Hi. I’m Lee Pound and I've spent most of my life doing things most people would never attempt without thorough training.
Such as becoming a newspaper editor with only six months full time experience, taking a chief financial officer job with no formal accounting experience, writing novels and non-fiction books, speaking to large groups with no training in speaking skills, and putting on a world-class seminar for speakers with no previous seminar experience.
If it sounds like I'm nuts or crazy, think again. Most of the greatest achievers made their first splash as complete novices. They had an idea, a passion and they followed it wherever it took them. Sure, some failed. But many succeeded beyond their wildest dreams.
Then there is everyone else, the perpetual students who are never quite ready to act, who take class after class and find guru after guru, only to end up empty-handed. They dream year after year of writing a book but never start. Meanwhile, they work at some boring job in corporate America wishing they could do what they really wanted to do. Pretty soon the job defines who they are and traps them for years.
It doesn't have to be like this.
It doesn't take years of training to be a success. It takes action. It takes a willingness to risk failure. It takes a willingness to risk rejection. The only way to write your book is to start writing, submit it to an editor, take the bad news and go back and do a rewrite. In all areas of life, if you never hear criticism, you're not risking enough.
You see, I never fell for the corporate America trap. And yes, I never had the fancy office 50 stories up, the limousine, the power sports car, the big boss yelling at me, the 20-hour days or week long business trips, office politics, and the lack of satisfaction.
I worked for smaller companies. I learned every aspect of how a business runs, how to write news stories, design newspaper pages, give speeches to large crowds, write fiction, write non-fiction, tell stories, work with shareholders and board members of a public corporation, coach and edit writers, hire and fire employees. I even took acting classes. All because I wanted to, not because I had to.
What does this mean for you?
Let's say you're stuck in a job you don't like, trying to start a business but can't get clients, want to speak or write a book to help grow your business and present you as an expert but don't know how, think its too hard to make a business work, to hard, too hard, too hard.
Wouldn't you want to work with a coach who's done all this? Wouldn't you want to work with an editor who actually knows how to edit, a writer who learned writing from one of the most respected book publishers of the 20th Century? Wouldn't you want to work with a speech coach who has 30 years experience and actually puts on high level programs for speakers?
Of course. And you can.
But, I'm sure you're asking, how could you have done all that? That's too many careers that don't work together. Too many skills you have to spend years learning.
And you'd be right. In most cases. I just don't think that way. It isn't the training that matters. Taking action matters, even if you fall on your face a few times. I grabbed opportunities and then figured out how to do them.
And here's exactly how I did it. And how you can do it too.
What about the seminar business, Speak Your Way to Wealth and Story Magic? How did that happen?
It happened for one simple reason. I was open to an opportunity. Speak Your Way to Wealth happened because I walked out the door of a marketing seminar with a friend, Arvee Robinson, who became my business partner, and we agreed we could put on a seminar for speakers. A big one. We knew nothing about the business. We simply set a goal, a vision, and pursued it relentlessly. We asked experts when we needed information, we hired the best help we could find, asked nationally ranked speakers to appear, and made it happen.
Speaking in public, the number one ranked fear.
I never intended to be a speaker. In fact I might never have spoken in public except for one incident. It wasn't fear. I simply didn't know you were supposed to be afraid. Among other things I am a family historian. Over thirty years ago I found some ancestors in Germany, very difficult to do, and mentioned it at my Genealogy Society. The program chairman asked me to give a program on how I did it at a monthly meeting.
In front of 150 people.
For one hour.
And like a fool, I said yes, gave the speech, and started a thirty-year speaking career without even thinking about it.
Writing fiction, everyone's "want to do but never get around to" dream.
Okay, it was mine too, for years. But one day, soon after I got a computer, an idea I'd kicked around for years suddenly wanted out and I wrote, for six weeks, every evening, typing, typing, typing. And when I was done I had a novel, 680 pages worth.
So I showed it to a friend. And reality hit. I have to admit I wanted praise and never expected her answer, which was, "You should take a class in writing fiction."
I decided I needed a mentor. Getting a good one is tough. You may never work with the best in your line of business. Whoever you work with, you will find him or her in the place you least expect. You must be ready when the opportunity presents itself.
I went to writing conferences, classes, writers groups, met writing teachers, other writers, conference leaders and made many new friends. My writing skills gradually improved and in the fall of 1989 I started a new novel.
A few months later, the UC Irvine Extension class schedule arrived in the mail. I glanced at it and set it aside. A few days later I noticed it on my desk under a pile of papers and opened it to the writing section. I took one final glance at the writing classes and noticed one on dialogue. The teacher was Sol Stein. The name was vaguely familiar. I read his bio. Owner of Stein & Day Publishers in New York. Who could pass up learning from one of the premier publishers of the twentieth century?
I signed up. Ten weeks later, after one of the most breathtakingly excellent classes I had ever experienced, the forty members of the class asked this question: What do we do now? Sol Stein responded with a proposition. He would set up a small seminar, about 15 members, which would meet in his living room in Laguna Beach for ten Monday nights every winter and learn writing. “Send me the first three pages of your book,” he said, “and I will tell you if you are in or out.”
That's how I learned story skills.
In four years of sitting in Sol Stein's living room in Laguna Beach, I learned to write in ways I had only imagined possible. Sol featured one chapter from my novel A Gathering of Strangers in his video program, Stein on Writing, filmed in a house overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Corona del Mar, California. Imagine my excitement, sitting beside Sol Stein, discussing my chapter and having it used as an example of how to do it right. What a thrill!
What about that chief financial officer stuff. Where does that fit in?
Surprised that I went from editor to CFO? I thought so. Most people are. Most editors are congenitally unable to do numbers much less operate at such a high level in the financial field. Wouldn’t you want to learn writing from someone who understood your business as well as writing skills? Of course you would. And of course you know how hard such a person is to find.
Over those twenty years, I made payrolls, paid bills, managed salespeople, editors, and other managers. I have seen rapid sales growth and I have managed financial difficulties, including taking three corporations through a successful Chapter 11 bankruptcy, a feat so difficult that ninety percent of companies fail when they try it.
I watched employees work, listened to their problems, observed several successful sales people and many others who failed. I watched managers lead well and lead poorly. How much is that experience worth to you?
“Wait a minute,” you ask. “How did you go from editor to chief financial officer? Don’t you need special training for that?”
Yes and no. If you know how to learn when the opportunity arises, if you know how to plant the seeds with the decision makers, if you are willing to take advantage of an opportunity at which you may fail, then no, you do not need special training.
And that’s what happened. The opportunity arose. I took it and figured out how to do it later. I became chief financial officer of a public corporation ten days before the 10-Q was due. I had no idea what a 10-Q was or that it was due. I discovered that a 10-Q was a document required by the federal Securities and Exchange Commission and that not filing it was not an option. So I figured out how to do it and did it. A few months later I managed an audit by Ernst & Whinney, then one of the top eight accounting firms in the world, working with people who audited Fortune 500 corporations. And came through with very few changes to my financials.
I have one more secret that can help you take your business to a new level, a level you never dreamed possible. And what might that be? After all, I’m a writer and a chief financial officer, both occupations usually filled by introverts. What else can I bring to the table? So here it is, the last secret:
You don't need fancy training. You don't need years of experience. You simply need to tell yourself a different story about what you want and how you will get it.
As you can see, I thought in a way that brought opportunity. I told myself a story that was so vivid I could believe it and make it happen, every time.
Speak Your Way to Wealth is a powerful three-day seminar every August in Southern California designed to help business owners, entrepreneurs, and professionals use public speaking as a marketing tool to grow their businesses and establish credibility in the marketplace. For information go to www.speakyourwaytowealth.com.
The Solutions Press Protege Program is an ongoing training series for business owners, professionals, speakers, and writers which focuses on the skills necessary to write and publish books. It includes a live weekly teleseminar, recordings of all past calls, and individual coaching on the calls. For information go to www.leepound.com/protegeprogram.htm.
The Solutions Press Publishing Program is a high-level personal coaching program that takes you step by step through the writing and publishing process. At the end of this program, I guarantee that you will have a published book. Participation requires application and acceptance. Only a limited number of slots are available. For information go to www.leepound.com/TheCoachingProcess.htm
To get acquainted, visit my two web sites at www.leepound.com and www.speakyourwaytowealth.com . If you are interested in writing and publishing a book, contact me by phone or email (available on the site) for a free consultation. To attend any of my programs or order any of my books, just use the easy order buttons on the appropriate pages.
The Write Coach
Speak Your Way to Wealth
4533 MacArthur Blvd., #200
Newport Beach, CA 92660