The best business card you’ll ever have is about 200 pages long
This week’s prestigious Chartered Management Institute Management Book of the Year award has underlined, once again, the value of ideas to business. The winner, Frugal Innovation: How to do more with less by Navi Radjou and Jaideep Prabhu, demonstrates how businesses can grow quickly on limited resources. Management makes things happen. Anyone who doubts this should consider Stuart Crainer and Des Dearlove’s short article in Harvard Business Review. Crainer, co-founder of Thinkers50, the world’s most prestigious management guru ranking, points out that the ‘best business books are acted upon, they change the way leaders lead and how managers manage. This is not an idle ambition. The most impressive and successful leaders tend to be voracious readers. They want to know about the latest research and ideas. This is especially true in emerging markets. CEOs like Zhang Ruimin at Haier have used business books as an education in business best practice. There is nothing so practical as a great idea.’
And, something that is frequently overlooked, there’s nothing so rewarding as being the originator of a great idea. The world’s most sought-after cross-cultural management expert, Fons Trompenaars, has claimed that since publishing influential books like Riding the Whirlwind, The Global M&A Tango and 100+ Management Models his speaking engagements and fees have doubled, his profile tripled and his clients quadrupled. ‘I highly recommend you to get your ideas on paper, particularly if they are unique,’ he says. Trompenaars is quite right to say that if you’ve got interesting ideas you need to record them, but you also need to distribute them, and there is simply no better way to do it than in a book. Why? Because people don’t throw books away. Getting a publisher to commit to your book idea isn’t easy (unless you’re already a well-known author), but self-publishing gives you a product that has far less impact. As, Barry Gibbons, former global CEO of Burger King and author of six books in including If You Want to Make God Really Laugh Show Him Your Business Plan, says, ‘A published book (accent on ‘published’) can bring a string of powerful indirect benefits. It can boost a CV. It can take the place of a business card, with 1000 times the impact. It can open up lucrative speaking or consulting opportunities. It can enhance an author’s reputation in a defined target market.’ Gibbons is a prolific and entertaining speaker who addresses huge conferences from Las Vegas to Bangkok, and there’s no doubt that his books have helped him get to where he is. In fact if you want to be on the speaking circuit and you haven’t got a book published you have a huge hurdle to overcome. Brendan Barns, formerly CEO of Speakers for Business and founder of London Business Forum, insists that having a business book published can give instant credibility to an author, especially if it’s in partnership with a major publisher. ‘This can,’ he says ‘open the door to a lucrative speaking career, especially if the author has some charisma.’
A published book can also have some more subtle effects on the authors profile. Ken Langdon is the author of 20 practical business books (and ghost-writer of several more) and he points out that it massively enhances your search engine profile. A Google search on many business managers wouldn’t throw up much apart from a LinkedIn page which is, of course, their own writing. Google an author, however, and you get their Amazon page along with the publisher’s potted history of the author. (The author may also have written this but it doesn’t look like that.) If you want to see the effect for yourself just type ‘Ken Langdon’ into Google.