't have to be famous, make millions, or publish 400 books during our lifetimes. If we like ourselves, embrace our work, and live with integrity intact, we're successful.

Each day I thank God for my talents. I didn't give them to myself. So what reason do I have to boast? My task is to be faithful in using my gifts.


Friday, January 23, 2015

Successful Marketers Share a Need for Speed (Part 2 of 2)

(These two posts are from Rob Eagar's Wildfire Marketing and used by permission: http://www.startawildfire.com/)

If you struggle to complete the promotional tasks above in the timeframe that I listed, you are going to naturally take an arduous approach to marketing.

That negative mindset will kill your confidence. When your confidence takes a hit, then you’re less likely to write with purpose, market with creativity, launch new products, or pursue new opportunities.

I’ve had people tell me, “Sending newsletters doesn’t work.” When I asked why, they said, “It took too long to do one, so I just stopped doing newsletters altogether.”

The problem wasn’t the newsletter, the problem was their lack of speed. The ability to be a successful marketer lies in the ability to be quick. It’s hard to grow a business when decisions are slowly made, tasks take too long to finish, and your confidence is in the gutter.

I wrote this article in less than 20 minutes (both parts). And, I’m confident that I can do it again and again. This positive mindset gives me the momentum to continue providing my free Monday Marketing Tips every week. If writing these tips took half a day and stressed me out, I’d naturally look for reasons to stop doing them.

Examine your time management skills and analyze how long it takes you to make decisions and complete tasks. If you want to be a more successful marketer, remember Tom Cruise’s famous line when he played fighter pilot Maverick in the movie Top Gun, “I feel the need . . . the need for speed!”

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Successful Marketers Share a Need for Speed (Part 1 of 2)

(These two posts are from Rob Eagar's Wildfire Marketing and used by permission:  http://www.startawildfire.com/.) 

After training over 400 authors, working with numerous non-profits, and consulting with publishers, I’m frequently asked what characteristics define my most successful clients. My answer is simple, but may sound unexpected.

My most successful clients are decisive and quick. They’re able to swiftly make choices that lead to business growth, such as writing a new book, developing new speeches, maintaining consistent marketing activities, launching new products, etc. Sometimes, the biggest impact on success is that ability to make a decision to do something and complete that task in a short period of time.

This answer usually catches people by surprise. They wonder, “Aren’t successful people the ones with the most creativity, the most money, or the most connections?” Those factors certainly help.

But I find that my clients who have the best time management skills tend to be the most successful. That’s because the internal ability to manage your time well and complete tasks quickly opens up new possibilities that would otherwise remain closed. For instance, if you know that you can manage your time and complete a task quickly, then your confidence level increases to accept that task, put it into your schedule, and get it finished. In contrast, my unsuccessful clients tend to procrastinate over completing tasks.

Or they worry so much about their ability to undertake a task that they psych themselves out of accepting the task in the first place. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. I cannot do it, because my negative mindset won’t let me do it.

If you have good time management and the ability to be decisive, you should be able to do the following marketing activities in the following time periods:

* Write a new blog or newsletter article in 45 minutes or less.

* Set up the layout and send a complete newsletter issue in less than 2 hours.

* Finish a new chapter for a book in less than 2 days.

* Develop a new speech in less than 1 day.

* Post something interesting on Facebook or Twitter in less than 10 minutes.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Deciding on Projects

I make a living as a ghostwriter or collaborator, a topic I covered a few months ago*. Recently someone asked, "How do you decide on which projects to accept?"

That's a tough one to answer, and other collaborators may have an entirely different approach. Here are my steps.

(1) If the concept doesn't grab my interest, I pass it by.

(2) If I am interested, I find out enough to sense whether it will be a good fit for me, and if it's one I think we could sell to a publisher.

(3) If I feel positive about (1) and (2), I insist on a face-to-face meeting. It's sometimes expensive for the person to come to me (or more usual) pay my expenses to visit. But it’s vital.

(4) When I meet with individuals, I get caught up in their stories. Recently I learned the word that describes me: empath. If this is also new to you, my dictionary says an empath is one who is able to tune in to the emotional experience of a person.

(5) I have to get away from the individuals and their influence. If I make a decision while I'm with them, it's because of the empathic situation. Only after I'm physically away am I able to listen objectively to what I call my inner wisdom (which I like to believe is the Holy Spirit.)

The series on ghostwriting and collaborating appeared May 10 through August 27, 2013, and can be found in the blog archives.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Motivations (Part 4 of 4)

Some of us are more self-motivated, more energetic, and flexible. I have a lot of stamina, I'm fairly self-disciplined, and keep reading and recharging daily. All three of those work for me.

Perhaps the most significant thing is that I write even if I feel the words will sound like a third grader. When I was a college student, I had deadlines for my papers and I was never late.

One of my close friends in grad school never once turned in an assignment on time. His grades were always reduced, and he'd say, "If I had had more time, I could have done a better job." We call that rationalization. He had as much time as the rest of us.

When I taught public school for two years, I couldn't say, "I didn't feel motivated to prepare a good lesson plan this week." I just did it. Some weekly plans worked better than others, but I did what my job required.

Professionals write and meet deadlines. Regardless.

* * * * *

Cecil Murphey's Writer to Writer Conference will be held January 16-18, 2015, at the Hershey Lodge in Hershey, PA, prior to the Munce Group Christian Product Expo (CPE). Faculty includes Cec, Jerry Jenkins, and Shawn and Suzanne Kuhn (SuzyQ). For more information, visit www.writertowriter.com.

Friday, January 9, 2015

How I Stay Motivated (Part 3 of 4)

I hesitate to write this because we're all different. I've rarely faced the blank screen. First, I read—daily. Not just the news, but I set aside a minimum of one hour to read and soak up the words and wisdom of other writers, even those who don't write in my field.

Second, I think about my writing project off and on while I'm doing other things. I ask myself, "What's going on that hinders me?"

Third, I believe in letting the unconscious work. This is probably the most practical thing I do. I focus on other things. Often I go to sleep and the answer pops up early the next morning. I don't always find the answer to what has been amiss, but I'm ready to write.

I give my inner wisdom an opportunity to help me.

* * * * *

Cecil Murphey's Writer to Writer Conference will be held January 16-18, 2015, at the Hershey Lodge in Hershey, PA, prior to the Munce Group Christian Product Expo (CPE). Faculty includes Cec, Jerry Jenkins, and Shawn and Suzanne Kuhn (SuzyQ). For more information, visit www.writertowriter.com.