This might sound weird, but I've learned too much. There are a lot of things I picked up in school and in college, and even as an entrepreneur, that are just superfluous.
Why am I talking about this? Because it has everything to do with the new book I'm writing, tentatively called The Lean Learner.
I've had a lot of people recently ask me about the book. I've talked about it a little bit on social media, in SPI Pro, and with a few people, but I wanted to take some time in this episode to talk about it in a little more depth. The Lean Learner is about how to learn the things that matter to us most and can help us get to the next level, while excluding the things that we don't need to learn right now. That doesn't mean those things will never matter, but if we have a goal in mind, we have to get specific. The Lean Learner is about understanding how to learn what we need to learn so we can get results faster.
The Lean Learner is definitely not ready for the world yet—I'm still in the middle of writing it—but I think there's nothing better than working in public and sharing things as they're coming along. I'll share a little bit about the struggles and decision points I've had with this book already, including the decision to go with a traditional publisher or self-publish again. And I'll talk about some of the mentors and influences who have inspired me in my writing, with this book and others.
- Will It Fly?
- Let Go
- SPI 527: How to Start Something That Matters with Michael Bungay Stanier
- How to Build a Business That is a True Reflection of You with Nicole Walters | Audience Driven 2021
- Jeff Goins
- Azul Terronez
- SPI Pro
SPI 528: About the New Book I'm Writing
Welcome to the Smart Passive Income Podcast, where it's all about working hard now so you can sit back and reap the benefits later. And now, your host. He's got a mission to make the internet a better place: Pat Flynn.
I've had a lot of people recently ask me about the book I've been writing. I've been talking about it a little bit on social media, within SPI Pro, and to a few people. And I wanted to take this time in this episode to talk about it. It's definitely not ready yet. I am still in the middle of writing it, but I think there's nothing better here that we do than work in public and to share things as they're coming along. We do this for a few reasons. Number one, it gets you to understand that not everything is easy, and I'll tell you a little bit about the struggles I've had with this book already. But it also shows you that things are in progress at all times, and it gets you to understand what's coming, and from a marketing perspective, it's always good to share things as they're being created.
I think for the longest time, a lot of us, and I've fallen into this trap before, where I'm kind of afraid to share things as I've been working on it because it's not quite ready, or I don't know exactly where it's going to go yet. I did this in the software realm. You've perhaps heard the story of when I've built software in the past and spent $15,000 doing that, keeping a little idea secret, only to eventually reveal it and have it be a complete dud. Part of the inspiration for my book Will It Fly?, in fact, was that account. But, in this regard with the book, this topic that I'm writing about is so important.
I also want to give credit to where credit is due. I've had a lot of conversations with people about it, but nobody more influential than Jeff Goins, who has been on the show before. He's actually been quite helpful for me on my book journey, and I've spoken to other people here on the show who have been very, very influential with my book journey: Azul Terronez from Authors Who Lead. But Jeff definitely helped me on this one in particular, because I just had a lot of spiderwebs in my brain that were getting in the way, and he really helped me. You might remember the episode we did with him recently, where he talked about the “big idea,” and balancing this big idea in between the realm of obvious and outlandish.
When something is so obvious, it's like, well, people aren't going to really pay attention to it because they know this already, or they've seen it before, and outlandish, which is, that's kind of too unbelievable. It's not even worth my time because that's kind of impossible. Right? We want to turn people's heads. We want to, at the bookstore, get people to stop and pick up the book to read more about it, and that's going to be where you want to be, in the middle between obvious and outlandish. The idea of this book or the inspiration for it actually comes from the school that my kids attend, and a lot of the way that I've been learning as well as my journey to entrepreneur has started and as it continues to grow and adapt and evolve, learning has become come a huge process of how I do what I do, as we all know. Right? Learning is very important. Learning can change our lives. Learning can change who we speak to and how we speak to them. It could change our legacy. It's really at the beginning of everything.
And when I started my journey as an entrepreneur, I had to find ways to learn quickly and to learn efficiently. I had to learn what to say yes to and what to say no to. And I've sprinkled notes of the topics within this book before into the podcast, where I talk about things like the “20 percent itch” rule, or just-in-time learning. But, to really wrap this all up in a book, or if I could sum it into one phrase, and that is the phrase of what will become the title, that is The Lean Learner. Perhaps you've heard of the book The Lean Startup by Eric Ries. This is The Lean Learner by Pat Flynn. That is the tentative but mostly permanent title right now. The subtitle is sort of in crux at this very moment. I've just finished writing up the proposal thanks to Jeff's help. But Jeff really got out of me what I really wanted to say, and I appreciate that.
This is just the importance of having a coach, and that's probably going to end up in the book, the importance of having a mentor or a coach, somebody to guide you who's already made those mistakes, who has already gone through that process before who can help guide you. They've had the machete in their hand the whole time, and they're blazing the trail for everybody behind, myself included in this case. Again, big thank you to Jeff Goins from GoinsWriter.com. And I'll see if I can link to the episode that he was on. Actually, he's been on a few episodes. He was very helpful with my book Let Go, in fact. But this book, The Lean Learner, the idea being that learning is changing, and education needs to change along with it. Yes, this is an entrepreneurial book, but it's also more of an education book and a book for self-development for anybody who wants to learn anything.
Anybody who has a goal, anybody who has ambitions big or small, we need to learn how to do those things, and there's a specific way I think learning should happen. And it shouldn't happen in the way that we've been learning all throughout this time, which is, let's go to a school that teaches us things where we might only need 2 percent of it to do the goal that we have. Now, don't get me wrong, school should absolutely be a part of the picture, and learning a foundational set of things is very, very important, obviously. But, at some point in education or as we learn, as we grow, we need to make decisions on what's important to us, and then we need to understand how to learn more about that so we can lean into it, so we cannot cloud our brains or learn extra things that aren't necessary. Right?
We, and maybe this is where you can relate most is, perhaps you suffer from content bloat. We are oftentimes content tourists. We go out there, and like a tourist, we go to different places. We learn about different things, and we might snap a photo here or two, we might have a few memories here or two of the things that we consume while on a trip, but never do we go deep with anything. As a content tourist, we're absorbing so many things, likely getting very, very overwhelmed and going nowhere. Right? We need to learn about the things that matter to us most and learn about the things that can help us get to the next level, and everything else really doesn't matter right now. Doesn't mean it doesn't matter ever, it just, if we're trying to get somewhere, we want to go deep with it. And The Lean Learner is about understanding how to learn so that we can get results faster.
I mean, this might sound weird, but I've learned too much. There's a lot of things that I picked up in school and in college, and even as I've attempted to educate myself as an entrepreneur that are just completely superfluous. And there's been certain things that I've noticed, certain patterns about the learnings and the education that I've had that has definitely helped me get results faster. There are notes of failure being an option inside this book. I've learned that from MythBusters, but I just learned that over time as an entrepreneur, that the way that we assess our progress with something needs to change a bit. In terms of not, “Oh, here's your grade,” but necessarily here's where you're at right now, and here's what needs to be worked on.
I tell a story at the beginning of the book the way it's currently written about the school my kids are in, and how they do a lot of project-based learning, how they do a lot of collaboration, even in between grades. How they understand that you cannot get things right on the first time. How you present your ideas to others. Learning from teaching, learning from doing. This book process has been really amazing to really expand my horizons and hopefully open up more circles of people who I can influence in a positive way, one way or another. Because, in the entrepreneur world, my book Superfans, which has been just so amazing to see more and more of people sharing; Will It Fly?, which is a little bit more step by step in terms of helping you grow your business and validating your idea, to more of my Let Go book, which is experience and more emotion rather than strategy and business.
It's been neat to see the circles continue to widen every time I write a new book so that I can reach more people. And it's been definitely a challenge, because I have been definitely stuck in the entrepreneurial world. It's the world I know best. But, as I start to think about teachers and managers and parents, and anybody who could use some guidance on how to teach, and of course internally how to learn, it's been pretty challenging. Because, in one sense, yes, the riches are in the niches. You need to niche down, and many of my initial books are niched to a specific group of people. But, at the same time, as you expand, as you grow, it's going to require you to understand different people and the language that they respond to and what's important to them.
As a parent myself writing to other parents, I feel like I have a little bit to say there, but there's so many other people that I'm having conversations with to include in the book, to learn more about, such as teachers and principals and other educators. It's just been very fascinating. This is sort of a brain dump of an episode with where I'm at right now, sort of a timestamp of this book. It's going to be really interesting to go back and listen to this, and this being out there in the world for people to listen to should this book do well, or even should it not do well.
Some of the thoughts that are going through my mind right now with relation to the book, I had mentioned the proposal, right? A proposal typically is meant for somebody to talk about the book, to include a sample writing piece, and to talk about—essentially, it sells the book to a potential traditionally published outlet. There's a lot of hybrid outlets now. There's a lot of different kinds of publishers who can work out different deals with you, but it is something that I am exploring. I'm not saying I am doing this a hundred percent yet, but I am exploring the possibility of traditionally publishing The Lean Learner. And that's very exciting to me, and it's also very scary. I have a lot of experience self-publishing a book, and the beauty of self-publishing a book is you have control over the entire process. You have a lot more ability to be flexible. You have your own self to be the reason why you win or fail.
But, when you bring a traditionally published house or a traditional publishing house on board, they can provide, yes, a nice advance, and we're going to shop this around to see what happens there. I do have a number in mind. You get also the ability for these publishing houses, with the relationships that they already have, to more easily get into places like Barnes & Noble and other physical bookstores. They take care of a lot of that process for you so that you can just focus on the writing. But, also I've done a lot of research over the years on traditionally published works, and specifically how people have been not mistreated, it's just let down, I guess you could say, with a lot of traditional publishers.
I'm not going to mention any specific names out now because I don't want to then infer potential negative thoughts toward their specific publishers for those specific books. But I've had a lot of friends who have been on the show before who have published books who've said that, despite promises, despite things in the contract, still things not panning out the way they had hoped or the way that was sold to them from that particular publisher. Yeah, the advance could be good, but in most cases they say it's not worth the hassle sometimes for what they've had to deal with, from the fact that there might be zero marketing efforts from that particular traditional publisher, and that publisher actually relying more on the creator or the influencer to do more of the marketing.
And you begin to realize that you have incredible power. You have the ability to, with the connections and the audience and the trust that you've built with them, many times, and we often don't consider this, but a lot of other parties need us more than we need them. I want you to think about what you've built, and how much other companies who perhaps want to get in front of that brand need you more than you need them. Or if you're working with a traditional publisher, for example, how oftentimes they might need you more than you need them. And I've had many, many people, especially very close colleagues, think I'm crazy for even considering going traditionally published, because we've built this amazing, incredible platform here on SPI over the years.
I've worked really hard to build this incredible trust with you, the listener, and I already have access to you. You're listening to this right now, and you already might at least open your mind to the idea of purchasing this book down the road when it comes out. When, I'm not exactly sure, but I definitely think that, again, sharing all this stuff in public is a part of that process. Not marketing, but just getting you involved with building trust and helping you understand what's going through my mind. I haven't done one of these sort of, “Where am I at right now and what am I doing and what's on my mind?” kind of episodes, but I feel like the Friday Follow-Ups are a perfect opportunity to do that.
We'll see what happens. We're going to ship it around; we're going to see what happens. The proposal at this point in time when you're listening to this should be complete and have had probably some hands to go through already. Perhaps I've gotten some proposals coming back, as far as, “Yes, I want to work with you, and here's how much we'll pay you.” Again, it's all really exciting, but I remember, and you might remember this if you attended Audience Driven, our summit earlier in the year, we had the wonderful Nicole Walters on talking about her experience. And we brought her on not to talk about monetization and marketing, but we talked about doing that in a way that fits with who you are, and understanding your full self and why you do what you do. What's your mission? What are your values?
And she told this really incredible story how Nicole, a number of years back, she had the opportunity to publish a book traditionally, way early on. She just signed a deal for a new publishing deal that she said yes to, because she said no to the other one. I'll tell you why in just a second. But I'm so excited for her. I'm definitely going to bring her on the show when that happens, because she is just an incredible ball of energy who just delivers so much value everywhere she steps. And she came on to Audience Driven and did so much. NicoleWalters.com, you can check her out if you haven't already. And she's been here on the show before as well.
She was telling the story during the virtual summit that we had, and we might actually have a link for this in the show notes for you to the YouTube video where you can watch that. It's like a 22-, 25-minute presentation. But she was telling the story about how she had this opportunity to work with a publisher that reached out to her, and what an amazing opportunity at the start of one's business to have that opportunity to publish, a book she knew would do so much for her brand. But, after a little bit of due diligence, she saw that a lot of the other people whose books that this publisher had worked with, books that were published, she knew that her values were not in alignment with a lot of those people that this publisher had once helped. She knew that deep down it would be the right thing to do to say no to those opportunities right now, knowing that there will be more opportunities in the future. It took years, but it's here.
She said yes to this amazing, I think she even said, it's either a high six-figure or a seven-figure book deal, which is just absolutely incredible. And Nicole is going to rocket, and I cannot wait to see what her book's going to be about. I might, at this point in time, have more knowledge about it, in fact. But anyway, all this is to say, knowing who you are is really, really important. And I'm definitely going to, if I get a proposal, I'm not going to be looking at just the number alone. Right? I have a number in mind. I think it's important for you to know what you're worth and what your value is. But at the same time, just that number is—it's not just about the number. Right? It's, who are we working with? What is this company's value? Who else have they worked with, and why? Because as soon as I say, “Yes, here is my book. This is yours now, and we made a deal,” I fork over some of those rights in that case.
I currently own all of the rights to all of my books and audiobooks, which feels very nice right now. I know control is a huge thing that is very important in the publishing space. But, “Here's my book. It's yours. Now you go do what you want with it.” Then my name is now forever alongside all the other names that they've published as well, and anybody who they're going to publish with in the future. And so I really appreciated Nicole for sharing that story and bringing that to light, because it really was perfect timing for myself and hopefully for you as well.
Thank you so much for listening to me blabber on about this upcoming book, The Lean Learner, coming out at some point in the future. I'm in the middle of writing it as we speak, and I couldn't be more thrilled because the books have just been a tremendous way to get to know new people and to have people get to know me. And I think, you know, you know this. I've been talking about this for the longest time, and I think the book is going to be the start of something really incredible when it comes to my journey with having some sort of agency of change within the world of education, and it starts here. And I'm very grateful that you are allowing me to use SPI as sort of a launching pad for that.
Now, I'm not going away, of course, and this definitely is relatable to SPI in several ways. Right? You're learning and you're building and you're trying to figure out how to navigate the noise out there, and you don't want to suffer from content bloat. There's a reason why we use words like “digesting content,” and digesting content takes calories, it takes energy. “Binge watching” or “binge listening,” just like we binge eat sometimes. It's just incredible how those things align.
But, anyway, I'm really excited for the stories I'm going to share with you in this book. I'm hopefully going to hear from you in the future after you pick it up, after you read it, after you implement what we talk about in the book. And hopefully in some way, shape, or form, it will change you and the lives of those who you serve as well.
So anyway, thank you for listening in today. I appreciate you, and I hope that you hit subscribe if you haven't already, because we have a lot of great stuff coming your way. And definitely want to thank Michael Bungay Stanier, who was our previous episode in 527. He is the inspiration for this episode because he himself has written a new book, and I've gotten so much value, and my life has changed as a result of the books that I've picked up from him. So go ahead and check out episode 527, the one right before this, if you haven't already. It's an absolutely incredible episode about starting anything, which is, again, a great theme here.
So thank you so much for listening, and I appreciate you. And I look forward to serving you next week's episode. Until then, cheers, peace out, take care, and as always, Team Flynn for the win.
Thanks for listening to the Smart Passive Income podcast at smartpassiveincome.com. I'm your host, Pat Flynn. Our senior producer is Sara Jane Hess, our series producer is David Grabowski, and our executive producer is Matt Gartland. Sound editing by Duncan Brown. The Smart Passive Income podcast is a production of SPI Media. We'll catch you in the next session.