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Welcome to Season 2 of The Book Marketing Action Podcast with Becky Robinson, where we give you information that you can immediately implement to increase your influence and market your books more successfully. We are excited to welcome an old friend and one of the most well-known leadership bloggers out there, Dan Rockwell, also known as Leadership Freak.
About Dan Rockwell
Becky: Before we get started, Dan, could you tell our listeners who potentially haven’t read your blog yet about your work in the world, and about why it matters to you?
Dan: So I guess I’m most well known for my blog, which I write five days a week now and have for the last 10 years. And that’s a big part of my work. Another part of my work would be coaching leaders who are speaking in conferences and to companies leading workshops.
Dan’s motivation to blog
Becky: Could you tell our listeners a bit about your journey and how you got started blogging? What motivated you to start? And what has motivated you to continue?
Dan: Thanks for asking that question. You know it has been a long time. And I guess 10 years, maybe when I was younger, was a long time. Now it doesn’t seem like that long at all. Do you know what I’m saying? Anyway, I got my MBA late in life and I got interested in leadership, and I realized I’ve been leading all my life. I was the captain of the basketball team and the president of the senior class, I think because I was taller than most people, especially during my younger days.
I realized I thought I was a leader, but I really wasn’t. I was terrible at it. So I got interested and made a commitment to write five days a week, just because I was interested in this topic. I made a commitment to write five days a week, for a year. And if it got traction, I thought, well, I’ll keep going, and the rest is history. It did get traction. I’m thankful for that and I’ve been writing ever since. Which, by the way, Becky, I don’t know if you know, this, I never wrote anything before, except for contracts for the college where I worked, and papers for the courses that I took.
Becky: I did not know that, Dan. That’s an interesting fact.
How to get started with blogging
Becky: I meet a lot of aspiring authors or authors who have never embarked on the journey of blogging, and they’re quite intimidated by blogging. What would you say to them in terms of how to get started or simplifying some of the overwhelm associated with crafting a blog post?
Dan: First of all, book authors try to write books online and that just doesn’t work. They write wordy sentences that are too long. If other people like long blog posts, then that’s great. I think that the hard thing about authors writing blogs is you have all this material, and you have to start hacking it away. I’ve got 500 or 600 words, and I have to get that down to 300 words. There’s this precious little baby there, this nice little nugget of thought, and boom, he’s off to the orphanage. He’s done, he’s gone. You have to be brutal with that. I think authors tend to soften their message a bit, because you can’t interact with your audience through a book, so you have to cover all the bases. But when you’re writing a blog somebody might say, “hey, you forgot this or what about that, or I disagree with this,” and for me, that’s fantastic. Don’t try to say everything, just say the things that are most relevant for you.
Becky: Talk about what that process is like for you. You’re writing five days a week. So are you writing ahead? Are you writing in the moment? What’s your daily routine, like with producing the blog?
Dan: I wish I could write ahead, that would be great. Occasionally, I do. Occasionally, if I’m going to go on vacation for a couple of weeks, I try to get them out there, or I get some guest posts because I’m terrible at writing ahead. I want to write with a certain sense of urgency. It’s hard for me to write without urgency, or to think that blog post is going to be next Friday, so by then I will have changed a little bit. It used to be every post was written that morning, and now I will start a post and save it. I have a file of hundreds of first paragraphs. If it’s a good day, the night or day before it goes live, I would have composed a rough draft, and then I’ll get up in the morning and probably change it significantly. My wife will then edit it, look for grammar problems and things, and we’ll get it out there at 6:47 AM.
Tips for being consistent
Becky: Let’s talk about this value that you obviously have of consistency. Who or what has influenced that in you, Dan?
Dan: Yeah, thanks for asking that question. Because it makes me think about some of the people who have made such a big difference in my life. I hope everybody listening has that cadre of people who have made a difference. My dad was a quiet introvert, the hardest working, and the smartest guy I ever knew, who loved books. And we lived on a dairy farm. Well, that’s the world of consistency there. You’ve got to milk the cows every morning and every night. And my dad was Mr. Consistency. He was just amazing. He’s passed away, but I really still feel his influence in my life. And I’m so thankful for it.
Becky: I love that kind of paradigm of you have to milk the cows every morning and every night. That isn’t something you can work ahead to do. It’s something that you have to do every day.
Dan: It’s true. It’s the worst part of dairy farming. I make fun of audiences, I’ll ask them if there any dairy farmers in the audience. They’ll say, “I was a dairy farmer in Maine,” and I’ll say, “You know, we’re the dumbest farmers? The smart farmers don’t have to be there every day, right?” But yeah, it was a great life for a kid, and it did teach me to do my chores. No matter how you feel that day, you have to go do it.
Becky: I wonder what type of crossover there could be for those of us who don’t have that unique experience of having been a dairy farmer? So I try to think about what am I consistent with? Do you know what? I brew a cup of coffee every morning, Dan! Yeah, I don’t have to work at it. I get up and I brew myself a cup of coffee, and then I drink it.
Dan: Absolutely, you make me think about rituals, habits, or those things that are so valuable. I think especially during tough times, such as the pandemic, rituals are a point of stability, and a small ritual makes a huge difference. I started in November, my gratitude journal. It’s a notepad from our insurance company, and I just set it on the side of my desk. Once a day in the morning, the first thing before I’d do anything on my computer, I write one thing. It’s a point of consistency that brings stability and focus to my life.
Becky: That’s an amazing new habit that you’re creating. So do you have any tricks apart from commitment that keep you consistent and showing up with valuable content?
Dan: It makes me think of something that I’m not sure if I should say or not. I remember being asked early on what was motivating me and there is a fear component, the fear component is the fear of not mattering in life. I know this probably doesn’t sound very noble, and maybe what people can do is shift that into how do I view my day as an opportunity to matter to others. It doesn’t have to be a fear thing. At least at that stage, there was a concern of fear about not mattering as much as I could. I honestly believe that was a big part of the motivation. I think the motivation today is a little different in that I definitely enjoy the affirmation I get. Having people send me an email and say, “I really love that post. It hit me right at the right time.” That’s a little splash of gas in the tank. So I’m thankful for that, too. That helps.
Why consistency is so important to your success
Becky: So Dan, anything else you want to share with our listeners today about why consistency is so important to your success and impact in the world?
Dan: Another great question, Becky. I think one of the reasons Leadership Freak has worked is that I am consistent, and people know exactly what to expect. I’m writing something that is the same thing every day, on the same topic, and I’m writing consistently. And I think that helps get your stuff out there. When stuff speaks to you, just get it out there. See what happens! Some people are going to enjoy what you are interested in. Right? Not everybody, but there are gonna be some people who do, and that’s fantastic.
Personal & Professional Highlights
Becky: Well, maybe as we wrap up our conversation, Dan, you could share a couple of highlights for you on your journey, because you did mention that part of what keeps you going and helps you be consistent is seeing the way that you are making a difference for people. What two or three things over the last decade have been the most meaningful to you as a person and a professional as a result of your consistent presence with blogging?
Dan: I think the first thing that comes to mind Becky, is the first invitation I got to go speak. I enjoy speaking—it terrifies me and my stomach hurts before I speak, but once we get going, it feels great. I love the interaction with the audience. I had written for a year and a half, not really with the goal that it was a business or that I would be speaking, when I got my first invitation to go to Arkansas. I said to my wife, “we could actually make money doing this,” and she kind of laughed and was like, “whatever,”—that was a great moment. More recently, I got to speak to the National Institute of Health where they’re all working on the Coronavirus thing and all that. I was actually scheduled to go in person, but ended up being a virtual presentation, and it was an honor to speak to them. You know, that’s, that’s just a great thing. I’m so thankful for it.
Becky: That’s amazing. Dan, thank you so much for investing some of your time with me to talk about the value and importance of consistency. I think one thing that’s gonna stay with me is this idea that the cows have to be milked every morning and every night. And that’s a really powerful takeaway. So thank you for that.
Becky: One of the things that we always do on the Book Marketing Action Podcast is we leave our listeners with a couple of action steps, items that they can implement today, in growing their thought leadership and marketing their books more effectively.
- Identify something that you can do to be consistent and add value. One action step you might take is to think about what are the things that you are consistently doing. Then consider the impact that you want to have and how you want to matter to people. Consider an experiment, Dan mentioned that he started blogging five days a week for a year, and that was his initial commitment. So what initial commitment to consistent creation of value can you make today?
- Experiment with blogging. Action step number two is to experiment with writing a blog post if you’ve never done it before. Dan mentioned that one of the things that you have to be ready to do is to kill the copy, which means really narrowing down, sharpening your focus, writing shorter sentences, being clear and direct. So I would encourage anyone who’s listening today to try to write a 300-word blog post the way Dan does. And if you do that, I would love for you to send it to me. If you try this action step and write a 300-word blog post, I’d love to read it.
- Check out Dan’s blog, Leadership Freak, here.
- Connect with Dan on Twitter.
- You can email Dan directly here.
- Watch the video Becky mentioned, “Finding your Tennis Ball” here.
If you found value in today’s episode, we hope you’ll take a moment to share it with someone else who might benefit from it. If you have any questions or topics you’d like us to cover, please email Becky Robinson here.