Learning to Get Over Imposter Syndrome

Jennifer Brown | | , ,

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In this episode, originally recorded for the Invisible Stories Podcast, Jennifer is interviewed by host Jenn T. Grace, as they discuss marketing and entrepreneurship, and how it relates to wrestling with authors’ self-doubt. Jennifer reveals how she overcomes feelings of imposter syndrome in order to market herself and her brand, and to reach a wider audience. She also discusses why it was important to her to include her own story within her books, and why hybrid publishing can be a faster track to success.

In this episode you’ll discover:

  • How to get your book out into the world (5:00)
  • How to claim the stage as a leader (15:00)
  • Why you don’t need to be perfect to start writing (17:30)
  • The lift that comes from publishing a book (20:00)
  • The need to pick the correct partners (24:00)
  • The various types of audiences for books (27:00)
  • How to help readers find your book (30:00)
  • How communication has accelerated (35:00)
  • Advice for new authors (38:00)

Listen in now, or read on for the transcript of our conversation:

JENNIFER BROWN: Hello, Will To Changers. Well, we are living in an unprecedented time of significant disruption that has caused many of us to swiftly reconsider how we work with one another. As people who value diversity, equity, and inclusion, and want to champion those values in the workplace, we have a real opportunity now to proactively center underrepresented and underestimated voices in the next normal. At JBC, you know that we are on a mission to awaken, to equip and inspire as many people within as many organizations as possible with the knowledge that they are needed, that their voice has the power to make an impact, and that real change starts by educating themselves about what they don’t know.

That’s why we created our popular DEI Foundations course, to help participants by guiding them through a deeper understanding of what it means to be a truly inclusive leader, and empowering them to speak about the value of DEI work in a way that meaningfully engages the people around them. If you text DEI Foundations to 55444, we will register your interest and make sure to add you to our list to receive more information about our next cohort. Again, please text us at DEI Foundations at 55444 to register your interest.

DOUG FORESTA: Everyone has a diversity story, even those you don’t expect. Welcome to the Will To Change with Jennifer Brown. Get ready to hear from leading CEOs, bestselling authors and entrepreneurs as they uncover their true stories of diversity and inclusion. Now here’s your host, Jennifer Brown. Hello, and welcome back to the Will To Change. This Doug Foresta. Of course, I’m here with Jennifer Brown. Today, this episode actually was a … Jennifer, you were actually a guest initially in this episode, with someone who-


DOUG FORESTA: … is a good friend I know, Jenn Grace, who is the founder of Publish Your Purpose Press. She actually helped you with your first book, right? She helped you with-

JENNIFER BROWN: Yes. [crosstalk 00:02:25] Oh my goodness. I was in a very dysfunctional publishing relationship with another hybrid publisher, which is what we call it, and it just was not going well. Jenna rescued me on the book, and the book ended up living under the Publish Your Purpose Press label. Yeah, she’s just an incredible person inside and out, and I respect so much what she’s doing and I especially believe what she’s doing and giving voice to authors that are neither a fit for self publishing or for a big publishing publisher or even an indie. She’s in this really interesting niche that has been so underserved. When there have been vendors that serve that, they don’t do it very well. She’s incredible.

DOUG FORESTA: It’s great. I agree with you. She is incredible. I’ve met her, and I know you and other authors who’ve worked with her, they’ve all had great things to say. This episode is learning to get over imposter syndrome. I’ve heard this term before. But say a little bit about what is imposter syndrome?

JENNIFER BROWN: Well, some of us I think experience it more often than others, particularly those of us that maybe underrepresented or underestimated, which we focus on a lot on the Will To Change, Doug, as you know. It is this creeping sense we have of not belonging at a certain table, physical or virtual table, of being constantly aware of our difference and then believing that we don’t deserve to be where we are, and that someone’s going to find us out, hence the name imposter syndrome, find us out for the frauds that we are, right? I think that’s the inner monologue. Just to even articulate that, it feels really toxic, but it’s very real. I think it’s very real when your identity as a group has been underestimated for so long.

We do internalize some of that. Yet, it keeps us back at a time when we should be doing exactly the opposite, which is telling our stories, which is being proud of our history, which is to say, “No, I not only belong here, but I’m going to better every place that I am. I’m going to better everybody that I’m with because I have something really unique and really special that needs to be in the world.” I think Jenn works with so many authors that I think that whole psychological arc and journey that they have to travel from, “Oh, I think I might have a book in me, but who am I to write this book?” Or, “Isn’t that book already written? How am I going to do anything differently than what’s already out there? Is anyone going to care?” These are the imposter syndrome inner monologues. I know them well. I know them well.

DOUG FORESTA: You’ve heard about them.

JENNIFER BROWN: Yeah, I have, maybe. No, I mean, I struggled with this too. I thought what can … There are so many books on this. How is mine going to be different? I think that the point though is that we’ve lacked storytellers of all different identities, and we all know how important it is to see it, to be it someday and how critical it is, and the missing voices and the missing identities in the world, and this is part of our education of ourselves and others to learn how to tell our story, to believe we can shift the world and to believe there’s an audience for us and for our story, and it’s not necessarily the audience you think it’s going to be it, which is a really …

There’s so many neat discoveries once you go down this road of deciding to write a book, whether it’s a memoir or a more of a leadership book, like mine have been. It is a transformational process, and I would encourage everybody if you enjoy this episode, go back and listen to some other episodes of Jenn Grace’s on this podcast with people like Nikki Groom. Some of you might know Nikki because she leads our marketing efforts at JBC. We get a lot of compliments on our marketing. Nikki is a huge part of that, and she has her own book called The Power of Your Own, which just came out within the last month. Maysa Akbar, who wrote a book Beyond Ally, and Doug, we had Maysa on the Will To Change podcast.

Wow. What a conversation about allyship between white women and women of color. Really intense and wonderful. She has a book out as well. Azul Terronez who is, I would say, a story coach and a author coach, so somebody that helps the author overcoming imposter syndrome, believe that they have a message worth sharing, and holds that space for us as we figure out what that is and stay in it until completion, which is I think the hard thing too. We sometimes get bogged down. We’ve got Tina Alexis Allen. Some of you may remember Tina from way back in the Will To Change. What was Tina’s book called, Doug?

DOUG FORESTA: Hiding Out. Hiding Out. [crosstalk 00:07:42]

JENNIFER BROWN: Hiding Out. Yep. Tina Alexis Allen was the youngest I think of 12 in a conservative Catholic family, and she and her dad shared a secret that I will not spoil. But if you have not read hiding out, it is just fascinating memoir for Tina Alexis Allen. She’s an actress, lives in LA, has been in some shows that I’ve watched. With this memoir really outed her family and a lot of really brave ways as just a fascinating read, but I won’t say anything more than that because you have to read the book. Erin Weed was also on John’s podcast. Some of you may know Erin who runs a company called Evoso, E-V-O-S-O, and she also is a story coach, but for the Ted stage, if you will.

So somebody that prepares Ted speakers for the TEDxMileHigh, which is Denver’s TEDx, which is one of the largest in the country. Erin is a treasured friend, and also I would say a lot of these people are story doulas, if you will. People who are extremely talented at holding that container for you as you grow into it, as you move in and bring all your stuff, as you claim your home as a storyteller. They provide that really amazing mix of clarity and space holding and encouragement, and seeing what the potential is for our messages to shift the world. It’s a really an amazing group of people on this podcast. I would just encourage everybody check out all of the episodes of Invisible Stories. My recording was on season two episode five, I think Doug, in case anybody wants to locate it.

DOUG FORESTA: Yeah [crosstalk 00:09:31]

JENNIFER BROWN: But I’m excited to hear it. Yeah. Yeah. If you think you have a book in you, Jenn T. Grace, Publish Your Purpose Press is where you should go and investigate all the programs and options she has, whether you’re extremely early or whether you’re already down the road a bit, but you don’t have a formalized relationship with the publisher. Jenn T. Grace is who you should seek out and trust with your work.

JENN T. GRACE: Hello, Jennifer Brown. How are you?

JENNIFER BROWN: Hi, Jenn Grace. I’m glad to be here.

JENN T. GRACE: No, I’m happy to have you here on our second season of the show. I know that you and I are always doing videos together. But for the sake of today’s conversation, we’re just going to pretend that we’re strangers. How’s that?

JENNIFER BROWN: Sounds good. It’ll be fun. It would be like going back in time.

JENN T. GRACE: [inaudible 00:10:18] We’ll see if we can pull it off. All right. For those of you who do not know you or know about your work, can we just start there and have you just share a little bit about what it is that you do?

JENNIFER BROWN: Yes. I was a reformed opera singer, had to re-invent and somehow found my way to this world of leadership development, and love the platform, love communicating messages, love improving and networking, knowing where things are going to go. I met a really good trainer and facilitator, and I ended up doing HR for a while and then founding my own business 13 years ago, Jennifer Brown Consulting. I specialize in helping companies build their diversity, equity, and inclusion strategies, and then building the subsequent pieces of those strategies, whether that’s employee resource groups or affinity groups, which are groups for identity, and then also any kind of training and learning needs.

We love learning and development. I mean, that was how I cut my teeth on the “stage” in the corporate classroom. I like to say, even though I can’t sing anymore, I was meant to use my voice, just not as a singer because we get to work on building more inclusive workplaces where all of us can feel seen and heard and valued and thrive, even though I am a corporate refugee because I couldn’t stand it anymore. Somehow I returned to that and try to make it better for people and in way, I think, try to hold people in the organization and make it better there because entrepreneurship is not for everyone as you and I know, Jenn. It’s a hard road, it’s a really amazing road, but you’ve got to have the resources and the fortitude and the resilience and patience and the list goes on and on.

Yeah. I just felt like so much of the workplace was broken for me as a woman, as an LGBTQ person who was closeted at work for years, who is very creative and didn’t really want to be constrained by job description, but that was not fundamentally appreciated and it couldn’t hold me. I was just fortunate enough that when push came to shove, I was [inaudible 00:12:34] had the resources to go out on my own, and happened to be an extroverted networker or extraordinaire, and found my first clients and started to build my mailing list. Actually, I’m one of those founders that really enjoys all of the marketing side. We were able to build a business and it was just a very comfortable …

It was the most comfortable place professionally I’ve ever been, and being an author and now a speaker, a thought leader is really comfortable. I mean, I think that’s what all of this has led to, and I’m finally in the sweet spot coming up to age 50. I hope it happens for everyone at some point, maybe later in life for some of us. But hey, it makes it all worth it, and all the mismatches of our careers are worth it when you look back and you say, “I had to make all those mistakes and figure out what I didn’t like so that I could get the porridge just right for the three bears.”

JENN T. GRACE: Yes. I love that. Okay. You have two books. I think you might be the first person in this season who has two books. You have Inclusion and then also How to Be an Inclusive Leader. I’m serious, to me because I know you so well, and I’ve been intimately involved in much of your work at different points in time, I can see the very clear reason why you need to have a book, and you needed to have that first book, which was Inclusion, and then you followed up with your second book, How to Be an Inclusive Leader, and I know you already have percolations of three going on.

Was there a certain point in time where you realized that the marketing that you were doing … because you area marketing maven and powerhouse in terms of just loving it and doing such a good job on it, and I feel like it … it looks like it comes really naturally from the outside. Did you have some moment in time where it was just that clarity of, I have to get a book done because I need the book to get me from here to there? What was that moment and where were you thinking that the book was helping you head toward?

JENNIFER BROWN: Yeah. Well, gosh, Jenn, you had a front seat in those days too [inaudible 00:14:49] in my own evolution. I had been the scenes running a consulting company and a team and everything, but I think it was a little imposter syndrome of when am I ready to really launch myself as part of the brand into the spotlight? That’s an evolution that all of us go through where we struggle with when am I ready to burst forth and claim, really claim the stage and claim the keynote stage? I mean, I actually think keynoting is a relatively late addition to the mix for me too, and the keynoting and the book-writing happened congruently. But it was a great feeling for me anyway to have this foundation of this company that I’ve been running for eight or nine years and feel that I had really earned …

I really had so much to back it up. So when I pushed myself out there, I have this depth as a consultant that I have seen, actually seen, and done all this work. I think that’s different than some keynoters and authors even right, who are trying to figure out what their expertise is. I had a lot. It was more, I think, a confidence game, which will probably resonate with a lot of your listeners to believe in yourself, to say, “The cake is baked. In fact, it’s probably overdone. It’s been in the oven a really long time,” and you can take it out now. I think the key in life is, particularly for those of us who are unseen voices, underestimated voices, have experienced discrimination and bias and marginalization, I think that self belief that the cake is done and it has been done for a long time and it’s time to bring it out, we hesitate.

Because we don’t see the role models, because we aren’t pushed and kicked by someone else lovingly, right? Who identifies as we do to say, “Hey, I did it, you can do it too.” We know all the statistics about women and men in job applications, that women won’t apply unless they have 150% of the qualifications and men will apply if they have 30%, and they’re just like, “It’s fine. I got this, I’ll figure it out. Whatever I don’t know how to do, I will figure it out.” I think that it took too long, but you know what? I don’t like to be a regretful person. I also wonder if the timing was just right, and that we had built such an amazing foundation underneath me that once we did that book, and then I started to keynote, we hit higher level faster because we had that foundation.

I know that what I’m describing is probably not very common. Most people don’t do it in this order, so it may not be applicable. But I hope that the whole imposter syndrome point is heard because we’ve got a lot to say, it doesn’t need to be perfect. Writing a book and creating a keynote is a formative, deep, personal growth experience. Even if it never hits the market or it’s never spoken from a stage, it’s a deep creative and personal and psychological endeavor. No matter what, you end up going through this quantum leap because of the process, because it’s such a commitment. You’re literally laying down your message in a bottle, and it’s a critical exercise for all of us to do, particularly those of us who haven’t had the stories to emulate, and have been outside of those mentoring networks that would traditionally apprentice you and pull you up.

When you’re outside of that, it can be very tempting to think that your story doesn’t matter or to think it’s already been told. That was another thing I went through like, “What’s going to make this different? There’s so many other books on this. Why is it going to matter?” I mean, it’s funny, all the excuses. Also, the other one is my story doesn’t need to be included in this. It can just be a book that I write from my head, from my expertise. I know you kicked my butt about that, and many others did as well, who helped me [inaudible 00:18:48] said, “There’s no Jenn in this entire chapter. Go back, put it in.” I’m like, “What am I supposed to write?” A lot of us also have erased ourselves, even erasing ourselves to ourselves.

We don’t even notice we’re not in the frame because we’re so used to not even being in the frame. Overcoming the imposter syndrome for people like us is an enormous … There’s a lot going on in that, and there’s a lot that prevents progress and we have to see it for what it is. Please read Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Big Magic. She talks about her creative process, and I think she puts fear and self-doubt. She’s driving a minivan, and she puts fear over in the passenger seat, and she puts imposter syndrome in the trunk, and she says, “No, I know how to drive this car and I’m in charge.” You got to see that stuff and put it where it needs to be, and don’t let it interfere and really create that space for yourself to shine and to celebrate your story and all that you’ve learned through hardship and challenge, and think about how many people have lacked that story that you have inside you, and what kind of transformation can happen because of it.

That’s I guess the personal answer. The business answer of course is books enable higher keynote fees and enable your expertise to have a depth of credibility in the market for selling consulting services, which is what we also do. That it is like an unmistakable lift. I mean, you just … Even if you’re the same person before you publish the book and after you publish the book, you are seen differently, the perception is different. People get excited. They can hold something by you in their hands and actually feel that they are somehow next to you or talking to you in a way that I think nothing else, maybe podcasts, enable that too. But normally for people like me, people are not in the same room with me unless I’m speaking somewhere and unless somebody’s paying me to be there.

There’s so, so many people that some of us can’t reach, and it always bothered me that I thought you got to get something to people that’s affordable, that they can learn from. In case they don’t work for a company, they can hire somebody like me, and so that they’re at least equipped with what I talk about and can run with it. Now that it’s really neat, there’s a lot of book clubs happening and they’re reading both of the books, they’re enjoying a renaissance because they think they’re really helpful in a summer like this, 2020, and it’s working. It’s really working. I couldn’t recommend it enough, but boy, it is a miserable process in some ways too.  I don’t know if you want me to say that, Jenn.

JENN T. GRACE: [inaudible 00:21:40] edit this. It’s in here now. [inaudible 00:21:42] first guest to have alluded to the process not being pleasant. I always want to just frame it for the listeners that we don’t say it’s a miserable process, it’s awful, any colorful word we want to throw here about the process, in just for the sake of it or to scare you away. It’s just more to prepare you for what the process is going to be like when you finally get to that place of figuring out the rest of where this is going. I have two things. Number one, I’m very happy that you address the imposter syndrome, because I think for some listeners, they might be starting at ground zero right now. They’re just starting out their business or just trying to figure out what their book is going to do for them.

To hear from somebody who has a very successful business, has two very successful books, to also see that, hey, she’s also wrestling with this, I think it just anchors that in for people like, “Okay, I’m not alone, and even successful people feel like frogs from time to time,” because I think we all experience that whether we want to or not. I have my moments of ups and downs where I’m like, “Really, why am I the one? Why am I the one saying this?” But I feel like that’s the nature of the beast. Then the second thing is in regards to just your voice and being seen and being heard and doing what you’re doing, have you found … Was there any difference in your experiences between your two books in terms of just the process for feeling empowered by your voice?

Because you have different … You’ve had multiple experiences of this. They allude to this process can be a big old pain in the ass, basically. I guess the deeper question or the better question is where is the origin of that, of the pain within the process itself? Was it the process that was a pain? Was it just not having the right expectations coming into it? Was it other people who were involved in the process? Can you pinpoint in any way where you felt like the most source of the discomfort? [inaudible 00:23:55] even call it that. We’ll knock it down, all of the discomfort in the process.

JENNIFER BROWN: Yeah. Oh my gosh. How much time do you have now? I appreciate what you said, Jenn. This is definitely not meant to discourage anyone. Like I said, the fight is what makes it worth it. You learn so much about yourself in terms of what you fight for when you’re writing your book. If you’ve got an editor who’s giving you a hard time. Jenn, you know I cycled through a lot of … I write together with other people, and so I’m a little bit unusual in that way. But picking the wrong partners over and over and over again. Even that is disappointing, frustrating, expensive, time-consuming and delaying you, right? Yet, every time you learn what you don’t like and what you don’t need, it’s clarifying.

Even as you’re struggling through these things, it’s an education about ourselves and our style and our this doesn’t quite feel like a fit. Well, why? We learn a lot through that. I think it’s the writing partners, to get that mix right has taken me … I have gotten it wrong so many more times than I’ve gotten it right, I would say. That’s been hard because I’m a busy CEO. None of us actually, whether you run a company or not, you can’t sneak off for six months and write your book. You’ve got to multitask and write your book. The question always is where do you fit this in in your life so that it doesn’t feel like it’s an afterthought or it’s not getting due process in your heart?

You need to sit with it. This is a deep endeavor and it’s a very significant endeavor, and you need mental and physical space to do that and to give yourself time to say what your heart wants to say. You’ve got to clear the noise for that, but we all live in this noisy world. I think that’s difficult, getting to the heart of what I need to communicate in this book. My other challenges were the audience for me, it’s so massive and diverse. I could write … Being a consultant is wonderful and also difficult because there’s so many topics I’m passionate about and the focus piece is difficult. For me, I’m one of those that has too much stuff, and then the help I need is the sequencing of the stuff and the filtering and the prioritization, right? Each one of us is going to need different things. Some of us look at a blank page and we’re overwhelmed because we don’t know how to fill it.

Actually, I felt that too, at the same time. I had too much and too little. Then the biggest shift, I’d say back to audience between book number one and two, is one I think of as the table setting of the conversation, the overview, why is this topic important? I pulled in a lot of different stats and research and it was that kind of survey class in college, right? Then the second I decided to really dive into what does an individual leader need as a toolkit. It went from macro to micro, and that was the advice of an editor that I was working with. I think that was very well-placed and something that I didn’t necessarily, a direction I wasn’t necessarily going. But it has been a brilliant choice truly.

I do think if you think about yourself reading multiple books someday, to me, it’s about the audience, the message, your own evolution and the evolution of your business and what you want to sell and who you want to sell to. Who do you want to equip with this new knowledge and understanding and inspiration? If there’s a lot of different kinds of audience that come to mind with that, I mean the best books reach a bunch of different audiences and they’re so well-written that they speak to such randomly different people that see themselves in the book. Right? That’s speaks to maybe another piece of difficulty. It’s just the pressure. The pressure to make sure that it does all these things.

You just feel like you have the shot. Yet, so somebody has to be there in your life to tell you this isn’t your last shot. But I think that’s my perfectionism and probably imposter syndrome, which is related to perfectionism, which is if I [inaudible 00:28:18] at the table, it has to be … what I deliver has to answer all the questions. But I think that I soothe myself by thinking there’s many books in my future, which I believe that there are, and that the answer will come to me about what that next one needs to be about and who that audience needs to be, and also my own evolution. Between the first and second books, honestly, I deepened so much as a practitioner in my own field.

I think when you said, Jenn, earlier I was a marketer [inaudible 00:28:51] I work, I was not an expert for most of the years that I was running a company in the space. I hired amazing people. I learned from them so much and we built things together, but I marketed them and their expertise because I had the Rolodex and the presence, and I knew how to get our voice out there as a firm. Then by between the first book taught me so much about the field in a way, and the second book was me solidifying that I have actually this evergreen model that’s going to hopefully last for years and become a classic. That evolution happened I think in three or four years. I’d say in the last three years, and I’ve had the company for 13 years.

I do think noticing your own growth and evolution as an expert, and is it changing, is it shifting? You can’t really map out what’s ahead. I mean, some authors I know have all their 15 books lined up and it’s going to be a series and they know all this stuff. But I like the serendipity approach of just saying what … I’m so tuned into the world, and I’m always thinking about what is the problem that nobody has cracked or articulated or resourced, and do I have any tools that I can lay out there that’s going to unlock that or identify that, or awaken that? If you use that as your guiding light, I think the right people will find their way to your book.

JENN T. GRACE: Yeah. I think what’s interesting about what you’re saying in terms of … There’s so many brilliant things that you just said, but I think the sharpening of your sphere, as a result of just [inaudible 00:30:40] The book-writing process forces you to have an opinion. Whether you had one at the outside or not, it forces you to have your own opinion that’s different than what other people may have said in the past. But I think what’s also interesting about the process too is that depth in your second book. You feel like there’s so much even more depth that then leads to book three and four and five and six.

I think for someone listening to this and are first-time author, that are first-time writer, they’re just now starting to write, I wouldn’t overwhelm yourself with thinking about how am I going to come up with 15 books. Because I think it’s just a different mindset. I’m the type of person who would have a series of 15 books laid out first, and then I would methodically [inaudible 00:31:26] That is not your style at all. You would be more like, “Hey, this new idea came to me. Now I’m going to work on this.” Neither is right or wrong. It’s just a different working method. But I think what’s interesting is following your gut and your intuition on what’s that hot topic that is being talked about, and how can you position yourself differently to get your voice into that space?

I want to ask you your thoughts about timelines and publishing options and things like that because in the traditional publishing path, so often it can take two or more years for your book to actually get out to the market. If you were writing about something that’s more timely and relevant, going the hybrid path or the self-publishing path where you have much more control over the speed and efficiency of what’s happening, may be something to consider. But it really … There’s a lot of variables and a lot of depending things that happen there. Do you have any thoughts for someone who maybe they’re writing about something that does feel more timely, how they might navigate that space? Because you have so many different kinds of experiences in the space now that you have a really well-rounded vantage point.

JENNIFER BROWN: Yeah. That is the question, Jenn. I have to say that second book, the model on the second book, that evergreen, right? The direction I got from a very, very experienced editor, write the evergreen book, do not give into writing about the current events and the news, and just don’t do it. He kept scrubbing it out and kept putting it back in and he kept scrubbing it up. He’s like, “You want this to resonate 20 years from now.” You want it to become the who moved my cheese and I … Again, to imposter syndrome by the way, that’s a harder book to write because you think to yourself, what in the world could I write that would be a bestseller 20 years from now? That will age in that way, that it just gets better. That’s big, and yet that’s just such good advice, but I fought against it because I’m so embedded in current events and current events have so much to do with what I do so much.

I mean, look at what’s just happened in the last couple of months. I think that delay that you’re talking about, that cycle of traditional publishing of a year and a half in the best case scenario from the day you turn your book into when it hits the market, or not quite that long, but it’s long, the world is changing so fast. When I think about and mentor aspiring authors, I do say self publishing or hybrid publishing is faster. It’s a faster route. You can still get great editing and copy editing and content editing, advice and support, so you don’t … In fact, I’d say some of the big publishing houses, they don’t provide that really anymore. You got to fill that gap anyway yourself.

I guess though don’t forget the advice that I heard which was the evergreen. It’s an interesting challenge to try to write something for the moment, but that’s not so embedded in the moment that it can’t live and flourish later. Right? You just put that lens on and try to write it in that way is I think a good challenge to give yourself. But I would definitely use the shorter cycles feel, just in general. I mean, we’re living in a shortened world already. Too many [inaudible 00:34:56] need to be crisp. Micro-actions, tweets, change at this accelerated pace. I don’t think we’re going back. If anything, things are going to accelerate more.

Companies like yours, Jenn, that are figuring out how to turn these faster and get people through this very complicated process, simplifying it, moving people along, getting them the right resources at the right moment and getting it out fast, I think is invaluable right now. I know that the big publishing companies are worried about this. I mean, this is exactly I think what they’re concerned about. I’m not confident based on what I’ve heard that they’ve been able to really compress that timeline. It is what it is. Yeah, but I don’t know. Sometimes you see a book and it just came out, and you’re like, “Wow, that was timely. But this person broke that two years ago. How did they do that?”

JENN T. GRACE: Yeah, and I think it’s the difference between getting on a cruise ship or a speedboat. I think when we’re talking about content and getting content to market, you need to be on the speedboat to be at the front of the herd in terms of voices that are being heard. But no, unfortunately, the big publishers, they’re all corporations. They have a lot of people, a lot of processes, a lot of moving parts. I can see how it’s difficult for them to cut down on any timelines just because it is such a massive operation versus smaller companies like mine, where there’s six of us who are all hands on deck just getting things done. It’s definitely a preference thing. But it’s also interesting I find that when …

I don’t know. I won’t get into politics, but there’s been a number of political books that have come out in the recent months, and you know those were written and published in a ridiculously short window of time for specific reasons. That I always find fascinating too, and that’s also why publishers are not going to speed up your timeline because they’re trying to speed up the timeline of someone that’s going to make them millions of dollars, and that’s where their focus is, and unfortunately, you’re just left in the wake, and that’s not what … You want to feel important and want to feel like your voice matters [inaudible 00:37:01] voice is important. Sometimes, depending on what path you pick it, it’s not always the end result, unfortunately.

JENNIFER BROWN: Yeah, I totally agree with that.

JENN T. GRACE: Yeah. In terms of just … Let’s talk about marketing for a couple of minutes while we’re getting to the top of our conversation or the end of our conversation here. Around this whole evergreen thing, because your … I obviously have way more insights on your first book, because that is done for PYP. Your second book, I do not have as many insights on. But Inclusion is just one of those evergreen sellers. It’s always selling, it’s always doing something. Some college or university or a corporation is interested in the book. They’re using a book club. There’s always a lot of generation and activity around it.

I’m confident that is the case the second one too. What types of things are you doing as an author that someone else who’s listening to this who maybe their book’s not written yet, but they’re thinking about how can I just be starting to get my name known more as an author in these separate spaces? Do you have any … Because you and I could teach a beautiful 601 marketing class. But let’s [crosstalk 00:38:11] the one-on-one, which I know is difficult for both of us. But what are some of those [inaudible 00:38:16] things that a new author might be wanting to think about right now that you found helpful?

JENNIFER BROWN: Yeah. Well, think about your audience. I think about my mailing list. When I was first starting out building my list, we didn’t have I think social media as much 13 years ago when I was starting the book. These days you can do so much in terms of generating your following, right? For the book, and attaching people, having a marketing funnel and using those things in LinkedIn and encouraging people to have teasers and tasters and different ways of accessing content ahead of time and exclusive, hey, sharing your first chapter. I feel like there’s ways you can make certain people feel really special because they have a front seat to your journey, and they get certain incentives to do that and spread the word.

I think we had a book insider club or book family that we generated, Nikki Groom and I, my marketing director. We had 400 people sign up. But this is me having been in business for 10 years. We have a mailing list of 20,000 people. We’re going to have 400 people say, “Yes, what do you need me to do? Do you need me to write an Amazon review? Do you need me to get the word out, do a social media post? Let me write the social media posts for you to make it easy for you.” One of our friends, Jenn, asked me to help him do a book launch webinar for his book. I think that as you … It’s really the influencers in your network and it’s your super fans in your network that are just there for you. They believe in everything you do, including this book, that can help get the word out and making these asks and not being afraid to say, “Help me. Here’s the ways you can help me,” and just being very …

I mean, talk about imposter syndrome. I mean, that will definitely kick up the … I don’t deserve your help, I don’t want to ask, I don’t want to trouble you. All that stuff gets activated in I think the marketing process, and I have struggled with that and I think I’ve gotten over it, mostly now because I have other people who actually hits [inaudible 00:40:30] non stop. I didn’t have to feel guilty. But honestly, it’s been years of feeling like I don’t want to bother people. When you’re an author, you got to get over that and you got to believe that people are so on your side, they want to help you get it out and you need to equivalent them with that, make it easy, make it intuitive, identify your super fans, include them in really meaningful, special ways, private conversations before the launch, your launch day.

Thinking about podcast interviews. I mean, gosh, if anybody wants a podcast marketer, I worked with an amazing one named Cher Hale, and we got me on 50 podcast interviews that the hosts embargoed until the release week. What that does is it has a better chance of getting you up in the bestseller category, because if everybody floods their audiences with the episode, everybody runs to Amazon to get your book in the same time period, and that pushes your numbers up. As far as I understand it, you know that much more about this than I do, Jenn. [crosstalk 00:41:41] But I’ve learned a lot from you.

Yeah. I would say tease your content a lot, write a lot of articles, do blogging on medium. Just really … I think you’ve got to be leveraging your content in a lot of different creative ways too. What’s in your pages of your book should be repurposed in a bunch of other ways. Always be thinking about, what else could I do with this? Can I turn it into this? Can I turn it into that? Like I said, make a lot of use of podcasts, webinars. Both of you interviewing other people, I think too. I’m not just being interviewed. You know me, Jenn. I’m always seeking new stories because that’s how I learn, and I want to bring new stories to my audience too. At the same time, as you’re an author, remember that you’re listening as much as you’re speaking.

That very much keeps you connected to people and also keeps you humble and brings new people into your life. Those people can be your competitors, your fellow authors, people in the same space as you. I believe in … Competition is not really a word I think of very much because the community we’re all in, whether, Jenn, it’s our LGBTQ community or it’s a community of authors or it’s other business owners in my space, I stay close to people and I say, “How can I support you?” [inaudible 00:43:13] too remember that there’s much around being successful that it’s all about reciprocity and the abundance mentality and not the scarcity mentality, and that the more generous you are with others, the more generous they will be with you, and that’s not why we do it, but it does …

It’s very much I think the rule of business, at least in the way that I practice it. I know it’s probably not … You and I might have a different … I think maybe women have a different lens on this too, which is what’s changing so much right now, and it’s so exciting that we’re revising the norms of business too and how we … It’s not a zero sum. It’s not a status game. It is. I mean, you want to have great rankings, you want to sell the most of whatever. But I don’t know. To me that feels very different than the legacy that we’re leaving with our work.

JENN T. GRACE: Yeah. So good. So good. I know for a fact that you and I can continue talking for hours, especially around marketing, because I know that lights us both out.


JENN T. GRACE: But we are at the top of our time here. Can you tell people how to get in touch with you, listen to your podcast or access either or both of your books?

JENNIFER BROWN: Yeah. Thanks, Jenn. The podcast is called the Will To Change. We’re in year three, cranking along. The books are Inclusion from 2017, and then How to Be an Inclusive Leader, 2019. There’s an assessment on Jennifer Brown Speaks, which is my speaker website. It’s the inclusive leader assessment. If you’re curious, you’re listening to this, and you’re like, “Oh, I’m curious about Jennifer’s model and where I am in my learning journey,” pick up that second book, take the inclusive leader assessment. You’ll see it in the menu on jenniferbrownspeaks.com. Then I have community calls every Thursday at noon, Eastern, right? A lot of DNI people gather on the calls and I bring on special guests and I send out the replay afterwards, and the chat is totally on fire.

If you think you’re interested in this topic and you want to hear what’s on the minds and hearts of the community, join us for that, and you can find out more about that on jenniferbrownconsulting.com. Then I’m in social media quite a lot. I am @JenniferBrown on Twitter and @JenniferBrownspeaks on Instagram. Then LinkedIn and Facebook, I think it’s Jennifer Brown Consulting. I think that’s all the goodies, Jenn. Did I forget anything?

JENN T. GRACE: [inaudible 00:45:37] and for anyone who wants to just hear the two of us interviewing other people, we do have a weekly show that does not have a name. It’s just [inaudible 00:45:44] Jenn [Sandwich 00:45:45], as we’ve called it, and that’s available on the Publish Your Purpose Press YouTube channel. There are at least 20 videos there currently. Yeah. We’re very active in all places.

JENNIFER BROWN: All the [crosstalk 00:45:57]

JENN T. GRACE: Thank you so much for this conversation. I know that it’s going to bring a lot of awareness and insight to aspiring authors. I very much appreciate your time in doing that with me.

JENNIFER BROWN: Well, thanks, Jenn. Hi, this is Jennifer. Did you know that we offer a full transcript of every podcast episode on my website over at jenniferbrownspeaks.com? You can also subscribe so that you get notified every time a new episode goes live. Head over there now to read my latest thoughts on diversity, inclusion, and the future of work, and discover how we can all be champions of change by bringing our collective voices together and standing up for ourselves and each other.

DOUG FORESTA: You’ve been listening the Will To Change: Uncovering True Stories of Diversity and Inclusion with Jennifer Brown. If you’ve enjoyed the episode, please subscribe to the podcast on iTunes. To learn more about Jennifer Brown, visit jenniferbrownspeaks.com. Thank you for listening, and we’ll be back next time with a new episode.