Why Does Reading and Writing Matter?

Behind the Bible and Qur’an, do you know what the top selling non-fiction book is?

“Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill

Do you know the top selling fiction?

“Lord of the Rings” by J.R.R. Tolkien. It has sold 150 million copies since its release in 1954. J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” is close behind with 120 million copies sold.

In fact, when one looks at the Wikipedia list of best-selling books – the pattern that emerges shows us the love we have of fantasy. Fantasy may be the exact reason we read – to get away from our current life, and into a good story where anything is possible and heroes are made.

On the non-fiction side, we find a pattern of self-improvement – our need to satisfy our curiosity about who we are, why we are here, and how we can make the experience better.

As a writer, an author, and a book coach, I find these patterns to be true for me personally as well.

As a Writer, I Use Fantasy

I grew up in inner-city Denver. At elementary school there I learned the value of diversity. I was a shy kid and a white minority, surrounded by African American and Hispanic kids. I felt out of place, so stayed to myself and focused on education. Every semester at the awards ceremony, I found myself with handfuls of ribbons for straight A’s and perfect attendance.

Both my dad and step mom worked, but the bulk of our household income was spent on partying – and the addictions they both had. My biological mom wasn’t in the picture. She, too, was involved in the world of drugs and the crime that so often accompanies it.

I used writing to indulge in fantasy, using my imagination to create stories of flight as a release from the fear I felt at school and at home. My writing was both encouraged and celebrated by my teachers and I created a personal mantra that one day I would be a published author.

As an Author, I’ve Experienced Personal Development

In 2013, I finally published my first novel. The story was about two sisters and their mom who struggled with mental illness. By this time in my life I had gotten married, had two beautiful daughters, and was recently divorced. And, my biological mother had passed away. Achieving my goal was inspiring. In fact, it felt crucial to the time of personal transition I was in – to prove to myself everything was going to be ok.

Personal development had been key, as I searched myself to discover who I was, why I was here, and how I could make it all better. I was an author – a desire given to me at a young age, a talent and gift – and I was going to make ripples.

As a Book Coach, I Leverage Both Fantasy and Personal Development

After the release of my first novel, peers began asking me how I wrote the book and if I could help them with their own dreams of authorship. Writing and coaching became my “side hustle” as I continued to work full time, helping others during off hours.

Working with them became the relief I needed from the stress of my day job. It allowed me to dive into something exciting and refreshing, like jumping into a pool on a hot day.

My creativity and imagination unlocks doors for my clients, helping them to see things in a new way and become heroes as they meet their goals. This new vision feels like a fantasy, where anything is possible.

Coaching others to write their books connects me more deeply to my own skills and talents. Coaching forces me to look at who I am, where I want to go, and identify the gap between the two. I am learning how to run a business and building the mindset for self-discipline and resilience on the days I don’t know how the money will come in. It has been a personal development journey to be an entrepreneur and own my dreams, skills, hours and self-worth.

The Call, Then, to Action

When we think about the top selling books, we feel motivated. Maybe we are motivated to write our own or feel inspired to look at the list and begin to read more. Whether looking for a reality check out or to learn more about a topic of interest, reading helps us grow. And, without writers, we would have nothing to read.

Today, I encourage you to read a little more. Write a little more. Or both. Who knows where it may take you? It certainly has been an important and valuable part of my journey.

Payless Shoes, Disruption, and the Timelessness of Books

There’s been a concept floating around lately that has my attention – disruption. The context I want to talk about it is that of business, specifically when a business comes around and disrupts its industry. With Payless Shoe Store just announcing they are closing all their stores, it brought this all up for me again and I just really wanted to address it.

Here are some examples of disruption:

• Uber/Lyft disrupting the Taxi Industry
• Netflix/Redbox disrupting Video Stores
• Amazon disrupting Book Stores
• Roku/Sling disrupting Cable TV

As I thought about Payless Shoes and their closure of over a thousand stores, I wondered how in the world could such a franchise die? And then I considered their market – cheap shoes.

The Time I Ran Away

When I was in high school, my mom and I got into a huge fight over… no kidding… Payless Shoes. I have “wide width” feet. This was very problematic for me as a teen girl who couldn’t find shoes to fit. My dad is a quadruple E width and had always special ordered shoes, and sadly, I had to look at custom options too. As a teen in the late eighties who just wanted to fit in and be cool, special shoes from World WIDE Shoes made me feel awkward at best. When Payless Shoes came to be, they offered several options in wide width and I loved that, but my mom didn’t because she hated that she had to replace my shoes every few months, unlike the high-quality ones from the specialty store. I didn’t care what my mom wanted, I wanted what I wanted.

For a long time, I only shopped at Payless because I knew they offered the sizes I needed and would longingly gaze at the Steve Maddens I wish I could wear. In a way, Payless disrupted the shoe industry by making wide widths more accessible. I’m sure they also brought affordability to the market as well, as previously people had to buy their shoes from department stores who paid commissions to salespeople for peddling higher priced shoes. But, here’s the problem: while they were running Buy-One-Get-One sales, Crocs entered the market. Skechers opened stores selling only their brand. Discount stores began popping up that offered more variety and name brands and Payless didn’t change.

Disruption is Evolution

When it comes to the idea of disruption, one of the things that really sticks with me is how our world continues to evolve and we as entrepreneurs must always be poised to either lead with innovation and disruption, shift to keep up, or, like Payless, die.
In the world of SEO, if you aren’t implementing a search strategy, you are behind the curve and will be facing extinction, unless you have other significant marketing in place such as a huge customer list or a strong offline presence. As the world moves even further into content marketing, social media, and video, we need to look at what is coming down the pike.

In my opinion, one of the enduring disrupters is a book. Books are timeless. Books share your expertise, give you a public claim in your industry, create an additional revenue source and open doors to opportunities for speaking engagements. I believe these keep you innovative, because speaking, and being seen as a resource and expert, will never go out of style. Opportunities like TedEx, podcasts, YouTube, Zoom Conferencing, and all of the upcoming technologies that are being created and thought about in this moment, are paving a way for more disruption… are you ready?

Today’s Self-Publishing is Disruptive

Self-publishing has disrupted the publishing industry. Print-on-demand self-publishing platforms make it more affordable and accessible than ever before. No longer stuck with a pallet of books to sell from their garage, authors have online providers who allow them to upload their book and have someone else handle printing and fulfillment while the author sits back and collects their royalties.

No more queries. No more waiting. No more rejections. (Did you know Harry Potter was rejected 12 times before JK Rowling became the richest author in the world?) Writing and publishing a book has never been easier.

However, there is a learning curve with publishing and there are so many options and information out there that it is easy to get confused. Some would-be-authors are being sold publishing packages that help them part with their money, more than bring their book to market. When it comes to publishing, buyer beware. Before signing that contract, or even before starting your book, contact a professional in the industry who is known for their ethics, such as me. I offer a free 20 minute, no obligation, no pressure consultation.

Let’s start disrupting the world with your unique expertise, now, before it’s too late.