Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Bob Selden discusses his new book, “Don’t”

With Bob Selden’s wife snaring a marvelous job in Switzerland in early 2002, he decided he needed to take some change of direction in his career.  So, in addition to continuing coaching and training managers (in both Europe and Australia), he decided to write about how managers, and particularly new managers, might take on board some of the lessons he’d learned as a manager and organizational consultant.

The result? 

In 2007 he self-published (through Outskirts Press in the US) “What To Do When You Become The Boss: How new managers become successful managers”.  It started to sell well immediately with a lot of marketing on his part.  Shortly after, it was picked up by McMillan’s in India and later by Hachette in Australia and the UK.  At time of writing, it’s sold around 55,000 copies and been published in four languages (English, Chinese, Polish and Portuguese – the later for the Brazilian market).  In Australia, it’s now in a revised edition and 4th reprint (approx. 9,000 copies sold).  Major Corporate such as Sun Alliance Insurance, the CSIRO and Rocla issue it to all their new managers.

He has now penned a new book, still in non-fiction and a different genre.  The title is “Don’t: How using the right words will change your life”.  Principally it’s about how the words we use can impact our own and others’ behavior – either positively or negatively.  

D.O: Welcome Bob Selden. Thank you for joining us today on Authors’ Curtilage Book Dialogue.

B.S: Thanks Damilola, glad to be here.

D.O: We have some eager blog audience here today looking forward to talk to you about things that bother them base on your book.

Question from blog audience: It is my understanding that your book is about how the words we use can impact our behavior both positively or negatively. Is the book also about the do not use phrases that can have a negative impact on one’s career?

B.S: In a nutshell, yes.  The book is about becoming a far more positive person by using positive language. Positive people tend to see opportunities that others miss and are prepared to take advantages of these opportunities (they always express obstacles or barriers as “challenges” rather than “problems”). Also, positive people tend to see others in a more positive light and are consequently liked more often by others. The result? People who are positive and well liked tend to get selected more often for promotion than those who are negative.

D.O: What was your main reason for writing the book “Don’t?”

B.S: I’ve been using the ideas in “Don’t” for many years in both business and personal situations and have found that they really work. The success of my earlier book gave me the motivation to put pen to paper and get these messages out there as well.  Plus I got a gentle nudge from my wife who suggested I should write about it rather than just talking!

D.O: “Don’t: How using the right words will change your life” This is a deep label I must say. Bob, what inspired the title of this book?

B.S: Titles for books are often difficult. Although “Don’t” was one of the first I came up with, as a positive person I felt that it may seem too negative.  However, after much brainstorming (with friends/colleagues) and soul searching on my part, I revisited the golden rule for naming non-fiction books – “The title should pose the question/problem and the sub-title should answer it”.  I was also helped by my former business partner who suggested the tag line “Unlock the do in don’t”. Both of these are on the cover.

D.O: Wow! That was clever steps you took there. How can a person 'perfect' the more successful parts of their own behavior through words in order to reproduce more positive language using the book “Don’t?”

B.S: There was a recent study conducted in the UK where over 40,000 people responded to a questionnaire about what led to their success.  Number one response was positive self-talk. There are a number of references and suggestions in “Don’t” on how one can practice using positive self-talk to reinforce one’s strengths. In particular, one chapter covers expressing personal qualities/goals/targets in the present tense as “I am …” rather than “I will …” or “I am going to …” Doing this tricks the brain into thinking that it’s already happening!  Mohammad Ali was very good at that.

D.O: In one of our email exchanges, you said you think much of the content of “Don’t” should be taught in our schools. From my own discovery average schools nowadays by their very nature, are breeding grounds for rudeness including the use of negative language. So are you saying “Don’t should be read to students as text books or be integrated into the schools’ virtues curriculum?

B.S: Not necessarily the book “Don’t” (although that would be nice for me as the author), but the principles outlined should be. For example, getting rid of “Don’t” and replacing it with the positive action you want to happen, and also phrases such as “But”, “Yes, but”, “Don’t you think that …” and many more negative phrases that tend to lead to confrontation or conflict rather than cooperation.

D.O: Hmm. I hope school owners around the world are reading this. Looking at the day to day challenges of life that make people easily give up and become all negative on themselves, what are the structures you put in place in “Don’t” to help your potential readers sieve their behavior of negativity and concentrate on the positive part of life using optimistic words in difficult times?

B.S: Each chapter in Part One has a number of exercises that people can apply immediately, for example “getting rid of don’t”, “using positive metaphors”, “replacing ‘but’ with ‘and’” and more.  Additionally, there are two strategies I suggest:
1.    List out 20 things that you are grateful for in life (and revisit this list regularly)
2.    Each day, find someone who is doing something well and thank them for it.

D.O: One of the circumstances I think prompt people to apply the do not use negative language is failure. Is there any content in “Don’t” that boost people’s courage?

B.S: The practical exercises at the end of each chapter are designed to do just that.  So, for people who are a little unsure as to whether these strategies and tactics will work, some are very simple and bring immediate results. Seeing positive results from one’s behavior produces further positive results.

D.O: What is the process of adopting positive behavior or language?

B.S: The best way is to start by writing out some of theDon’t” statements you are likely to use during a normal day.  Then write out the positive alternative. Whether you’re a parent teacher, manager – whatever your role - in the heat of the moment, it’s very easy to use a “Don’t”. Writing out the alternative gives you much more time to work out what you will say when the situation arises rather than reacting on the spur of the moment.

D.O: How can a person completely stop unhelpful or destructive patterns of thinking and usage of negative language?

B.S: Use all the principles outlined in “Don’t”! Seriously though, our patterns of thinking develop from the words we use, so making the changes I’ve suggested will definitely prevent these unhelpful or destructive patterns from occurring.

Question from blog audience: I am an entrepreneur. I face challenges from different sources that depress me. And sometimes I tell myself I’m a failure over and over, before picking up myself again to continue pursuing my goals. Do you think this kind of acknowledgement can prevent success in my final destination?

B.S: “Failure” like “Don’t” is a word that should be eliminated from one’s vocabulary. Using the word “failure” immediately brings to mind situations where one has failed and so the brain says “here we go again”.  When receiving feedback such as this, one could say “Well, that was less successful than I’d hoped. Let’s see how/where I am doing it differently” You’ll notice that sports people such as tennis players when they miss or fluff a shot they immediately replay the shot with an air swing the way it should have been played.  In this way the brain registers the good shot rather than the poor one.

Question from blog audience: When writing your books, what do you have in the back of your mind, the riches and fame or impacting peoples’ lives first?

B.S: I only think about the topic and how my words can help people improve their lives.  Everything else comes from doing a good job with the book.

D.O: [SMILES] that’s a good one! Did you encounter any sort of obstacle when you started out with writing this book?

B.S: Not really. The research was very time consuming and also enjoyable.

D.O: This is for those willing to write a powerful book as yours. What is the best way to write this kind of book, "pitch" it to a publisher and protect the idea?

B.S: That’s a tough question and probably needs another book to answer! In short, a book such as mine starts with an “idea” – an idea about what issues/challenges most people have and then finding simple ways that they can be met. For example, many managers I’ve spoken with over the years have said something along the lines of “When I have to give a person some difficult news, I always seem to get the words wrong” So helping these managers “get the words right” started me down the path of looking at the impact words have on behavior.

As to pitching it to a publisher? Well, my experience has been to get the book reasonably well completed first with heaps of feedback from friends, colleagues and fellow authors. This feedback will provide you with the weak spots in the book (which you can correct) and the things you like (these you can use in your pitch). 
Not sure about protecting the idea, apart from registering the name, domain name and getting an ISBN.

D.O: I’d say getting feedback on the ideas is very important. In the screenwriting world we call this story note. With this story note, a writer is able to build subsequent draft from the feedback until they have a polished draft they can put in the market place for optioning or other forms of contract. Well, your first book has sold 55,000 copies and been published in four languages – English, Chinese, Polish and Portuguese. And you are on your way to another huge success with “Don’t” what’s next on your agenda? 

B.S: Good question.  That’s what my wife often asks too! There are a few ideas floating around and I may have to get back to you on this.  In the meantime, I’m working with a colleague to develop a course on “How to write and publish a book” which can be completed remotely – very exciting.

D.O: Hmm. I can’t wait to host that on the blog. Do you have any final thoughts to share with those struggling to use positive language?

B.S: I go back to the points I made earlier …

1.    List out 20 things that you are grateful for in life (and revisit this list regularly)
2.    Each day, find someone who is doing something well and thank them for it.
These two things are sure to keep you on the right path.

D.O: Thanks once more for joining us today Bob Selden. I wish you all the best.

B.S: My pleasure. Thanks for inviting me Damilola.

D.O: Goodbye everyone and remember to pick up your personal copy of "Don’t." from the following buy links.

Bob Selden joined the Authors’ Curtilage Book Dialogue via email from Cross Nest Australia.

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