Hoo boy, it’s been a while since I’ve given an update on my book, Everything I Learned About Leadership I Learned From Filmmaking. My last update was in February of 2019. At that time, I was zeroing in on a pretty good draft. And then shortly after that I landed my current job as CEO at Brightside Community Homes Foundation. It seemed pretty silly to publish a book on leadership when I was just about to embark on a brand new adventure in a new leadership position. So I put the book away and focused on my new role and organization.
Over the Xmas holidays at the beginning of this year, I pulled the book out again. Enough time had gone by and I felt settled into my new role to the point that it felt right to work on the book again.
It was a worthwhile break, because I could look at the writing from a fresher perspective and wrote several drafts, incorporating lessons I have learned since early 2019 when I put the book aside and started my journey as a CEO. I showed drafts to a few people for feedback and think I have now narrowed in on a final draft (fingers crossed).
I’m looking into self-publishing options to get it into digital bookstores like Apple Books and Kindle. When I was at Vancity, I felt an internalized pressure to get the book out there and get some sales. I think I saw the book connected to my next career phase. Now, it feels a lot more like I used to feel when I made films. I worked on a film because I fell in love with a concept so much I couldn’t not make it. And then I put it out there to do whatever it was going to do. I tried to remove a lot of the pressure of the marketplace and just focus on putting out work that I liked and was proud of.
Similarly, I wrote this book because it felt really good to write it. I truly enjoyed the process of thinking through the similarities, overlaps and parallels between making films and leading people. Soon I’ll put it out there, not because I hope it’ll see like crazy (it won’t), but because I’m proud of it and want people to be able to read it. I feel fortunate that I love what I do enough that I don’t feel a lot of pressure to push it and get sales going. For me, this isn’t a commercial activity.
I’m happy to get an update out there, and hopefully soon I can put out a concrete plan for releasing my book so those of you who want to get it can read it.
Back in September, I wrote a post about a book I had been wanting to write for quite some time, but had been making no progress on. It was called Everything I Learned About Leadership I Learned From Filmmaking. I focused on stories interweaving those lessons from early in my career making low-budget independent films to my lessons today as a credit union executive.
I declared back in September that I wanted to have a first draft done by the end of 2018. I put this on my blog because I wanted people to know my intentions and to hold me accountable for meeting my objective of finishing that first draft.
I want to thank a bunch of you for doing that. There are people who read that post who, when I saw them, would ask how the book was going and whether I met my deadline. For some of them it may well have felt awkward to ask me about my self-imposed deadline, but I truly appreciate them. It was their kind prodding that kept me going.
In fact, I got through not just a basic first draft but a decent second draft by New Year’s Eve. I was at a point where I could show it to others.
Posting about the book on my blog opened up an invite from a friend who works in Communications, asking if she could edit that early draft. Yesterday we met, along with my wife who is an excellent copy-editor and discussed where my book has strengths, where it really works, and where it falls short. I am very appreciative of her time and perspective and excellent feedback.
She and my wife helped me see the forest for the trees, and know where I need to go with my next draft. They helped me understand what was working and what wasn’t coming across on the page as well as what I had imagined.
So today I start my third draft, based on all their feedback and wisdom. My new goal, the new note I am putting my the digital fridge, is the end of March. By then, I will have that third draft done and will be ready to do a final shape-up to start approaching publishers.
Wish me luck, and I appreciate all your encouragement!
Back in October of 2012 I gave a talk at the CU Water Cooler Symposium in Nashville about the leadership lessons I draw on daily that I learned from my dozen years as an independent filmmaker.
I was really psyched about this presentation and when I came home from Nashville the ideas kept swirling around in my head. Between that October and the end of 2012 I started writing those ideas into a book I named after my talk: Everything I Learned About Leadership I Learned From Filmmaking. I put down the concepts I explored in my talk, plus a bunch more. I had a couple of incredibly productive writing months.
For some reason, as 2012 drew to a close I stopped adding to the book, and it sat abandoned. It’s not like I didn’t think about the book, quite the opposite I thought about it a lot, figured I’d get back to it some day, but that day was never today.
Since 2012 my career has progressed quite a bit and my leadership muscles have been stressed and tested and strengthened, and I think about those filmmaking lessons all the time. Recently, I began to feel that I need to revisit that book. Not at some vague time in the future “when I have more time,” but now, immediately.
I brought the book up on my computer a couple of weeks ago, the first time in an embarrassingly long time, and re-watched the talk (above) and found myself making time in my schedule to expand on where I started. I put energy into the book for the first time in several years. It felt very very good.
There is a concept I spoke about in my talk about putting a note on the fridge. When I used to make films there came a point where I knew I could continue to just talk about making a film, but if it was going to actually get made I needed to get serious. At that point, I would write a date on a note and stick it to the fridge. That date was the date when I would begin principal photography – when I would begin shooting my movie. And everything worked back from that date. I had to look at it every day, I would tell people the date – I couldn’t escape it. I used my embarrassment of public failure and letting down those who believed in me as a way to get shit done.
So, here I am using my blog as an electronic fridge and publicly declaring that by the end of the year, I will have a first draft of my book done. More drafts will be needed, more notes on the fridge will be required for future milestones, and a whole lot of work lies in front of me, but I need an initial deadline to get a first draft completed. I am using you, anyone who is reading to hold me accountable for completing that first draft.