…there is a rare and amazing opportunity RIGHT NOW to build new ways of living and working that create a more humane, more just, more sustainable, more peaceful world. And that we are the ones to make it happen.
Aspart of my interview series on the five things you need to know to become a great author, I had the pleasure of interviewing Karlin Sloan.
Thank you so much for joining us Karlin! Can you share a story about what brought you to this particular career path?
Istarted writing when I was very young — my dad was an author so I think I learned from mimicry.
Can you share the most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career?
I’ve been lucky to have had a pretty interesting career…but let me tell a little anecdote about a career moment that was scary but ultimately successful.
I was in Lima, Peru consulting with a team of professors at a university, when I was asked to come to speak to 300 managers and executives at a large bank. It was early in my career and it was a great opportunity to reach people, I really wanted to say no because I had never spoken in front of an audience that size, but I agreed and then went into a minor panic.
The chain of events goes like this — when I packed my bag I left one of my packing cubes at home that had my formal business wear in it, so I only had casual clothes and some flat shoes. At five foot three, I’ve learned that high heels are my friend when I want to project power and confidence onstage…so I didn’t start out at the top of my game. The night before the event I got a mysterious flu bug and passed out on the floor of my hotel room, only to wake up feverish and in my one nice outfit that I had just slept in. I pulled myself together and got myself to the event space early and then realized my slides were all still in English and they needed to be in Spanish, a language I do not speak. I had someone help me translate them really fast!
When I was about to go onstage they told me that there would be a simultaneous translation and all of a sudden I had to give a speech to an audience in an amphitheater where everyone was wearing headphones listening to someone else talk! I had stories and some humor and there was always about a 30-second delay to get the audience response…which is REALLY HARD when you are trying to be entertaining or get people to laugh. I got through it and it turned out to be a very precious moment of triumph. Every time I speak now I think to myself how much easier it will be, so that experience turned out to be a gift that keeps on giving.
What was the biggest challenge you faced in your journey to becoming an author? How did you overcome it? Can you share a story about that that other aspiring writers can learn from?
At a book launch party, I had someone say to me “How could you release the book with this title? You can’t let this go out like it is, it’s not edited properly and there are typos and there’s a chapter that really shouldn’t be in there!”
Of course, this was my worst nightmare. No matter how many compliments we get, we all tend to remember the criticisms…. that was over ten years ago and I am telling that story to you now because I still remember it! Here’s the truth… if you put yourself out there widely enough you will get every possible response to your work. Focus on those people who love your writing, who want more and who connect to you. Imagine that the people who have negativity to share are just frustrated writers who couldn’t do what you’ve just done, which is actually launch your work in a public forum. Go you!
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I am working on an amazing project right now — transitioning my company that’s historically been known for high-touch in person leadership development programs to delivering much of our work online. We are connecting my latest book, Inspiring Leadership for Uncertain Times, to an app we’ve launched that gets people engaged in discussion and support for their own leadership and management in a virtual environment. It’s painful, it’s exciting, it’s rewarding and it’s exhausting. The best part of it is that I get to connect with people all across the globe and get real-time engagement around things that are impacting all of us simultaneously. There has never been such a moment in human history — when we’ve been so connected to each other as our interconnected planet is challenged and transformed by Covid-19.
Can you share the most interesting story that you shared in your book?
There’s a story in there from Lynne Twist, the author of The Soul of Money. She tells the story of working with investors duped by Bernie Madoff’s infamous Ponzi scheme, and the expansive ideas that can happen when we ask powerful questions of ourselves and the systems we operate in. As a support group, those people include an investment banker who lost eighty-five million dollars to a teacher in Brooklyn who taught sixth grade for 46 years then lost her retirement savings. Within that support group the teacher offered to tutor the children of the banker who had to pull his kids out of private school, and he has enough cash to pay her rent so she can stay in her apartment. They’re helping each other in new and creative ways.
What is the main empowering lesson you want your readers to take away after finishing your book?
That there is a rare and amazing opportunity RIGHT NOW to build new ways of living and working that create a more humane, more just, more sustainable, more peaceful world. And that we are the ones to make it happen.
Based on your experience, what are the “5 Things You Need to Know to Become a Great Author”? Please share a story or example for each.
1 This is not your last book.
However attached you are to this book, it is not the only writing you have in you. You may feel like this was the only fully-fledged idea you will ever have, because you’ve spent ages exploring it, expanding on it, mashing it up and revising it then birthing it like your proverbial baby. That level of focus can make you think this is it. Take my word for it, you will have more ideas because that is your lot in life -accept the fact that you will think about something else in the future, and you’ll find it interesting enough to write about.
2 You need to end it.
It will never feel done. Because you could always do another edit. In order for you to actually be an author you have to let it go and be finished, no matter how much you desperately want to edit it for the eleventh time.
3 Writing it is just the beginning. Thou must publicize.
If you’re thinking that you’ve built it and now they will come, you are wrong. In order for people to read your work, they have to know it’s there. Not only do they have to know it’s there, but they also have to give up their precious time to read, so they need to be convinced. This requires your commitment through marketing, press, speaking, and telling your loved ones to buy it and comment on Amazon so you can get a good ranking.
4 People don’t read.
I used to think people would buy the book and then read it. This is not always the case. What I found out is that busy people buy the book and then put it on their nightstand thinking they will read it, but life gets in the way and they end up watching Netflix and listening to podcasts. These people need an audiobook. Make friends with Audible and get your book recorded.
5 The ancient Greeks knew what they were doing.
Ethos, Logos, and Pathos are your friends if you write non-fiction. These three elements of rhetoric are as follows: Ethos = getting people to trust you and believe in your credibility. Logos = structuring your reasoning logically and rationally, providing facts, statistics, data, and anecdotal evidence. Pathos = connecting with the emotions of your audience. If you’ve done all three you’re on the right track.
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?
Compulsion! I think it’s the true desire to communicate something that I think is useful, practical, and that really connects to my audience. I’m motivated to keep trying until I can provide something valuable that can make an impact in their life and work.
Which literature do you draw inspiration from? Why?
I am a massive fan of old school science fiction — Arthur C Clarke, Roger Zelazney, Isaac Asimov, Orson Scott Card… and brain-bending un-classifiable authors like Doris Lessing and Ursula Leguin. I’m also a super nerd who is re-reading Middlemarch by George Eliot right now, because I want to dive into a different, quieter world with no modern technologies at all. Why do these authors inspire me? I’m inspired by authors who question things, build worlds and envision possibilities.
You are a person of enormous 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. 🙂
I want to inspire people to create real solutions to world problems and make them happen, and to be courageous in their vision and their efforts to do something virtuous and good in a world that can reward behaving badly.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
They can find me on Linked In –https://www.linkedin.com/in/karlinsloan/
And they can join me on our private Social Network http://www.inspiringleadership.io
Thank you so much for this. This was very inspiring!