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“5 things I wish someone told me when I first became an author” with Eileen Scully and Chaya Weiner

That women are powerful when we break systems from the inside and welcome others in. That we don’t need to wait for an invitation. That we can reshape our workplaces, and by extension, the world, to better suit all of us. As part of my interview series on the five things you need to know to […]


That women are powerful when we break systems from the inside and welcome others in. That we don’t need to wait for an invitation. That we can reshape our workplaces, and by extension, the world, to better suit all of us.

As part of my interview series on the five things you need to know to become a great author, I had the pleasure of interviewing Eileen Scully. Eileen is the author of “In the Company of Men: How Women can Succeed in a World Built Without Them,” international TEDx and keynote speaker, and founder and CEO of The Rising Tides, Making the Workplace Better for Women.


Thank you so much for joining us! Can you share a story about what brought you to this particular career path?

When I launched my consulting firm in 2015, I wanted to get the best advice I could from my friends and colleagues who were a few years ahead of me. And I’ll never forget a conversation with my friend Stan Phelps (@stanphelpsPG), who said, “Scully, you need to write a book.” I thought, sure, someday, but he was right. Adding a book about my unique point of view on women’s achievements in the workplace has been a game changer.

Can you share the most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career?

It would definitely be how incredibly generous people are when you ask for help. When I started forming my concept for my book, it required the participation of several women, all of whom were strangers to me before — but once I reached out, explained my ideas, and asked for their assistance, they blew me away with their individual generosity. This book would not have happened without that.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I tried to write it all in one month. My book includes a ton of research on each of the industries I cover, including the history, statistics, and other notable women in the space, so I grossly underestimated both the time required to conduct and distill the research and my capacity to sit still and write for six hours a day. I actually had a spreadsheet of hours per chapter and mapped it out. About halfway through, I felt like you do when you eat the same thing every day for a month — I couldn’t stand to look at or even think about the book! My advice is, be disciplined but also give your mind space to congeal around the work. Writing a book is not a linear process, and the more time you can step away from it, the better it will be.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

We’re updating our Leadership Diversity Index (leadershipdiversityindex.com) that scores the Fortune 50 against each other on how well represented are women, women of color, and people of color in their Board of Directors and their Executive Leadership. We’re excited to see the trends since we ran this last year, and we’re working with a number of firms to plot them into the Index. It’s a quantifiable way to see your own progress and the meta trends.

What is the one habit you believe contributed the most to you becoming a great writer? (i.e. perseverance, discipline, play, craft study) Can you share a story or example?

Definitely blocking time on my calendar every day, but giving myself Fridays and weekends away from it. And I’d hardly call myself a great writer — I’m proud of this book, but I’m already considering how to make the next one even better.

Can you share the most interesting story that you shared in your book?

The story that sparked the structure of the book is that of Laura Okmin. I happened to catch a “Real Sports” segment on her on HBO and I was cheering on my couch. Laura is an NFL sportscaster who saw her on camera assignments going to younger, less prepared reporters. But instead of quitting, Laura decided to make those younger women better. It is exactly the model I want all of us to adopt.

What is the main empowering lesson you want your readers to take away after finishing your book?

That women are powerful when we break systems from the inside and welcome others in. That we don’t need to wait for an invitation. That we can reshape our workplaces, and by extension, the world, to better suit all of us.

What was the biggest challenge you faced in your journey to becoming a bestselling author? How did you overcome it? Can you share a story about that that other aspiring writers can learn from?

Honestly, it was the vulnerability of including my own stories in the book. I wanted initially to be a journalist, an observer and reporter, on what other women were doing and the ways other women could model their approach. But my editor told me the stories were hollow without framing it with my own perspective. She was right, and the book is much better for it. But putting myself out there was scary, as it exposes so much that is deeply personal, and you can’t get it back once you give it to the world.

Which literature do you draw inspiration from? Why?

The book that really lit my passion within the last few years was Rebecca Traister’s (@rtraister) “All the Single Ladies,” because she identifies for the first time the power of single women should we ever decide to come together as a political force. Since then, I’ve read everything she’s every published, and I run to her talks whenever I can. Outside of her work, I read a lot of fiction, because I find those authors descriptions of events or scenes to inform my writing and construction.

How do you think your writing makes an impact in the world?

If my book only tilts one head, makes one person rethink their workplace, or the laws we live under, and consider for the first time how they can help change their piece of the world, I’ve succeeded.

What advice would you give to someone considering becoming an author like you?

I’d share the same advice I got from Stan: set a launch date, come up with a great title, and start talking about it. Once you’ve put it in the world, you will have a book. But also, on the very practical side, sock away enough savings to live on for six more months than you think you need, because the time you spend writing takes away from your pipeline development, which has a very long tail.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

1) Writing a book is not a linear process. Allow yourself to write notes and completely random ideas as they come to you. I had so many disjointed files when I started, and I could not see how they would ever coalesce into a book, but they did.

2) Do not fall in love with any passage, story, section of your book. Because even though you love it, it might need to get scrapped for the sake of the book.

3) Trust your editors. Be ready for some tough love. And don’t take it personally. My editor suggested some major changes, which I initially rejected, but they made the book so much better.

4) Walk away from your manuscript frequently. Find a good voice recorder app because I promise you, your best ideas are going to flow when you’re on a long drive or away from your desk. And you will never remember that great idea once you get out of the car.

5) Find a few people you love and trust to be your early readers. Preferably people who have published or know the process, or at least who represent your target audience. They will tell you where are the holes in your book, what doesn’t make sense, what’s missing. They are KEY.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

100% reliable, 100% reversible, affordable, and accessible birth control for everyone, everywhere. Unless and until women can fully control their reproduction, we will never be fully equal to men.

Thank you so much for this. This was very inspiring!

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About the author:

Chaya Weiner is the Director of branding and photography at Authority Magazine’s Thought Leader Incubator. TLI is a thought leadership program that helps leaders establish a brand as a trusted authority in their field. Please click HERE to learn more about Thought Leader Incubator.

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