Ep 187: Success in Publishing and Humility in Life with Tom Rath | Recap Episode

RV (00:02):
Welcome back to the influential personal brand recap edition with myself. I’m joined by AJ Vaden, our CEO and my wonderful wife and amazing business partner. What an awesome episode, you know, I didn’t realize that Tom Rath has sold 10 million books, that Strengthfinders, that book has sold more books than like any other book, except like the Bible and you know, like a couple, a couple others. Uwhat a fantastic conversation. UI’m always amazed, I’ll say this real quick about Tom, before we jump into the three points and,uagent I’ll go, go back and forth, but I’m always amazed at his humility. It blows me away that someone that has sold 10 million books and yada yada, yada, he, you would not know it. You would not even know it in the conversation. And,ubut anyways, super practical, you know, just a goldmine of knowledge and, and a lot of things we could have interviewed him before.
RV (01:04):
Well, we actually interviewed him before on other shows that we’ve done, but this one was very focused on selling books. And how do you sell 10 million books? And the first thing that my first takeaway, which to me was, again, it’s just, it’s, it’s so simple, but so profound was, he said, make sure your book gives people something to do. It gives them an action. It gives them a behavior because it’s like when people do a behavior in their life, it is, it is evidence of the fact that this book has changed their life. It becomes a talking point to all the people around them. And it’s like a manifestation of your ideas showing up in a pragmatic way. And that is just such a simple idea that it doesn’t seem like that could be a secret of selling 10 million books, but that was the number one thing. He was super clear on it. And he’s like, look, the books that sell a bunch of copies, the five love languages, books like that. It’s like they infiltrate our everyday lives as behaviors. So I know that’s super simple AJ, but like that, that hit me hard.
AJV (02:14):
Yeah. You know, simple as powerful, simple also isn’t always easy. I think one of the things that is really important and, and all of this for us all to remember, and it’s like, you know, Tom said it in this interview and we’ve, we’ve had other individuals come over to the podcast and said very simple very simply like the key to having a best-selling book is to become a daily part of your routine. Right. you know, Hal Elrod talked about this with miracle, it’s about, you have to be a part of your daily routine. And it’s the same thing. It’s like, you have to create this way that it becomes infiltrated in your life. And so I think with, you know, StrengthsFinders, it’s like how many people just go like base interviews off of this? Big, this is a part of their interviewing and recruiting profile.
AJV (03:00):
This is a part of how they find coaches. This is how they view themselves. Or these are my strengths. And then all of a sudden you’re told something that you live into. And I think that it’s not just give them something to do, but it’s also give them something that’s based in data has I think, and perhaps it’s, I have a natural fascination with data like I do, but it’s give them something that’s founded and real data, not just opinions, but this is it’s researched and it’s founded and it’s valid. And it’s not just an opinion. That’s like, well, maybe, but maybe not. It’s like, no, it’s like, I got asked these questions. I answered these questions. It ran a little formula. There was an algorithm and bam boom, people love that. They love to know that there’s the solidity and that there’s some sort of data founded in these opinions and it doesn’t have to be huge.
AJV (03:52):
It doesn’t have to be an assessment or a test or a quiz, you know, as we’re talking about StrengthsFinder, but you find the people that thing that just fascinates them. And one it’s learning about themselves, right. Who doesn’t want to learn more about themselves too, it’s being a part of their daily life. Right. So giving them something to do, it’s being a part of the routine, but then three it’s something that’s actually founded in more opinions than just one. And I think that’s a huge part of, you know, also being a reader of, you know, Tom Rath’s work and a user of it. It’s like, there’s a lot of power and not just giving them something to do and being a part of the routine that it’s not just one person’s opinion, right. It creates this credibility factor that allows you to buy more into it because it’s somehow more credible or more valid. And I think those are all things that we can do. Right. We’ve had researcher, Jason Dorsey on our show before who’s also a good friend. Uwe recently did our own huge research study because we believe in this so much, but I think there’s a lot of power and going give people real data.
RV (05:03):
Yeah. Yeah. That’s so that’s so good. You know, as you were talking, I was thinking about the books in, in our life or in my life specifically that that have literally like changed my life. There are things that have infiltrated behavior. Do you know Dave Ramsey, total money makeover clearly the Bible, the you know, a lot of people talk about how Hal Elrods miracle morning, that’s a routine T Harv Eker secret of the millionaire mind. I still read my millionaire, mind affirmations from his book, which was like 15 years ago. I read that book. I read those affirmations regularly. So, so, so profound. A second, a second. My second takeaway, which I think is kind of closely connected to the first is give them a reason to share. So like give them a reason to do, it’s like, okay, that’s what am I going to change in my life?
RV (05:54):
But then give them a reason to share. And like you were saying, AJ so many people use StrengthsFinders, like it’s baked into their interviewing process. Whereas like every single candidate, they interview every single leader that gets promoted. They all go through this training because it’s, they, it’s just, the book is designed in that way. And they end to hear Tom say, oh yeah, that that’s part of the plan. Like you, you, you make it shareable and you, you don’t just think about what is a great idea you think about how could I package this idea to where it’s more like transmittable and again, super simple. And I, I almost feel a little silly that like, I haven’t had that thought myself before, but what so powerful, so powerful.
AJV (06:41):
Yeah. I would just add on to a couple of these things since they’re very similar, but I think one of the things that makes things shareable and my personal opinion is anything related to human discovery. It’s where one fascinated about learning about ourselves. And then we’re fascinated about learning about others. Like what makes them tick? Or why does this person annoy me? Why do I like this person? How was this person so successful? How did this person ever get in this situation as a, as a human being, we’re fascinated with discovering things about ourselves, how we tick, how we think, how we act, how we react, why some people act and think one way why others are good at other things, why others aren’t. And I think that that’s a part of what makes something sharable is this the human connectivity part. And it’s something that not just StrengthsFinders does really well, but clearly does very well.
AJV (07:34):
But you mentioned this earlier, the five love languages, right? Like we all want to know like, well, what, what is my love? How do I receive love? And what’s my natural way of giving it. It’s very fascinating. And then you’ve got programs like fascinate and disk and the Enneagram and Myers-Briggs, and you know, there’s, there’s dozens you, something we use in our company called the culture index culture index just become shareable. Why is because it’s about the human experience. It’s about human connection, the human psyche, and who isn’t fascinated about learning about the way you tick and others tick. And again, I said this earlier, but I really mean it, like, there is a way for any topic, every book, any product to incorporate the share-ability factor by connecting it to the human experience, what other than potentially fiction, which also plays at our emotions, which is a part of the human experience that doesn’t allow us to learn more about ourselves and each other. We just don’t market it that way.
RV (08:40):
Yeah. That’s, that’s, that’s, that’s super insightful. Like cause yeah, all of those books, I mean, if I have one more person asks me what my Enneagram number is, I’m gonna to, flip out
AJV (08:50):
Don’t you just tell us, put it on the record? What are,
RV (08:53):
I don’t know what it is like I actually forgot. I think I’m a three, I’m either a three or an eight I an eight. You’re not a eight.
AJV (09:03):
I’m an eight, but I think your secondary or your third was an eight, but I’m an eight. Yeah.
RV (09:08):
Well I know that, I, I know that I’m a C in disc, I’m a C D, but anyways, that’s, that’s just like, how can we educate our audience about the human experience? I mean, that’s really good that people are absolutely fascinated with it. Yeah. So love that. My last takeaway, which was very tactical, again, something I would, I did not expect him to say all, all, all three of these big themes were so simple that it’s kinda like what I thought it would be much more advanced with split test everything. I mean, split test everything. And we just live in a world where you know, I saw Donald Miller post this on Instagram, like yesterday or the day before. He’s like, Hey, I’m working on a subtitle for my next book. Here’s three options. What do you think? Then you get feedback. You can run ads.
RV (09:57):
You can cert you can send a survey, like be an email. You can do all of these different things, but you’re just split testing and letting the data I know AIG is like, yes, I I’ve been harping on this, like use data-driven data-driven decisions. It, it reveals the path. Like it just, it takes a lot of the, the risks. The other thing that makes me th whenever, whenever we think of data, I think of oh goodness, what is Adam Grant’s book originals. And, and his whole book is, is that, you know, basically the premise of the book is it’s not that the most successful people in the world just take risks. They’re not all just gamblers or risk takers. It’s that they take calculated risk. So you have to take risks, but it’s calculated risks. And, you know, to, to your conversation about the data and the study that we’ve done. And, and to hear Tom say that is like, gosh, we, we, I want to be more data-driven
AJV (10:59):
I love that. And my third one is ever so slightly different, which is a, it’s a question. That’s a question for all of you who are listening. It’s what are you doing? What are you talking about? What does your content do to start a conversation? And I thought that was so brilliant in this interview, as he just said, it’s like, if it starts a conversation, then it has value. So what are you doing that lends itself to someone going, Hey, I’ve got a question for the group I’ve recently been reading or listening to, or doing a course. What do you think about, or have you done this? It’s like what to Roy said, it’s like, if I get asked what might Enneagram it, and it’s just, it starts a conversation. So what, what is it that you’re doing that starts a conversation? Because it will go viral again, it says lead in point to this human connection, human experience of interesting things that are applicable to all of us, right?
AJV (12:03):
It’s not for one group of people. It’s for just the group of people and who we are and humanity. It’s like, what are you doing that starts a conversation, such a powerful question. And one that we should all take some time, you know, just sit sitting with and actually delving in and going, okay, what is it that I’m doing, but actually starts the conversation. And what conversation do I want to start? And how does that connect with my personal brand? And to me, I thought that was one of the most powerful things. That whole interview,
RV (12:35):
Love it. Go listen to the interview. I mean, where else can you talk to someone about how they sold 10 million books? Not a lot of people have that and are willing to share as openly and generously as Tom did. So we hope you get value out of the episode and this one and everyone. So keep coming back here, we’ll catch you next time on the influential personal brand.