Episode 128 – Writing and speaking with Hugh Culver

Hugh CulverHugh Culver has done a lot of stuff in his life – from leading adventure holidays in the Antarctic to giving keynote speeches to companies and conferences all over the world.

For him, writing his book Give Me a Break was an opportunity to reenergise and deepen his thinking, to create something distinctive, and it worked. In this week’s conversation he reveals how the writing and the speaking work together, the writing mistakes he made first time round, and the speaking mistakes he sees all the time.

If you want your book or your blog to complement your speaking, or vice versa, this is an unmissable episode full of brilliantly practical – and occasionally counter-intuitive – tips from one of the world’s top bloggers, speakers and writers.



LINKS:

Hugh’s site: http://hughculver.com/

Hugh on Twitter: https://twitter.com/HughCulver

Alison on Twitter: https://twitter.com/bookstothesky

The 10-day Business Book Proposal Challenge: https://alisonjones.leadpages.co/proposal-challenge/

The Extraordinary Business Book Club on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1447064765612358/

Sign up for the Extraordinary Business Book Club newsletter, including a review of what I’m reading now and a weekly writing prompt: https://www.getdrip.com/forms/887338035/submissions/new

Apply to join the This Book Means Business mentorship programme (begins September): https://alisonjones.lpages.co/this-book-means-business-mentorship/

The Extraordinary Business Book Club summer reading list: https://alisonjones.com/the-extraordinary-business-book-club-summer-reading-list/

Alison Jones:                        Hello and welcome to the Extraordinary Business Book Club! I’m here today with Hugh Culver, who is a speaker and trainer whose business enterprises have included creating the world’s most exclusive adventure tours, operating a private airline in southern Chile, pioneering eco whale watching, and teaching as a university professor. His adventure exploits have taken him from the Arctic to the Antarctic, which is pretty comprehensive, from mountain peaks to whitewater rapids, and even included golfing at the North Pole. And Hugh is the author of Give Me a Break: The Art of Making Time Work For You. His insights and his writings on personal leadership are sought after by leading organizations, including Imperial Oil, Royal Bank of Canada, Investor’s Group, Western Union, and Red Cross, and many, many more. Welcome, Hugh, to the show.

Hugh Culver:                         Well, great. Thanks, Alison. Yeah. Great to be here with you.

Alison Jones:                        It’s good. And you were in the Okanagan Valley you were telling me, which … So we are separated by a massive ocean, but I’m very envious. That’s one place in the world I would absolutely love to go one day. And obviously, you’ve been around a bit then.

Hugh Culver:                         Yeah, and it’s a very popular tourist destination. It’s not why I came here initially, but we are really well known for golf courses, and skiing, and for vineyards, and wineries.

Alison Jones:                        Absolutely. You’ve got it all, haven’t you?

Hugh Culver:                         Yes.

Alison Jones:                        But tell us how you got where you are today. I don’t necessarily mean in the Okanagan Valley, I’m just mean what you do and how you do it. How did you get from golfing at the North Pole to giving keynote speeches to frankly the world’s biggest organizations, and which is more fun?

Hugh Culver:                         Well, the journey to get here was like a lot of people that get into public speaking, was not exactly a straight line. When I sold my equity in the Antarctic company, I had three partners. I then went back to university and while I was at university I was asked to start doing seminars for people in the tourism industry because, you know, the thinking from the people from the university was, “Well, if you can sell something like that, then maybe you can teach us something about marketing.” And because we sold … It was a very, very expensive program, and that company is still alive and it’s very successful. It’s called Antarctic Logistics. So I started teaching for the university at a part-time basis. That led to more and more seminars, and corporate retreats, and then eventually keynote speaking. And through that journey is when I decided to write a book.

Alison Jones:                        So at what point in the journey and why?

Hugh Culver:                         Well, really the book came out seven years ago. It’s called Give Me a Break: The Art of Making Time Work For You, and at that point I realized it wasn’t that I’d reached any kind of a threshold in my speaking career, but it was just that I needed some new energy. And I really wanted to also to use the book as an excuse to go back and doing some homework. So what I was hungry for was to really develop my own expertise. One of the pitfalls that speakers can fall into is they start copying everybody else’s stuff, so they read a great book and for the next couple of months they’re talking all about stuff that came out of that book, or maybe they watched a good TED talk. And what I wanted was to create my own model and so I used the book as an exercise to develop those.

Alison Jones:                        That’s really interesting. And did that deepen your thinking, and did it take you in new, unexpected direction, or did you kind of know what it was going to be before you started writing?

Hugh Culver:                         Well, it’d be hard for me to deepen my thinking because after all I’m talking about time management and productivity. You know, you can only go so deep. But what I did was … First of all, it made me really reflect on what is it when I’m in the teaching mode. So what is it when I’m doing seminars or when I’m on the main stage. What is it that actually resonated with the audience? In other words, when did they lean in? So it made me really wonder what made sense, what caught their attention, what didn’t make sense, like what was of low value. So I sort of had to cherry pick of all my content, what was the best. The next thing was … What I looked for was, when is it that I’ve taught this topic? So let’s say the topic was around a model that I call Plan Like a Pilot.

So Plan Like a Pilot is simply this idea that we start with Friday and we work our way backwards with our planning. Where do we want to land on Friday? Like a pilot flight plan. And so what I had to think about as I developed the book was, “Well, when is it that I’ve ever taught that concept and it’s actually been really well received? What did I do that was particularly clever that day?” And I realized that one day I sort of wove in a story about talking with one of my pilots back when I had the company in Antarctica, and it really created this really cool visual for the audience. So here I am talking to this pilot, he’s talking about what it’s like to fly in Antarctica, and when I asked him that question, “What’s it like to fly in Antarctica?” He said, “Well, actually, over half the time I’m off course.” And I thought, “Well, geez, that’s like what people are like at work, so…”

Alison Jones:                        That’s a great metaphor for life, isn’t it?

Hugh Culver:                         Right, exactly. So you come in, you sit down and you’ve got your cup of coffee or your cup of tea and you think, “Okay, I’m ready for the day.” and then by 10:30 you feel completely distracted. So when I taught it that way, like in other words, using the story of the pilot, that day it really worked for the audience. And I noticed that afterwards people came to me and talked about planning like a pilot, so that went into the book, and that then transformed into a model. So now that’s the only way I teach it is I say, “Let me tell you about planning like a pilot,” because people understand the analogy. They know, they’ve been on airplanes, they understand this concept of a flight plan, and so it’s not that big of a transition for them to go, “Oh, if I did that for myself, maybe I would be as successful as a pilot is.”

Alison Jones:                        Yeah. And that’s the great power, isn’t it of metaphors and stories, they lock into what we know, and then they flip it to make us see something else in a different way. Brilliant.

Hugh Culver:                         Very good. Right? And it creates that visual in their mind. So someone once told me that the only way you can listen to a story is to create a movie in your mind. You can’t listen to a story in any other way. And so when we create that movie in our mind, suddenly we’re creating a bit of an imprint, and then if you use that three times over in a speech or if you use it six times in a book, now it becomes something that’s got a little bit more permanence.

Alison Jones:                        That’s clever, isn’t it? And I’m sort of mentally thinking back over the story and you’re right. You do, you visualize it in your head in a way that you don’t when you’re just processing information that’s coming at you. And that’s what makes it stick, that’s what creates the memory.

Hugh Culver:                         Yeah, that’s right. Exactly. It’s like, when I pick up a novel … This is typically my habit. So I read novels at night just for fun and relaxation when I pick up a novel. So quite often I can’t remember who the heck is this person that they’re now talking about because I haven’t heard them since three nights before because … You see, because I read at night I’m so tired. I might read like half a chapter or one chapter. And so what’s going on there is that I haven’t … There’s no residency in my mind, that name doesn’t work for me. It did when it first appeared, but that was three chapters ago. And so you can’t make that mistake in a business book, you have to keep reminding the reader of the model, or the metaphor, or whatever it is. Otherwise, it’s just a bunch of lessons packed together and most people are never going to read a book in one sitting, so you have to allow for the fact that they’re going to read it over a period of time, and if you don’t keep reminding them of the core messages, well then it’s kind of like reading The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. By the time to get to habit five, you’ve forgotten habit one, right?

Alison Jones:                        That’s so true.

Hugh Culver:                         Unless you get reminded. Yeah.

Alison Jones:                        And actually, one of the kind of cardinal errors that first time writers do is they try to make it so dense, they try to pack everything in there, and they are terrified of repeating themselves. You know, just don’t worry about repeating yourself because nobody, nobody, I repeat, not even your Mum, is going to sit down and read this cover-to-cover in one go. It’s just not going to happen.

Hugh Culver:                         Right. Right, right, right.

Alison Jones:                        That’s so funny. And then that idea, I love Plan like a Pilot, and you’ve got … You’ve got a kind of portfolio, haven’t you, of your signature talks? You have Think, Plan, Act, you’ve got Facing the Tiger, you’ve got Reclaiming the Clock, these great resonant phrases. And what’s really intriguing me, because I think that’s … I remember listening to somebody else talking about giving keynotes and they said what you’re doing is giving you performance. You don’t tailor, you don’t produce a new speech each time, you create these talks and then you rehearse the heck out of them, and then you can deliver them brilliantly anytime, so how do you … You know, how do you get to those? How do you decide these are the ones that are going to focus on, and how is it just going into a completely new situation and delivering the talk you’ve done 100 times before?

Hugh Culver:                         Okay. Well, so one way I can answer that, because in the last few years I’ve been doing more and more coaching for speakers who want to build their business. And my focus has always been on the business side of the speaking, I don’t really spend any time on stage skills. There’s lots of people that are better at that than I am, but from the business point of view, I tell the speakers that the first thing to understand is that a really good speech really only has half the time dedicated to the speech. Only 50 per cent of the time is actually dedicated to the content that the event planner is paying you for. Which sounds really crazy because, after all, shouldn’t I be giving a hundred per cent of my time to what I promised? But the reality is, you dedicate 100 per cent of your time to delivering the points, or the content, or the lessons that you promised, you’re going to overwhelm your audience, which is what, to your point.

So a really good speech … And I think in some ways, certainly a blog post, for example, could be designed this way and maybe even the chapter of a book, is that you should start with the problem that you know the readers have. So a famous marketer once said, “Enter the conversation going on in your customer’s mind.” So you want to enter the conversation going on in your customer’s mind and talk about the problem. So I would start … If I was going to talk about planning like a pilot, I would start describing a completely chaotic day. I would start describing people that are distracted by their electronics, people that are chronically make lots of lists but never follow any of them. Then I go into the promise, and the promise is, here’s what you’re going to learn, or here’s what I teach you, and then I go into the content.

And so by the time I get to the content, I’ve already used up 35 per cent of my time on stage, and then that leaves me with 50 per cent for the content, and then finally 15 per cent for the summary, the close, any kind of activities with the people. That’s for a keynote, that’s for 60 minutes. It’s not for a seminar or workshop, but for a keynote. And so the point is that, the first thing to understand if you want to build a speaking business is that you’re probably over-delivering to a fault. And so you’re making it difficult for your audience to really absorb anything, and certainly very difficult for them to walk away and take any action.

Alison Jones:                        Which feels counterintuitive, doesn’t it? You want to deliver real value, and there’s so much to say on this topic, and you know so much. It must kill you to not … Well, when you start out it must be really frustrating to have to kind of bring it right down.

Hugh Culver:                         Well, fortunate, I don’t know very much. So-

Alison Jones:                        So, that’s good then. That’s-

Hugh Culver:                         Yes, because when you’re as dim as I am, you can kind of get away with it and then look at … Actually, very, very smart.

Alison Jones:                        That is actually genius.

Hugh Culver:                         The idea here is you have to work backwards from what the audience can handle, and absorb, and get value from, but of course you have to make it entertaining so that they’ll actually want to learn from you. So it is a balance between a structure and knowing what are the right proportions, just like a good recipe when you’re going to cook something. It’s a question of balancing entertainment and education, if that’s the stream that you’re in, and then to a much, much smaller degree, customizing to your audience, but a very small degree.

And this is another mistake that speakers make, which is thinking that every customer, every audience is different. Therefore, I should spend gobs of time beforehand changing everything. And all that does is make you less effective onstage because now you’re doing a new performance and you will not be as effective when you’re having to worry about your timing, worry about your notes, trying to remember things. You won’t be present. You won’t be responsive, you won’t have any wonderful, amazing epiphanies when you’re on stage because you’re so stressed out. So the least amount of time should be spent on customizing. So again, counterintuitive.

Alison Jones:                        Counterintuitive. But yeah, when you explain it like that, it makes complete sense. And obviously the Give Me a Break … Give Me a Break? It’s Give Me a Break? Yes. Give Me a Break is the foundation for each of these talks actually isn’t it?

Hugh Culver:                         For … Actually for Think, Plan, Act.

Alison Jones:                        Oh, okay. All right. So you take the model in there and you just kind of do the film adaptation, you put it into a speech form…

Hugh Culver:                         Correct.

Alison Jones:                        Which came first?

Hugh Culver:                         So first of all I was teaching Reclaiming the Clock or a time management course, which I had done maybe even 100 times or more, and then the book came out, and the book encouraged me to change. That process really encouraged me to start changing the models and develop my models to be more permanent. And from that point on it became Think, Plan, Act. And so that’s been a very successful keynote for me. It’s based on the book, it’s a perfect segue to sell the book because what they heard on stage fits with the book, so I’m congruent from that point of view. All I have to do is say to an audience, “If you’d like to go deeper, this is what the book is for.” And so it’s a natural … It’s a fantastic way for me to sell books because the keynote gives them a snapshot, and then the book gives them the details.

Alison Jones:                        Yes, that’s perfect. And of course you can sell the book at the back of the room and it all works brilliantly.

Hugh Culver:                         Correct.

Alison Jones:                        Love it. Now, tell me a little bit about the writing. So, Hugh, I know you’re a very successful trainer and speaker. When you sit down to write, did that come naturally, or did you struggle with it? You know, what did you discover works for you to get you started and keep going when you’re writing?

Hugh Culver:                         Right. Great question. So at the same time, Alison, I was actually starting to become a blogger, as well. And now I have a whole business actually to support bloggers, it’s called Blog Works, and we actually … I have a whole team here in the Okanagan Valley, and we actually do the promotion for bloggers. But so when I wrote Give Me a Break I was also becoming a blogger, and so I was starting to establish my routines around that, and the best routine I developed was to get up a lot earlier and go to bed a lot earlier.

So it sounds really simple, but for me as a night owl and someone who always thought they could pack stuff in the evenings, it was a huge shift for me but it was brilliant because when I get up in the morning I’m up two hours before my wife is up, and when our kids were at home, they’re … It was definitely two or three hours before they were up. And so I had this window of time that would end every morning with taking my dog out the door for a walk. And so I had this precise time when I would stand up in mid sentence, go get the leash and then we would head out to the creek or down to the lake. And so those two hours every morning is how I wrote the book. I did the whole book at two hours every morning.

Alison Jones:                        Fantastic. And did you enjoy it, or was it a grind?

Hugh Culver:                         It took about three months. Oh no, I loved it. No, it was … Well, I loved it until I had to get it edited, and then I didn’t like it because then it just felt like I was back doing thesis papers. So I loved the writing part and in my mind blissfully thinking, “Oh, this is brilliant, this is going to be a best seller.” But when I got it edited and realized it was so brutally horrible and that it was so … I had made such huge errors. That’s when I got lost in it, and it really … It’s sort of a reflection of my personality, which is I love to start things, I love to complete things, I just don’t like the details that go with them. And so when I had to get mired, and all these little red marks on the pieces of paper, oh, it just made me nauseous. That was brutal.

Alison Jones:                        Yes. I know what you mean. Starting energy and finishing energy are wonderful, aren’t they. It’s just that slog when you have to kind of rework it all. That’s really funny.

Hugh Culver:                         And, Alison, I made some classic mistakes too, which is I hired the wrong kind of editors. I hired grammatical editors when I really needed content editors. I tried to save money on book design or cover design when I shouldn’t have, so really dumb mistakes that created a lot of frustrations. I know a little bit more now, so I think my next book will be a little bit smarter.

Alison Jones:                        Yeah, they do say your first book is just about learning to write a book really.

Hugh Culver:                         Correct. Yes, correct. Very good. I think that’s actually very true.

Alison Jones:                        And when you say you sat down to write it, it sounds glorious. I can imagine you with an open window, looking out over the Okanagan Valley and you’re writing. Did you create a structured table of contents for the book, or did you just sit down and write what came out and then kind of put it all together later?

Hugh Culver:                         Well, I mean, I do have an MBA so I am pretty good at structure, and I’m pretty good at getting organized. Yeah, exactly. So that’s pretty ingrained into my soul and my system unfortunately. So I’m very good at outlining, detailing, and even being organized to get a project completed. So that came quite naturally. So yes, I started with an outline, then I broke down the outline, then I wrote outlines for the outline. So in other words, from the table of contents I wrote outlines and then from that I started to write. And that sounds really, really good, but it was actually really a disaster because I really didn’t know how to write. And so the outline was fine, but when I went to actually write, it was just sort of rambling nonsense. I didn’t really know how to structure a chapter and how to attack it. And since then, now fast forward seven years, and I’ve probably written 200 blog posts since then at least. And so I think I’m a little better now at figuring out how to do that. I’ve probably actually written close with 300 blog posts since then.

Alison Jones:                        What I love is that you’re talking yourself into book two here, aren’t you?

Hugh Culver:                         I truly am.

Alison Jones:                        By the end of this podcast episode you’ll be like, “Right, I’m going to go write the book.”

Hugh Culver:                         I totally … Absolutely. I already have the title.

Alison Jones:                        That’s brilliant. You’ve already given actually a heap of tips, but if I was to challenge you and say, what’s your one best tip for a first time author? You made the mistakes so they don’t have to. What would you tell them to do if they do nothing else?

Hugh Culver:                         Yeah. So what I would do, first of all, number one thing is I would go and say, “Okay, my goal is to read 10 to 20 books in my genre that are best sellers.” So the best books in my genre, 10 to 20 books, and I am going to tear them apart and I’m going to do like an archaeological dig into these books, and I’m going to look at everything from how thick they are because that affects whether or not I can mail them or not. I’m going to look at the font, I’m going to look at the spacing, and I’m going to really look at what is the minimum viable product that I can then create that would beat these people in the market. So what I mean by that is what is, what is the thinnest, lightest, fewest words that would effectively create a book that would be as good or better than any one of these. So don’t try to beat people on content, or volume, or size, like actually go for something that is going to be very consumable but matches your direct competitors.

Alison Jones:                        That’s really. And that’s a really marketeers/MBA approach to planning a book, isn’t it?

Hugh Culver:                         Well, absolutely. I spent a lot of time in bookstores, just … I had a dummy copy of my book made up really early, and I just spent a lot of time putting it alongside other books, getting friends to come in with me, asking people, walking by about colours and size, just to try and make sure that when my book was on the shelf alongside my competitors, even though a lot of them were, huge, multi-seller, best New York Times, whatever. I wanted my book to stand out against all of theirs. And I don’t know if it did or not, but that’s that the process…

Alison Jones:                        That’s brilliant. And in my programmes, I call that developing your writer’s eye. So you read the book as a reader, but when you start reading into writing a book, then you also read with a writer’s eye, and you’re looking at things, looking at how they’ve put it together. You’re looking at cover designs, you’re looking at structure, and if something works really well, how is that working? You’re looking under the hood and reverse engineering it. Brilliant. Great tip. Thank you. Love that. I’m going to be really greedy actually, because you’ve got the speaking side, as well. Could you give us a tip for nervous new speakers as well, please? I know I’m pushing my luck here.

Hugh Culver:                         No, no. Not at all. So a couple of tips. So one is that really helps any kind of a speaker is first of all, don’t do anything to your speech in the last, say six hours. So that’s the first thing is, don’t change your speech in last six hours because you’re just going to put yourself into a panic. The second thing is, remember, remember that your audience wants you to succeed. Nobody will sit in the audience and as they are reading … As the host is reading your bio, nobody will sit there and think, “I really hope they bomb.” So everybody is in your camp, they are all supporting you. So when you make a glitch, or a mistake, or stumble or whatever, it doesn’t matter because they all want you to be successful.

They don’t look at that as evidence that they were right, they look at that as, “Oh, that’s too bad, let’s watch for the next thing.” So you need to give yourself a break and make sure that you understand that everybody is supporting you. And the last thing is, whenever you can, like even in the last 24 hours, is drop at least 10 to 15 per cent of your content. Just drop it because nobody will ever miss what isn’t there. So just take it out and develop the skill of delivering your content better. You are always better to take one little lesson and turn that into theatre, or a demonstration, or a longer story. So more bullet points and more lessons makes you less effective. Less makes you more effective, so less is better.

Alison Jones:                        It does require quite a high degree of self confidence to go in naked, doesn’t it? To go with your one point and believe that you can hold an audience’s attention with it.

Hugh Culver:                         Very much. Oh, very much. Absolutely. But it’s actually what audiences are hungry for, in particular when you’re at a convention or conference, when there are four or five speakers a day, there’s breakout sessions, you will actually stand out by delivering less content better. You will definitely stand out.

Alison Jones:                        Awesome tips and I’m thinking back to conferences I’ve been to where a talk that started off really well just lost me because the great point that they made at the beginning then got buried under all the stuff that they carried on saying, and you just wish they’d stopped after the first five minutes. Yeah. Makes all kinds of sense. Thank you. And Hugh, who do you recommend that I invite as a guest onto the show. I always ask my guests to recommend someone else, someone with something interesting to say about the business of business books.

Hugh Culver:                         Well, one of the books I love, and it’s actually a Canadian, his name is Michael Bungay Steiner. So that’s Bungay, B-U-N-G-A-Y. And then Steiner, S-T-E-I-N-E-R, and it came out in 2016. It’s called The Coaching Habit. And it’s brilliant for many reasons, not only is it a really good book, it’s really easy to read. It’s been extremely successful. Not only on Amazon, but also in the bookstores. And Michael, his company is called Box of Crayons. And if you go to Box of Crayons, he has a fantastic blog post all about how he launched that book. And there are just so many insights into clever marketing, anybody listening to this, Alison, I think if they just took one of his ideas and employed it with their next book launch, would be much more successful.

Alison Jones:                        Fantastic.

Hugh Culver:                         So I would highly recommend it. Great book, great marketing, great launch.

Alison Jones:                        And I love it when author’s are really generous about that. This is how I did it, maybe you can use some of these ideas. That’s brilliant.

Hugh Culver:                         Oh, totally.

Alison Jones:                        I have heard of the book actually, but I haven’t read it, and I have heard of him, but as I said, haven’t read the book, so that’s a really good steer. Thank you. I should get hold of that. I was also going to ask you, would you like to recommend a business book that you think everyone listening should read? Let’s take it as read that they should read that one and yours. But apart from that, are there any others that you’d recommend?

Hugh Culver:                         Well, there’s so many. So I don’t read that many business books as much as I read more social psychology books, which I think can actually influence our business thinking. So the two books that I’ve read multiple times on social psychology. One, of course, is Influence by Robert Cialdini, which is now very famous. So Robert Cialdini, Influence. And then of course, the second one is Thinking Faster, Thinking Slower by Daniel Kahneman.

Alison Jones:                        Yes. Brilliant.

Hugh Culver:                         And both of those are just great, really readable, fun examples and I think reading books like that really can influence the way that we … The way that we think in terms of our blog, but also the way that we actually worked with audience. So today we’ve been talking a lot about audiences, and I think, for example, social proof, right? So as a good speaker you want to draw out social proof, and so how do you do that with a live audience, and those sorts of things I got from the book Influence.

Alison Jones:                        Yes. Absolutely brilliant. We had Robert Cialdini on the podcast a little while ago actually. It was absolutely fascinating talking to him. So of course he’s … Oh, he’s amazing. And Presuasion was his second solo authored book, separated from Influence by around 32 years. I said, “That’s quite a gap.” And he said, “Yes, I just didn’t have a book-worthy idea after Influence until Presuasion. I didn’t want to plant shrubs around Influence.” Which I thought was brilliant because his editors… Everybody was on him to do another book, and he’s like, “No. I’ll wait until I’ve got an idea of the calibre and stature of Influence.” And then he did 30 years later. Amazing. Real integrity.

Hugh Culver:                         I didn’t know that. That’s really great. I’m not like that, I would just crank out a new book. I have no integrity at all. If anyone offered me money, I’ll write a book.

Alison Jones:                        But we can still admire that, can’t we?

Hugh Culver:                         Almost, almost. Yeah. I think as far as writing goes, the best book I’ve ever read on writing, of course, is On Writing by Stephen King.

Alison Jones:                        Oh, isn’t it brilliant? Yes.

Hugh Culver:                         He’s got that great line in there, he says, “There’s only one way to become a better writer and that is to read a lot, write a lot.” And I think that it’s what I try to challenge myself to do, is just read lots of good books. So during the day I try to read someone’s blog or the latest business book, or something that someone’s referred, even some really esoteric books that are maybe on living and dying, and love, and relationships or whatever. And at the same time is to write a lot, so I still write every day. Sometimes I’m working on something to do with my business in the morning, but I still try to write every day. I always have … Now I have two blogs that I write for. My blog at hughculver.com, and then the blog at yourblogworks.com.

So I try to write for those, and I love that because when I’m writing those blogs I really forget about everything else and I just focus on trying to be useful in my blog, but also trying to figure out, “Okay, how can I actually explained something we’ve heard about before? How can I explain this in an original way by weaving in a story, or give me a personal example, or just some really practical tips.” Or even being edgy. Just being really cheeky about the way that I present it, and I love that. I’d love to get … If one thing I’d like to do in the next 10 years is just get better and better as a writer.

Alison Jones:                        Brilliant. And of course, you’re right. There’s two sides to that. There’s the brain food, the really, really good stuff and absorbing how other people write, and when you absorb it widely, you don’t end up sounding like one writer, you just take all the lessons and synthesize them into something new. And then there’s just exercising that writing muscle really, really regularly. Brilliant advice. Thank you. Now Hugh, if people want to find out more about you, more about your books and your talks, where should they go?

Hugh Culver:                         Sure. So thank you, Allison. So they just go to my site at Hugh Culver. So H-U-G-H, C-U-L-V-E-R.com, and they can find out … They can follow my blog, and they can find out about all the e-books that I’ve written, and they can sort of see where I’m weaving my writing these days.

Alison Jones:                        Excellent. All right. Well, I should put those links up on the show notes at extraordinarybusinessbooks.com, as usual people. So thank you so much, Hugh. I think we could probably carried on talking for at least another hour, but we’re going to have to stop it there, but thank you so much for your time today.

Hugh Culver:                         My pleasure. Thanks for the invite.

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