‘The reason why I was able to write it in 12 weeks is that I mapped out my entire book, sticky note by sticky note… And then I was relentless. I just went one word per sticky note and built the whole thing.’
For someone who comes alive on the stage and accesses their flow speaking in front of an audience, the last year has been tough. But Frederique Murphy discovered that she could re-access that state of flow through writing her book, by delivering it as if to an audience, and the results were astonishing.
Astonishing results are something of a speciality of Frederique’s, and in this remarkable episode she shares something of the science behind her approach to helping leaders break free of their limitations and achieve their full potential. (Spoiler alert: this also involves writing…)
There’s also powerfully honest insights into the process of publishing, and the vulnerability that involves.
Here’s the graphic table of contents we talk about, showing the wires and circuits of the book’s structure:
Frederique’s site: https://frederiquemurphy.com/
Frederique on Twitter: https://twitter.com/IrishSmiley
Alison on Twitter: https://twitter.com/bookstothesky
The 10-day Business Book Proposal Challenge: https://alisonjones.leadpages.co/proposal-challenge/
Extraordinary Biz Books Clubhouse chat, 6pm 29 March: https://www.joinclubhouse.com/event/Pb5dAJ8B
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Alison Jones: I’m here today with Frederique Murphy, who is a leadership mindset strategist who inspires and equips leaders to move through extraordinary change. She brings together 17 years’ experience in corporate change for large multinational organizations and scientific expertise in positive psychology, neuroscience and behaviour change with strategic vision and business acumen having run her own award-winning speaking, training and consulting company for the past decade.
And she’s also the author of a new book Lead Beyond the Edge: The bold path to extraordinary results. Welcome to the show, Frederique.
Frederique Murphy: Hi, thank you so much, Alison. Well, I’m like, who? after this intro.
Alison Jones: I know, now you’ve got to live up to this, but do you know what really comes across Frederique, and I think people are about to experience it for themselves, is just the energy, the positivity behind that. It pulls no punches that title, does it?
Frederique Murphy: I love what I do as well. Like it doesn’t take long to see this. I just love what I do. And I think, yes, as you said, it just is part of everything that I do.
Alison Jones: Yes, it’s brilliant. I love it too. It’s so energizing. So, well, first of all, obviously, congratulations,
Frederique Murphy: You are looking at my book, you are so lucky. Okay. So I don’t have my book yet.
Alison Jones: Brexit, people Brexit. I think it’s bounced back from the port twice now, hasn’t it?
Frederique Murphy: Yes. But it’s on the way, on the way, on the way. So yes, but unfortunately yesterday we got hit with the B word.
Alison Jones: I’d just like to point out everybody, this was not my idea. Yes. Very frustrating. But it is very, very beautiful. You’ve got the digital cover at least. So how does that feel? That sense… because we were just talking off air about, you know, writing the book, you think at the time it’s everything.
And of course, then you get to the sort of the marketing and the publishing and you suddenly realize it’s just part of the process. How are you feeling at this stage in the journey?
Frederique Murphy: I have been enjoying every single step, which I think actually has kept me going, but actually is very on brand and very on personality. So I always look for the positive in anything that has been happening, which as the various steps have been happening has been really useful to, you know, hold onto those beliefs that everything happens for a reason.
And just going, you know, building on that and just really enjoying every single step of the process since having that idea. Wow. I am going to write a book and it’s just really been such a journey. And I just feel we are like right in the thick of it now. And I’m just, I’m just loving it.
Alison Jones: Good. I think determining to enjoy the process is a really good mind trick, isn’t it? And let’s go onto the thinking behind the book, because it is an extraordinary combination of the science and the behaviour stuff and the corporate stuff and the leadership. So how did you develop, well, firstly, I guess you’re focused on the neuroscience of change.
Frederique Murphy: Well, really the book has been in the making for the last 20 years and never, never up to that deciding point, which you know, I’m sure it’s bound to come up later on, but in fact, it’s 20 years of me, with my career working in change management. So close to 20 years now in change management, really being fascinated by what makes people tick.
And I already had psychology in my degree and it was bringing me a lot of insights, but I needed more. So then that’s when I added behavior change and then went into studying and now actually teaching neuroscience, really, really linking, that’s what happened when then I realized like everything, everything is aligned, everything is linked.
And with everything that I do, it’s about inspiring and equipping leaders to leverage the power of their mind to rewire their brain. And then the book came up into helping my readers revolutionizing, I like to say that, revolutionizing the success path and this is what I mean, there is this very famous, that I’m sure most, if not all of our listeners are going to nod along as I say it, there’s like it’s usually a two-part, at the top you have what we want success to look like. And it’s like a one direct line. And then at the bottom it says what success is really like. And then like the person just went and, you know, went like up and down and like scribbled and round and looped and just looking at it, it just makes me feel dizzy.
You know, the one I’m talking about, right? So Lead Beyond the Edge, behind the book is providing a third option, providing a step-by-step, structured way, a new success path that it does not have to be that messy, oh my goodness, hold on to your stomach, it looks horrendous if this is success. This is where the framework came up. Step-by-step structured way to look at having a third option for that success path.
Alison Jones: And that framework is, it’s a beautiful thing. It really is and it’s done beautifully in the book as well. And it’s going to be terribly difficult to describe it so we can certainly put links, but just give an attempt to just describe how it looks and how it underpins the structure of the book.
Frederique Murphy: Yes. The framework image in a triangle and the larger space of the triangle down. And then within that triangle, we have then three triangles. So one on the left hand, one the right and one on the top. And then as you can see you can visualize. Oh, okay. Triangle, triangle, triangle.
And it’s because the framework is split into three circuits which is a little strong, but a little nod… Instead of having book parts. I have book circuits and instead of having book chapters, I have book wires. And the reason why I went for those words is of course, a nod to neuroscience and the amazing ability of our brain to shape and rewire itself.
And the words we use are creating, you know, the neuro path. We have circuits and we have wires and that’s why we went for instead of parts and chapters. And then you have, so as part of those triangles, you then have 12 wires, which are actually your 12 clear, practical, memorable, and scientific strategies.
Alison Jones: Brilliant. And it is a really beautiful thing. I will try and put a link to the visual, actually Frederique, if you’re happy for me to do that, I will actually put the table of contents as an image up on the show notes
Frederique Murphy: I was just about to say that, because actually then, you know, you’re going to see I was really pushing for a… well, I did not have to push actually because you were amazing and actually just said yes straight away. I did not want a normal table of contents. So actually the table of contents is innovative and quite unique and it is based on the framework.
So you can start visualizing from the get-go.
Alison Jones: It’s a great example people, if you’re looking at a way of kind of visualizing the structure of your book, this is the masterclass. So yes, do go and have a look at that. And I wanted to zoom in particularly on one particular strategy that you set out in there, which is Scribe, which I’m sure you knew I was going to zoom in on because it’s just fascinating.
Frederique Murphy: Do you want to talk about writing?
Alison Jones: No. Who knew? I mean, I was, you know, when I first read that, I was just like, yes. Tell everybody why writing is just such an important part of success.
Frederique Murphy: Yes. I’m so glad we are, and just to give some context, the Scribe Strategy comes in to our first circuit and it’s the circuit that tackles our inner dialogue. So when I’m zooming in into the Scribe Strategy I’m really thinking of giving you tools to help with your inner dialogue.
And the reason why these come in is, in standard terms we call it journaling, in psychology and scientific terms it’s called affect labelling, so affect labelling. And we’ve learned a lot from two particular scientists. One James Pennebaker was a psychologist and Matthew Lieberman a neuroscientist.
And what we’ve learned is that when you write down, when you put your thoughts down, and I want to add a little specificity here, I’m really talking pen and paper. It’s just so much more powerful for the brain. When you write down your thoughts, you diminish their intensity. This is really, really powerful because by diminishing the intensity, it’s because you are helping your brain calm down specifically the amygdala.
And so obviously in the book, I go into the science section, and I explained, you know, what happens. Matthew actually shares a beautiful analogy and I’m using it in the book, he talks about the traffic lights. He says that journaling is the same as when you are approaching an amber light, and you are hitting the brakes, and this is what you do when you are journaling.
When you are scribing, when you’re writing, you help reduce that emotional response, which then gives you more power. And in fact, that strategy empowers you to just take more control. That’s the power.
Alison Jones: Brilliant. And I mean, it’s fascinating to know that the science behind it as well, but frankly, all you need to know is that it really works, that it gives you clarity and distance on stuff, and it allows you to retell the story. And you talk a lot about that, don’t you? That sense of rewiring, I guess the only phrase that comes to mind, which is completely appropriate, of course , that first strategy of stop, you know, just those little well run routes that our brain worries around all the time, just, you know, stopping.
And then writing is one of those strategies that you can use to create a new story and challenge yourself and push through that discomfort to the other side, really powerful.
Let’s talk about the process of writing the book itself Frederique, what surprised you about it? What did you love about it? What did you find hard?
Frederique Murphy: I, no surprise, I won’t be like a spoiler alert. I absolutely loved it. I found it incredibly enjoyable and you know, when I said at the beginning, I said it was 20 years in the making, but actually I really remember being on the phone with you and saying, that’s it, it was time and I was doing it.
And then 12 weeks later, you and I had another call and I had written the whole book. And I remember just because, you know, it’s good to be vulnerable. I just want to share that I felt this was quite slow because I had given eight weeks to Alison. And when I then needed the extra four weeks I was just maybe quite hard on myself.
So just actually, I don’t know. I don’t think I actually had that with Alison, so she just gets to hear it as well, but I thought, Oh no, I needed an extra few weeks, but actually like, I did not have a Word document. Like there was nothing. I went from zero to 12 weeks to like 50, 51,000 words, yeah. So.
Alison Jones: I remember in those early conversations, as well, I remember you saying, I think, you know, once I’m writing, it’s going to be really fast and normally I’d be like, should we actually get writing and see how that…? Do you know, I completely believed you. I just, I knew because you had the framework and you knew the content and it really was , for you, just a case of, that structure just drove the whole thing, didn’t it?
Frederique Murphy: It did. I felt, you know, thinking of this question, I was in flow and I had missed flow so much because I wrote it in the pandemic. I’m recording this in the pandemic. I, as a stage speaker, that connection with my audience, it just like everything stopped. Like it stopped, you know, for the last 12 months.
And when I started writing, I just reaccessed that state of flow, particularly because I would say about 30% of the book, I actually wrote it by delivering it. So I delivered it as if I would talk to my audience and then I used the feature of Word, which to my surprise did a phenomenal job with my accent, which was a wonderful surprise and actually transcribed the whole thing.
And I think it gave me about 15,000 words. Yeah, 15,000 words. And just accessing that flow was, yes, it was very enjoyable. I loved it a lot, I think because of the flow. And do you know, something else that I really enjoyed is as I was putting it all together and everything was really, as I said, really falling off the page was I wanted the book to be an extension of myself and I absolutely do not mean it as in the book is all about me, because it is not, but I wanted my essence, I wanted what works well, when, I mean on stage in front of an audience, I just wanted to make sure that my readers would get that, which is why, like the book is so much more than a book, which is why I’m using multisensory learning.
And I’m going so much deeper than just having my reader read it by having added all of those extra things that I did. And it was all about really creating that essence. And I think that I really, yes, I really, really did enjoy that. You also asked me what was hard, because it was like the one question with three paths.
Alison Jones: Sorry.
Frederique Murphy: And I’m being really truthful, during the writing nothing was hard. I’m really kind of racking my brain thinking for something. No, it wasn’t. I was so in flow, I knew exactly where I wanted to go and I just went there. However having said that if I do have something that was hard, it’s just happened a little bit later after the writing and it was, it’s part of the publishing process and it came, so it’s kind of, it was around the endorsements process. I struggled with this and here’s why, I wanted to get my book endorsed, which I’m pretty sure all of our listeners would say yes, of course you want to, I never thought that I would not get any endorsements. But I also wanted as a personal achievement that I wanted is that I wanted to get endorsed enough so that I would have a praise section in the book.
And in one of the courses that you’re teaching, you are saying to us, we need a minimum of eight. If it’s less than eight, no praise section. So I needed those eight. I carefully drafted my approach. It was a very personalized approach. Like I did in the book, pour my brain and my heart into the process and started reaching out.
And it took me a couple of days, actually probably a little bit more, a couple of weeks to realize what was happening. I was like feeling in pain all the time and I’m using the word very carefully because actually a pain in the brain is the same as a physical pain and what was happening was I was experiencing dopamine fall.
So dopamine is one of those amazing neurochemicals that our brain can get flooded. But what happens is that when there is an high of dopamine, it’s really, really great. When there is a drop in dopamine, you really don’t feel great. And what was happening is I had cast quite a wide net. Obviously I started receiving a lot of No’s and I started to be ignored quite a lot.
All of those things, they were obviously creating fall after fall after fall. And I was feeling, like this is really hard and I’m being totally genuine. And because I had to reach that stage, which then I access my own framework and realizing that this was normal. But it was like, I don’t know how you’re reacting when I’m telling you this story.
But for me, that was, and I, you know, and just like long, long story short, let’s say that I do have a praise section. I am incredibly grateful to the ten people that have endorsed my book and I created maybe like I’ve fostered and built and created and strengthened relationships, even with those No’s.
I was really not surprised, but most of the No’s were incredibly personal as in they really took the time and a lot of them were so encouraging. And, but yes, if you had to ask me what was hard, it was going through this period because of just what was happening in my brain.
Alison Jones: So, no, it’s absolutely fascinating. And if you’re a Practical Inspiration author listening, there’s no kind of hard thing about the eight, it’s fine. We normally say sort of, you know, you want to aim for around between six and ten or otherwise it does look a bit thin and you’ve got loads, it looks really, really good at the front of the book and the quality of them is fantastic.
Which of course is, is yes, as much the thing anything, but I always say to people, you’ve got nothing to lose, which is… even as I say it, I know that’s not quite true because it makes you vulnerable. Very often people say yes, and that’s wonderful, but if they do say no, you know, building up that resilience, that understanding that it isn’t really about you.
And it’s great that so many people took the time to explain why, because a lot of people get a lot of requests, but it, you know, you do have to put yourself out there and that is a costly thing to do. Isn’t it?
Frederique Murphy: Yes. And, you know, and I mean, I’m saying this and like, as I said, you know, spoiler alert, everything ended up well, but I think hopefully, you know, helping some people that may be at that stage or even that kind of raising awareness that, it is okay to kind of say, okay, this is actually a normal process.
And it’s normal to feel like this and, actually, just to be, and I won’t mention a name, but what really surprised me was one person I approached that asked for a fee. And I guess maybe I was naive maybe, just totally shocked me.
I won’t mention a name, but it was totally surprising. From the name of the person and their values and how they are carrying themselves, it just felt, so I don’t know if this is common practice, but that really shocked me.
Alison Jones: I have heard of it before. It’s not common practice and I would run a mile from it. No it feels really icky. Isn’t it?
Frederique Murphy: No, and I refused. And so, just so that everyone knows the 10 I got were earned based on the work and it’s actually even worse than of course I ran away and unfortunately it’s really changed how I’m viewing that person now. And I’ve, you know, read their work, and anyway, so that was what surprised me.
Alison Jones: We’re not going to name and shame here.
Frederique Murphy: No. No, it’s interesting to just be candid and just say yes, that’s, you know, that could happen.
Alison Jones: Absolutely. And if somebody does ask for money for an endorsement, I would sort of, yes, exactly. Say no, thank you, that’s not really what I’m after here. Brilliant.
I’m going to ask you for a tip Frederique, because there’s an awful lot of people, well, having just admitted that you wrote the whole thing really easily in 12 weeks, people might not be prepared to listen to you, but they might actually want to know the secret of that. So what would your best tip be for somebody who isn’t finding it quite so easy.
Frederique Murphy: Oh, I know exactly what to say. The reason why I was able to write it in 12 weeks is that I mapped out my entire book, sticky note by sticky note. I used an architect’s table that I divided into three portions, front matter, body, which was three times as long as the front, and the back matter.
And then I was relentless. I just went one word per sticky note and built the whole thing. And I never wrote a word till this was not finished and I will even go deeper than that, I would also say that this was, the reason why I also mapped it on that architect table and I could see everything really helped me with the balance and the structure and… because everything is really, I mean, you did use the word structure quite a lot. Everything is very balanced in the book.
The three circuits are about the same size. Every wire is like, there’s nothing that’s more important than the other, because everything works in a process. And the seeing it on the table was… yes, map out your entire book, sticky note by sticky note. And then I take one sticky and write it.
Alison Jones: Yeah, that’s it, isn’t it, structure sets you free.
Frederique Murphy: It really felt free, like it wasn’t because I could just see it, I could visualize how it would be finished by the time all of those sticky notes would have become like a chapter in itself. I really wrote it from like in order, which I know is not always the case.
And, you know, people just do different things. And but I did write it in order. And it was just that empowerment of taking a sticky and going: today I’m doing that one, then done.
Alison Jones: I’ve got, the hairs on the back of my neck are going up, okay, just that lovely sense of that: here it is. And just point by point, you translated that into the finished book and here it is, but you haven’t got it in your hand yet, but it’s just really, I mean, I hope that if you’re listening and you aren’t at that stage yet, I really hope that that has energized and inspired you. It’s just such a super practical tip. Brilliant.
And Frederique, if I asked you to recommend, I mean, obviously, obviously everybody should read Lead Beyond the Edge, but apart from that, is there a book that you, that has particularly spoken to you that you’d recommend to people listening?
Frederique Murphy: I, there could be so many that I would like to, and I know the one that I wanted to recommend, and it goes beyond the fact that the book I’m going to recommend is actually the author who wrote my foreword. And I want to give a little backstory on this. The book I want to recommend is called The Go-Giver, a little story about a powerful business, and it is co- written by Bob Burg and John D. Mann.
And it was published in 2007. And I launched my business, I incorporated my business in 2008 and in the first few months of my business, lots of things were happening. And this parable, because it is a parable, is all about the power of giving and the, like the character goes through. Like, yes, I like the story about a powerful business idea.
He has this idea and then he meets all of those people and he learns those five laws, one around value, one around compensation, one around influence, one around authenticity and one around receptivity. And what really made tremendous impact to me now, like 13 years later till this day, was to read that I could be myself in business and I think with those first few months in business, I felt sometimes that I had to be a certain way and reading this book just a few months later, really framed and actually made me realize, Oh, hang on a minute. You can do it your way. This is okay to be you and I am a Go-Giver, you know, and this is why I’m giving this book, which of course then, you know, your readers will recognize that one of the authors actually I was, you know, very you know, beyond so much gratitude to have him write my foreword because there is such a story of him in this book and in my business.
Alison Jones: That’s a lovely, personal kind of insight into behind it, but what a brilliant recommendation as well. I love that title and I haven’t, I mean, I know of it, but I haven’t actually read it. So thank you.
Frederique Murphy: It’s 60, 90 minutes, like it’s really fast
It’s a parable.
Alison Jones: I love the business parable genre, the format. It’s so readable, isn’t it? Yeah. Brilliant. Thank you for that. I’m definitely going to add that to my to- read list. Because, you know, it’s, it’s kind of light, it’s not…
Frederique, if people want to find more about you, more about the book, more about the work you do, we should actually do you know what, before we end, shall we just touch on the accent, which is glorious and people will have got to this point going, I give up. I give up. Where is she from?
Frederique Murphy: So and actually, even in the book, I ended up not talking about it much, it’s actually Bob who talks about it , you know I am half French, half Irish. So obviously Frederique gives you the French hint, murphy is the Irish. I always say half French, half Irish, but with an Irish heart. I am married to a Dutch man and I mostly work with American companies.
So this gives you, voila, this accent.
Alison Jones: A citizen of the world. And it is a glorious accent. I could honestly, I could listen to it forever. It’s brilliant. So as I was saying, if people want to find out more about you where should they go?
Frederique Murphy: Thank you. Frederiquemurphy.com all in one word. Then from there, obviously you can read more about my work and how I help inspire and equip leaders to leverage that mind, to rewire their brain. Obviously you can click on the book and then you’ll get access to the full site that we did create for Lead Beyond the Edge, which is leadbeyondtheedge.com.
And of course, as this will not surprise you, I love connecting. So on social media, you can find me on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest. And I do my own social media. So it will be a pleasure to connect.
Alison Jones: And you’re IrishSmiley across most of those, aren’t you?
Frederique Murphy: Yes. Frederique Murphy is too long for most handles and actually 20 years to this day my now husband gave me the nickname irish Smiley. Obviously you’re listening to this, but even I bet you that actually even you listening, you can hear that I pretty much recorded this whole interview with a smile on my face.
Alison Jones: In the voice.
Frederique Murphy: I smile quite a lot, obviously on the social media. You’ll see. And so Irish Smiley became my handle because Frederique Murphy was too long and I just didn’t want to drop the Y or, you know, at the end. So I just thought I’d go for it.
Alison Jones: Brilliant, lovely. And I put all those links of course, up on the show notes at extraordinarybusinessbooks.com, also a picture of the beautiful visual table of contents with the wire and the triangles that you’ve been trying to visualize and sketch on a back of the fag packet at all the time you’ve been listening so you can actually see how that works, but Frederique, what an absolute joy to talk to you today. Thank you so much. And just congratulations again on a really, really terrific book.
Frederique Murphy: Thank you for having me, Alison.