Season 1 Finale - Behind the Cover: Carly on writing Find Your Way
April 16, 2019
In the Season 1 finale, Carly answers questions about her new book, Find Your Way: Unleash Your Power and Highest Potential, asked by By Example producer Eric Pahls.
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Carly Fiorina: I'm Carly Fiorina and this is By Example. On this podcast we sit down with leaders of all types to explore examples of real leadership and the qualities of all great problem solvers. I think we get really confused about what leadership is. On By Example, we lift up the real leaders, people who are focused on changing the order of things for the better and solving real problems that are right in front of them. Leading By Example. Carly Fiorina: Hello, it's Carly Fiorina. I'm here in Lawrence, Kansas today at the University of Kansas. I was giving a speech last night at the Robert Dole Institute and also signing books for a lot of folks, which was fun. And today on this podcast we want to have a conversation about my new book, which came out about a week ago and it's called Find Your Way. This is also the last episode of season one of By Example. I really hope that you will stay tuned for season two and we'll be announcing our premier date of season two shortly. But we've had such a great time with season one and I hope you've learned a lot about leadership and problem solving from all of the fantastic guests that we've had in this season. Carly Fiorina: Now I'd like to turn it over to Eric Pahls, who is the producer of By Example. Eric Pahls: Hi Carly. How are you? Carly Fiorina: I'm great. How are you? By the way, Eric is a graduate of KU, a proud Jayhawk. Eric Pahls: That's right. Carly Fiorina: So he's right at home. Eric Pahls: That is right. So I wanted to talk to you today and we've got a lot of questions on social media and via email, not just about what's in the book, but kind of the process of writing a book like Find Your Way. This isn't your first book. This is number three. So kind of tell us a little bit about when you decided you wanted to write this book, why did you want to write this book and the impetus behind it. Carly Fiorina: So I was approached by a number of different folks in the literary world with ideas for books. Some people wanted me to write a political tell all and talk about what it was like on the campaign trail and honestly I didn't have a lot of interest in that. There's so many political tell all books and I'm not sure we learned that much from them other than the to and fro and the tit for tat. I was approached with the idea of writing a fable about leadership. But in the end I wanted to write this book because it is the core of everything I've learned about problem solving, about the power and the potential that each one of us have inside, about what it takes to actually unleash our own power and potential and how all of us and each of us can lead. Carly Fiorina: I was particularly motivated to write this book now because I teach all of this really to the nonprofit community through the Unlocking Potential Foundation. I teach much of it to businesses through Carly Fiorina Enterprises and I wanted to make these same lessons, lessons that I've learned in some cases the hard way through my own life and career, I wanted to make these things available to the individual. But particularly now because I think a lot of people feel frustrated by the festering problems that never seem to get any better. I think people are frustrated by the back and forth, the vitriol of politics. Again, whatever side you're on, nothing seems to be getting much better. I think a lot of people that I come across in communities and companies all across this country feel sort of helpless and powerless. And so I wanted to remind people know we are not helpless and we are not powerless and yes there are real and festering problems and each of us actually can have a positive impact, make a positive contribution, change the order of things for the better, for those problems that impact us and that we therefore truly understand because the people closest to whatever the problem is always understand it best. Eric Pahls: And I think on the book production and preparation side, it's important that people I think realize how significant it is to turn down an idea like a tell all after a presidential campaign and that maybe that is a book that would immediately hit all the political news programs and hit a political audience. But one thing that you've talked about and alluded to a little bit there is maybe part of your reason for writing a much deeper, meaningful book is because it doesn't just cater to a political audience. Carly Fiorina: Yes, I think that's clearly true. I think as well that, I think we get mixed up. I talk about this in the book, but I think we get mixed up in life, in the pursuit of a career. Certainly in politics. It happens in business as well. I think we get mixed up between a short term win and a long term gain. I think there's no question that writing a political tell all book would have been a short term win. I mean, I have a lot of interesting stories to tell, but I don't think it would have been a longterm gain. I don't think it would have made a positive contribution to the conversation or to people's understanding of what each of us have in terms of our own potential. Eric Pahls: And of course that's not to say that politics is avoided in the book or the cgm. Carly Fiorina: No, not at all. There are things that I learned from that campaign and I talk about them, but it's not a who shot John. And here's the untold story of what went on behind the debate state, although there were a few of those. Eric Pahls: So tell us, take us back to the beginning of the process. For those of us who have never written a book, how does that process begin? Carly Fiorina: Well, I think it's different honestly for different people. I've heard some people say well I just have to start writing and then I figure it out as I go along. I'm not that way. I tend to be someone who has to understand very clearly in my own mind the purpose of the book, the structure of the book, before I can start writing the book. And so I spend a lot of time, and I've done that with each of my books. I've spent a lot of time thinking through, talking with people, listening to other people's ideas. I spent a lot of time thinking through why am I writing this book? What is its purpose? What do I want a reader to gain from reading this book? Carly Fiorina: And then when I talk about the structure of it, how you tell a story makes a difference in how well the story is told. And so the structure of this book took a lot of time and a lot of thought and a lot of collaboration to get it right. I think we did. But that took a lot of time up front before I actually started writing it. Eric Pahls: And do you have, once you get started writing, do you have a routine or is there something you do to kind of help yourself write better? Carly Fiorina: It's interesting. Again, some people say, well, I write a certain amount of time every single day. I am not that way in part because for me, writing takes a lot of concentration so I have to have the time and the space to get really engrossed in it. I have described writing for me at least as it's like lowering yourself into a cave. Once you're down there, it's really comfortable. It's really, I enjoy the process tremendously, but getting down there and coming back up is hard because there are so many other things going on in my life. And so I have to carve out the time and space to get down there, stay down there a while and then get back up and rejoin the world. Eric Pahls: So you were able to rejoin the world entirely once the book was done being written, which actually, the book came out last week, but the writing process finished quite a while ago. What goes on in between end of the writing process and release date? Carly Fiorina: Well, there are things like what does the cover look like and who writes a forward and who writes acknowledgements. I was extremely fortunate and blessed to have a wonderful forward by Dr. Henry Cloud and an incredible endorsement on the back cover by my good friend John Maxwell, both wonderful leaders and teachers. But then you spend time sort of planning out how do you want to introduce this book? When do you want to introduce this book? Then of course there's a lot of just waiting to go. So I'm glad it's out and we've made all those decisions and now I'm in the middle of the fun process of signing books for people and telling them I hope that they'll enjoy it. Eric Pahls: Again, so the release date, one week ago today, within 24 hours, I lost count of how many interviews and media hits you did. Do you enjoy that process? Carly Fiorina: Well, yes. At some level I do. You know, there's so much stuff out there. It's so hard for people to actually hear something new and it's also actually kind of hard for people to hear something different. Our media, our social media, our airwaves are filled with so much of the same stuff over and over all day long. And so I knew it would take a real effort on our part to break through and say here's something different that might be helpful and useful and enjoyable for you. So I don't love every question, but I certainly understand the process is part of it. And generally speaking, you like to talk about something that means a lot to you. And this book means a lot to me. Eric Pahls: If there's somebody listening that's thinking I've had a great experience or I have a point of view that I think would be worthy of putting into a book, what advice would you have for aspiring authors? Carly Fiorina: Well, the first thing that I would say is if you really have a heart for something, if you really have a heart to write something, do it. Especially now. You know, it used to be that if you didn't have all the right relationships in the publishing industry, you just couldn't get published. Well now, given technology there are so many ways for people to be read actually. However, the other thing that I would say is write what you know. I think all writers would say this. That when you're writing about something, you imagine. When you're writing about something abstract, when you're writing about something that is beyond your experience, you won't be as compelling or credible. The writing won't be as good. So you have to have a heart for it, but you also have to know something about it. Eric Pahls: Well that completes my questions. We want to keep this one short so people have plenty of time to go to carlyfiorina.com to get the book. Again, thank you for coming to Lawrence, to the University of Kansas, Rock Jock Jayhawk. Carly Fiorina: Yes, see, there you go. Rock Jock Jayhawk. Eric is sort of a hometown hero returning here. Eric Pahls: Well, it's been a fun trip. Carly Fiorina: Well, thank you Eric for a great season one as well. Eric has been the brains behind this podcast and I'm enormously grateful to him, as are all our guests. You can always check out more episodes from season one. They are all available for your listening and in some cases viewing pleasure, and you can also order my new book, Find Your Way online at carlyfiorina.com or on iTunes. And please subscribe so you can get all of the episodes from season one and all of the upcoming episodes in season two. You also can be the first to get updates and exclusive offers by texting, By Example, to 345345. That's By Example to 345345. And you can send us your feedback as well on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram @CarlyFiorina, or by email at email@example.com. Until season two, I'm Carly Fiorina and this is By Example.