Chronicling the true story of one entrepreneur’s journey, The Mindful Entrepreneur provides a raw, brutally honest account of how to transform the frustrations, pain and struggles faced by countless business owners into stability, growth, freedom and meaning. Fusing proven, cutting-edge business strategy with powerful mindfulness practices, you’ll learn an immediately practical, holistic approach to achieving business success and personal fulfillment. If your business is not giving you the wealth, freedom and fulfillment that you desire, if you feel like a slave to your business rather than master of it, The Mindful Entrepreneur is for you.
Feeling like a slave? Are you considering taking on the challenge of entrepreneurship, but want a bit of guidance before you go all in? Thankfully Joel Gerschman, one of the authors of ‘The Mindful Entrepreneur’, has set aside some time to chat with me today about the book to how the journey of entrepreneurship unfolds. Joel, thanks spending some time with me today to chat about the trials and tribulations experienced by business owners. What idea sparked the genesis of this book?
We originally had the following ‘Introduction’ in the book, but our editor told us to omit it. I’ve copied it here because it explains exactly how we came to write the book and should answer your question.
Although this book is based on real life events, I had absolutely no idea how it would end. That may sound strange; after all, I am one of the authors and key characters. But, just like Reality TV, much of the true story on which this book is based was playing out as we were writing it, in real time. It was scary. We had no idea what would happen next and where real life would take our story. This is how we decided to the write Howard’s story.
Some months after I’d begun coaching Howard on how to grow his business, we were having a conversation about growing my own already-busy business coaching practice. “Well, what did all the extremely successful business gurus do to grow their coaching businesses” asked Howard. “There’s no magic bullet. But in many cases they became authorities in their field through ‘thought leadership.’” “Huh” grunted Howard. “What’s that?” “They developed novel, helpful business concepts and then wrote a book about it,” explained Joel.
In his usual energetic manner, Howard asked, “So why don’t you write a book too” “I would love to write about what I do. I believe people could get real value from it. But what sort of book would I write” “Well, you’ve probably read more business books than anyone I know,” said Howard. “What do the most successful books have in common”.
“There are different styles. Some are more theoretical, some are told through short anecdotes and examples, and some are…” And that’s when it dawned on me: there’s no more powerful way to convey a message than through an engaging story. “I think well-told, engaging stories have the capacity to resonate most with people,” I said. “Brilliant” exclaimed Howard. “So write a story.” “But I don’t even know how I’d begin to write a story,” argued Joel. “Google it!” said Howard. We Googled, How do you write a story? At the top of the page was a link titled The Hero’s Journey. The page read: “The pattern that is the Hero’s Journey was observed and introduced by Joseph Campbell in his book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces.
Throughout history, this pattern has been the foundation of countless myths and legends from the biblical Moses, the Iliad and the Odyssey to The Wizard of Oz, The Karate Kid and Harry Potter. George Lucas, creator of the Star Wars films, stated that Campbell’s monomyth was the inspiration for his movies.
It then described the stages of the journey that each hero passes through: “The story typically begins with the hero living a life in his ‘ordinary world’, isolated, maybe in a distant dessert, or perhaps regaining his strength from a previous adventure. His solitude is broken by an urgent call to action. He must respond to a threat or emergency, not for his own sake, but to save others. The hero is usually reluctant to take action and may reject the first call, only to soon face a second threat or challenge that he cannot refuse. He then departs to face the challenge often failing the first challenge. He then inevitably meets the wise and powerful guru, wizard, coach or sensei and goes into serious training. As the hero’s journey unfolds, he gradually crosses over into a “special world,” where the training or the tests become daunting tasks or trials. He may face these trials, alone or with the assistance of allies. The hero eventually reaches “the innermost cave” or “mastery.” He must then undergo an ordeal where he overcomes the main obstacle or enemy. In the process, he experiences an apotheosis before gaining his reward. However, the reward and the triumph are limited. So the hero must then return to the field of battle, but this time it’s a true life and death struggle from which the hero returns with the Holy Grail, which he may now use for the benefit of his fellow man. The hero is transformed by the adventure, and gains wisdom or spiritual authority.”
“Now that’s an engaging framework for a story. Perhaps I can structure my book that way,” I said, excitedly. And I began to write, with a fictional small business owner as the unwitting ‘hero’. But I soon hit a roadblock. The hero’s journey begins with the hero living in his ‘ordinary world’. I wanted to begin with a realistic description of that world. I called Howard and he instantly replied: “Well, for me, it was the repetitive waking at three in the morning overwhelmed with thoughts of bankruptcy and failure”. “Perfect”.
And I kept on writing. But as the weeks passed, I continued to ask Howard how different stages of the Hero’s Journey reflected the story of the typical entrepreneur. I ended up using his story, almost exactly as it happened. It wasn’t long before Howard stopped me and, after an extended silence, asked, “Joel, what exactly is going on? Are you writing ‘a story’ or ‘My story?’”. “I’m not sure,” I said. “Do you mind me using your story? It’s really helped me so far – and I think it reflects the plight of many small business owners” “I need to think about it,” Howard said.
As a test, we decided to overlay Howard’s story against the stages of the hero’s journey. Incredibly, Howard’s last six years lined up almost perfectly. “Would you let me write your story” I pleaded. “I guess so, but I’m worried that I might not have completed the journey yet. Have I faced that final life-and-death battle or is it still to come? This isn’t Hollywood, Joel. I know I’ve made significant progress so far, but in my real-life story, I could actually lose!” “Well that makes it even more realistic – and interesting. Doesn’t it?”
And so while the book began to take shape, the true story continued to unfold. If you read it and think about it carefully though, you’ll probably realize that in many ways, it’s everyone’s story. Which means it’s your story, too – and you’re the hero.
Wow, the hero’s story really does have such strong power to communicate the arc of personal growth within an individual very succinctly. Other than delving into the works of Joseph Campbell, did you find yourself research other concepts?
Yes, the book references many leading authors in the business, psychology and spiritual fields.
And when you examined the concepts presented across these fields alongside Howard’s hero’s journey, what did you find was the most illuminating idea that you wanted readers to take from your work?
The state of your business and your state of mind are deeply intertwined.
During the process of putting the pen to paper, what struck you as the most fulfilling element of writing?
The ability to integrate the proven business management theory that I have been teaching to business owners for many years with a true story that expressed both the pain that most small business owners face and the opportunity for growth, freedom and fulfillment that is available.
I mentioned earlier in the interview that this book was a collaborate work, and you were just one of three writers who brought this book to life. Can you give us a little introduction to reach of these authors?
Joel is a business coach. The book is about his coaching Howard, a small business owner. Aryeh is a teacher/guru who shared his wisdom. What we all do is core to the writing.
Logistically, getting three people to work on writing a book sounds like it could be very difficult. How did you make the co-authoring process work?
We wrote collaboratively using Google Docs. We would agree each week what each of us would write about (e.g. which part of the system or which part of the hero’s journey). We would each make time to write during the week and then meet on Skype for an hour each week to review, discuss and plan. It took 2 years.
And over those two years did you find that working in a team was enough to keep you motivated, or did you have any other ways to work through writer’s block?
Keep writing even if it’s rubbish.
*Laughs* That does work! And once you’d push through all of the writing, how did the three of you tackle editing?
We did most of the editing. As novice writers we were always thinking that the writing was inevitably amateurish and would be massively improved by a professional editor. We were disappointed. We used one pro who was really quick but all he really did was proof read. We then sought out a Structural Edit, thinking that that would turn the book into something really special. She can back and said that it didn’t need editing. Finally the publisher did his edit which again was principally proofreading. Now we read the reviews on Amazon, its seems that people really like the style and so maybe it was OK from the start.
It must be gratifying to have such positive feedback coming from readers confirming that your team was able to tackle the topic so well. Do you have any tips for self-publishing for other authors?
We engaged a publisher to do handle the retail side of publishing but retained the online rights and hence we are engaging you but it is a lot of work.
Self-publishing, like business is a lot of work but it is incredibly rewarding as I’m sure the three of you have already found. As you’ve had such positive feedback from your work, has your team considered putting your heads together again to bring another book to the world?
Have not decided yet but we are considering the Mindful Partner/ Mindful Husband/ Mindful Parent.
I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that you’d be able to deliver a lot of value to this market so this might be something worth looking into further in the future. Finally, before I let you return to bustling, busy world of business coaching, I’m hoping that you might share a little of your personality with the readers with my picks from the quick fire question round! Let’s kick off the frivolities with: Do you have any philosophies that you live by?
As part of the process described in the book, we create one’s core purpose.
Howard’s Core Purpose is: To create the greatest sustainable value – No Excuses!
Joel’s Core Purpose is: To help people live more successful, meaningful and fulfilling lives
Having your core purpose so clearly defined must be a fantastic way to keep the states of your mind and business aligned. Are you a valuable asset on a quiz team?
That’s a shame. If they made a movie from your book who would you choose to play the main characters?
Charlton Heston in the movie the Ten Commandments because the book is structured around the Peter Campbell’s ‘The Hero’s Journey’ and Moses is the archetypal hero who leads people from slavery to freedom.
What is your favourite ocean?
Have you ever danced in the rain?
I’m glad to hear that! Are you left or right handed?
Would you have a party with the people behind the stories in your book?
Yes, we party all the time! :=)
What color socks are you wearing?
What is your favourite song or music to work by?
Well, the sounds of silence work too! What is your best tip for authors?
As they say honesty is the best policy. What is your favourite word?
And to increase the potential of enticing readers to pick up this book, can you share your favorite quote?
“If your business cannot run with you then you don’t have a business you have a job with overheads.”
Joel, thanks for sharing some snippets of your business wisdom from within the business arena, and I encourage authors to take the opportunity to find out more about ‘The Mindful Entrepreneur’.
Want to find out more about Joel? Connect here!