‘You need a higher level of challenge and truth telling if you have set the bar high for yourself and your organization.’
Liam Black has become known as the ‘gloves-off mentor’ for his no-nonsense, straight-talking way of supporting social entrepreneurs and purpose-driven leaders. When the work you do matters so much to people’s lives, it can be hard to see situations objectively, or to keep any kind of work/life balance.
But capturing that voice in a book isn’t easy. In this characteristically direct conversation, Liam shares the awfulness of writing – those wet Wednesday afternoons when the words die on the page – and the joy when the magic happens, the vulnerability of putting your book out into the world and the way it creates new connections when it’s there.
Probably the most truthful conversation about writing you’ll hear all week.
Liam on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/liam-black-03763a8/
Alison on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/alison-jones-9b09893/
Alison on Twitter: https://twitter.com/bookstothesky
The 10-day Business Book Proposal Challenge April 2023: http://proposalchallenge.com/
WriteBrained: A 28-day exploratory writing adventure: https://pi-q.learnworlds.com/course?courseid=writebrainedcourse
The Extraordinary Business Book Club on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1447064765612358/
Alison Jones: I am here today with Liam Black, who has created and led over a dozen businesses in the social enterprise and private sectors, including time as CEO in the Jamie Oliver Group. He’s invested millions of pounds in purpose-driven businesses and mentored startup entrepreneurs and senior leaders in all sectors, including Dyson, the BBC, Unilever, The Guardian, and the Eden Project.
He was until recently Executive Chair of The Conduit, a global network of business leaders and entrepreneurs, and is a board member at Togetherall, an online platform for people isolated by anxiety and depression, and at the Amani Institute, a leadership organization for young people in India, Brazil, and Kenya.
He’s the author of How to Lead With Purpose: Lessons in life and work from the gloves-off mentor.
So firstly, welcome Liam. It’s very good to have you here.
Liam Black: Thank you, if you are as old as I am you’re able to fit a lot of stuff in.
Alison Jones: It’s a long bio, isn’t it? I should have warned people to go make a cup of tea or something, yes. But I want to start, Liam, with, I mean we could talk all day about the bio. Let’s not do that because I want to talk about writing and stuff.
But I do want to talk about purpose and I do want to talk about mentoring and I’m particularly delighted by your phrase, gloves-off mentor. It’s one of the things that really struck me when you and I first started speaking, and so I think, let’s start with that. What do you mean by gloves-off mentoring?
Liam Black: Well, the actual phrase comes from one of my clients who at the time was going through a really tough time. This is a couple of years ago, and he texted me at midnight. I mean, the text is actually in the front of the book. And he said words to the effect of, ‘didn’t take your advice Liam, fucked it up. Please call me. I need some of your gloves-off mentoring,’ and being the selfish bugger that I am I thought that’s great, that’d be a great name for a book.
But I think what he meant was that he needs some of my direct talking, I think what I try and do with people and the mentoring that I do, and by mentoring I mean advising them, championing them, connecting them, really trying to help them achieve in life what they want.
I’m very direct. I try and remove any wishful thinking and be that person in my client’s life who just tells it like it is, and if I think they’re bullshitting or deluding themselves or about to make the wrong decision. Tell them straight. And people seem to relish that because I think when you’re in a senior position, you do tend to get surrounded by people who won’t give it to you straight, are always spinning things to you because they have their own agenda.
So that’s what I try and do. So take the gloves off. You know, no pretending, warts and all, supportive and encouraging as well, but challenging and direct. So that’s what I mean by gloves off. And it really resonates with people. So I’m very grateful that he didn’t take my advice that day because he…
Alison Jones: …otherwise you wouldn’t have had that….
Liam Black: …gloves off brand you know, because after all it’s me that’s most important in this, Alison.
Alison Jones: Absolutely. It’s all about me. Yes, I got this message about somebody who’s in a real hole and I’m thinking, that’s a great title for my next book.
Liam Black: I know, that doesn’t reflect… now I think about it that doesn’t reflect very well.
Alison Jones: Listen, there’s a lot of writers listening, they’ll totally get that. Don’t worry about it. And that style, that gloves-off style, which is absolutely you in the book. I mean, it is absolutely, and it’s how you talk and I’ve sort of seen you in action. It’s very, very, you. It’s very authentic.
One of the reasons it’s so valuable is because you are working with people in a specific, maybe it’s useful for everybody, I don’t know, but I think it’s particularly useful for people in that kind of purpose-led space. So what is it about trying to lead when it’s a purpose-led organization rather than just any old business that makes it so hard, and makes people just need what you can give them so much?
Liam Black: Well, if you take, yes, so by purpose driven, I mean people who are leading an organization or have created their own business, which is trying to solve a particular social or environmental problem. So it’s very specifically, we want to change the world, and I’m going to do that through the organization that I lead or have created.
And people who do that have all of the challenges that any entrepreneur or leader has in any big or small private operation, cash flow, sales, HR, market fit, technology, all of that stuff. But if you want to put purpose at the center of your life, you’ve got another level then of trying to change the world.
And that brings a whole raft of other challenges: resistance of other people, trying to work out a commercially viable model in the middle all of that, surrounding yourself with people who might or might not share that purpose. And also, and I’m a bit like this as well, but a lot of the people I mentor, it’s very easy to become a bit deluded.
You know, I’m going to change the world. Oh, are you? Okay. And I’m going to do it through this organization, or someone else’s organization. And so the need for direct, honest feedback where you are hitting the mark and not hitting the mark is really important. I mean, if you’re trying to solve homelessness or bring water to, you know, rural parts of Bangladesh, if you get it wrong, it’s not just you lose money in your organization or you might lose face: people in need will suffer more.
And so you being very honest in that leadership position about where you might be missing the mark, what your motivations are, what is required from you and from the people around you is even more important. And that’s the sort of niche that I’m sort of in. I’m there because, you know, I have made all those mistakes myself. I’ve been through all that Messiah, I’m going to save the world. Look at me. I’m Superman. You know, I can do all of that. All of the sort of delusions that come… and you need a bit of delusions to believe that you can do it.
Alison Jones: Right, or you wouldn’t start.
Liam Black: You’d never start. It needs to be that sort of maniac part of you.
But if it’s just that and it’s just the Messiah and… you can get into a lot of trouble. And so I see my role with the people that I mentor and support to be: Yes, encourage them. Yes, get them investment if and when they need it. But most of all, to be that sort of honest voice in their life saying, do you know what? I think you’re on the wrong track here, or, I think that’s not true, or, I think you should stop doing that.
Yes, so that’s where the purpose and the gloves-off thing come together. I think you need a higher level of challenge and truth telling if you have set the bar high for yourself and your organization.
Alison Jones: And another thing that really struck me in your book, which I see in many of the people I’ve spoken to on this podcast indeed, is that when what you’re doing is changing the world and this is what you passionately believe in, there’s no good time to stop. There’s no good time to just chill and watch Netflix.
Liam Black: Exactly.
Alison Jones: Whatever it is you need to do.
Liam Black: Yes, and there’s always a reason why you should cancel that holiday, not watch Netflix, not take the weekend off, not make love to your partner. You know, not pick the kids up from school because I’m saving the world. There’s, you know, there’s refugees that rely on me. There are homeless people that are relying on me raising 10 million pounds next year. And so that’s a big watch out that I have with the people I mentor, is ensuring that they don’t delude themselves and they also look after themselves because there is no one more annoying and useless than the burned out social entrepreneur or charity leader who is telling the world it’s going to be a better place. And everyone looks at them and says, well, if I end up like you, mate I don’t want to be in that place. So you really have to look after yourself, both on a human level, but also to stick the course because it’s hard.
None of us are going to change the world individually. And it’s going to take long. I’m a granddad now, Alison, and I haven’t changed the world yet, and I’ve been at it for 45 bloody years. Do you know what I mean? So, well, you have to look after yourself, it’s a long game, a long, long game.
And in some of those really intractable, challenging, multisystem, multi-complex challenges around climate, around biodiversity, and so on, most of us involved in that work won’t live to see the fruits of our activity. So looking after yourself, listening to the truth, doing the right thing, and knowing when to step away is critical.
Alison Jones: And the other thing that really strikes me is one of the things that you’re doing is creating not just in the book, on a kind of one-to-one basis, but in the work that you do, is you’re creating communities around that for support. Tell me a little bit more about that.
Liam Black: Yes, I’ve always, I mean, I have been doing it very explicitly in the last couple of years at The Conduit where we literally have a big fancy building in Covent Garden and a community of two and a half thousand change makers and rising. And part of it is, I think together we are better.
There are no social problems that can be solved by the heroic individual. It’s all about collaboration. It’s all about community. And so at The Conduit, we’ve been trying to literally create that community in which everyone can go further faster. And that’s one of the reasons I wrote the book.
I know there’s a big group of people out there in the world that are doing their best to bring about change, often feeling isolated, often feeling lonely. So I hope in a small way, the book is a sort of message out there in the world to people that you are not alone. That what you’re going through, lots of people are going through and have been going through and there are ways through it. And here’s some of my advice about how you might do that.
Alison Jones: Well, that’s a lovely segue towards writing because I do want to talk about that and I’m smiling as well when you say about the thing about feeling isolated and lonely, because if there’s ever a description of writing a book, that can be it.
Liam Black: Well, I recently was talking to a friend of mine who’s thinking of writing a book and I will put them in touch with you. He said, so what’s it like? And I said, well, it’s like this. You have an idea. Oh, that’s a brilliant idea, that’s such a good idea for a book. And then you sit down and you go, oh, this is a bit harder than I thought, isn’t it. What, I’ve got to write something to get this book. I’m one of those people, before you came along, that was in love with the idea of having a book and not writing the book. So then I got into that. You get into that, oh, it’s really harder than I thought. And what’s the minimum number of words I could get away with?
And then you go into a bit of a, and then you get some support, if you’re lucky, you find someone like you, and I was really lucky to find you, and then you kind of go, oh. This is a bit shit, isn’t it? This is, oh no, that’s what you said.
No, and the gap between I want it to be this and it’s this at the moment. You know, there’s that, and then you get a bit of a breakthrough and suddenly go, ah, right, I’ve got the, this is it. And then it sort of flows. And there is, well there are a few things better, but it’s right up there, is that thing where you sit down at eight o’clock in the morning and you look up and it’s 5:00 PM and you’ve been writing all day.
And when you reread it, you don’t want to throw it away. You know, that’s…
Alison Jones: …that’s worth everything, right?
Liam Black: Honest to God, it is. It is one of the best feelings. And then you do that, and then you get, and then the next phase of me was like frustration. I’m not great on detail and get a bit like that. But you are going, no, no, no, Liam that colon there and that sentence needs there and that bit… I’m going, oh really? Do I have to go back and do that again? And then you are able to get involved and then there’s a bit more of that. And then it just feels, it felt to me just like work, and it’s kind of just like, it’s work, it needs to be done. If you want this to happen. Then you get it finished, then you have that moment literally where your hand is over the send key and everyone’s going, come on Liam you send it now, otherwise we’re going to miss a publication date. And you send it, and then there’s that sort of, oh my God, it’s gone and there’s nothing I can do about it.
And then it goes quiet for a bit. And then the next bit is a box arrives with the books in and it’s like, oh, this is fantastic. It’s just what I wanted. And don’t tell anyone this. I smelled it
Alison Jones: Of course you did. There’s no shame in that. We all do it.
Liam Black: It’s not just me. Okay. And you…
Alison Jones: We’d have been disappointed if you hadn’t.
Liam Black: The sort of physicalness of it. The thingness of it, is lovely. And so then you have that and then you feel, yes, fantastic. And then it’s published and you see it on Amazon and Waterstones. And for me there was this rising anxiety of, oh my God, it’s out there now, anyone in the world can read it. And if it’s not as good as I think it is or hope it should be, I’m going to be exposed and this is going to be humiliating.
And I had that, and then you told me, and I did some research and this sort of post publication anxiety is pretty common. Certainly was with me. I mean, honest to God, lying awake in the middle of the night going, oh my God, what have I done. You know, and thinking, shit, I should have put this into chapter three and that bit in chapter five doesn’t work.
All of that sort of going around. And then we had again, at your fantastic suggestion, rather than have a book launch where I’m just kind of, hello, I’m Liam and isn’t my book great and I’m going to read you a chapter and then we’ll have some mediocre, warm white wine. You said, make it valuable for people to come.
So we created a panel discussion around some of the themes of the book, got Jo Carr from the BBC to run it, and 180 people signed up to come and on night, 150 of the buggers turned up and the day of that, Alison, again was really sort of, all the people, personally friends, family, as well as business contacts, whose opinion really matters to me.
I’ve put them all in the same room, and then you have that and then it went really well. And then you start getting the feedback. And ‘I really like the book, Liam.’ And then strangers start buying the book and you know, writing about it on LinkedIn and sending messages and dms on Twitter and all of that. And then you think, yes.
So those phases, starting with elation, disappointment, hard work, anxiety, and a bit more elation at the end, that’s the journey that I’ve been on. And where I am in that journey now is how much more effort do I want to and can I put into keeping the momentum going. So, yes, it’s been quite a trip.
Alison Jones: It’s brilliant. I mean, if anybody was ever in any doubt about the journey, about what’s involved in it, it’s just brilliant. That is the whole journey there and there’s also a progression of gradually opening up, isn’t there? There’s that sense that, you know, it’s just your idea at the start and then you bring in some people to help and then suddenly, as you say, it has a life of its own out there in the big, wide world.
Liam Black: It has a life. I don’t know whether it was you or someone else who said to me the way to cope with the anxiety, the sort of post publication anxiety is to just think it’s not your book anymore. It’s your reader’s book and they will make of it what they will. And there’s nothing you can do about that.
And whether they think it’s crap or they think it’s the best thing they’ve ever read in their lives, it’s them, it’s not you. Now that’s easier said than done. And, you know, thank God I haven’t had a lot of well, very little sort of negative. I’ve got a three out of five anonymous review on Amazon and I want to find that person in America, kill them and burn their house down, but…
Alison Jones: …proportionate response.
Liam Black: …completely proportionate response. Because you really are putting something, and particularly with my book, there’s quite a lot of me in the book. And you really are putting yourself out there and then you kind of think, well, maybe, I think it’s good. Alison thinks it’s quite good but, you know, lots of people might not, and that’s their stuff, not mine. So I tried to hold onto that, but there’s no doubt about it, all of that post-publication anxiety, the best antidote to that is positive reviews and positive feedback. And, you know, people saying, I read the book Liam and as a result of that, you know, I’m going to do something differently.
Which is exactly why I wrote the book.
Alison Jones: Yes, and you kind of have to make peace with the fact that not everybody’s going to love your book. Just like not everybody loves you. I know it’s kind of hard to imagine,
Liam Black: I know, I know, I know.
Alison Jones: If you are somebody that everybody loves, that’s kind of a really bad thing because it means there’s nothing offensive about you.
Liam Black: There we go. And there is quite a bit that offensive about me so…
Alison Jones: In the best possible way. Yes, I’m glad you worked it out, it didn’t come out like I intended.
Liam Black: There’s something of a compliment in there somewhere. You have to come to terms with that and that’s fine.
Alison Jones: Yes, and that point about taking the feedback at the beginning, of me going, I think there’s some improvements we can make here. I’m not quite sure how I phrased it. I mean, you know, somewhere between those two versions. I mean, in a sense that’s kind of what you do to other people. How weird was that?
Liam Black: I think you actually reminded me about that in our early conversations. But as I say in the book, don’t tell anyone this, Alison, sometimes mentors don’t take the advice that they give the people they mentor.
Alison Jones: Shut up,
Liam Black: Yes, it’s true, don’t tell anyone our little secret. Yes, so it was quite something to be on the receiving end of that.
And not just about a business idea, but about something very personal and because, you know, I think I’m a reasonable writer. I’ve written quite a lot in the past in various ways. So to have someone, you know, a professional say, actually that’s not very good, Liam, or as you said, there’s something missing here. And I was, not there’s not, what do you mean there’s something missing here? There was, so the last chapter came directly from your feedback and the structure of the book, I mean, I think that was a master stroke on your part to kind of say it’s interesting Liam and what you’ve got but it’s just at the moment a sort of sequence of stories broken up into chapters. What if you put it into two parts, you know, making a difference and staying alive. And that was revelatory and that was really helpful in structuring the book. And then it became obvious that there was something missing, that last chapter, which again, you encouraged me and supported me to write.
So thank you for that.
Alison Jones: Well, and thank you for taking it because you know, it is hard, as you say, it’s so personal. And also just, you know, once you’ve done it, you don’t necessarily want to do any more work on it, do you?
But what I’d love to get from you, what do you kind of wish you’d known at the start? If there’s somebody listening who’s about to start writing their book, what’s the one tip that you would share with them?
Liam Black: I would say, oh God, so many really, I’m a terrible, you know, this thing about some people get up in the morning at 7:00 AM write 500 words, have their breakfast, go back up. That’s not me. I’m a real sort of start, stop writer and now partly it’s because I was very busy, really busy during a lot of the writing of this last year.
So one bit of advice, there’s no right or wrong way to do it. People will have their own style, if you’re the sort of person that gets up at six, does yoga, goes for a run, comes back, writes 5,000 words, you know, and then cures cancer, fantastic.
Alison Jones: We’re really happy for you.
Liam Black: We’re very happy for you. And there are some, apart from the cancer, there are some writers that write like that. Fantastic.
If you’re a bit of a slob when it comes to writing, like me, and a bit Ill disciplined, I will do, write something, not look at it for a while, write something again, send it to you. You would come back. Um, No, before you got involved, I would write some stuff, leave it, and then I sort of do bursts of it.
It was getting to know you that gives the discipline because I found it really helpful to have someone to write for in a sense with you. Oh, Alison is expecting this other chapter. I better get cracking on it. So my first bit of advice, there’s no one way of doing it. The other bit of advice is just however you do it, just write.
Just sit down and just go for it and get it out and know that it’s not going to be the final thing. I think it was Ernest Hemingway. Listen to me. I think it was Ernest Hemingway, Alison who said , who said every first draft is shit. And I think that’s true. You know this book, which everyone says, and I think they’re right, and a lot of this is down to you, it’s very personal, it’s story led, it’s honest, it doesn’t hang around too long, all of that sort of stuff.
The first draft of this was a much more abstract book about mentoring, which was kind of interesting, but not that interesting, and certainly not as interesting as this. So I think listening to trusted people. I had, I don’t know what you’d call them, a bunch of, I thank them all in the book. A bunch of about half dozen people, different sorts of people, young, old, involved in my world, not involved in my world, whose opinion matters to me.
And I would send them stuff and say, what do you think? And there’s a lot of things that were in the book that aren’t there anymore or you know, weren’t there and are there now with feedback from people reminding me about things or saying, Liam, that doesn’t quite work.
But I suppose the main thing I learned, and I learned this from you, is again, yes, it’s a cliche, but it’s a cliche because it’s true. You have to keep the reader in mind all of the time, you know? And it was your suggestion, put in the pronoun you, you know, because if you put that in, you are direct. So there’s a few sort of, what about you dear reader? And that’s really important because you know it’s easy to get carried away with yourself and oh, this is really interesting, and then you’ve gone off down this path and someone else reads it and goes, that’s not interesting at all. I know you are interested in that, Liam, but I’m not.
So I’d say, find the style that works for you, get some great support and, you know, Practical Inspiration Publishing, cannot speak highly enough of the service that you provided. And take that support. And know that, you know, there will be times when you just think, oh Christ, why did I start this? This just feels like another thing to do, and I think that’s something else, sometimes it just feels like work. You know, sometimes it does feel like, you know, the spirit’s got me, I’m in flow. It’s coming out. It’s all terrific. But a lot of the time it’s like sitting down in the office at the bottom of my garden on a wet Wednesday afternoon going, shit, I can’t really think of anything to write.
And when I do write it, it just dies on the page. But just keep going. Just keep going. I would say. So it takes a bit of bloody mindedness. It takes a bit of courage and it takes a bit of grown upness to know that you need to take advice from people who know more about these things than we do. And as I said, that was you.
Alison Jones: And that point about the first shitty draft is brilliant, isn’t it? Because it’s so liberating. If you know that that’s a kind of necessary stage, you just get it out and then you’ve got something you can work with and you invite the people in and you do the work. Yes.
Liam Black: Yes, and again, people have different styles, don’t they? I mean, I’m one for writing something, printing it off, getting a pen and then going in and doing that, partly because I don’t know how to use Word properly. But again, some people can do it all on screen. They know how to do that really, really well. You know, there’s no ways of doing that and there may be still be people out that who write by hand you know, and do it all. Eventually it’s going to have to go onto a screen. So, there’s no one way, but I think there are some shared experiences across all people’s experience of trying to get a book done.
Alison Jones: I’d endorse all of that, brilliant.
And I always ask my guest, Liam, to recommend a book as well. You’re not allowed to recommend your own book. That’s not etiquette on this show. But I’d like you to recommend a, it doesn’t even have to be a business book, but a book that you would recommend that anybody listening to this show should have a read of.
Liam Black: Oh, blimey, that’s a really good question. I’m reading a really good book at the moment actually, again, and it is linked to this book. Bear with me, it’s not a shameless plug for the book, although buy my book everyone, one of the people who read this book is a consultant psychiatrist, who I didn’t know, who said I’d like to speak to you. So I ended up speaking to this person and they said I really, really like the book. And I said, what did you like about the book? He goes, I’m not interested in all the leadership, business stuff that doesn’t interest me at all. What interests me is when you talk about your anxiety and the thing that jumped out at me from the book was, there’s a footnote in the book that says something like, show me a male social entrepreneur and I’ll show you a man with daddy issues…
Yes, and this person said what do you mean by that? And then I said, a lot of men I work with, and it’s certainly the case with me, have very, very difficult, challenging, troubled backgrounds. And then this person introduced me to this theme of intergenerational trauma and asked me the really good question, which was, if you hadn’t had that sort of background of abandonment, abuse, et cetera, would you be doing what you do for the work that you’ve had in your life? And b, would you be as good as you are at it, if you hadn’t had that, what’s going on there with that.
And if that’s true with other social entrepreneurs, which it absolutely is in my experience, or maybe I just attract them, I don’t know. Maybe there’s a whole cohort of brilliantly together social entrepreneurs who come from really happy families. I’m sure there’s some of them. Anyway, the book that was recommended to me, which I’m reading at the moment, is What Happened To You? by a psychologist with, of all people, Oprah Winfrey.
I never thought I’d read an Oprah Winfrey book. I always thought it was a bit sort of, sentimental, sort of stuff. It’s really, really good. It’s really, really good. And so, the way it talks about the impact of trauma when you are very small in the formation of the brain, and what that means for you when things happen to you in later life, it’s really fascinating. So I would highly recommend that book for anyone that’s interested in that sort of stuff.
And then the other book I’m rereading is 1984 by George Orwell. Yes, I first read that book. I went to a Christian Brother school, talking of trauma, and I used to be in detention a lot because I was a bit of a… Yes, I was a bit of a handful and used to get sent to the library. And I remember one really hot June day in 1970 something or other, 77 or something. And the only book that I grabbed was 1984. And I remember reading it and going, oh my God, the power of it and the sort of the world that it created.
And because there’s been a lot of talk recently about Orwellian this and Orwellian that, I thought have a reread of it. And, well, I’m not enjoying it. It’s not a book that you enjoy. But I am enjoying visiting something I haven’t read for decades and decades and stuff that I had completely forgotten that’s in the book, being in the book. So, you know…
Alison Jones: A classic that really bears rereading.
Liam Black: It does really, it really, really does. And then I don’t know who said it, you don’t read a good book. You reread a good book. I don’t know who said that but I think that really is true. So What Happened To You? and 1984 is what I’m reading.
Alison Jones: Yes, really fascinating and very different. Thank you.
And Liam if people want to find out more about you, more about the various different strands of work that you do and the book, where should they go?
Liam Black: Well, you can, LinkedIn is the place if you want to see what my biography is and the various things that I’ve done, LinkedIn is the place to go. And if you want to get in touch with me, please do, I’m firstname.lastname@example.org and just on the response to the book in terms of the, you know, because we invest money with you on a book like this, on the expectation that A – We’ll get a really good service and a good product, 10 out of 10 on that one.
But also that it will create business and it will have a financial ROI. And this book was published eight weeks ago and I have recouped the money that I’ve put into you by, at the last look I looked there yesterday, was about six x and rising.
Alison Jones: That’s brilliant to hear.
Liam Black: And it’s good. And it’s all of the piece, isn’t it?
Because the book is story led and very honest and very direct. It speaks to people. And if it speaks to people and you speak to them at the right time, then they’re going to get in touch. And some of those people, I’m delighted to say, doing really interesting work in the world, I’m going to be working with.
And, you know, one woman got in touch with me via LinkedIn. We weren’t connected, but she got in touch with me two weeks ago and I had a Zoom call with her, and I’m meeting her next week in London to start our mentoring relationship, direct results of the book.
Someone else invited me to go and speak to their company. Bought a hundred books for their top 100 people. Went down and spoke about purpose and leadership and all that good stuff at their away day, a fancy hotel. And again, all because the book is out there. They would never have heard of me or thought of involving me in something like that.
So, yes, it’s worked for me. It’s worked at every level, and it’s been such a good experience getting it out there. I’m already thinking about next one.
Alison Jones: Excellent. Even better to hear.
I think what’s really interesting with the book as well is that it’s not just that people get in touch because you’ve written a book, it’s that they get to know you. And in a sense, the people who come to you when they’ve read the book are the exactly the people you want to work with.
Liam Black: Very much so. You know, and some of the feedback I’ve had on the book from people who know me, is that, actually the CEO of The Conduit here, Kerry O’Connor, read it. She was in hospital for a minor procedure and she read the whole book while she was in hospital that day. Because it’s quite a, I wanted it to be quite a short book that people would read rather than get through two chapters and give up on it. And she said it was like having you in the room with me.
Alison Jones: Yes.
Liam Black: And so for people that have the ear for that, then, you know, they have got in touch. And when they get in touch, they know something about me and are quoting bits of the book. Like, you know, the not my circus, not my monkeys. Everybody has mentioned when they’ve got in touch with me.
Alison Jones: And you don’t have to apologize for taking the gloves off because you were right up front about it.
Liam Black: Yes, absolutely. They kind of know what they’re getting. I often, you know, if someone hasn’t read the book and I meet them and talk about mentoring, I have to explain to them look, I’m not a sort of group hug, kumbaya, you know, let’s light incense and, you know, meditate together.
That’s not me, you know, but having read the book, you would be in no doubt what you’re going to get when you sit in front of me.
Alison Jones: Brilliant.
Liam, it’s been such a joy. It was such a joy working with you, and it’s been a real joy talking to you.
Liam Black: 100%. And again, anyone listening to this who is thinking of doing a book but feels there’s a lot to learn, how do I do it? Where do I get good editorial support from? Where do I get great advice? And who’s going to take care of all of the mechanics of getting the book out of there? You really should talk to Alison because what was really good about working with you, as well as the editorial and the sort of content input was, I didn’t have to worry for one second that all of the mechanics were being done by someone so that when it launched, the book was ready, it was out there.
So if I wanted to order more copies, they come, the bookshops are visited, et cetera, et cetera.
So yes, I can’t recommend the service highly enough.
Alison Jones: That’s really good to hear. Thank you so much, Liam, for your time today.
Liam Black: All right. Pleasure.