056: Kevin Kruse – Advice from New York Times Bestselling Author

Is the Future in Self-Publishing?

Kevin Kruse is the Founder and CEO of LEADx, offering the world’s first leadership trainer and coach powered by IBM Watson. Kevin is also a New York Times bestselling author of nine books including Great Leaders Have No Rules: Contrarian Leadership Principles to Transform Your Team and Business (launching April 2019).

What We Discuss with Kevin Kruse:

  • His motivation behind writing Great Leaders Have No Rules
  • How rules can restrict the ability of people to make choices
  • Overcoming FOMO and how social media platforms are getting us hooked
  • Kevin’s booking writing process and strategies
  • The advantages of indie publishing over traditional publishing
  • The power of adding a lead magnet on the front of your book
  • Leveraging your influence in selling your book
  • How Netflix is doing things right: HIring is key!
  • The impact of education and understanding why you’re doing what you’re doing

[01:20] Kevin’s Motivation Behind Writing Great Leaders Have No Rules

Kevin has been writing about business books. Then he thought about writing a book that he would want to write for the kids, so then came 15 Secrets of Successful Time Management.

His passion for Great Leaders Have No Rules came from a different kind of passion. He wanted to look to conventional wisdom to find out the truth. This book is not just for business. It starts with self-leadership. There are times when laws are needed, of course, especially when it involves safety.

Throwing out the rules freaks out a lot of readers. But too many rules get in the way of leadership. Too often, rules are put into place to protect against the 1% minority that might do something wrong. But this does a lot of harm because it keeps people from making a choice. It becomes an engagement issue.

[11:05] FOMO vs NOMO Phobia

People have this No Mobile Phone fear (NOMO). All these app companies do a great job of figuring out how to get you back on their platform.

Snapchat created these streaks and teens will do anything to exchange snaps with their friends everyday.

Shut off your smartphone or hide it in your desk drawer so you’re not thinking about it.

[15:00] Kevin’s Book Writing Process

Kevin reaches out to his readers through email newsletters and goes on different social media groups to ask them questions to stimulate his ideas.

In writing the book, he treats each chapter as an epic blog post with 2,000 to 4,000 words. Just spend even one hour a day and you will have a book in no time.

Kevin always does his research. But it can become a form of procrastination.

Kevin read somewhere that you just write and keep on going forward. Then when it comes to stats or facts or even expert quotes, make it up in the first draft. Then go back later to reach out to experts. This way, it doesn’t interrupt your writing process.

[25:49] Indie Publishing vs Traditional Publishing

Kevin realized it’s becoming less important to be with a traditional publisher. Amazon is moving the vast majority of booksnow. So it’s not a distribution issue.

The publishing industry has changed a lot now using more outside freelancers. Just because you’re indie, doesn’t mean you can’t have as great a cover or interior designer.

People used to go for traditional because they get a big advance which they need to live on as they write the book. But it’s almost impossible to get huge publishing deals. And unless you have a huge track record, they’re not going to give you any advance.

[28:20] The Power of Using Lead Magnets

His book Employee Engagement 2.0 is one of his bestselling books. He used a direct title with catchy 2.0 which he knew would rank well in search engines. He went to the traditional publishers and none of them wanted the title.

Secondly, the book was super thin, another reason for traditional publishers to reject it because they want a thick book. But readers want a thin book!

For anybody who wants to do consulting and wants to sell keynote speeches, when you write your indie book, you can put a little advertisement for yourself.

On the front cover, put a lead magnet. This is a free bonus that you can give to take people from your book to your website. Traditional publishers will not allow you to do this.

Kevin creates a lead magnet at the end of each chapter. It’s a free bonus at the end of his chapter. 50% of the people who bought his book, signed up for his newsletter using this mechanism. This is giving value to the reader.

[32:55] Times Have Changed But Traditional Publishing Hasn’t

If you care about your book going to the bookstore, then you might want to go for a traditional publisher. But that doesn’t guarantee sales.

Traditional publishers don’t the market the book for you. Kevin can’t think of many reasons why you need to go to a traditional publisher these days.

Traditional publishers want to know that you can move a number of copies of your book on your own. They want to know that you have the audience and the marketing muscle so you can pay for the print run. If you can’t prove this, you won’t get a book deal.

[37:55] Being a New York Times Bestseller Means Nothing

Being a New York Times bestselling author means nothing. A lot of them are broke and don’t have any revenue. It’s just an ego thing!

Leverage your influence to move your book. What message or conversation do you want to own? Don’t even think about trying to sell a book. But what are you willing to talk about in the next ten years?

Leaders need to know what they stand for way more than the number of books they sell.

[44:30] How Netflix Is Doing Things Right

Hire the right people. Oftentimes, rules are put into place in fast-growing companies. But as you’re bringing new people in, you implement rules to protect the culture or the company.

Again, this will disengage the people who would never even break the rule, to begin with. Netflix is a good example of this.

[51:45] Education is Critical

Instead of rules, create cultural agreements team by team. Let there be peer-enforced good and bad practices.

What works for one might not work for the other. So agree what’s appropriate and what’s not at a local level.

[56:55] Final Words of Wisdom

Determine your most important task each day and schedule it the first thing in your day regardless of how much time you have.

Make that decision that it’s your most important thing everyday. Do whatever it takes to make it the first thing you work on everyday.

Check out more of Kevin on NoRulesLeadership.com. Buy the book anywhere and put your receipt code on their site, and get $250 worth of bonuses including copies of several of his previous books, 6 months subscription to online learning software, and tons of other things!

Episode Resources:


Check out Kevin’s Books:

Great Leaders Have No Rules: Contrarian Leadership Principles to Transform Your Team and Business

15 Secrets of Successful Time Management

Employee Engagement 2.0

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