Update: I sent out a draft of the first 115 pages to another wave of reviewers in early June. If you’d like to review this draft, just leave a comment on this post. You can find feedback on earlier drafts here. Thanks!
After years of trying to make work more effective and fulfilling, I’ve discovered how to help people take control of their careers and lead more satisfying lives. It’s called “working out loud”.
Working out loud is working in an open, generous, connected way so you can build a purposeful network, become more effective, and access more opportunities.
The good news is that anyone can learn how to do it. The bad news is that most people find it too difficult to get started or to develop new habits that will allow them to realize the benefits.
So, after 3 years of trying different tactics and refining my techniques, I’m writing a book called Working Out Loud, due out in September, 2014. In this post, I wanted to share why I’m writing it, what I hope to accomplish, and how you can contribute to it if you’d like.
The key to change
It took me a long time to realize that people needed more than presentations and blog posts to change. They needed help. Specifically, they needed help to do the things I was talking and writing about. And they needed help changing their habits so they could do those things regularly.
That’s when I started coaching people. Beginning with a few individuals, I’d help them apply the 5 elements of working out loud every week for 12 weeks. The focus is on how to make your work visible and deepen relationships with some goal in mind, and how to do so with a mindset of generosity and personal development. Your goal might be a new job, more recognition, or simply exploring possibilities related to something you care about. There are no special tricks or anything to buy. It’s just a form of “guided mastery” for working in a more open and connected way.
And it’s working. The people I coach are shocked at their own ability to connect with anyone anywhere at any level – and then deepen those relationships. They see how their expanded network unlocks access to opportunities, giving them more control of their career and life and improving their odds of reaching their goals. A friend I’m coaching says “It’s like fucking magic.”
In addition to their successes, perhaps the thing that most shocks the people I coach is that they enjoy the process. Because they’re authentic and focused on contribution, there isn’t any of the bad aftertaste they’d previously experienced with networking. And, because they exercise their new habits week after week for 12 weeks, the changes stick and they can apply what they learned towards other goals.
Scaling the change
I see such positive change in the people I coach that I want to coach everyone I meet. People who’ve grown to hate working in dehumanizing corporations. People trying to start their own companies. People of all ages who are struggling to find jobs and, ideally, work that’s more than just a job.
The book, if I get it right, will help people to help themselves and to help each other in small support groups.
Originally, I thought the book might help my personal brand or even make money. But those turned out to be bad motivations to write and, as a result, I didn’t make much progress. As I coached more people, though, it became clear that the book wasn’t about me but about helping others. And then I felt I had to publish it. So, in addition to coaching, I started devoting more early mornings and weekends to writing.
All proceeds will go to donorschoose.org and education causes around the world. I’ll self-publish the book to maximize the contribution. Working Out Loud will be generally available in September as a paperback and an e-book.
Making it better
In the spirit of Working Out Loud, I’m sharing drafts of the book with people interested in the topic. About 30 people have commented on the first 80 pages, offering feedback on flow, style, grammar, and even the subtitle. (One person suggested “A guide to a fulfilling life in the knowledge economy.”) A few support groups are also forming and they’ll test the material by using it in their own 12-week programs.
If you’d like to review the next draft, just leave a comment on this post. You can also receive techniques and exercises related to Working Out Loud by visiting johnstepper.com and subscribing by email.
There is no doubt in my mind that all of us can work out loud and improve our chances of making work and life more fulfilling and meaningful. After all, the magic my friend referred to has little to do with me. She – and you – have the magic inside you before reading the book. I’m just helping you make it visible so more people can see it.
Thank you for being a part of it.