The 2nd edition of “Working Out Loud”

A lot has happened since Working Out Loud was published in June of 2015. Working Out Loud Circles are now in a wide range of organizations and over twenty countries. (Hello, Sri Lanka!) There was a TEDx talk that helped raise awareness. And to spread the practice further, I started ikigai LLC so I could work on it full-time. 

Perhaps most importantly, a growing community and I have learned a lot about what works and doesn't work. So I’ve begun to update the book with all we’ve learned. 

Since you’re reading this, chances are that you have your own opinions and experiences related to Working Out Loud. Here’s a question for you.

What would make the book better?

There are certain things I thought I would keep the same. For example, many people seemed to like the short exercises and chapter recaps in the first edition. I also have a few specific things I want to add.

  • A new chapter on how organizations are using Working Out Loud Circles to create a more open, collaborative culture.
  • More stories showing an even broader range of people who work out loud, and how and why they do it.
  • Updated information on how Circles work and how they spread. (It was only after the book came out that I published the first complete set of Circle guides.)
  • Ways the community and I are adapting the practice, including Working Out Loud for Teams and for Communities.

I don’t want the book to be longer, so I’ll eliminate some things too. My intention is to complete the 2nd edition over the next few months and publish it later in 2016.

If you have an idea for making the book better, or have a story you want to share, I would love to hear about it. Just post a comment below or send me email

Thank you for any suggestions. I'm looking forward to incorporating your ideas into the next edition.

A Different Kind Of Christmas Gift

I was in the elevator at work and someone I didn’t recognize asked me, “Are you John Stepper?” When I confirmed I was indeed me, she mentioned she had read Working Out Loud. Then she offered one of the best testimonials possible:

“I gave a copy to my husband. He could use it.”

She went on to say that her husband was looking for something different, something more in his career, and she thought the book would help him take a step.

I’ve given away a few hundred books to different kinds of people. People trying to build a business, or who want to change jobs, or are seeking to feel better about the job they have.

What I’m saying each time is this:

I hope this helps you discover even more possibilities.

If you want something more out of work or life, this can help you take a step.

If you already own the book, consider sharing it with someone. If you want to keep your copy, get one for someone you care about.

But here’s the important part. Write a personal note inside. Tell them how you appreciate them and want them to be happy and fulfilled. Tell them you support them. Tell them you believe in them.

That kind of encouragement is one of the most meaningful gifts we have to offer, and it’s a gift anyone would love to receive.

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Working Out Loud: The book club

Alina in Perth, Australia inspired me to do something. So did Irina in New York and Diana in Melbourne. They each asked how they could join a Working Out Loud circle.

Seeking a circle

Seeking a circle

So far, we’ve spread circles via corporate events. There’s a sample presentation and examples here and here. There’s a list of people around the world pledging to form the first 1,000 circles.

But what if you just want to form a circle on your own? A book club is a simple and convenient way to do that. Everything you need is in this one short post.

Inviting people

Perhaps you've heard about the book or have already read it and want to practice. How do you explain it to other people?

Here’s a sample invitation you might send to 3-4 friends, family, or colleagues:

Hi.

I came across a book I think can benefit both of us and wondered if you would like to read it together as part of a small book club?

It’s called “Working Out Loud,” and it helps you build your network in a way that feels good, provides access to more possibilities, and helps you enjoy every day a bit more. Here’s a description from the back cover:

“Instead of playing career roulette, you invest in deepening relationships. Instead of networking to get something, you lead with generosity. You make your work visible and frame it as a contribution. Combined, these elements form a powerful approach to work and life.”

If we like the book, then we can form a Working Out Loud circle to put the ideas into practice. That group meets for an hour a week for 12 weeks and we each build our own network toward a personal goal.

Would you like to try this with me?

Book club questions

The book club meeting itself is almost like the first week of the circle. You get to know each other and talk about what you might like to accomplish. Here are 13 sample questions you might use to get the discussion going.

  1. The book’s subtitle is “For a Better Career and Life.” What would better mean for you?
  2. What’s the state of your own network? Do you play “career roulette” or do you feel you actively try to “make your own luck”?
  3. The five elements are purposeful discovery, relationships, generosity, visible work, and a growth mindset. Which do you think is the most important?
  4. The book emphasizes generosity and empathy, and notes that “reciprocal altruism” makes that a worthwhile investment. Do you agree? Do you think you can authentically “lead with generosity” and still experience benefits yourself?
  5. The stories in the book are about people with different backgrounds, education, ages, and goals. Was there a story that you identified with most?
  6. Have there been people in your life who you could have helped you but with whom you lost contact? Why did you lose touch?
  7. Some of the contributions seem so simple, like expressing appreciation or gratitude. Even “I’ve been thinking of you.” Do you feel you do enough of this already?
  8. The book says it isn’t necessary but that social tools further increase your odds: they amplify who you are and what you do; extend your reach; expand the set of contributions you can make and how you can offer them. Do you use social media already? Would you?
  9. In the chapter on making it a habit, there's an emphasis on taking small steps and practicing over time with feedback and peer support. Have you found this to work for other positive habits you've developed?
  10. Did you do any of the exercises? If so, which ones were the most useful?
  11. The last chapter talks about the importance of practice. More than any one technique or even any goal, the key thing is to develop a mindset of working out loud and practice it as “an approach to work and life.” What does that mean to you?
  12. What’s the number one thing you took away from the book?
  13. Would you want to form a circle and put the ideas into practice?

If at least one other person answers yes to that last question, pick a time and place for your meeting right then.

May I join you?

If you do decide to form a book club, I’d like to join you. Send me an email at john.stepper@workingoutloud.comor mention that you’re forming a book club on Twitter, and I’ll reply. Through the rest of 2015, I’ll randomly pick one out of every ten and ask to join your discussion by phone if you would like.

“Hi @johnstepper. We’re forming a Working Out Loud book club in Perth!”

My own experience in Working Out Loud circles is that they’ve helped me make progress toward things I care about while making me happier and more fulfilled. I feel more confident, capable, and connected.

Form a book club and a circle and see for yourself.

A little help for a friend

A little help for a friend

The 6 feelings I experienced when my book was finally on Amazon

As of Thursday, June 11th, you could buy “Working Out Loud” on Amazon. I thought I would simply feel happy. But it turned out to be a bit more complicated than that.

Working Out Loud on Amazon

 

Surprise

My first reaction was surprise. You might find that odd considering I had been working toward publishing the book for a few years. But on Wednesday, I was told it would take “3 to 5 business days.” Then on Thursday morning at 10:15, I saw this:

Pia Helm buys Working Out Loud

My pulse quickened. I didn’t know Pia Helm from Munich. She must be mistaken, I thought. So I went on Amazon, searched for “working out loud,” and there it was.

Pis Helm buys Working Out Loud - pt 2

Camaraderie

I sent out tweets and Facebook updates to let people know, and the next 2 days were filled with congratulations and good feeling from around the world.

A colleague I have never spoken with before wrote this beautiful Amazon review:

“I am using this book currently in a Working Out Loud Circle at work and I am so impressed with how simple it is to implement and how effective the techniques are. After just one WOL Circle meeting, I was already feeling more connected with my colleagues and more encouraged about my career. I believe at the end of 12 weeks, I will be well on my way to new habits to accomplish my goal. I believe I will return to this method to reach future goals, and hope to implement many of the insights in my day to day work habits as well.

Bravo! It is long overdue for someone to address the problem of work not being as fulfilling as it could be. The secret indeed lies with us, our interactions with our fellow human beings, and gratitude and kindness.”

Although I’ve been writing for a while, it’s still an extraordinary thing to feel connected with people around the world. Friends, family, colleagues, strangers - all connected by their interest in an idea. I felt like I was part of something bigger than me and it felt good.

Happiness

All the nice comments from my network made me happy. Seeing a bulk order from my firm for 350 copies (one for every intern in the US) made me feel even happier. Not just because I sold books but because it felt like a symbol of institutional validation.

The day the book was available, I was invited to give a keynote speech in Sydney. And I spoke to two other companies who are interested in spreading the practice of working out loud among their employees.

I was feeling happy about the present and also about the possibilities.

Anxiety

Anxious? Yes. It didn’t take long for the snakes in my head to appear: What if someone gives it a 1-star review? What if they don’t think it’s good enough? What if there’s a problem with my thinking, writing, or research?

As those thoughts popped into my head, I remembered the two quotes I cited in the book.

“You can be a delicious, ripe peach and there will still be people in the world who hate peaches.” - Dita Von Teese

“It’s arrogant to assume that you’ve made something so extraordinary that everyone everywhere should embrace it.” - Seth Godin

Slight letdown

Of course I looked at the online royalty report to see how many I sold. I won’t tell you how often I did that but it was more than once. It's clear that whether I sell 1,000 or 10,000 or even 100,000, it's still a small number compared to how many people I want to help.

In my letter from my future self that I wrote over five years ago (and is also in the book), I included that I'll have known I reached my goal when “I will have authored a book or other notable content that more than 20,000 people read.”

Now I know that books alone are not enough.

Determination

I remind myself that the book is both a culmination and a beginning. It’s an important step, and now there are other steps to take.

One of the most important next steps is a movement to form at least 1,000 Working Out Loud circles this year. In the first few days after it was announced, already people from 7 countries have pledged over 300 peer support groups. (You can see the growing list and add your own name here.)

Other steps include making it easier for people to take their own steps and make working out loud a habit. Working with companies and HR associations to include working out loud as a practice. Helping students work out loud so they have access to opportunities. Work with people who normally don’t have such access to equip and empower them to get it.

Nine months ago, when I thought the book was almost finished, I wrote that the book launch party might take three years. That sounds about right.

My favorite book launch party lasted three years

Cake by "Baking Outside The Box" There’s a familiar pattern to most book launches. The book signings, the radio shows, the racing for people’s attention in the first 30 days after publication, before the world moves on to one of the other 2 million books published every year.

It’s all good. It’s just not me.

So when I read about a different kind of book launch, I thought “Maybe I could do this instead.”

Humble beginnings

In the preface to Eckhart Tolle’s first book, The Power of Now, he tells the story of how it launched. The book was published by Namaste Publishing, a start-up imprint in Vancouver, and they printed 3,000 copies. There was no marketing budget or much attention at all, so Tolle hand-delivered books to local Vancouver bookstores. He said he found this “enormously satisfying, knowing that every book I handed over had the potential of changing someone’s life.”

His other distribution channels included friends placing copies in spiritual bookstores in other cities along the west coast of the US and Canada. Some copies even made it to a shop London. During the first year, “the book found its readers almost exclusively through word of mouth.”

Word spreads

The original blurbs in the front of the book are evidence of these humble beginnings. Instead of celebrities or noted spiritualists, the quotes are from the bookstore managers who first got the book.

The Power of Now was introduced to me by a customer. I read only one page and agreed that it rang true. It is a jewel of clarity and insight. The book has become a word-of-mouth bestseller here at East West.” - Norman Snitkin, comanager, East West Bookshop, Seattle

 

“I have no hesitation in recommending Eckhart Tolle’s wonderful book. Everyone who has picked up a copy has ended up taking it home. The Power of Now sells on its own merit and by word of mouth.” - Stephen Gawtry, Manager, Watkins Books Ltd., London

Over the first two years, the book got favorable reviews in some small magazines and was picked up by a larger publisher. By that time, one reviewer called it “an underground best-seller.”

A year later, actress Meg Ryan mentioned the book to Oprah in an interview. That led to an article in one of the early editions of Oprah magazine, then more mentions and ultimately interviews. After three years, the book was translated in multiple languages and was on its way to becoming a NY Times bestseller. After eight years, Tolle wrote another book and the two books have sold a combined total of over eight million copies in North America alone. A series of webinars with Oprah in 2008 attracted more than 35 million viewers.

My talk with Oprah

While I enjoyed Tolle’s books and the rags-to-riches nature of the story, what I liked most was how he originally published his book to help other people. He had no hope of making much money with it, yet he did it anyway. And word spread.

That’s my approach with Working Out Loud. It’s meant as a gift. If people find it useful, they’ll tell a friend or pick it for their book club. Some will form a working out loud circle and put the ideas into practice. Maybe a few thousand people might buy a copy in the first year. Maybe word will spread. Maybe not.

Once in a while though, I think of what happened to The Power of Now and imagine if something similar happened to Working Out Loud. What if more people find my gift useful? It might take years but what if millions of people wind up building a better career and life? And since the royalties go to education causes around the world, what kinds of positive impact could we make with that money?

My talk with Oprah wouldn’t be about me at all. When I allow myself to daydream about it, I imagine our conversation would be like this interview with Pharrell Williams. In the middle of it, Oprah shows a video of how other people leveraged Pharrell's work to make themselves and others happier.

As they both cry, she says, “It’s being used for something that’s greater than yourself.”

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IYFKnXu623s[/embed]

My favorite book launch party lasted three years

Cake by "Baking Outside The Box" There’s a familiar pattern to most book launches. The book signings, the radio shows, the racing for people’s attention in the first 30 days after publication, before the world moves on to one of the other 2 million books published every year.

It’s all good. It’s just not me.

So when I read about a different kind of book launch, I thought “Maybe I could do this instead.”

Humble beginnings

In the preface to Eckhart Tolle’s first book, The Power of Now, he tells the story of how it launched. The book was published by Namaste Publishing, a start-up imprint in Vancouver, and they printed 3,000 copies. There was no marketing budget or much attention at all, so Tolle hand-delivered books to local Vancouver bookstores. He said he found this “enormously satisfying, knowing that every book I handed over had the potential of changing someone’s life.”

His other distribution channels included friends placing copies in spiritual bookstores in other cities along the west coast of the US and Canada. Some copies even made it to a shop London. During the first year, “the book found its readers almost exclusively through word of mouth.”

Word spreads

The original blurbs in the front of the book are evidence of these humble beginnings. Instead of celebrities or noted spiritualists, the quotes are from the bookstore managers who first got the book.

The Power of Now was introduced to me by a customer. I read only one page and agreed that it rang true. It is a jewel of clarity and insight. The book has become a word-of-mouth bestseller here at East West.” - Norman Snitkin, comanager, East West Bookshop, Seattle

 

“I have no hesitation in recommending Eckhart Tolle’s wonderful book. Everyone who has picked up a copy has ended up taking it home. The Power of Now sells on its own merit and by word of mouth.” - Stephen Gawtry, Manager, Watkins Books Ltd., London

Over the first two years, the book got favorable reviews in some small magazines and was picked up by a larger publisher. By that time, one reviewer called it “an underground best-seller.”

A year later, actress Meg Ryan mentioned the book to Oprah in an interview. That led to an article in one of the early editions of Oprah magazine, then more mentions and ultimately interviews. After three years, the book was translated in multiple languages and was on its way to becoming a NY Times bestseller. After eight years, Tolle wrote another book and the two books have sold a combined total of over eight million copies in North America alone. A series of webinars with Oprah in 2008 attracted more than 35 million viewers.

My talk with Oprah

While I enjoyed Tolle’s books and the rags-to-riches nature of the story, what I liked most was how he originally published his book to help other people. He had no hope of making much money with it, yet he did it anyway. And word spread.

That’s my approach with Working Out Loud. It’s meant as a gift. If people find it useful, they’ll tell a friend or pick it for their book club. Some will form a working out loud circle and put the ideas into practice. Maybe a few thousand people might buy a copy in the first year. Maybe word will spread. Maybe not.

Once in a while though, I think of what happened to The Power of Now and imagine if something similar happened to Working Out Loud. What if more people find my gift useful? It might take years but what if millions of people wind up building a better career and life? And since the royalties go to education causes around the world, what kinds of positive impact could we make with that money?

My talk with Oprah wouldn’t be about me at all. When I allow myself to daydream about it, I imagine our conversation would be like this interview with Pharrell Williams. In the middle of it, Oprah shows a video of how other people leveraged Pharrell's work to make themselves and others happier.

As they both cry, she says, “It’s being used for something that’s greater than yourself.”

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IYFKnXu623s[/embed]