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GYWD #6: How Two Non-Writers Wrote a New York Times Bestseller

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Michael Lennington discusses how he and Brian Moran wrote The 12 Week Year

In this episode…

Today we’re going to tackle the question of how to find the right balance between work, life, writing, and whatever else it is you’re getting up to these days. This is an age old question and a lot of people have spilled a lot of ink on it. There’s a very good reason for that: balance is something you never stop needing to think about. It is an omnipresent challenge of life, one that none of us can escape.

You might even say that the key to living your best life requires having a good strategy for balancing all the many things you have to do, and want to do, before you depart this mortal coil. And I think that for writers finding and managing that balance is trickier than it is for many. So that’s our challenge today, and when things get real, like all great philosophers I turn to board games for answers.


Michael Lennington’s website:
Michael Lennington’s podcast: Align Life Pro
12 Week

Follow me on Twitter


00:00:02.280 –> 00:00:03.210
Trevor Thrall: Mike Lennington!

00:00:03.330 –> 00:00:04.470
Trevor Thrall: Welcome to the podcast.

00:00:04.560 –> 00:00:04.980
Michael: Thank you.

00:00:05.220 –> 00:00:07.290
Michael: How you doing before to this i’m doing good how about yourself.

00:00:07.500 –> 00:00:18.810
Trevor Thrall: Now super well, thank you, thank you alright, so you know, most of the listeners of the podcast know what the 12 week year is, at least if they’re not already using it every day.

00:00:19.470 –> 00:00:36.840
Trevor Thrall: But i’m guessing most people don’t know the full backstory of how the 12 week year came to exist and, in particular, why you and Brian chose to write a book about it so Mike if you could take us back a few decades, well, maybe, only two or so…

00:00:37.110 –> 00:00:44.010
Trevor Thrall: so go back two decades and and just tell us a little bit about how how you guys came up with the idea and and then the idea for the book.

00:00:44.610 –> 00:00:49.500
Michael: Well i’m Brian and I were working in a company at the time that was called strategic breakthroughs and.

00:00:50.040 –> 00:00:57.960
Michael: It was our company and we work with our clients to help them accomplish better results in their businesses that’s kind of what consultants do, and in the beginning.

00:00:58.560 –> 00:01:02.430
Michael: We thought that we could come in with these good ideas about how to do things more effectively.

00:01:02.760 –> 00:01:12.030
Michael: But what we learned pretty quickly was that most of our clients that were working already had a lot of great ideas their problem wasn’t the idea, it was taking the idea and actually implementing it so.

00:01:12.270 –> 00:01:21.810
Michael: We decided to focus on the implementation or the execution side of the business rather than the new idea side and that really made a huge difference for us because that was a huge problem for our clients.

00:01:22.200 –> 00:01:29.250
Michael: we’ve got great results with them and we learn as we, as we work with them and we figured out what worked and what didn’t, and so we began to put together a system.

00:01:29.940 –> 00:01:38.190
Michael: And in the beginning, we didn’t call it a 12 week year we call the period ization and we change the name i’ll tell you why we changed the name later, but period ization is a.

00:01:38.790 –> 00:01:51.630
Michael: it’s a it’s a sports sort of training regimen and it focuses you win on the key aspects of your sport, the key skill sets that it really takes to be successful in your sport, whether it’s bike racing weightlifting wrestling whatever.

00:01:52.020 –> 00:02:01.470
Michael: And it overload you on those key skills so you’ll focus on one thing for a few weeks or four or five weeks, and then you move to the next, and the next the next so instead of kind of broadly.

00:02:02.430 –> 00:02:11.310
Michael: practicing everything kind of in the same week you just practice one thing, and you overload on that so lance Armstrong when he was with the postal us postal team.

00:02:12.180 –> 00:02:20.340
Michael: When he was winning the Tour de France is it wasn’t all chemical what they used to use this is the period ization process to train and it really helped them to break through as a team.

00:02:20.670 –> 00:02:29.340
Michael: So we one of our clients was a bike racer we’ve never heard of period ization but one of our clients was a bike racer introduced us to the concept and we thought wow this is really great.

00:02:30.000 –> 00:02:37.800
Michael: But it’s for sports we’d have to adapt it for business, and so we spent some time kind of thinking through, how do we take this short time frame, how do we take this kind of focused.

00:02:38.010 –> 00:02:48.810
Michael: period of time where you’re focused on just a few things to get better at and apply that in business, and so we built out what we call period ization for business and we we started.

00:02:49.680 –> 00:02:56.460
Michael: Basically, delivering that as a process to our clients and we wrote a book called period ization 12 weeks to break through That was our first book and.

00:02:56.940 –> 00:03:03.960
Michael: You know, we self published, and so we were looking at my bookshelf what’s what’s a really cool looking covered that simple, that we could duplicate just to get the covered entity.

00:03:04.140 –> 00:03:12.870
Michael: And we saw this book I forget who it was by now, but it had three stripes was like blue goal and some other color it was a that’s it so we we created a cover and get the book.

00:03:13.380 –> 00:03:21.150
Michael: Out there we sold quite a few copies that self published book, but one of our clients came up to us, and said, you know period ization sounds like a gum disease.

00:03:21.450 –> 00:03:27.540
Michael: And that wasn’t the that was sort of the final struck us period ization was one of the things you had to explain what it was right.

00:03:27.810 –> 00:03:36.570
Michael: And so we wrote the book kind of to explain what period ization was and that’s the reason behind the book itself, and then we realized it wasn’t clear to anybody so.

00:03:37.470 –> 00:03:43.530
Michael: This is, this is a weird story, but we used to go to Chinese restaurants, the lunch by night every day almost and.

00:03:43.860 –> 00:03:49.320
Michael: You know I said why don’t we name our book like a Chinese restaurant his name right it’s got it tells you what’s inside the store.

00:03:49.500 –> 00:03:58.890
Michael: Right you go you’re not going to go in and expect for laymen yeah and you’re not going to look for some some great Italian food you to get Chinese food and that’s what it says right above the door Chinese restaurant right so.

00:03:59.400 –> 00:04:11.760
Michael: We decided to name our book kind of like a Chinese restaurant and that’s where the 12 week year book title came out so we self published bit ization tweaked a little bit self published 12 week year and that was the business just took off.

00:04:12.390 –> 00:04:26.550
Trevor Thrall: So that’s a great story I didn’t know all that stuff great to learn so tell me a little bit about the actual writing of the book, did you guys, in fact, use the 12 week year system to write the 12 week year.

00:04:26.850 –> 00:04:34.920
Michael: yeah we did um so if you’re familiar with the 12 week your system, you know that there’s these these time blocks that we apply this there’s buffer blocks strategic blocks and break up blocks.

00:04:35.400 –> 00:04:43.680
Michael: And so we would create strategic blocks, which are blocks of time where you don’t take any interruptions you don’t you don’t take phone calls the only answer emails you’ll stay focused on one thing.

00:04:44.070 –> 00:04:51.870
Michael: And we would we would schedule a couple maybe three of those in a week and we would write one chapter right, and then we would edit.

00:04:52.230 –> 00:04:55.320
Michael: A chapter so i’d write a chapter, so that the Brian.

00:04:55.500 –> 00:05:07.170
Michael: Brian would write a chapter send it to me, we would edit it, and then we begin to send back and forth the Ad is, but basically we’re using those time blocks to to get the chapters done get the book done and get it all put together and so.

00:05:07.740 –> 00:05:21.060
Michael: The 12 week year time blocking was really helpful Plus we had tactics every week in our plan to do certain parts of the other book, and so we would get together and execute the way i’m with with the book plan as well, so we used to 12 good act to write the book 12 we care.

00:05:21.420 –> 00:05:22.350
Trevor Thrall: And it took you.

00:05:23.010 –> 00:05:24.780
Michael: Well, it took us 12 weeks, but.

00:05:25.140 –> 00:05:27.300
Michael: We didn’t get quite done until the 13th week but.

00:05:27.510 –> 00:05:29.100
Michael: there’s actually 13 weeks on a 12 week.

00:05:29.460 –> 00:05:30.930
Michael: Right, so it kind of counts.

00:05:31.230 –> 00:05:38.490
Trevor Thrall: I like it, I mean that there’s some poetic you know sort of appropriateness to writing the 12 week year and in 12 weeks, I mean.

00:05:38.490 –> 00:05:42.300
Trevor Thrall: yeah I thought I would have held it against you, I certainly didn’t write 12 week year for writers and.

00:05:43.950 –> 00:05:54.420
Trevor Thrall: But I like the the symbolism there, and so you know I know a lot of people listening to this podcast are people who have not yet written a book.

00:05:54.630 –> 00:05:56.550
Trevor Thrall: Maybe they’ve been thinking about it for.

00:05:56.550 –> 00:06:03.540
Trevor Thrall: A while you know and we’re talking about people sort of all across the spectrum fiction nonfiction you know what have you.

00:06:04.200 –> 00:06:15.690
Trevor Thrall: you’re obviously working in the the nonfiction and kind of business arena, but you know i’ve argued to anyone who will listen that you know writing a book can be transformative for you.

00:06:16.200 –> 00:06:25.050
Trevor Thrall: in so many ways, and so maybe you could just tell us a little bit about what you know how did having a book published change things for you guys.

00:06:25.800 –> 00:06:32.760
Michael: that’s a great question um you know, like I said we we had a hard time explaining what we did, to our clients so.

00:06:33.480 –> 00:06:40.440
Michael: You know it’s one of those things when you you’re doing a cold call and you’ve got to you know, take a 15 minute process to explain what you do it’s kind of hard.

00:06:40.830 –> 00:06:54.630
Michael: To create the interest in that so we thought, how do we, how do we communicate what what it is that we do clearly and concisely and we thought we’d write a book so that’s really where the idea came from was to write a book, based on what we did, and because we were.

00:06:55.890 –> 00:07:04.200
Michael: helping our clients to get more done and execute more effectively, we felt like we needed to write the book in such a way that they could take the book just by itself and apply it.

00:07:04.650 –> 00:07:10.740
Michael: and get benefit from it, so that was our intent when we started with the book communicate well but also help our clients and.

00:07:11.580 –> 00:07:20.370
Michael: So when we wrote the book you wrote it in 12 weeks and we were doing the 12 week process, because we were headed to an industry.

00:07:21.210 –> 00:07:31.410
Michael: meeting, which is an annual meeting that we were in financial services and it’s called lamp it’s run by gamma and it’s where vendors calm and they have displays they have they have.

00:07:32.190 –> 00:07:38.460
Michael: You know just little little cubicles where they set up their stuff and and explain to people walking through the the room what you do.

00:07:38.850 –> 00:07:48.510
Michael: And then they have they have presentations and a lot of the leaders in financial services, go to that meeting so more detail, and you want, but we intentionally wanted to get the book for that meeting, because we wanted to carry out the book in a meeting.

00:07:48.840 –> 00:07:57.060
Michael: And so, Brian I were debating do we do we print 50 books, do we put 100 books, because neither one of us really wanted to have boxes of books in our in our garage or basement right so.

00:07:57.540 –> 00:08:00.480
Michael: We took a risk and we printed 100 100 copies and.

00:08:01.410 –> 00:08:15.150
Michael: We took them to to lamb and we had a booth and we, we had the books there and we sold some and we gave away some but by the end of the end of the session or the three days we’ve given away or sold all of our books, I was glad because i’m going to put it back in my.

00:08:15.180 –> 00:08:15.720
Trevor Thrall: briefcase.

00:08:16.410 –> 00:08:24.210
Michael: I suitcase and so anyway, that was it, you know it’s just way to kind of get our name out there, get people to notice what we did, and then we went back to work, and you know.

00:08:24.420 –> 00:08:29.040
Michael: week or two went by and then all of a sudden, I got a book order came, we were smart enough, by the way this pro tip.

00:08:29.610 –> 00:08:34.350
Michael: make a way for them to understand where they go to order more books if you’re going to write a book and self published make sure you know.

00:08:34.800 –> 00:08:44.760
Michael: They know how to get to it, so we created an order form it put in the back of the book and got her first book order and I went over to Brian so hey Look, we got a book order isn’t as great yeah that’s fine and we thought it was that was it right.

00:08:45.810 –> 00:08:49.740
Michael: And then you know, a couple more book orders came in and we got a 500 book order from.

00:08:50.190 –> 00:08:57.930
Michael: A company, I guess, they could share the name is Derek life and they bought 500 copies of our book or for one of their offices out West Coast and.

00:08:58.830 –> 00:09:06.480
Michael: Say holy cow, this is this is amazing, then we kept getting these huge book orders we ended up selling I lost count, because I was the guy managing the process and.

00:09:06.810 –> 00:09:16.800
Michael: I really wasn’t the book fulfillment guy but I was so you know, we had a contract with a printer and all that stuff but but we sold somewhere between 175 and 220 5000.

00:09:16.800 –> 00:09:18.210
Trevor Thrall: Oh, my goodness self published book.

00:09:19.080 –> 00:09:23.340
Michael: In its two forms one was 12 week year one was one was period ization so.

00:09:23.970 –> 00:09:33.690
Michael: that’s a lot of change your business because because we haven’t had to market maybe we do market but we haven’t really had a market we haven’t had to you know go out and explain what we do.

00:09:33.750 –> 00:09:45.450
Michael: Right all of our leads in the last 20 years have come from the book our whole business every one of our big clients mass mutual New York life and others, all of them came from that book yeah.

00:09:45.600 –> 00:09:50.910
Trevor Thrall: And do you find that having written about people to treat you differently when they see you they.

00:09:50.940 –> 00:09:53.760
Trevor Thrall: yeah make certain assumptions, rightly or wrongly, about you.

00:09:53.970 –> 00:10:06.600
Michael: yeah I think back before I was an author and when somebody say that they’ve written a book, I think I just be so impressed like wow I mean do you even like want to talk to me because you’re you’re so successful and all that I learned a lot since then.

00:10:06.720 –> 00:10:08.490
Michael: it’s not quite that but.

00:10:09.270 –> 00:10:12.030
Michael: yeah I mean I mean people do kind of treat you differently and and.

00:10:12.780 –> 00:10:24.240
Michael: You know, we got lucky enough when we published with wiley to go New York Times bestseller, and so I don’t even tell people i’m an author New York Times bestselling author, I never say that to people because it’s just it’s just weird in a conversation it’s like.

00:10:24.270 –> 00:10:31.560
Trevor Thrall: yeah it’s like if you went to Harvard and you drop the fact he went to Harvard and she’s like you know, did you really have to go there, you know.

00:10:32.460 –> 00:10:35.160
Michael: it’s like it’s like yeah just that doesn’t come up in conversation.

00:10:35.160 –> 00:10:36.000
Trevor Thrall: No, it does not.

00:10:36.090 –> 00:10:41.280
Trevor Thrall: It does not, but it’s still incredibly impressive and you know what a tentpole for your guys business to have.

00:10:41.640 –> 00:10:54.510
Trevor Thrall: A book out sort of leading the way you know educating the marketplace so that when you come along people are already ready to trust you ready to learn from you ready, you know excited to work with you.

00:10:54.750 –> 00:11:00.120
Trevor Thrall: In a way, that you know you would have had to do all that legwork from scratch, which, with each customer.

00:11:00.210 –> 00:11:07.410
Trevor Thrall: right if you didn’t have this book out there and so it’s it’s a tremendous tool for people but it’s also obviously really good for you guys.

00:11:07.740 –> 00:11:18.810
Trevor Thrall: And for it, you know I think for a lot of businesses, especially these days, as you know, sort of expert run businesses are getting to be even a bigger and bigger thing so.

00:11:19.500 –> 00:11:34.590
Trevor Thrall: So I fast forward, you know however many years we’re we’re talking now and you wrote a field guide for for the 12 we also did really well yeah um and then you guys got the cockamamie idea to to write yet another book.

00:11:34.770 –> 00:11:35.130
Michael: yeah.

00:11:35.160 –> 00:11:35.940
Trevor Thrall: What were you thinking.

00:11:36.420 –> 00:11:41.970
Michael: I don’t know I certainly would we think what I think back then, if I could.

00:11:43.050 –> 00:11:47.670
Michael: Because the first 12 week year book that we wrote pronunciation of the 12 week year.

00:11:47.820 –> 00:11:59.550
Michael: We were just running about what we already did in fact we had trainings developed so we We actually had modules for each of the chapters and we delivered that training to our clients and so we’d already thought through the logic flow and the sequencing of everything.

00:12:00.030 –> 00:12:07.860
Michael: So it was really easy to write that first book and I think I think it’s sort of gave us the impression that we could write another book, just as easily.

00:12:08.340 –> 00:12:13.380
Michael: um this book did not take 13 weeks to complete we just completed it last week, thank.

00:12:13.380 –> 00:12:15.120
Trevor Thrall: Heaven graduations Thank you.

00:12:16.350 –> 00:12:33.930
Michael: But, but it was a lot longer now both Brian and I moved during the book, so I moved from lexington to just south of louisville Brian move from lansing out to phoenix so we both had huge moves, you know it’s it’s just been a.

00:12:34.260 –> 00:12:35.850
Michael: lot of yeah a.

00:12:35.910 –> 00:12:43.740
Michael: lot of stuff going on in the midst of the book and so you know it’s really it’s really interesting because where the the first book was really focused the second book.

00:12:43.950 –> 00:12:50.130
Michael: kind of became diffuse because of all the things going on in our personalized so be more more than just the move so there’s other stuff that was happening too.

00:12:50.190 –> 00:12:57.450
Trevor Thrall: yeah well it’s been a fairly bizarre last couple of yours in the world in general, and I think.

00:12:57.450 –> 00:13:04.020
Trevor Thrall: yeah you know for for most people you know, working from home or you know the changing schedules and.

00:13:04.740 –> 00:13:08.760
Trevor Thrall: You know I think a lot of writers to you know even people who do work a lot at home.

00:13:09.450 –> 00:13:18.930
Trevor Thrall: You know just sort of the gloomy global mood has put a put a real dampener on on a lot of people’s ability to sort of sit down and write because.

00:13:19.230 –> 00:13:28.500
Trevor Thrall: It takes maybe a certain amount of energy that the world has kind of sucked out of a lot of people over the past 18 months or yeah or two years or whatever so so for sure so.

00:13:29.130 –> 00:13:42.240
Trevor Thrall: So compare the writing process like did you guys try to use the same kind of process did you switch gears and how you approach writing it, what was the and you need to do more research on this one is that sort of do I understand that right.

00:13:42.300 –> 00:13:55.710
Michael: All that stuff’s true yeah I think I think the first book because, like like I said we’d already figured it out before we wrote it, it was easy to write, I mean we weren’t really Brian I are not authors, I mean we are because we’ve written some books but that’s not our core focus.

00:13:56.730 –> 00:14:03.180
Michael: But the first book was so easy to write that I think we got a little bit complacent with the second book so.

00:14:04.200 –> 00:14:11.460
Michael: The second book or the third book i’m sorry the book we just finished is a book about accountability and accountability.

00:14:12.150 –> 00:14:20.430
Michael: is one of the chapters or a couple of chapters in the 12 week Yearbook and we we have this view of accountability that’s different than how most people see it and so.

00:14:21.960 –> 00:14:29.310
Michael: I decided to write a book about that, because in our trainings that’s one of the things that for a lot of leaders and individuals that’s that’s a big Aha for them in terms of that well why don’t we.

00:14:29.970 –> 00:14:37.050
Michael: put that on paper, so that they don’t have to come to a training we can get it out to people so that’s really where the book came from and what what was interesting.

00:14:37.770 –> 00:14:47.490
Michael: was because we were doing research, because we were we were kind of figuring some of the concepts out as we were writing them because you know there’s there’s a there’s there’s a.

00:14:48.150 –> 00:14:55.470
Michael: High Level view of accountability, we kind of talked about and train on but, but when you really get down to the depths of a concept like accountability.

00:14:55.740 –> 00:14:59.490
Michael: there’s a lot of things that kind of come into play there accountability is one of those kind of core.

00:15:00.000 –> 00:15:12.570
Michael: I don’t know if you call it a value, but it is one of those core things that that if you if you are predominately accountable your life goes on this trajectory if you’re not primarily accountable, it goes in a different trajectory and it’s and it’s.

00:15:13.320 –> 00:15:23.160
Michael: All based upon the choices that you make a decisions and the actions you take that create those two trajectories and so, but because it’s it’s it’s such a.

00:15:23.820 –> 00:15:31.650
Michael: kind of fundamental concept there’s a lot of things that touch it so we we underestimated the amount of work that was going to be in terms of researching stuff.

00:15:32.520 –> 00:15:38.640
Michael: You know, to try not to not you know it’s one thing to just kind of anecdotally say stuff it’s another thing to kind of support that with you know.

00:15:39.060 –> 00:15:45.870
Michael: With research and not that we put all the research in the book, I went to anybody off, but we had to look through the research employee would say something to make sure that we weren’t.

00:15:46.320 –> 00:15:54.690
Michael: kind of off base so that was one thing The other thing was because it wasn’t something that we had necessarily trained, there was a lot more.

00:15:55.410 –> 00:16:01.560
Michael: Writing and rewriting and there was a lot more editing and you know kind of debate because there’s two authors yeah I mean that’s the challenge with this.

00:16:01.980 –> 00:16:08.220
Michael: Was by myself, I don’t have to convince myself, you know i’m not going to have this kind of two way argument with myself, I tried to do that, very often.

00:16:09.300 –> 00:16:17.430
Michael: But Brian and I would would would really have to come together and so we’d have these long philosophical debates which are fun, but.

00:16:17.880 –> 00:16:26.250
Michael: They were time consuming, and you know we’d had to get down to the to the to the base level of what we agreed on before we could build a book, and so I know i’m talking a lot but.

00:16:27.150 –> 00:16:29.610
Michael: What what would what we didn’t anticipate was number one.

00:16:30.300 –> 00:16:38.040
Michael: How easy, the first book was to write because of what the preparation was before it, even though it wasn’t intentional that was preparation this book we didn’t have that.

00:16:38.460 –> 00:16:46.770
Michael: yeah, and so it took us a lot longer than we thought there was a lot of personal disruption in both of our lives, for the last for a lot of people, obviously.

00:16:48.030 –> 00:16:52.650
Michael: And it just really kind of created the perfect storm to make this book the opposite.

00:16:53.310 –> 00:17:01.830
Michael: Of the 12 week year after we use the 12 week year we had tactics and the plan right we still did that, but what ended up happening is that the things that were in the plan took longer than we.

00:17:01.830 –> 00:17:02.580
Trevor Thrall: anticipated, so the.

00:17:02.760 –> 00:17:06.210
Michael: tactics, but instead of a day or two maybe a week or two or a month.

00:17:06.420 –> 00:17:11.340
Trevor Thrall: Absolutely and and and you know as anyone who has used the 12 week year knows.

00:17:11.700 –> 00:17:18.750
Trevor Thrall: You know, this is one of the things that you have to build as a skill, as you learn to implement it is the ability to adjust your plan.

00:17:19.110 –> 00:17:31.470
Trevor Thrall: As you learn new things about the project you’re undertaking and I, and I always tell people with their writing projects, you know your first set of plans is always going to be your best guess but it’s not going to be reality.

00:17:31.530 –> 00:17:42.600
Trevor Thrall: yeah and so yeah you need to be able to adjust, not only to learning how the project unfolds, but especially when you have a long project like this life is going to intervene life isn’t gonna you know be stable for.

00:17:42.870 –> 00:17:54.420
Trevor Thrall: 12 months in a row, and your schedule is going to stay perfectly the same and all that sort of stuff so I know you guys encountered all sorts of ups and downs, you know or last year, where that’s going to put a hole in anyone’s 12 week plan.

00:17:54.960 –> 00:18:00.600
Michael: yeah yeah and so you know because we had a contract and.

00:18:01.140 –> 00:18:13.710
Michael: We wanted to complete the contract, there was a there was a clear goal we had in mind, we stuck with it yeah but, but you know I know that there’s a lot of people that have start a project like this and they don’t necessarily have any kind of commitment.

00:18:13.860 –> 00:18:21.870
Michael: to it and not that they’re having any less important to say it’s just that they don’t they don’t necessarily follow through don’t get it done yeah right.

00:18:21.900 –> 00:18:34.170
Michael: And so, so what I think really helped with both books, because you know, we had a contract with wiley and for the first one, and then the second one, and the third one, is that they kind of want you to get the book done right and so.

00:18:34.260 –> 00:18:35.730
Trevor Thrall: They start calling and emailing.

00:18:35.760 –> 00:18:38.160
Michael: yeah yeah it’s like an accountability partner and some.

00:18:38.160 –> 00:18:38.970
Trevor Thrall: Last silly.

00:18:39.090 –> 00:18:45.990
Michael: And, and also, you know, we want the book to be successful and publishers don’t want you to miss deadlines, I mean, and not just publishers, but also.

00:18:46.140 –> 00:18:52.650
Michael: The big big outlets for books that you know the channels that that the books go through they don’t want you to be late with the book because they’re planning their sales too.

00:18:53.040 –> 00:18:59.250
Michael: So you know there’s a lot of commitment to that so we we leverage that to get get it across the finish line in fast back.

00:19:00.600 –> 00:19:14.250
Michael: Quick story I got sick for weeks before I was supposed to deliver the book and I was out for two weeks literally out for two weeks, and so I thought I had a month I had two weeks to do everything I had to do with what percentage like and.

00:19:14.700 –> 00:19:24.960
Michael: I learned something, though, I learned that it’s it’s a lot easier than it might seem to clear everything off your desk and just focus on one thing for short period of time.

00:19:25.140 –> 00:19:26.490
Trevor Thrall: And that’s a good reminder.

00:19:26.550 –> 00:19:30.810
Trevor Thrall: yeah the fact that focus is not only necessary but possible.

00:19:31.050 –> 00:19:36.450
Michael: It is it is and powerful and easy when when there’s a deadline, the deadline is so helpful they’ll be.

00:19:37.170 –> 00:19:38.310
Trevor Thrall: So clarifying.

00:19:38.430 –> 00:19:44.610
Trevor Thrall: Because, all of a sudden what’s truly important comes very clearly interview, and it becomes easy to say no.

00:19:44.880 –> 00:19:45.540
Trevor Thrall: To all the.

00:19:45.660 –> 00:19:47.100
Michael: trivia or the.

00:19:47.130 –> 00:19:49.710
Trevor Thrall: somewhat less important things, whatever, however, you might characterize.

00:19:49.860 –> 00:19:53.160
Michael: Exactly my dog just figured out how to open up my office door.

00:19:53.310 –> 00:19:57.090
Trevor Thrall: Well i’m sure mind is going to do that soon, so we may have to dog show, at some point.

00:19:57.270 –> 00:19:58.800
Trevor Thrall: Yes, well that’s me he hasn’t probably.

00:19:58.800 –> 00:20:00.060
Trevor Thrall: The best part of the podcast really.

00:20:00.090 –> 00:20:01.020
Michael: Yes, probably.

00:20:01.680 –> 00:20:12.810
Trevor Thrall: But no, and so you know it’s funny that you mentioned that might because i’ve actually just had a couple of conversations with people about their struggles to finish things and it and it was occurring to me, you know that.

00:20:14.220 –> 00:20:20.250
Trevor Thrall: In the in the original 12 week Yearbook you guys talked about the sort of emotional journey that people go on.

00:20:20.490 –> 00:20:21.030
Trevor Thrall: During.

00:20:21.120 –> 00:20:31.710
Trevor Thrall: A 12 week year and really you can think of any new project as having some similar characteristics you start a new book you start a new writing project of some kind, and.

00:20:31.920 –> 00:20:37.350
Trevor Thrall: it’s easy you’re immediately inflow because you’re just you’re overcome with ideas and excitement about the project.

00:20:38.040 –> 00:20:57.690
Trevor Thrall: But if it’s a long project inevitably what’s going to happen is you know the shine is going to come off it’s going to the idea gets old it’s not as exciting anymore and finishing takes kind of trudging through the hard part and maybe the really awful stale gross part and all the while.

00:20:57.930 –> 00:21:01.890
Trevor Thrall: Other projects that are new are shiny in a distance calling your name.

00:21:01.920 –> 00:21:02.220
Trevor Thrall: Yes.

00:21:02.280 –> 00:21:11.220
Trevor Thrall: And so, so many of us start 100 things before we ever finished something so what what is what is that some 12 week your wisdom around finishing things.

00:21:11.760 –> 00:21:20.070
Michael: You know it’s a it’s a great it’s a great question and, if I had the perfect answer that i’d be too expensive to have on your podcast.

00:21:20.070 –> 00:21:21.300
Trevor Thrall: very good point that a.

00:21:21.330 –> 00:21:33.570
Michael: lot, but there are some things that I think are important to be aware of, because I think awareness helps you get through things if you’re not if you’re not expecting something to happen, then it happens, it can kind of throw you.

00:21:34.200 –> 00:21:42.570
Michael: So um you know change is a messy process and and you can read a five books on change you get five different ideas about how people change.

00:21:43.350 –> 00:21:52.320
Michael: And so we have a what we call the emotional cycle of change, and the reason I say all that stuff about the different different views of changes that it’s a model all models are wrong, some are useful.

00:21:53.460 –> 00:22:01.590
Michael: And I think that one of the things that is true, though the model that we use is it kind of describes the emotional journey through change which I think is important.

00:22:01.980 –> 00:22:14.430
Michael: And so you mentioned kind of the the shiny new object right that’s really important to get excited because it causes to start it causes to begin things that energy that an uninformed optimism Christmas enthusiasm that causes us to.

00:22:14.940 –> 00:22:27.870
Michael: start a venture right so so if we didn’t have that enthusiasm we wouldn’t get started it’s a great it’s a great initial kick right, but you can’t rely on that, through the course of a long project because you’re going to go through this emotional cycle of change and so.

00:22:28.980 –> 00:22:36.150
Michael: I think that what happens for a lot of people is that they as they kind of have that, like the bloom is off the Rose you’re kind of going through this difficult.

00:22:36.990 –> 00:22:42.720
Michael: And unanticipated work you didn’t really think about other things are coming up like you said that it may be more interesting.

00:22:43.470 –> 00:22:48.300
Michael: And, and you kind of get diffused and you realize that this is a lot of work.

00:22:48.660 –> 00:22:58.950
Michael: And you hit this point where you kind of get what we call the valley to spirit and that’s where most projects fail that’s where most books there’s more most writing fails is you get to that point where I you know I could just stop the pain right now.

00:22:59.400 –> 00:23:09.360
Michael: I could just stop and the pain goes away right, and I can go find one of those shiny ideas and go jump on that because that’s fun it’s an uninformed optimism and i’m excited about it right so.

00:23:10.170 –> 00:23:14.310
Michael: I think I think the tools that you use to get through that valley are.

00:23:14.640 –> 00:23:28.770
Michael: The 12 week year, I think, having a 12 week year plan recognizing the progress you are making every week if you’re working from a weekly plan you’re recognizing this stuff gets done you’re hitting some of the milestones in your plan and you’re celebrating that stuff.

00:23:29.670 –> 00:23:35.520
Michael: That helps you to keep going and and what happens is is that you think the value is what it’s going to be like to the end, but it’s not.

00:23:35.730 –> 00:23:46.080
Michael: Because, as you begin to get the chapters that, as you begin to get through these things and hitting your milestones you begin to feel the benefits and you’re getting more used to writing you’re getting better at what.

00:23:46.350 –> 00:23:52.410
Michael: What you have to do to set yourself up for a good writing session and so you’re learning how to write well and.

00:23:52.980 –> 00:24:02.010
Michael: The book is coming along, and so the results are starting to come online and because it’s you’re learning more about how to write it gets easier so so you get out of that valley and it’s not.

00:24:02.880 –> 00:24:06.270
Michael: The mistake we make is thinking that we’re going to be in the valley, the whole rest of the book and.

00:24:06.270 –> 00:24:06.720
Trevor Thrall: they’re not.

00:24:06.870 –> 00:24:13.980
Michael: it’s just a period of time that if you work through it gets easier it gets lighter you start to see that the end and you get that momentum back yeah.

00:24:14.040 –> 00:24:23.760
Trevor Thrall: right as soon as as soon as you know, you can look at enough of it that it feels like your momentum is now sort of snowball then it’s unstoppable you can regain the excitement.

00:24:24.600 –> 00:24:34.830
Trevor Thrall: Though it’s interesting because I think you know another thing that sometimes happens to people right is there about the finishes they start panicking about what’s going to happen when they do finish.

00:24:34.950 –> 00:24:35.730
Michael: Oh yeah and.

00:24:36.000 –> 00:24:44.160
Trevor Thrall: You know so many people are afraid yeah I mean I was afraid with this recent book like okay i’m gonna finish this and then everyone’s gonna hate it.

00:24:45.060 –> 00:24:47.490
Trevor Thrall: Exactly and that slows you down sometimes.

00:24:47.910 –> 00:25:02.010
Michael: It does, and it caused you to rethink now some of that some of that fear and anxiety is helpful because it’ll it may cause you to go back and and really make sure you’ve got everything right, I mean you don’t want to put out a product that isn’t your best right.

00:25:03.240 –> 00:25:08.700
Michael: But at the same time, you can overthink things and it one point you just got to say like like.

00:25:10.290 –> 00:25:15.300
Michael: Ferris bueller did was what what the again or I can say this your podcast but what the fact yeah.

00:25:16.200 –> 00:25:17.130
Michael: And just do it right.

00:25:17.670 –> 00:25:19.680
Michael: yeah, so I think Harris below said that first.

00:25:19.740 –> 00:25:22.320
Trevor Thrall: i’m pretty sure that’s a direct quote so that’s okay yeah.

00:25:23.010 –> 00:25:30.360
Michael: So you know just get it out get it out there and see what happens, you get if you don’t get it out, you will fail right failure is 100% guaranteed if you don’t get it out so just.

00:25:30.660 –> 00:25:39.090
Michael: But, but you know it is, it is a personal thing right it feels like if I write this book and it’s not good, and I, and I had this earlier book that was really successful now.

00:25:39.300 –> 00:25:49.140
Michael: People are going to see through this you know okay one one shot one hit wonder, and now this is going to damage my reputation people get a big lesson me all that stuff goes through your head.

00:25:50.160 –> 00:25:50.340
Michael: yeah.

00:25:50.910 –> 00:26:03.480
Trevor Thrall: I think yeah there’s really no way around feeling your feelings, but I think it is you know and like you said it’s important to be aware that they’re going to come at you, because then you won’t be surprised and and and taken aback.

00:26:03.900 –> 00:26:08.130
Trevor Thrall: And you can just sort of remind yourself there they’re just feelings they’re not going to kill me.

00:26:08.940 –> 00:26:21.660
Trevor Thrall: And they will change, and you know go away and morph into better feelings once I do it and it’s never as bad as you as you think you know that’s one of those I think pretty common things we all, we all share those kind of fears.

00:26:22.620 –> 00:26:34.200
Trevor Thrall: So when it comes to using the 12 week year for you does using it for the for writing feel any different to you from using it for other things do you find that you need to.

00:26:34.740 –> 00:26:45.600
Trevor Thrall: Think about it differently, or is it for you, is it really sort of just at this point you’re such a 12 week year thinker, that really nothing needs to change, when you when you think about writing versus some kind of other task.

00:26:46.410 –> 00:26:46.770

00:26:48.390 –> 00:27:04.500
Michael: yeah I think I think that the 12 just kind of autopilot for Brian, and I mean if you think about it we’ve been doing this for about 20 years right so that’s at 12 years right if I do my math correctly so that’s a lot of deliberate practice and.

00:27:05.850 –> 00:27:13.800
Michael: I think that you know we just kind of think in 12 week chunks I mean I don’t know I don’t know if I could I don’t even think I could I don’t know what to do with an annual plan.

00:27:13.860 –> 00:27:14.280
I don’t think.

00:27:15.330 –> 00:27:18.360
Michael: So that’s the easy part I think I think i’m.

00:27:19.530 –> 00:27:27.420
Michael: The 12 week your i’m sorry that the book we just wrote accountability it’s a book about accountability is called uncommon accountability, but.

00:27:28.440 –> 00:27:42.720
Michael: The that book, while it was easy to write the tactics, we struggled with thinking about how much time it was really going to take right the capacity side of this was what I think we struggle more than we probably should have.

00:27:43.290 –> 00:27:50.130
Michael: We overestimated what we could get done and how much time it was going to take us just because we’d already written two books kind of have a feel for it well, no.

00:27:51.030 –> 00:27:59.070
Michael: there’s a difference between books some books take longer than others, depending on what you know and and and and what you have to do to get get to the end so.

00:28:00.270 –> 00:28:04.350
Michael: That was that was a challenge, and so I think for us.

00:28:05.970 –> 00:28:11.280
Michael: What we have to do is is if if we read another book it’s going to be to really clear the decks.

00:28:12.030 –> 00:28:23.730
Michael: To not have 500 of the projects to really focus on on the book, you know we have to run the business will do that but it’s it’s not we’re not trying to build five different things at the same time yeah because your time is fine and we underestimated what was gonna take.

00:28:24.210 –> 00:28:28.500
Trevor Thrall: ya know it’s uh that’s really interesting I was just reading A newsletter by a.

00:28:30.330 –> 00:28:35.520
Trevor Thrall: guru who shall remain nameless just to spare his feelings, but he’s.

00:28:36.540 –> 00:28:44.520
Trevor Thrall: just finished the manuscript for a book and based on his work from the past 10 years and and he.

00:28:45.330 –> 00:28:55.560
Trevor Thrall: admitted that it was a much more difficult process than he had imagined it would be because again like like you and Brian he he was just writing about the process he’s been teaching for some time.

00:28:56.460 –> 00:29:10.830
Trevor Thrall: And he admitted that in fact what the only reason it was it was finally finished is because the deadline started looming, and he really he had this contract for a very long time, and did all the work on the book in the last two months.

00:29:11.100 –> 00:29:20.970
Trevor Thrall: which tells you that even experts gurus and so on, need help finishing, and so, and so deadlines are crucial, but, but I think your other point.

00:29:21.510 –> 00:29:36.810
Trevor Thrall: This is something i’ve struggled with trying to communicate to people is how do I make a 12 week plan when i’m just don’t know how long things are going to take and and I have to, I have two thoughts on that one is that you know again.

00:29:38.100 –> 00:29:47.310
Trevor Thrall: it’s better than having no gas right any guest is going to be better than I have no idea, and then the second thing is that is that the very sort of.

00:29:47.790 –> 00:29:55.680
Trevor Thrall: The difficult nature of knowing how long creative tasks are going to take makes it all the more important not to plan.

00:29:56.010 –> 00:30:06.120
Trevor Thrall: Any further out than 12 weeks because anything as you as you move out that timeline your ability to have any sense of when things are gonna happen goes to zero pretty quickly.

00:30:06.480 –> 00:30:14.880
Trevor Thrall: And so you know I overtime have learned what my kind of I call it my speed limit is, I know about how fast, I can do certain things, even if I.

00:30:15.750 –> 00:30:17.940
Trevor Thrall: Because i’ve done a lot of similar things before.

00:30:18.210 –> 00:30:26.220
Trevor Thrall: But if you’re starting a new kind of a project like you guys are writing a different kind of book you didn’t realize it at first, but you were and that meant you really didn’t know how long everything was going to take.

00:30:26.490 –> 00:30:36.240
Trevor Thrall: Now, if you wrote another new book on a new topic I guess i’m guessing you guys would bet it’s going to take more like the second book or like this recent book, then it would look like the first book, so you learn.

00:30:36.330 –> 00:30:38.190
Michael: You want to just hire a ghost writer for the next one.

00:30:38.280 –> 00:30:39.810
Trevor Thrall: That might even be a better idea.

00:30:39.960 –> 00:30:45.990
Michael: yeah yeah no you’re right that’s absolutely true, is, I think I think you know you don’t know.

00:30:46.410 –> 00:30:55.140
Michael: What is going to take until you’ve done it right and so you’ve got to make your best guess like you said it’s very difficult to get very far into the future, so 12 week.

00:30:55.560 –> 00:31:01.440
Michael: A 12 week execution cycles really ideally suited you kind of see the next 12 weeks going to get a sense of what’s going to take.

00:31:01.950 –> 00:31:09.210
Michael: And, and then what I really liked about your book in particular Trevor is that you didn’t just take the 12 week year, and you know just kind of.

00:31:09.720 –> 00:31:13.500
Michael: force everything into the 12 week year you kind of move time.

00:31:14.250 –> 00:31:24.360
Michael: The concept of time blocking and time us right after the plan in terms of how you’re thinking about it, so you could confront the capacity, do I have the time available to write this book.

00:31:24.810 –> 00:31:32.370
Michael: And I think that’s because of book is is not part of the business as usual it’s something you’re doing on top of your life right it’s it’s not.

00:31:32.580 –> 00:31:39.330
Michael: You know the other parts of your life keep going right if you’re working you got a job you got family stuff going on, you got all the things happening around you that aren’t going to go away.

00:31:39.750 –> 00:31:50.610
Michael: So being realistic about the time you have available if you don’t have to have a boatload of time, but, but if you don’t have a boatload of time, then you just got to push back what you’re going to get done in this 12 weeks.

00:31:51.030 –> 00:32:09.060
Michael: So it’s going to help you to really think through because it’s so easy to overestimate how much time you have and because you overestimate how much time you have you don’t act with urgency and focus until you realize I can’t I can’t do it right so yeah yeah.

00:32:09.150 –> 00:32:19.200
Trevor Thrall: No that’s fantastic all right well Mike you know I think that’s about enough time for one gab session we do this, all day we’ve done this for hours many a time but.

00:32:19.650 –> 00:32:26.640
Trevor Thrall: i’m sure i’ll have you back on at some point we can talk more 12 week your stuff Mike thanks again for all the insight and wisdom man.

00:32:26.940 –> 00:32:31.560
Michael: Well, thank you Trevor I hope I hope I had a little bit of that and, hopefully, it was helpful for some of the listeners so.

00:32:32.100 –> 00:32:33.300
Trevor Thrall: Thanks a lot, thank you.


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