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Writing is a powerful tool for fueling forward their career, either as an HR professional inside of an organization or as a consultant.
Welcome to The JoyPowered® Workspace Podcast where we help HR and business leaders embrace joy in the workplace. I’m JoDee Curtis, owner of Purple Ink and Powered by Purple Ink, and with me is my friend and co-host Susan White, owner of Susan Tinder White Consulting, an HR consulting practice.
Our topic today is on JoyPowered® writing. And you know, writing isn’t just a creative exercise. If you are looking to become a thought leader and speaker, a book is a great way to display these talents. Writing can also benefit and help you grow your career. I know writing has made an impact on my career for sure. As many of you might know, I have authored or co-authored four different books. The first one was “JoyPowered®,” then “The JoyPowered® Family,” “The JoyPowered® Team,” which Susan co-authored with me as well, and “The JoyPowered® Organization.” I’m also working on two more, “The JoyPowered® Leader” and “The JoyPowered® Networker.” I’m taking a different approach to writing these last two, and this new approach came about mostly due to working with a book coach and attending a three-day writer’s retreat. The coaching and the retreat were fabulous, and now I wonder… how did I ever write those first four without them?
JoDee, why did you start writing books?
Even though I have these four books behind me now, in 2016, it was a significant stretch for me to write my first book. I was starting to apply to more and large conferences, and for many of the applications, the first question was, “Are you a PhD or an author?” And quite frankly, it bugged me that I had to respond, “No,” to those questions. I thought it would surely be faster and easier to write a book than to get a PhD, so I committed to writing one. I didn’t consider myself to be a strong writer, I had – and still have – zero patience to undertake such a big task, and I was very busy with my family and my business. Based on that, I wondered how I would ever achieve this goal. The biggest stumbling point for me, though, was to think of something I could write about that others would even be interested in reading. The good news, though, is that I am very committed to reaching my goals, and once I set a goal, I was in. You know, I said I wanted to write a book because I wanted to speak more, and I thought if I had books, I would be able to speak at more conferences. It worked.
Yeah, somehow, you know, it doesn’t really matter how good or bad your book is. It’s sort of… people think it gives you credibility to say you’ve written a book. So I wrote that first one, which I thought would be a real struggle for me, and I really enjoyed it, and then I just kept writing.
What did you enjoy, once you got into it, about writing books?
Well, I think I was nervous when I wrote that first one of thinking, what do I have to share that others would want to read about? And the more I wrote, the more I felt like, hey, I do have some thoughts on this topic, and I do have experience in this topic. And I just got to where I, you know… I wanted to spill it all out and get it on paper about things that I was thinking about or things that I had observed or read about as well, too. I’ll also add that I think it’s a fascinating time management experience. I thought lot out how long I thought it would take and blocking out from my calendar for times to write… It was just fascinating for me.
So with the four books, how long do you think it took? Did you get faster as you went, or did experience get you quicker?
I started writing and had published my first book in six months. And then in my later books, I had co-authors that helped to make it faster, at least on my end. But yeah, one of those books where I had a co-author, too, we didn’t actually have a hard deadline, and so it actually took way longer than the other books. So I like to write when I have a deadline. Like, I’m going to speak at this conference on this topic, so I need to have this book available. Right?
And when I don’t have that, then I’m not pushed to get it done. So. And Susan, what about you? What enticed you to write with me on “The JoyPowered® Team”?
You’re very hard to say no to, JoDee. You know, I don’t really enjoy writing. I love talking. Hence, podcasting is really a vehicle that I really enjoy. But writing… I just… I find I spend so much time with angst thinking about what to write. When you asked me, you told me who else was going to be writing the book, it was about the JoyPowered® team, and I loved the concept. I’m really attracted to the topic. And I just… I thought, you know, if I’m gonna write one book or one chapter of one book, this is going to be the book and it’s going to be with these people. So I truly did enjoy it when it was finished. But for me, writing… it just has never been high on my list of want tos.
Yeah, well, you did a great job. Our guest today is my book coach and the lead facilitator and organizer of the writing retreat I attended. The fabulous Cathy Fyock – she’s a CSP, SPHR, SHRM-SCP – is the business book strategist and works with professionals and thought leaders as a career growth strategy. She is an author herself of 11 books, including “On Your Mark,” “Blog2Book,” and “The Speaker Author.” She believes that authors change the world one word at a time.
I like that.
Cathy, before you were a book coach, I understand you were also an HR leader. How did you make that transition?
Well, it’s a… it’s a great story. I was working as a consultant at the time, and the President of the National Speakers Association, my local chapter, approached me and said, “Cathy, I heard a rumor that you have written one of your books in less than six weeks. Is that true?” And I said, “Well, actually, I’ve written four of my five books in less than six weeks,” at the time. And he said, “Oh, my gosh, do you have a process?” And I thought, I don’t know, do I have a process? And so I thought, yeah, I guess I do. And he said, “Would you be willing to give a program for our chapter about your process?” And I said, “Oh, I would be delighted.” He said, “But before you say yes, would you be willing to coach a couple of our chapter members who are working on books, and then give a program?” And I said, “Well, you… You had me at give a program, so I’m definitely in.” And up until that time, I had never even thought about being a book coach, but as I started working with these two individuals, one of the women said, “Have you ever thought about becoming a book coach?” And I said, “No. Is there such a thing? Is there a need?”
There’s definitely a need.
Yes, yeah. So… So that’s really how it all got started. It was kind of a bizarre twist of fate, but that’s what brought me to this place.
That’s marvelous. So Cathy, how has writing, do you think, served you as an HR leader and a consultant?
Well, it’s been probably the most powerful tool that I have found to establish myself as a thought leader, to differentiate myself from other HR professionals, other consultants, and to leverage more work, more consulting engagements, coaching engagements, speaking engagements. So it is a powerful, powerful tool. And not only have I been able to receive the benefits of all that, but my clients have now as well, and I have… I’ve worked with a lot of HR professionals, because that’s my background, and so I’m finding that they are finding that writing is a powerful tool for fueling forward their career, either as an HR professional inside of an organization or as a consultant, and maybe even for those folks who are thinking about transitioning from one to the other. It’s a great way to make that transition, as well.
I think that’s great. I think almost every HR person I know always says, “I gotta write a book. I just have to write a book. All the stories I’ve heard, I’ve got to write a book,” and you’re the person who can help them write that book.
And Cathy, you talked about how the writing has benefited some of your clients. How has it exactly, or what are some examples of ways it has benefited them?
Well, I love this story. So I wrote… my very first book was published in 1990 on the aging workforce, and that was a topic that I was very, very passionate about, and I’ve done a lot of research. In fact, my book was the first book on The aging workforce. Fast forward 20 some odd years later, I got a call from a colleague who is looking for a generational expert to help them serve with… there’s some company issues dealing with generational issues. Because of my book, written 20 some years ago at the time, I got a really nice consulting assignment for several years. In fact, I’m still doing a little bit of work for this… this client. And so it has paid me thousands and thousands of dollars over many, many years. So that’s… that’s the power of a book. I think that’s really dramatic, but that really says it all, that it can 20 years later be still doing its magic for you.
Cathy, you were young 30 years ago when you wrote that book, so what even led you to write a book about the aging workforce when you weren’t aging?
Well… well, I was aging. But I was much younger.
I guess we’re always all aging. That’s right.
Yes, yes, yes. I was working. My last corporate job was at Kentucky Fried Chicken, where I initiated an older worker program. We were finding that it was very hard to find the young workers that we had traditionally hired, and we needed to look at different strategies for reaching out to different labor market segments. And I was particularly interested – I don’t know why, but I was particularly interested in older workers. So I did a lot of research and found that there was nothing written at the time on the aging workforce. And yet I knew that HR professionals and business leaders would have an interest in understanding what… what’s the same, what’s different? What do you need to do differently if you’re going to attract and retain and an older worker? So I started on my quest then and did a lot of research and worked for several different organizations as a consultant, and therefore decided I needed to write a book, you know, if I was going to make a difference for others. I’ve learned all of this, but the HR community, the business community needed a resource. So that’s what I did.
Cathy, so our listeners are primarily business leaders and HR professionals. So for people listening, what do you think the first steps are for people who are interested in writing a book to grow their careers?
Well, I think just start writing, because writing in and of itself is a very powerful strategy for differentiating yourself, to standing out in the marketplace, to letting people know what you think and what your values are, what your expertise is. But you don’t have to start with a book. That’s the good news. You can start with just a little… not even an article in a publication. First step is maybe just writing something on LinkedIn. It’s free, it’s… there’s no risk, there’s… you just write it, post it, and there it goes. And it’s a great way to socialize your thought leadership very easily. And it gives you that experience. So I think start small with posts. with a short post, with a longer post, a mini-article, a blog post, and then work your way up to an article. The other thing is I’ve found that writing articles for publications is something that is definitely in demand. I have asked countless publications, “Are you… are you ever looking for content for your publication?” and almost any publication will say, “Oh, we’re hungry for content,” so finding those organizations is pretty easy. Anybody who has an… a newsletter, a magazine, blog, you know, they’re all looking for content. So it’s a great way of getting your thoughts out there and letting people know about who you are and what your expertise is all about.
I love all of those ideas, Cathy, but I did mention earlier in the podcast that I wrote four books, but I’m taking a different approach for my next two books. And a big piece of that was that I went to one of your writing retreats in October, and just was such a huge help for me, and now I look back at wonder how did I ever go to those… or how did I ever write before without going to a writer’s retreat? Tell our listeners more about what happens at a writing retreat.
Well, I’ve done several of these now, and they are so powerful. What I’ve found is that no matter where you are in your writing journey, whether you’re just beginning or whether you’ve already written a book or two, that you can definitely benefit from the structure and from the writing time in a writing retreat. For starters, you have big blocks of time to write, and I think for many of us busy professionals, it’s really hard to find time to sit down and write. So that’s one of the big things, but it’s not just go off and write. First we give you some ideas, some prompts, some exercises, some focus, some direction, so that when you are writing on your own, you’re not wondering, “Where do I begin?” and “What do I do to start?” Also, with my retreats, I do a pre-session with each individual so that I’m ensuring that you have your intentions clearly stated for the retreat and that you can get… whatever it is that you’d like to have done, getting that done. So that’s a really important component. So it’s not just the retreat, it’s the pre-work, it’s the retreat, and then it’s the post-work that I offer as well for my attendees.
Well, it was amazing.
Good. So Cathy, how can our listeners reach out to you and if they want to have any purchase any of your books?
You can definitely just go to my website. I have all of my published books on my website with links to Amazon, because they’re all on Amazon. You can also get information on my retreat. And my website is cathyfyock.com. So it’s my name – C-A-T-H-Y F-Y-O-C-K.
And we’ll add that to our show notes so that listeners will have that information as well, too. Cathy, we… you know, we are the JoyPowered® podcast, so we love to ask people about finding JoyPowered® work or… What advice can you give our listeners on creating more joy at work?
I love that question, because when you are joyful in your work, it is… it’s not really work anymore. It becomes just part of who you are. And that’s what I love most about what I’m doing now. I am working as an independent coach, consultant, I do a lot of speaking and training in the work that I do. But I love being my own boss. And I love that writing has afforded me the expertise, the credential, if you will, to become a book coach, because I tell people, you know, I didn’t major in English, you know, I don’t have a degree in writing or anything like that. But by writing the book on how to write a book, I have been able to become a book coach. And that is the power of a book, of creating that joy of doing your own thing and being the one who gets to call the shots and be sure that your… your work is aligned with who you are and what your strengths are. And that is amazing.
Excellent. I love it. Well, thank you so much for joining us today. We’re happy to have had you on.
Thank you so much.
Thank you so much.
JoDee, oh, gosh, wasn’t Cathy just a fount of enthusiasm for writing? You know, as a person who doesn’t care for writing, she almost got me excited about… why not? You know, why not write? Now, for any of our listeners, we hope that it inspires you to think about maybe I should be writing articles, or maybe I should be posting things on LinkedIn. As she said, it is really socializing your brand out into the world. It’s an easy way to do it and a smart way to do it. And if you want to bite the bullet and write a whole book…
Yes. And if you’re interested in doing it and think that you wouldn’t be able to, I can tell you I’m… I was someone who never thought I would have patience or the time to sit down and write a book, but once I got on a topic that I enjoyed sharing about and learning even more about it as I wrote the book… it was an excellent process every time I’ve done it.
And now you love it. I watch you when you’re writing and it’s really new passion of yours, which I really admire.
Thank you. If you are interested in any of our JoyPowered® books, you can find them and other JoyPowered® items at getjoypowered.com/shop.
JoDee, it’s time for our listener question. You know, we welcome questions from any of our listeners anytime. This is from a listener who actually reached out to you directly, JoDee, this past week. “What’s the most important thing HR leaders can do in 2023?” Big question. I can’t wait to hear the answer.
I know. And, you know, I could give 15 different answers to that question, because there’s so much going on and so many things HR leaders can focus on, but I think what I… something that I’ve just… well, I’ve always thought was important, but even more so more recently, that I think it’s about focusing on manager training. You know, we expect managers to do lots of things, to… to be involved in the hiring process, to engage them, to retain them, but so many times we don’t give managers the skills or even the confidence to be able to do those things. We think sometimes, like, “Oh, they’ve worked here for a long time. They know that now.” But it is managers who have the biggest impact on our teams, and it’s managers who likely do most of the recruiting, at least in the decision process. And it’s managers who can serve best as leaders in topics like diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. So think about reaching out. There’s, you know, whether it’s training via Zoom, training online courses, training live courses, there’s lots of different ways that people can train their managers. Of course, some of it, too, is even mentoring or coaching them as well, too. It doesn’t always have to be about a class.
That is great advice.
In the news today, a recent study by Sage revealed their predictions for HR in 2030. Let’s take a look at their top five. Number one is really no surprise and something many people have started doing already, is flexible working. It’s revolutionizing employee experiences that truly make work work. The rising employee expectations also will challenge HR like never before to provide an authentic tailored workforce experiences that empower people to do their best work.
Number two, organizational flexibility, fluidity, and agility led by HR. I love this. HR is really going to be looked to to prepare and lead organizations through whatever crisis hits with agility and confidence, no matter how unexpected.
Number three is about people analytics, that we will be using more of those to drive a business impact. So people analytics and HR teams will have fully evolved beyond just data reporting and collection, but to be more intrinsic to driving business impact across all organizations.
Number four, this really hits home with me. By 2030 HR automation trends will elevate the role of HR. I think sometimes we’re buried trying to figure out, you know, what can we free… how do we free up HR people from the tactical so they could do the strategic. I think with AI it’s just getting… it’s moving much faster now and I think we’re starting to really get our arms around AI that works in our favor, that’s… that’s really technology for good. So automation, they project, is going to free up HR leaders’ time to focus on the things that really do matter, as well as enable HR to take on more of that C-suite leadership role across the organization.
And last, number five, diversity, equity, and inclusion will encompass so much more by 2030. Companies still have a long way to go when it comes to diversity, equity, and inclusion and employees already expect and deserve more than just hollow words. We may be talking about it, but are we really putting those words into action? It can’t just be about the policies and words and diversity statements. It must be action items that are encouraged and reinforced. So many business leaders think it’s all about hiring a more diverse looking workforce, but never work on it and creating inclusion and helping all employees feel a sense of belonging. That’s the real issue that we need to solve in businesses, is the belonging part.
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