No. 6 – Keep On Keepin’ On In Whatever You are Doing

Posted on October 24th, 2014 by in Best Leadership Practices

Books by D.A. Benton

My book Executive Charisma (McGraw-Hill) was published in 2004.  Last week it showed up on some business bestseller lists, ten years later.  Now that’s an early Christmas present for me! Not only did it please me to see renewed interest, but it means in April and October of next year there will be another royalty check in the mail.

I don’t write this to brag but to give you the back story.  After my first book Lions Don’t Need to Roar (Warner Books) I thought, “That’s it. I wrote a book. I’ve done it.” But what I didn’t know is if it sells well, the publisher wants you to write another one. I thought I was a one-book person – I put everything I knew into that one.

Well, the publisher insisted, paid a nice advance, so I struggled to write another while thinking, “I can’t do this.” Until one night when I woke up at 3 AM and decided to change the words to “I can do this.”  Went back to sleep, got up and started writing How To Think Like a CEO (Warner Books) which made all the big business bestseller lists.

So then I got hooked on writing and ended up publishing my tenth book this Spring, The CEO Difference (McGraw-Hill).  When cleaning out my files yesterday I ran into one titled “Book Proposals” and started going through it.  Although the publisher wants you to write another book, you still have to have a good idea so you pitch a proposal you think they might buy. In one six-month period, I presented eight different proposals to them. Each one was rejected until the last one (on the list that follows) hit the mark.

To give you an idea of what was rejected:

  • How to Present Like a CEO: The Ten Keys to Commanding Authority, Influencing Others, and Leaving a Positive Lasting Impression
  • Do It Everyday: 365 Tips, Tricks, and Tales from a Leadership Development Expert
  • Beyond Brilliance: 101 Ways to Ensure Your Upward Mobility
  • Busting Out of Pink Collar Prison: Career Advice for Women on How to Break Out and Prosper
  • Fix It!: Today’s Business Leaders Show You how to Solve Problems and Become Tomorrow’s Leaders
  • Top Dogs Talk: What Good Leaders Do and You Should Too
  • The Heart of the CEO: The Human Side of the Public Job
  • What to Do From Age 22 to be CEO by 42

Every pitch got rejected except the last one, which was re-titled and became my ninth book, CEO Material (McGraw-Hill).  So when I brag about a new book, remember that it came after l-o-t-s of rejection.  You and I just keep trying though, don’t we!


P.S. If you have comments or questions, please feel free to contact me.

No. 5 – Red Flags This Job Isn’t For You

Posted on October 15th, 2014 by in Career Management Tips & Techniques
Red flag

Photo: Duncan Robson

When you are looking for a job and get an offer, your excitement can cause you to overlook some red flags. Even if you’re at a time of near-desperation, slow down and honestly ask yourself (and answer) the questions below.  You want to minimize your having to look for a job, again, in the near future because this one didn’t live up to your expectations.  And, by the way, these questions are ones you can ask yourself about your current job, too.

-Will this position broaden my experience, expose me to new areas, and teach me things I’ll need in the future?

-Is the management philosophy in sync with my own?

-Is it a stable management time for the company?

-Would I want to work here for the rest of my life – or even five years?

-What happened to my predecessor?

-Is this a significant promotion?

-Is the compensation satisfactory? Will it be satisfactory in two years?

-Can I contribute substantially to the company in this position?

-Is there realistic opportunity for advancement?

-Is the job interesting and challenging?

-Is the work in a geographically desirable area including community, cultural, and religious organizations?

-Is the industry expanding or retrenching?

-Is the company growing fast, faster, or slower than competitors?

If you answer more than five with “no,” better rethink your decision. It’s better to turn it down and be available for when the right one comes along.

– Debra

No. 4 – NFL Football is Business Just Like Your Business

Posted on October 13th, 2014 by in Best Leadership Practices
New England Patriots

Photo: Todd Shoemake

For a few days I found myself staying at the same hotel as the New England Patriots football team.  Naturally, I took every opportunity possible to engage in conversation whether in the elevator, lobby, workout room, or restaurant.

When they found out I was an executive coach — interested in parallels in athletic coaching —  various players were open to telling me their opinion.  Repeatedly they wanted to make clear that playing football isn’t a game to them, it’s their job.  In high school and college it was a game, but pro football is their profession as “money is the big motivator just like any business.”

They told me they don’t need or look for motivation and locker room pep talks from their coach (again, that’s for high school and college).  As one player said, “So many people want to be NFL players that we’re pretty self motivated.”  What they want from coaching is:
  • Technique and skill development (with both verbal and visual explanations)
  • Good direction that covers all contingencies and keeps them from going in unprepared
  • Honest and loyal encouragement
And like you, they prefer not to be yelled at.
- Debra

No. 3 – Push Back With Respect

Posted on October 1st, 2014 by in Best Leadership Practices

Madam Secretary

There is a new show on NBC this season called Madam Secretary starring the talented actress Teo Leoni.  My favorite line in the season opener was when the Secretary of State (e.g. Madam Secretary) was told about her boss’s order (e.g. The U.S. President), “You don’t have a choice.”  And her response, “Here’s the problem.  I’ve never met a situation where I don’t have a choice in the matter.”

I like that attitude:  With respect, do not defer.


No. 2 – Pass On What You Learn

Posted on October 1st, 2014 by in Best Leadership Practices

Stack of books

Today I browsed a used bookstore in my neighborhood, looking to add to the pile of books I hold in reserve in the corner of my office for emergency reading.

As an author supporting the publishing industry, I should be shopping at a Barnes & Noble, Amazon, or 800-CEO-reads buying new books. But I read so much, I can’t afford my habit.

Smack dab in the middle of the $2 hardcover shelf I spotted a very familiar book: How to Think Like a CEO. My book. It was a Businessweek and New York Times business bestseller when published in 1994.

Of course I had to buy the book. I couldn’t let it sit on the $2 shelf next to thirteen Nora Roberts romance novels and four Lance Armstrong It’s Not About the Bike books.

At the checkout counter I told the clerk with mock exasperation (but really with pride), “I found a copy of a book that I wrote,” showing the book jacket photo so she could see it really was me.

“That’s way cool,” said the clerk, and I think she meant it.

At first I was disappointed that the original book buyer decided to get rid of it. Then I changed my perspective and decided to rationalize that the original book owner had learned all s/he could and wanted to generously pass on to others the great wealth of knowledge.

I chose the perspective I want because I remembered what one mentor told me many years ago: “Your ability to be happy is directly related to your ability to rationalize!”

– Debra

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