Episode 184 – True Profit Business with Karen Skidmore

Karen Skidmore

‘We build the road and the road builds us.’

Sometimes, writing a business book can be a profound experience of self-discovery. Karen Skidmore describes True Profit Business: How to play your bigger game without burning out, as her ‘becoming’ book, and what she discovered along the way has transformed her own business. 

But how can an author extend that gift of deep engagement and transformation to readers most of whom, let’s face it, have a stack of unread business books on their bedside table already? Karen’s answer was to create a launch book club, inviting readers to engage with her and with each other over a period of six weeks and holding them accountable for taking action on what they read. 

Genius, no? Find out more here. 


LINKS:

Karen’s site: https://karenskidmore.com/

Karen on Twitter: https://twitter.com/KarenSkidmore

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

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

This Book Means Business – the mentorship programme: https://alisonjones.lpages.co/this-book-means-business-mentorship/

FT/McKinsey Business Book of the Year shortlist: https://www.ft.com/content/36bf3b10-d869-11e9-8f9b-77216ebe1f17

Business Book Awards 2020 entry: https://www.businessbookawards.co.uk/entries-2020/

Alison Jones:                        I’m here today with the fabulous Karen Skidmore, who is a marketing consultant and business growth advisor. She learned all about burnout the hard way and now she teaches small business owners, professionals, and experts how to achieve true profit business. So that’s business that aligns with purpose and creativity as well as money goals, so that they can scale without burning out.

                                                      She, brilliantly, is the marketing coach on my This Book Means Business mentorship programme, so I know her very well and it’s lovely to have her here today. More importantly for this podcast, she is the author, of course, of True Profit Business: How to Play Your Bigger Game Without Burning Out, which is just out from Practical Inspiration. Congratulations, Karen.

Karen Skidmore:                Thank you. It’s so exciting and nerve-wracking all at the same time.

Alison Jones:                        I was going to say, when you’re holding it… because you put the unboxing video up on Facebook, didn’t you?

Karen Skidmore:                Yes.

Alison Jones:                        I was holding my breath. What was it like? That moment.

Karen Skidmore:                I have to say, it was more emotional than I thought it was going to be because I thought, “Oh, come on. You’ve got to get into the motion, go to do the old unboxing thing because it’s part of marketing a book.” But when it was at that moment where I’d got the knife to cut through the sellotape, I was almost holding my breath. I had to pause to reflect on the momentous occasion it really was, because I could have just so easily just unwrapped it. “Yes, it’s my book! Yay, congratulations, woo-hoo!”

                                                      But it was a real moment and I’ve learnt now as part of my journey into true profit business is actually is to savour these moments and to really feel into them and it was a real, okay, this is the next beginning of the next chapter. So Yes, it was really… And of course I had to smell it, I had to smell it. I always smell books but I didn’t mean to like, think about it, but it just smells good, Allison, your team’s done well.

Alison Jones:                        Yes. We spray all our books with special book smell. It does, it matters and I think that’s one of the reasons that print books are holding out so well against e-books is that they’re just, the tactileness of them, the feel of them in your hand, the smell of them. There’s something really sensual, almost, about them isn’t there?

Karen Skidmore:                Oh Yes. And it was just, you know, I mean this, this is my second book, the first one I self-published years and years ago and the quality and it, it was, it was like, “Whoa, okay this is, Yes, this is it.”

Alison Jones:                        “This is proper.”

Karen Skidmore:                Yes, it is proper, and I’m still getting used to it, I have to say, even though it’s been a few weeks now since I held the first one.

Alison Jones:                        Yes. And then that cover, with the pencil, which I absolutely love. We’re going to… I don’t know if you know this actually, we’re going to be using that as the front of our catalogue because I love it so much.

Karen Skidmore:                It’s so photogenic. It is unbelievable. Now I’m out and about with it and people are taking pictures. I was at an event today and people were taking selfies with me with the book. It is so photogenic. Yes. Are book covers deemed photogenic? I don’t know, but it just stands out. It’s like boom, it’s real pow. So yes, it’s brilliant. Love it.

Alison Jones:                        Brilliant. So I’m going to take you back in time a little way because let’s bookend that moment of, “Oh!” when you unboxed the thing with the moment of “Oh,” as you were writing the thing, because I remember you on an Extraordinary Business Book Club writing day, and you were standing up, weren’t you, you were standing up at the counter in this place because you didn’t want to sit down, you were bored of sitting down. And you just kind of went, “Oh!” And the room turned to look at you. Just talk us through that.

Karen Skidmore:                Oh my goodness me, I’d forgotten about that day. Yes, I mean it did take me three years to write the darn thing. It transformed immensely over that time, but in fact going back, I’d completely forgotten about that day. It was the moment, and I can’t remember what happened, but it was like I often I call this my Matrix moments, where you know in The Matrix, the film, and it goes… and you see all the binary code fall down into place?

Alison Jones:                        Yes.

Karen Skidmore:                It was like that. Everything just…

Alison Jones:                        And I think it was growth and scale, wasn’t it?

Karen Skidmore:                It was growth and scale, that was it. And there was just a few things I’d been really struggling with but I had learnt as well, through the writing process, is not to get too caught up with ah, it’s too hard work. It’s like, it’s just part of the process, just keep playing with it, keep shift making and it’s like play dough or Blu Tack, you just keep playing, fiddling with it.

                                                      And it just went… and there were just some certain things that just fell into place, and the clarity. And yes, that’s when it all started to really take into form, and I would say the real writing started to happen as well. At that point it just felt really messy and all over the place and I had no idea, really, where the book was going. So yes, I’d forgotten about that day. Oh yes, that was a moment, yes.

Alison Jones:                        I’ve never forgotten, it was wonderful. And it’s interesting as well, because tracing… Because, I guess I’ve been part of this journey from the beginning, you were in the proposal challenge right at the beginning, weren’t you?

Karen Skidmore:                I did it twice. I did the proposal challenge twice because as I said, it took that longer part of my journey to really form what I wanted this book to be.

Alison Jones:                        But this now is the absolute core of your business, isn’t it? So just talk me through how the writing of the book changed you sort of personally and professionally, I guess?

Karen Skidmore:                Yes. I think this is… The book’s been part of my journey of changing my perception of what business growth’s all about, which is what the book’s all about. So it’s turned all my thinking about growth and the metrics, because I am a… I’m very much of a thinker, I’m very much, everything’s in my head, and that’s been one of the challenges to me in my burnout story is that I did too much thinking and too much frontal cortex stress.

                                                      And it really, by writing through it, it allowed me to channel my rethinking of what business growth really meant, and it was a reflection of what was going on particularly in the coaching industry, which I’m part of, what was being marketed to us as coaches, what I was marketing in my own business. And it went from a very… what it initially was going to be a very practical, how-to business book, into a real inside-out look at how growth isn’t this linear, how-to, six steps to success formula, actually it’s a bit messy and very cyclical, but how do you make sense of the cycles to be able to put plans together?

                                                      So, yes. It took me to really articulate who I was becoming, and I was doing so much personal transformation in my own self, recovering from burnout, understanding what business growth, and it was kind of… I mean, to be honest the book really has been one of these circle of life moments that it finished, it came out, it was the… It’s the year I’ve turned 50, it’s a real kind of ‘becoming’ book for me, personally, whether people get that from the book, I don’t know, that’ll be up to them but for me it was a real milestone. It was… I don’t think it was any coincidence that I happened to be handing in the manuscript and getting it all finished for that quarter period of me becoming 50 and becoming a new decade.

                                                      So I feel like it’s made me grow up, I suppose that’s not quite the way, but I’ve matured and been more vocal about what I believe is important for go-to loaners, entrepreneurs, to actually put into their business plans and grow without burning out and becoming very ill in the process.

Alison Jones:                        And what really strikes me, as well, about your book is… And it’s really fascinating hearing the story behind it, because you’ve still got that really practical stuff in there – you’ve got almost the taxonomy of business models, which is really, really helpful. You know, 80% technician, 20% manager. It’s really practical and there are really practical tools and things that you can do and ways of thinking about your business and all the pillars and so on are really, really practical. But it’s also got this completely unapologetic, almost spiritual dimension as well. You’re combining the vision, the values stuff, the real big picture stuff, that’s more intuitive, perhaps, with this really practical stuff.

                                                      Not many books do that and I guess it’s one of the reasons that I love working with you, you’ve got that superpower of bringing those two together without any kind of contradiction and they complement each other really well.

Karen Skidmore:                Oh, thank you. Yes, and I think this is where, it was the growth in myself in understanding what was my magicness, and who I was becoming as a marketing coach, a business growth specialist, and working with my clients, and recognising that I am a… I’m a real contrast, conflicting personality type, is that on one hand I’ve got this very Matrix-driven systems, I can plan out funnels in my sleep, I can see what goes, I can lift the hood of the business and see how systems work, and for me that comes so easily but that’s what was burning me out, I was spending so much time focusing on it that actually I started to understand, and like you say, go into that spiritual journey of being more connected to who I am as a person.

                                                      But this is… One of the chapters is about, is that combination of doing and beingness, where actually if you do too much doing you get focused on the metrics and that’s often where a lot of people do get burnt out because they’re just driving themselves. But if you then only just doing the being side, you can be just too way out there in a way with the fairies and be sitting crossed-legged in your office and burning incense burners and just go, oh, I attract clients to me and they will come.

                                                      It needs both. You need a container to allow that magicalness and spiritualness of yourself to be able to take form, and it’s allowing that purpose and that sense of impact that we all have within ourselves, we’re all creative human beings, even people that might think, “I can’t draw and I can’t paint.” We are creative. We are in the very essence of who we are, we create programmes, we create solutions for our clients and our customers, whatever that might be in a business form. But it needs that structure and container of planning and growth pillars to be able to bring those ideas to form so you can take it up to market and have a clear marketing message that people understand, “Oh, that’s the value that you bring. Yes, I’m happy to spend money and invest in that.”

Alison Jones:                        Yes, exactly. It’s that balance between-

Karen Skidmore:                …. those two things together.

Alison Jones:                        And you talk about lean in and lean back energy, which I really liked as well, and really practical things. Leaning in too much? Try these, try these little two minute lean-back busters, which I thought was really interesting. And again, it’s that something that… The lean in, lean back, I mean obviously you’re drawing on Sheryl Sandberg there with the lean in thing. But you’ve played with that idea of a particular feminine energy, haven’t you? And cycles and how… I mean not many business books tackle that sort of thing, not many business books engage with that either. So did you see this as being specifically written from a woman’s perspective for women, or is it just that actually you want to bring that into the mainstream?

Karen Skidmore:                Well, no, interestingly, I’ve deliberately and maybe someone’s going to call me out and find something in the book that refers to it, but I have done my very best not to mention any gender references through this teaching throughout the book because what I didn’t want to be doing is to be pigeonholed as a feminine leadership book, as a woman’s way of doing business. Because actually I believe we’re starting to evolve now and it’s so much more about, yes, I’m a woman and I’ve talked about it from a woman’s perspective. But actually, it’s about being that human beingness and men and women have that same connection.

                                                      So, I’ve deliberately chosen left brain, right brain, yin yang, sun and moon, do and be. And I think it was about beginning of this year, I need to take the female and male out of it. I don’t want people to be distracted and I don’t want men to go, “Oh, that’s a book for women.” And some women, quite rightly go, “Oh god, it’s all about the women. I don’t want to be marketed to as only being a female business… just give me a business book.”

                                                      So that was a very deliberate choice, certainly in the last year of the writing of the book, to make sure I wasn’t being pigeonholed as only working… And I mean, I do predominantly, the people I work with in my business, 98% of them are women. But you go to my website, I don’t position myself as a women’s business leadership business growth coach, it just so happens that it speaks that language to those people.

                                                      But my ultimate aim is to have it open, is it’s just a way of being as a human. And if it relates to you, whether you’re male or female or anything in between, it doesn’t really matter that we’ve all got male and female inside of us, whether we’re a man, woman, and as I said, anything between. It’s the doing and beingness, rather than female and maleness.

Alison Jones:                        Yes. And of course the ironic thing is that the people would stand to benefit most from reading this sort of stuff are probably men and they probably won’t, which is really frustrating, just they tend not to read business books by women.

Karen Skidmore:                It is, and I know, and I come back to my mission and what I’m focusing on. As I’ve said, I’ve turned 50 this year. My big mission in all of this is to support particularly women in their 50s and 60s and beyond because I see they have, and me included, the biggest economic impact that we can make to the world of business. Because we are, we’re part of, me, you, and all other women, we are the first time, we are working at this professional standard quite late in our years.

                                                      If I go back to my mother’s generation, everyone was retiring, particularly women, at like 50 and before. Whereas now we’ve got this economic potential of particularly women, who don’t give as much of a hoot as they had when they were in their 20s and 30s, and we’ve got this wisdomness about us that we can bring to business that we can collaborate with the very traditional form of quite a lot of businesses, which is more the masculine side, and that economic uplift is that’s where I can see how business can make a difference and do good in this world when we go into the next decade.

Alison Jones:                        Yes. It is. It’s a really extraordinary moment in history, isn’t it, and I think you’re right that masculine and feminine, is not as closely associated with pure gender anymore, it’s just about energies and bringing both of those, actually, into where we are, and it’s part of diversity, it’s part of all the trends that are going on at the moment. So yes. It’s really interesting.

                                                      Do you know, I could go and talk to you about writing the book and the things all day. I’m not going to because you have got such an interesting way of marking the book. So I’m going to wrench us away from that, I’m going to ask you to talk a little bit about your… I mean, obviously you were going to market the book well. It’s quite interesting because obviously when I write a book, I’m a publisher and I’m so focused on the writing and the structure and the editorial stuff. You must have had the same thing when you were planning the marketing campaign. “This better be good, I’m a marketing coach.” Was there that sort of self-consciousness?

Karen Skidmore:                There is now, thanks for that.

Alison Jones:                        It’s okay, you’re welcome.

Karen Skidmore:                I mean, for me, and again this is what’s really interesting about marketing this book is that I don’t put any pressure on myself. I really go at it with a bit of fun, have that purpose behind it as well. So I don’t, to be fair, I don’t put that pressure on myself because I know it’s not helpful.

Alison Jones:                        Oh, you’re so grown up.

Karen Skidmore:                Well, you know if we’d had this conversation five, six years ago, I would have had a completely different answer, going oh my god, yes, of course, jeez, I’ve got to be out there showing everybody I’m walking my talk. Whereas this is it, I think it’s becoming of age and having that wealth of experience behind me and actually just going, do you know what? Just lay off, and lay off myself, as in I don’t need to be so hard on myself.

                                                      It is about… Marketing, for me, is always about the game. It is playing a bigger game. I mean, that’s in the subtitle of the book, it’s what I’ve been… it’s been a big part of what I’ve been teaching on my business, and it’s not by accident that I choose that because game, for me, means that you make up your own rules, and marketing only works when you put things out there into your customer base. You don’t really know if it’s going to work, and what is working. You know, you set yourself marketing targets, I’m going to sell X number of books in a month, but does that mean you’ve won? Does that mean… It’s just, you have to play, you have to just experiment and get feedback.

                                                      And when things don’t work, it hasn’t mean that it hasn’t worked, it just means that you’ve got different feedback and you change and you adapt and you try something new. So I must admit, and it’s a good question to ask me, because I was like going, “I haven’t actually put any pressure, I’ve just gone, “Oh, let’s just get on with it, this is fun.”

                                                      And I am, there’s a phrase that I use a lot with myself and my clients is actually, we build the road and the road builds us. And that, for me, has kept me sane, particularly into this year as I’m changing what I’m selling and going into the book, because I’m not trying to make a perfect marketing campaign. I’ve picked a few things that feels fun and exciting for me. When I feel like that “oh” within me, I know I’m going to get on with it because it’s not a grind, it’s not going, “Oh, god, investment got to go market this thing now.” So yes, so it’s having a playfulness, a light touch with it, that’s another phrase I use quite a bit.

Alison Jones:                        That’s brilliant, I love that idea about, yes, it’s just a game, you make the rules. I’m never going to play Monopoly with you, by the way. But tell me particularly, one thing that I love that you do and I think it’d be just really interesting people to hear about, is that you kind of turned the launch of the book into a mini-course. Almost like creating a book club around the book. Just tell us, A, why you did it, how it works, and what you think about that idea?

Karen Skidmore:                Yes, well I’d like to say that this was all part of the big plan, but I have to… This is what I mean about building the road, as we go forward, I have a senior coach that works in my business now, a wonderful person called Melina Abbott, and she has been instrumental in bouncing ideas around. And I wanted to do something to support people, because for me, the big motivation in anything I do is I want people to not just read and take on the information, I want them to take action, because it’s the action that, when it gets implemented, gets the results. So I know writing a book is only one part of the motivation for me. I want people to read it and then act on it.

                                                      So I know writing a book, and in fact I was chatting to someone this morning when I was speaking at an event and he said, “Look, I’d love to buy your book but I’ve got a tonne of business books already sitting on my bedside table and I haven’t read those yet.” And that, when I hear that from an author point of view, it’s like, oh, god, that is the same for so many people, particularly in business books. Anybody who’s buying my book, there’s every chance they’ve got half a dozen books that they’re waiting to read already and mine is the seventh on the pile.

                                                      So I came at this going well, how can I get people to A, buy my book and get the sales out there, but B, more importantly take action on it? So we were, Melina and I were bouncing ideas, and of course what she’s really good with helping me is she keeps pulling me down and going, “Keep it simple, Karen, keep it simple. It’s what I do with my clients but it’s very difficult to do it yourself.” And I just went, “Oh, dead easy, it’s six chapters, it’s six weeks, it’s six live calls, I don’t have to drive anymore content, let’s just put together a book club.”

                                                      And it as actually Brené Brown who did something that I went back and saw what she did, because when Brené Brown launched her last book, was it-

Alison Jones:                        Dare to Lead.

Karen Skidmore:                Dare to Lead, that’s the one, thank you very much. I mean, goodness me, Brené is one of my superheroes.

Alison Jones:                        I think she’s not a bad person to model yourself on, is she?

Karen Skidmore:                Oh my god. That’s the one person I just need to meet and share a stage with before I hang up my speaking shoes. That’s my big thing up there that I’d love to do one day. But I went back inside and I remembered what she did when she launched the book. And although she didn’t sell a programme, as such, what she did do is read sections from the chapters and she did a series of Facebook Lives and LinkedIn Lives. And that’s what was really the core inspiration for me, I went, great, because actually there’s no content to create. There’s a workbook that comes with the book as well, which encourages people to sign up to my list and gets part of my community. But actually, just doing it at six weeks, and for me that’s really easy, so everything that I do is, if it’s easy for me to implement then it feels good.

                                                      And so, I know this won’t be right for everybody, but for me to run six Zoom calls in a group scenario, whether it’s 10 people or 1000 people, I do this day in day out in my business. So that’s a piece of cake for me. People starting out, they might be like, “God, I’ve never done a Facebook Live before, I’ve never done a webinar. That’s really hard work.” But for me, this is about what I teach in the True Profit Compass chapter, is about your beingness. And what keeps you in flow, how… When you show up with your clients and your customers and your business, what makes you zing?

                                                      And for me, doing virtual group sessions online, I mean I can just do those day in, day out, and I just love it. So that’s how it came about. So it’s like great, easy peasy. And I positioned it, and this why I just need to get out there and actually sell it now, do a bit of the marketing as we’re talking. It will happen. But it comes in I’ve also done it as a way of saying if you buy the course by, I think it’s next Thursday, which is obviously not going to be timelined for this recording, but there’s a date in it that they’ll get an advanced copy of the book because officially the book doesn’t come out until the 26th. We’re talking on the 10th at the moment. So I’ve done it to say, “Well, if you want an advanced copy and a signed one from me, buy it now,” and then after that, of course people can then just get it through Waterstones, through Hive, and then join the programme at that stage.

                                                      So it’ll be really interesting, the feedback I’ve had so far has been awesome. I’m being brutally honest, I’ve literally only just told my list about it once, so I’ve had a few people sign up, but I just know that for me, I don’t really mind how many people buy it because it’s the people that join it will actually take action.

Alison Jones:                        And that’s the thing, isn’t it? And that’s what I love about this, is you’re dead right. It’s so easy to buy a business book and go, “Oh, that was really interesting,” and get to chapter two and then another one comes along. But when you have got that kind of accountability to the group and when you’ve got that direct interaction with the author, you’re so much more likely, I mean like by a factor of 1000, to not just read it and finish it, but actually understand how to apply it and work through the stuff.

Karen Skidmore:                Yes. So we’re going to have accountability challenges at the end of each week, because I run accountability reports in my programme Momentum, and I just get people to post about what have they taken action on in implemented? And they know and I’ve done challenges like this before, I’ve had the 10 day conversation challenge, which you know of, don’t you, as well.

Alison Jones:                        Yes, absolutely.

Karen Skidmore:                And people love getting stickers in Facebook groups. It creates that bit of energy. So if I can encourage and give people that space to feel alive and be really like, yes, I put this in place, and I’ve tried this and I was like, great. And they get rewarded by it in the Facebook group, just by having commenting and sharing and having other people’s enthusiasm, I know that will spark other people.

                                                      And it’s sort of like electric voltage going off, and it will just inspire and spark at other people, and then people will take action and do things. And I want to know what people are going to do from reading this book. That’s what I’m most curious about and also probably quite scared about, are people just going to read it and then do nothing? I mean that’d be my probably worst fear. I hope not but it’s like this is the first time people are actually reading it and I have no idea what impact it really is going to make on people’s business plans.

Alison Jones:                        I think it’d be very hard for somebody to read this book and not change something, Karen, honestly.

Karen Skidmore:                I hope so.

Alison Jones:                        I really do. You’re quite fresh from the journey. I mean you’re at the end… Or not you’re at the end of it now, you’re at the start of the whole marketing thing, of course you are. But you’re at the end of the writing and the book production phase. If somebody’s at the start of that journey and listening, what would be… from where you are now, what would be your best tip for them?

Karen Skidmore:                Well, do you know what, that actually it’s something that you shared on one of your podcasts, and I don’t know how many times you’ve mentioned it and you can’t even remember who you were interviewing, it’s one from a long time ago and it was about the sandpit. Do you remember the sandpit?

Alison Jones:                        Yes, shovelling the sand into the sandpit so you can make sandcastles later.

Karen Skidmore:                Yes.

Alison Jones:                        I love that phrase, and I can’t remember who it was either.

Karen Skidmore:                Yes. Just keep chucking it in, and then the sandcastles you can build later. And when I realised that that’s what was my journey at that time, and that was probably in the first year or so where I didn’t… I had a structure because I’d done your book proposal challenge, but it was still morphing into what it was becoming. And I just thought, I’ll just keep filling it up, just keep writing. Just write and put it in there, write and article, do a Facebook Live, do a webinar about it.

                                                      And it wasn’t just about sitting there and writing, I would do audio recordings, I’d be out on dog walks and record myself and get it transcribed. It was literally just any content I could create, I would then just chuck it into the sandpit. From there, that’s when I started building the sandcastles. So that’s kind of the real messy stage. It was like listening to that, I remember hearing that podcast, it gave me permission to make a mess, and I went, “Great, bring it on, I’m going to get really messy for the next year.”

Alison Jones:                        “I’m not sure if I can write a book but I can definitely make a mess with words. I’m going to start with that.” Brilliant. Love it. And I always ask people as well to recommend a book. I mean, clearly everybody needs to read True Profit Business, but apart from that one, which book would you recommend that anybody listening should have a read of?

Karen Skidmore:                Well, I’m going to recommend one that I actually, when it was recommended to me, I bought with actually a little bit of like a really, oh god, I don’t want to read this. And when I bought it, I read about the first few pages, “I don’t like it,” and I shoved it up on my bookshelf. And it was about a year later that I did finally get it out. And it’s Gary Keller’s The ONE Thing. It’s a bright yellow book, it’s a really popular business book, and the reason why I was forced to buy it, because a lot of my clients are recommending it to me, like oh okay, then I better read it.

                                                      And I didn’t like it because I don’t believe in one thing because I’m very much of a… I like to have lots of interests, I like flexibility, and doing lots of different things. To have one thing makes it feel very isolated and narrow. But when I came to read it, it was… I really enjoyed it. And it’s a book that I often recommend my clients to help them with their planning journey that I do with Momentum, because there was a great chapter in there, in particular, about willpower, and the fact that people feel that to be able to do well in business you just need good motivation, you just need buckets of motivation, and the willpower to see it through. And he just sort of discredits it and just goes, “It’s just a load of rubbish. Willpower is just a short time thing, and just to rely on it, it won’t see you through because you’re going to have a bad day,” and as I talk about in True Profit Business, there’s cycles and some days we feel great and some days we don’t. And it is very much of a flow.

                                                      So I particularly like, there’s a really good chapter about willpower and about the lies around how we can just switch it on and switch it off at a moment’s notice, and it doesn’t work like that. It is a book that I was begrudgingly having to forced to read, and it took me a long while to read it, but once I did I was like, “Oh, it’s a good book, it’s a good book. I like it.” There’s bits of it I can really take from it and I get my clients to back up about focus and choosing the big projects to be able to lead them forward, rather than just choose the easy stuff.

Alison Jones:                        See, I’m stuck on the don’t like it. But I know, and you know what, you’re about the eighth person to recommend it. I’m going to have to go back and read it again. But I just got really cross about… I don’t know, the linearity and the kind of single-mindedness of The ONE Thing, which doesn’t reflect my life. I’m sure the same for you as well.

Karen Skidmore:                Yes, but actually that’s the irony about the book, it’s not about just doing one thing.

Alison Jones:                        And maybe I just didn’t give it… I think I probably got to about the second chapter and then just thought it’s making me cross, let’s skim over the rest.

Karen Skidmore:                Yes. It helps you understand how to focus on what’s going to make the best impact. So it’s not about just choosing one thing, and that’s exactly what I had with it. “Oh I don’t want to choose one thing, that’s too boring, it’s too dull, I like to have lots of things on the go.” But it also makes you realise, because my motto is do less, be more, then you can play bigger. Because the danger is when you have that creative juiciness to yourself then you end up doing this and that and projects galore, and you can’t. It’s just crazy. And then you end up having so many things going that you don’t achieve… you achieve but you don’t complete, and it’s the completion that then allows you to go on to the next one.

Alison Jones:                        So you mean doing a billion things badly is not what you’re recommending here is it, though?

Karen Skidmore:                No. No.

Alison Jones:                        Still some work to do.

Karen Skidmore:                Always a work in progress. We’ve all got learning plates until the day we die.

Alison Jones:                        Absolutely, Yes. Thank goodness. Wonderful. All right, well, do you know what, I probably won’t read it right now because right now I’m on the big hunt for very short business books to get myself back on track with my 100 books in the year challenge. So I will put it on the list for 2020, revisit it. Maybe 2020 can be my year of revisiting books that I didn’t do justice to, because there’s probably enough of them to fill the year.

                                                      Right, Karen, if people want to find out more about you, more about True Profit Business, where should they go?

Karen Skidmore:                Well, you can go anywhere you want to and just put in Karen Skidmore and you’ll find me. I’ve been around long enough to own every @karenskidmore on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook. So my main website’s at karenskidmore.com and you want to find out about the book and why I recommend that people buy it through Hive, if you’re a UK customer, and not Amazon. Go over to karenskidmore.com/book and you can just read a little bit there about what I’m doing about that recommendation.

Alison Jones:                        Yes. And do you know what, I was going to talk to you about that, we’ve run out of time. But it is, it’s really interesting, and I love that your values really come out there, at the sharp end of it all, that’s absolutely brilliant as well. We could have talked all day. Do you know what, let’s hang up and carry on chatting shall we? But right now we do need to stop. Thank you so much, Karen, it was an absolute joy to talk to you.

Karen Skidmore:                I’m so honoured to finally be on the podcast, it was one of the reasons why I wanted to write my book because I wanted to be on your podcast.

Alison Jones:                        Shut up.

Karen Skidmore:                I have to admit. No, I’m absolutely serious, Alison, your podcast. I mean I know we’re dear friends but your podcast has been brilliant and I’ve listened on and off over the years, and it’s been one of my things like, when I’ve got my book done I want to be on Alison’s podcast, and I’ve done it. So thank you.

Alison Jones:                        Well, hopefully that will be inspiring to someone who’s listening going, “Huh, maybe I could be on Alison’s podcast.” There you go. Could be you next. Brilliant. Wonderful, thank you so much Karen.

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