My interview with Billion Success Media, talking about digital transformation, leadership, and what went into writing my first book.
Tell us a little bit about your background and how you ended up writing a book?
I started my career as a support analyst in a financial services organization, primarily giving technical support and advice to our clients via phone and email communications. That role really shaped me in the sense that it has almost become a passion now to help others resolve challenges. From those early days, I had to write knowledge base articles, document answers to FAQs, and update documented processes. This led me on to write articles for blogs and websites, and that habit has stuck with me.
In 2017, I wrote a longer piece and that led me to write my first book. “The Future-Proof Business Transformation Playbook – 5 Pivotal Pillars for 21st Century Leaders.” The book discusses Innovation, Leadership, Employees, Change Management, and Customers as crucial pillars to gain competitive advantage.
I love the interaction of sharing my thoughts and experiences and getting feedback from people about what I have written. I like to have thought-provoking conversations with people. Exchanging views and experiences is a good way of learning and understanding other people’s perspectives based on their experiences.
So, to put it more simply, I write so others can hear me and for me to listen.
What do you hope your readers take away from this book?
After reading the book “The Future-Proof Business Transformation Playbook – 5 Pivotal Pillars for 21st Century Leaders,” I hope readers will be more open to change and the endless possibilities there are. This applies not only in business but in our personal lives as well. We are used to wanting what is safe, and we are skeptical of change, which is understandable, but always choosing “safe” hinders businesses and people from growing.
I want my readers to have the courage to take a leap and accept change. I believe that digital transformation is a good epitome of change, as it is continuously developing. I want them to see digital transformation as leverage for new opportunities. Its core purpose is not just to survive but to thrive — which I believe is a good mindset for a successful business. I want them to get some new ideas for future-proofing their business to sustain and succeed in a digitally transformed world.
What are the top three tools you are currently using to write, publish, and promote your books?
My research for my books comes from interactions I have had with clients over the years, new knowledge that I have gained from reading other people’s content, podcasts, webinars, etc. There is a goldmine of content from just listening to others, and this is usually my inspiration to write. For now, I publish all of my books on Amazon. I promote my books through my social media accounts on Twitter and LinkedIn. I aim for my writing to be accessible to a wider audience so regularly I post excerpts from my books so everyone can have a glimpse of what I write.
What were the top three mistakes you made publishing your book? What did you learn from them?
I hardly call some of these mistakes; it’s more of naivety in this space, but they can derail the writing of a book.
First is the discipline to dedicate time towards writing. I am not a full-time author, and I hold a regular job, so I felt like I did not set aside time dedicated to writing. I did not have a strict deadline. My first book could have been published faster if I dedicated ample time to it.
But, thinking about it now, maybe not dedicating enough time is just an excuse because of my doubts. As a first-time author, I had doubts and was uncertain if I could publish a book, and that was a mistake. Everyone can publish a book. It is, in simple terms, a collection of your thoughts, and everyone thinks.
Third, I think this was a big one, the lack of promotion, or I might say lack of knowledge on effectively promoting my book. My only goal was to share and publish my book, but I took little action in promoting it. I thought when the book is out, that’s it, but it is just the beginning.
When will you consider your book a success?
I will consider my book a success if I see people being inspired to be more open to change, especially in digital transformation, and reaching out and contributing some insights on the concept of successful digital transformation. Honestly, having the chance to share my experience and what I learned through the years in my profession is enough to call my book a success. I want people who read my book, especially those in business, to reflect and re-evaluate how they manage their projects and their organizations. And to provide some points or two on how to implement change effectively and make their work environment future-proof, especially now that we have been experiencing major changes because of the pandemic. We can say that change is inevitable and nothing is constant, and we have to prepare for whatever life will throw at us.
What have been your biggest challenges and how did you overcome them?
IMPOSTER SYNDROME. If you know this, then you would understand how this can affect someone’s work. It has been a struggle to write content because sometimes I had doubts whether I am an authority on the subject. I felt like I am not competent enough to share my professional experiences. This does not just affect my book, but most things in a professional setting.
I think the way to overcome it is by surrounding yourself with people that will lift you up. It doesn’t mean that you surround yourself with people who will boost your ego, but you have to surround yourself with people who will help you see that even minor accomplishments mean something and spur you on. I have been lucky to work for some great organizations and managers who see the value I bring to the table and actually encourage my writing.
What is the one thing you wish you knew before publishing your book?
I can say that I am someone who wants everything to be perfect. I want my work to reflect me and with that being said, I want to do things my way to a point that I do everything and not ask for help from anyone, but while writing my book, I realized I can’t do everything and that it is OK to ask for help. In some aspects of life, we accept that there will be someone better than us, but it does not mean we are not capable. Ask for help if you need to.
Please share one thing new self-publish authors can do to gain more reviews on Amazon
Promotion is important. There are many ways to promote your books, like increasing your online presence, not just to promote your book but promoting yourself as an author as well. In today’s environment, social media is a powerful tool, and it’s important for authors to take advantage of it. You can post on your social media accounts and on your website (if you have one)—the more your audience knows that you have published a book, the better. There is no guarantee that everyone will read your book, but word of mouth is a powerful tool that should not be taken for granted. People talk. Remember that.
That leads me to my other suggestion: Give people something to talk about and have a very enticing blurb that will make someone want to open your book until the last page, and they might suggest it to their peers, too. Remember that not everyone is your fan, and your books or the way you write will not be everyone’s cup of tea so, do not feel down if you receive some below-average reviews. Getting real feedback is more important. Use reviews as a tool to make your next book better.
Can you share some of the marketing techniques that have worked for you when promoting your book?
As I’ve said, promotion is important. And I can’t stress enough how powerful social media is, especially in this generation. Being present on social media does not mean that you keep on posting. It would help if you reached out to your audience as much as possible and answer some of their questions or just talk about the book or any topic related to it. You can promote your book a few weeks or even a month before your release date, so people are aware and have something to expect. Posting a good blurb or an excerpt is a good promotion strategy to showcase your book without showing everything to leave the readers curious.
Try pre-selling or pre-releasing your book. Give it to some readers you trust to write an honest review of your book.
The other thing is you must promote yourself as well. Make people aware of who you are to understand where you’re coming from and why you are writing the book. This will also build your credibility as a writer. People are more drawn to authors who they think are subject matter experts, especially when you are presenting facts and advice. They will want to know why you publish that kind of book. It is good to let people know who you are and your goal in writing the book.
If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
If I could do something different, maybe I would be more kind to myself. When I was starting, my mindset was that the only way is up, but I forgot that when there’s success, you will face challenges as well. When you face a challenge or even fail at something, don’t let it get into your head. Failure is temporary and so is success. You just need to keep going. Looking back, I realized that the key person who gave me a hard time was myself. Years after, I learned failures are not something I should dwell on, but I have to treat them as motivation to be better, grow and succeed. Easier said than done, but we need to be kind to ourselves.
What helps you stay driven and motivated to finish writing your book?
I find joy in sharing my experiences and knowledge, and being able to share it through my book motivates me to write. Hopefully, I can publish more books to share more of my experiences. The thought of being able to help someone through my experiences gives me immense joy. Maybe I do what I do so that I can share it with other people.
If you only had $1000 dollars to promote a new book, knowing everything you know now, how would you spend it?
I think I would spend it on a social media campaign to boost my posts to reach a wider audience. Hitting the right audience is very important. It doesn’t matter how many people your promotional posts have reached if the audience is not interested.
I would also invest in a professional cover design. Everyone has to admit that what catches our attention is the book cover. We do not grab a book right away because of what they write, but because they draw us to the book cover. No one can resist grabbing a book with a sleek and interesting book cover.
What’s your best piece of advice for aspiring and new authors?
Know what you want to write and why you want to write, whether to share your knowledge, to advocate, or to do it for yourself. That will give you a solid start. Publishing a book is not smooth sailing, and when you feel like giving up and self-doubt is winning, go back to why you started. Burn your self-doubts and turn them into a flame that will spark your drive to write. If you want something, work for it and do it with good intentions. I believe our intentions will reflect our work and your audience will know, too.
What is your favorite quote?
The first quote that popped out of my mind is Arthur Schopenhauer’s quote:
“Each day is a little life.”
The way I understand it is that it is about improvement and learning something new every day. I have always regarded this quote as something that I want to live by. Each day is never the same, and the pieces we get from each day when we put it together make up this thing we call life.
I am a firm believer in being agile, even outside of work, because the little experiences of life, when we put together, can help us overcome challenges way more easily and quickly.
How can readers get in touch with you?
You can send me a message through my website contact form at pauloppong.com, or through my social media accounts, Twitter (@oppong_Paul) and LinkedIn. You can also follow my Amazon Author Page for new release updates.
Let’s connect and share ideas on digital transformation, project management, digital leadership, or anything that piques your interest that you think I could help with. We could write your next book together.