Making your book a lifelong commitment. An interview with Becky Robinson that originally aired…
Letting the length of your message define the medium.
An interview with Dan Pink that originally aired on June 29th, 2022, as part of our Leveraging Thought Leadership Live series on LinkedIn.
At one time the undisputed best embodiment of a set of ideas was a book. It was the clear winner, but is that still true?
To explore today’s best mediums for written media, we’ve turned to five-time New York Times bestselling author Dan Pink. Dan has worked as a writer for politicians and the government before going out on his own to write seven books about business, work, creativity, and behavior.
Dan shares why you need to be “medium-agnostic,” capable of publishing on many different mediums of media. He shares ways to test your ideas in various mediums, from books to Instagram, from TikTok to long-form articles. Once you’ve spread your wings a bit, you can build upon a broader foundation, leaning in on the ideas with depth and staying power.
While much has changed in the publishing industry over the last twenty years, the need for robust, insightful ideas remains paramount. We discuss the need for thought leaders to produce quality content that engages your audience – and sparks your enthusiasm, too! If you’ve lost interest in your own ideas, the reader will never get hooked. They’re only going to be as excited about your insights as you are in talking about them.
When trying to determine the best medium for an idea you have to let the material tell you. Dan explains why you have to check the idea by asking “Are you sure?” to avoid having a bloated book that wastes the reader’s time and undermines the idea.
Three Key Takeaways:
- Authors need to be good risk managers. Keep a low overhead, spend money on things that make money, and save money on everything else.
- Think of a book as a long-term proposition and stick with it. Try other mediums – a lot of them! – to back up your book ideas.
- It takes a certain level of maturity to leave some of your work on the editing floor, but remember that the reader needs to be entertained as well as educated – and keep things simple.
If you need a strategy to bring your thought leadership to market, Thought Leadership Leverage can assist you! Contact us for more information. In addition, we can help you implement marketing, research, and sales. Let us help you so you can devote yourself to what you do best.
Peter Winick And welcome, welcome, welcome. This is Peter Winick. I’m the founder and CEO of Thought Leadership Leverage and you’re joining us on the LinkedIn live version of the podcast, which is Leveraging Thought Leadership. And today I’m really, really psyched, not that I’m not typically psyched, but more so than normal, to have Dan Pink on. And even though he doesn’t really need an introduction, I’ll give him a quick one. So Dan is the author of five New York Times bestsellers, including the latest The Power of Regret How Looking Back Moves US Forward. His other books include When, A Whole New Mind, Drive, and To Sell Is Human. And before we go into his esteemed accomplishments, I’d rather just talk to him because that would be more interesting. So, Dan, thank you so much for coming on today. Appreciate it.
Dan Pink Thank you for having me. Peter, always good to see you.
Peter Winick Yeah, So, let’s just dive in. So you had been at the publishing, Well, amongst other things, publishing for what, 18, 20 years? When did you.
Dan Pink For 20 years.
Peter Winick 20 years.
Dan Pink So many years. Yeah.
Peter Winick Wow.
Dan Pink So we’re just kind of amazing given that I myself, I’m only 27, so. Yeah, you know, I was, I was. I was a publishing prodigy. I began when I was six or seven years old.
Peter Winick So you’re like the King Tut of publishing.
Dan Pink You know what that is basically, Peter, how most people describe me.
Peter Winick Other what.
Dan Pink And what they mean by that is they mean that that dead and.
Peter Winick Embalmed, right? Wrapped in gold. Is that right for you? Right. Well, given that that we’ll have to wait for that a little bit, at least another half hour. Selfishly, he hope so. Give us high level sort of how different the world of publishing is today than 20 years ago and what’s similar.
Dan Pink Yeah, that’s a it’s a super interesting question. And I’m not sure that I’ve actually you know, it’s something that I’m thinking about a lot, Peter, actually. So I don’t know if I have a, I have sort of maybe like sort of some early thoughts on it, but it’s something that I really am trying to I something that I’m really trying to work out. So, among the differences, the media environment in general was crowded 20 years ago. It’s ridiculous now. I mean, it is. It is it is ridiculous Now, there are so many outlets and so many different ways to get ideas out there and so much ferocious competition for attention. It’s just incredible. And I have to say, in the trajectory of all the books that I’ve written, it just gets harder and harder and harder and harder and harder.
Peter Winick So let me plug it in. So I think that’s.
Dan Pink I think that’s I think that’s a. Go ahead. Go ahead. Yeah.
Peter Winick So that’s the signal to noise problem and just on steroids. So even 20 years ago, it wasn’t back to the quaint old days when we were kids of three stations on television. But like you said, it was it was we didn’t have streaming. I mean, there’s a long list of things that we didn’t have, but I think it’s the signal to noise peace, right. So that there’s so much out there. How do you stand out? Right. How do you get attention?
Dan Pink I think that it’s even more complicated than that. Okay. I think that’s right. I think that’s a big component of it. But I think it’s even more complicated than that because so if you have an idea or a concept or a book or anything like that and you try and you’re vying for attention, there is social media, but it’s not just social media. There are like six different varieties. Okay, Right. So, so I had people who were horrified that six months ago I was not on Instagram because I. Didn’t really care and it took her, You’re.
Peter Winick Not going to break out into a tick tock dance. Right. We’re not we’re not a dance. Okay.
Dan Pink Not a.
Peter Winick Dance.
Dan Pink Perhaps. Perhaps a mime, a tic tac mime, which I think is going to be the next big thing because it doesn’t make any noise but.
Peter Winick Just sigh about that. Right?
Dan Pink So you have that. But the other thing about it is, is that it’s not only the signal to noise ratio, it’s also, I think, an open question about whether what is the best medium for conveying ideas and stories and thoughts of the sort that you and your clients and your pals deal with. And 20 years ago it was obvious that the best embodiment of a set of ideas wasn’t this thing called a book. It wasn’t even it wasn’t even a close call. I don’t even give it a second. I didn’t even give it a second chance. It’s like, wow. I was like, So? So my first book was a book called Free Agent Nation. I was like, Holy crap, there are all these people who are working independently doing different things. I think this is a big idea. I think it’s a big phenomenon. I’m going to capture it. I think that I think that I’m more right than wrong. I think there’s something interesting to say here. So of course I say the form that that takes is a book. Now, 20 years later, as I think through ideas, I think that you have to be much more medium and agnostic and say.
Peter Winick Wait a second, is the state of the is the.
Dan Pink Book is a book the best and most appropriate embodiment of this set of ideas, concepts, notions.
Peter Winick Etc.? And I think it used to be that was true and it was a sequence. I have to come out with the book, then I’ll come out with the keynote. Then then, then, then, then everything is a derivative of the book. Now the question is two questions. Do you need a book? And then if so, is that opening night or does that come later? And I’ve seen a lot of folks who are a little bit different in many ways in some sense than many test. The idea is first in multiple formats and mediums and blah, blah, blah, and then build on and build on and build on it, which is one.
Dan Pink I think that’s actually a smart way to do it. I mean, I think that that inevitably one tests ideas. I think that’s fair use if that’s the only way to give me one second.
Peter Winick Yep.
Dan Pink Sorry about that. I’m recovering from COVID to make my life even more happy.
Peter Winick Oh, that’s so 2021.
Dan Pink I know. I know. I know, I know. As always, this thing is like, I’m so slow. I’m always late to everything. And so it took me it took me two and a half years to get over it. That shows you how sluggish I am. So, you know. So. But. But I think there are forms. So again, it’s so I don’t I’m not what I say that the media environment is crowded. I don’t mean that in a boo hoo way. There are a lot of opportunities there, too. So you can. I like. I have an email newsletter. I’ve gotten them and I and I will test out ideas in there. And I remember one idea that I tested out in there. I wrote maybe two paragraphs about it. I heard from an editor at a big magazine saying, If this is really interesting, you want to write something for us about this. And I did. And I realized that the idea stop there. It wasn’t it wasn’t worth anything more than that. And so I think that the ability to use these various media to test ideas to get these.
Peter Winick States, they would be going on ads there, I think. There are sort of two types of TED talks that you see, right, or two types of books that you read. One that you’re like, well, that could have been a TED talk and should have. And then there’s the rare TED talk. You’re like, Wow, that could also be a book. So sometimes we’re forced, based on the medium, to say, Hey, Dan, interesting idea, but you put it out in 2000 words in an article, you got 70,000 words on that. And like you said, you might maybe not write or, you know, it’s a ten minute thought and therefore a book isn’t the right format to do that.
Dan Pink I agree. I mean, I get a lot of you know, I get a lot of books here at Thinking World Headquarters and a lot of nonfiction books, and many of them are baggy. Many of them are flabby. Cut to your metaphor. Many of them exactly as you say, Peter, is an interesting idea. But it would be it’s really a 1500 word magazine piece. It’s a 2000 word piece. It’s not 65 70,000 words. And it actually under it actually undermines the idea and dilutes.
Peter Winick It to the point of bland. Yeah. And I think.
Dan Pink I think there’s an opera. I think there’s an opportunity there, though. Here’s the thing. It’s like to go directly to your question. Yeah. Which I think is a really interesting question, something that I haven’t thought that much directly about, which is how have things changed over the last 20 years? And I really do believe that 20 years ago, the first move, the best move was almost always writing a book.
Peter Winick Yeah.
Dan Pink Now I think one has to actually challenge that and that’s and that’s more difficult for somebody like me who’s been at this a long time.
Peter Winick Sure.
Dan Pink Who is a writer. That’s who I am. All right. So. So if I’m sitting on a bus and someone says, What do you do for a living? I say, I’m a writer. If somebody even when my kids were little, you say, What does your dad work for living? They say he’s a writer. And so.
Peter Winick The book on the other side is a.
Dan Pink Little bit about teaching an old dog some new tricks.
Peter Winick Right. And no, if originally you thought of yourself as a thinker, not a writer, but the word was, Yeah, you’re a writer. That’s what that’s your. You don’t even think that’s an interesting. Who am I? It’s part of my identity, part of what I do. I want to go to. The other side of the question was what’s remained the same? Because I do think there’s a lot of all the things that you talked about are true, yet there are some evergreen principles that remain the same. So talk a talk about that for a moment.
Dan Pink I think that over time, not always, but often there are returns to quality and that there is something about a book 20 years ago and today that is a very robust test of whether you have a real idea and whether you have something to say. And there is something about the sheer amount of work that it takes to put out a good book that gives the people on the receiving end a sense that this is serious, this is thought through, this is important, this is this is valuable. So I think so stay there.
Peter Winick For a second. So there are and I’m not doing this to flatter you’re maybe 6 to 10 authors thought leaders that when I see somewhere they’re coming out with a book, I go to the buy it now button prerelease right. And that might be six months from now nine months now, because I know that when Dan comes out with something, it’s going to be good, right? Because it always has been and it always will be. Now, what’s interesting about the way you operate compared to many, many thought leaders, clients of ours, etc., is you move from thing to thing, right? Most thought leaders, it’s I’m the resilience guy, I’m the leadership guy, I’m the whatever agility guy or whatever. And therefore you sort of know what to expect when tuning. You know, it’s like going into your car and tuning into the jazz station, Oh, this will be kind of whatever. I kind of don’t know what expect to expect from you, but I have enough trust in you and the brand that whatever it is, I’m probably going to like it. It’s going to be really thought out and it’s going to be good. There’s a quality bar that’s going to be up to that verbal.
Dan Pink You know, I mean, you’re presenting it in some ways as if it is if I have a strategy behind all of that, which I absolutely do not. The you know, what I’ve found is that I’ve seen too many instances where somebody has one idea or one book. And they write that same book four times. And having read some of those books and having seen some of those things, I was certain early on that that is not something that I wanted to do. That is not how I wanted to spend my time. The other thing is, is that I again, I think this goes back in part, this is just all about me. I really define myself as a writer. That’s what I do. That is the that is the bulk of where my brain goes in writing a book. Writing a good book is very, very hard. It takes a long time. It is a lot of work. So I only want to choose topics that I am deeply, deeply, deeply, deeply interested in because otherwise it’s not going to be a very good book. And you can see as a reader, when an author has lost interest in her book or when an author doesn’t.
Peter Winick Do well in any and.
Dan Pink Everything that she says.
Peter Winick In many careers and professions, it’s kind of okay to come in and have a mediocre day at work. Not so much in writing, right? Like, no way. And to your point, if someone written six or eight books on X and they write the seventh, there’s a high probability it will be a commercial success, whatever that means, because they have the followers, whatever, or whatever. Will it be a good book, which I think is actually the only standard that really matters. And I think we conflate good book with how many units did you sell and what’s your ranking on Amazon or whatever. And sometimes it takes a while for a book to catch on, and sometimes it might not be commercially successful, but it’s brilliant, you know?
Dan Pink Right. And it, and it lands with an impact in, in the world. That is, people think about it and they change their actions and behaviors, their actions and behaviors based on that. But for me, I mean, it’s a really interesting way to look at it about saying, like, you know, most of us can have a bad day at work. I can have a bad day at work, like not a great day writing, but I can’t have a bad book. That’s not what it’s like.
Peter Winick It’s like when you’re keynoting, you can’t walk into a keynote. You’ve got to be on, right? Most people in most jobs can say, Hey, boss, you know what? I had a fight with my wife this morning. You know, I don’t know. I had a bad burrito for lunch and then not feeling so great. Whatever. Not a lot really. Have that. Not just another option. You are not allowed.
Dan Pink Not allowed. Not allowed. Not allowed. It’s. It’s to me. It’s just. It’s. It is. I mean, that’s what you want to point out to me, that the whole idea of writing a bad book is morally reprehensible. But I mean that seriously, because it’s a it’s a disservice to other people. You’re actually imposing a cost on other people. You are deceiving.
Peter Winick Time and money.
Dan Pink In some way. But the other thing about it is that it’s terrible business, you know, and so.
Peter Winick Particularly with so many options out there. So I want to go in a different direction for a moment. So we’re living in, except you, who’s a little bit slow on the uptake here with the COVID thing. We’re living in the almost post-COVID world, right? Think about what’s changed for you in terms of your business and how you operate and the things that you’re doing and who’s paying you to do it and all that. What does it look like before and what does it look like today? And what do you think it will look like in the near future?
Dan Pink So for me, it hasn’t been massively different because, again, like I’m talking to you from my home office, which is the garage behind my house here in Washington, D.C. I’ve been working at home for over 20 years. So like I’m used to that. I’ve been social distancing for 50 years, so I’m used to that, you know? So it hasn’t been, I guess, the only small change. Well, I mean, maybe it’s not small. For this last book that I wrote, I did over What do I do? I need 190 interviews with people. Not a single one was in person. All of them were over Zoom. And that’s a big change because when I did create a nation 100 years ago, I did hundreds of even more interviews than that. And I think every single one was in person. So I think that’s one change. And in terms of sort of like conferences and engagements and those kind of things, obviously, you know, there’ve been a few more virtual kinds of engagements and in for a long time, essentially nothing in person.
Peter Winick Right, right, right, right. So, I guess the trick is to social distance for 50 years and then there’s not a lot of adjustment.
Dan Pink Right. Exactly. That’s exactly. So the other thing is, which, you know, to all of you, you know, it’s like the other thing about this particular weird business that I’m in and you’re going to think I’m joking, but I’m really not. And I see people violate this all the time. Is low overhead. I mean, I’m in that very, very like, I will pay for talented people to work with talented people and I’ll pay for technology and otherwise. I’m just a cheap mother scratcher. You know, I will not I have never had an office outside of my home. Like, this is a is a very precarious business and you have to be a pretty effective risk manager. And one way to be an effective risk manager is to spend money on things that help you produce great stuff and save money on everything else. I see so many people say, I’m going to go become a writer due to die and I’m going to, you know, I’m going to run an office downtown and I’m going to print this, you know, And I’m like, Whoa, whoa, whoa, don’t do that. Don’t do that. Go find your garage, Get some WiFi. Start out there. Keep your costs low. You don’t. You know, I see people who start out and they have like three full time staff.
Peter Winick People like, what are you doing with that? Right, Right.
Dan Pink And it’s like, okay, so already you have this incredible you have this incredible carrying costs. So I’m a I’m a very firm believer in this in this particular business in low overhead.
Peter Winick Well, I think that that’s a key piece. I also think it’s sort of risk management from a portfolio diversification. So there are plenty of folks that we’ve worked with where it’s easy or was easy to get sort of fat and lazy on the speaking circuit when that was a thing. And then all of a sudden literally the brakes hit and nobody in financial plan said, well, what if there was zero of this for 18 months? Right. And now many folks had diversification, said, oh, well, I have to do less of this, so I’ll do more of this, I’ll do coaching, I’ll do advising, I’ll do remotely, etc., etc.. Yeah.
Dan Pink So I think that’s actually I think that’s actually important. But I think that the same thing is true on the you know, I just think that you have to always keep things fresh and relevant to your to your audience. And I think that that ends up being a bigger problem than the external circumstances. If you have something fresh and relevant to say, the pandemic won’t necessarily halt everything. But if you are.
Peter Winick The modality, if you’re constrained by one modality.
Peter Winick If you’re enjoying this episode of Leveraging Thought Leadership, please make sure to subscribe. If you’d like to help spread the word about our podcast, please leave us a review and share it with your friends. We’re available on Apple Podcasts and on all major listening apps as well as at ThoughtLeadershipLeverage.com/podcasts.
Peter Winick We’ve got a question here from Todd that wants to hear Dan’s thoughts on thought leadership. Does he think of himself as a thought leader?
Dan Pink Well, I mean, I don’t want to annoy my friend Peter here, but I don’t love the phrase thought leadership. You know, I just I, I would never think of I don’t think of myself as a quote unquote thought leader. I actually would never use the phrase going back to what we were talking about before, I think about myself first and foremost as a writer and as a writer. One of the things that I do is that I want to get I look at it almost like an ecosystem. So, that the writing is at the core of the ecosystem. And anything that happens beyond that is an outgrowth of that. But without that core, there’s nothing there’s no there’s, there’s no there’s no center. And so anything, whether it’s its audio and podcasts, whether it is speaking engagements, whether it is consulting, whether it is television, whether it is other kinds of media, I draw it as with the writing at the center of it. That’s how that’s how I think about it. So what the center is, is a writer now, as Peter and I were talking about earlier, Tod, I’m actually rethinking whether that ecosystem is the right ecosystem for this moment. And I increasingly suspect that it’s not that there might that the actually the idea the thought the notion might be at the center of that ecosystem.
Peter Winick And so writing one.
Dan Pink One sort of outgrowth of that.
Peter Winick Yeah. And I would argue that that is a more accurate representation of the universe today is the ideas at the center. Yeah, a book writing is one way to get it out. Video. You know, there’s lots of ways to get it. All right. And but whether you call it writing or ideas at the center, it’s got to be good. So one of the things that I love about your latest book and regrets was this wasn’t one dude’s thoughts on regrets. There was deep research. You can tell this wasn’t you know, this was a couple of years of work. This was thoughtful. You know, I would have loved to see the cutting room floor, the scraps through the stuff that didn’t get into it. And that, I think, is the real that’s the real litmus test, right? Because if you can produce quality in one modality, it’s easier to move it into multiple modalities. If it’s crap to start, you can’t put lipstick on a pig. And I think there’s too many people trying to do that right now. And I really don’t care if I spend 25 or 30 bucks on a book and it’s not great. I’ll just put it down. But don’t waste 6 hours of my time that I’m not going to allow a men.
Dan Pink I am your hallelujah chorus on that. And I actually think about that as a writer because of my front. Those kinds of frustrations I have as a reader. When I think about someone picking up a copy of any of my books, I think about it as Holy smokes, man, this person is spending 25 bucks or 12 bucks on the paperback or 14 bucks on the paperback, whatever it is. So that’s a meaning. That’s like real money. It’s like zero. But then, but, but also, like I’m going to say and what I’m saying to them is that is the time thing. It’s like, you know what, reader? There’s nothing better for you to do for the next eight for 9 hours of your life. 8 hours of your life than read my book. It’s time spent time spent reading my stuff is more useful and valuable to you than spending time with your family, then going out and exercising than going to the grocery store. Then going what? And that’s a very high bar. And I try to and I think about that all the time when I when I’m writing. And that’s also one of the reasons why I work mightily to keep my books a reasonable length. And actually, you know, because I’ve had the experience as a writer, is that okay, I’m reading seven pages of this eight page of this because you found it out because you spend some time doing the research. Sure. I know you’re going to torture me because you did the work, but it doesn’t really help me as a reader to read seven pages on the history of the fruit fly when there was a fruit fly in this experiment.
Peter Winick You know, it’s funny that you say that because occasionally I’ve got stuck in what I call the Kindle rabbit hole. So I tend to read almost everything on my Kindle. And it’s just and I have like the dumbest version of a Kindle because I don’t want you know, I don’t wanna get distracted, wind up on the Internet with black and white and it keeps me in like it’s this equivalent. Now, it took me a while to be in book mode, but I got through it with my trusty dopey Kindle. Right. And I know I typically read 2 to 3 books a week, so I kind of know my cadence and, you know, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. But every now and then I’m reading something feels like, Oh, I’ve been reading this forever and I’m at 17%, and then I have to go backwards and out and say, How many pages is this damn thing? Like, Oh my God, you know, I never would have picked up an 800 page book on the history of Winston Churchill’s cognac habit or something like I just would have known. So I think there is something, and if you can’t say it in less, it probably doesn’t need the more.
Dan Pink Expensive, you know, different. Here’s the thing. The material tells you how much it needs. And the thing is, is that the material, the material tells you how much space it needs. But the author, the writer has to say, all right, material. Are you sure? Are you sure? Can we just go? Can we do it? Can we do it? Sure. I’ll give you an example of this from my own. And it’s a pain in the ass. So I’ll give you example from this, from this last book. So I think it was like literally do what’s it 20? This is 2010.
Peter Winick 20, 21.
Dan Pink 20, 22, 20, 21, 22. Yeah, I think so. I think it was like two years ago this summer, like right around now I’m in this very office and, and you know, and I’m reading lots and lots of papers about regret. And I was curious about there’s a lot of research on how regret develops in children, a lot of research in developmental psychology about how regret develops, how children process it, how old they are when they’re able to understand it. And I read the folders, right. The folders are right over there. I read I saw I spent a month reading that research. And it’s a lot. It’s a lot. And it’s not easy going. Then when I and I took notes and I had a whole file there, and then when I got to the point in the book where I was going to talk about that, I realized that I could essentially explain everything readers needed to know about that in two paragraphs. Now, that’s a pain in the ass because I put in a lot of work. And so the question that you face is. Do I want to torture readers because I spent….
Peter Winick I spent so much time.
Dan Pink Or do I want to actually punish myself, you know, torture myself and say, you know what, you’re going to have to throw that that’s on the cutting room floor, man, because your readers don’t need to know that. And I think earlier in my life, when I was much younger, I might not have had the maturity to do that. But now I think that is essential.
Peter Winick But is the right metric volume in, volume out? It could be without.
Dan Pink Right.
Peter Winick You know, if you’re only using it on word count, you’d say, well, that was a bad use of my time. One month for 500 words or whatever the conversion rate is, what you might say. But that actually laid the foundation for my thinking to not do more research on this or build the foundation here.
Dan Pink So I agree with you about that. I think that’s I think that’s a very healthy way to look at it. When you’re…
Peter Winick After the fact.
Dan Pink When you’re after the fact. Exactly. When you’re at your keyboard and you’re saying, wait a second. Did I just describe everything in two paragraphs?
Peter Winick Yeah.
Dan Pink And there’s really nothing more that anybody needs to know about this. Wow. That’s kind of a bummer. Are you sure? You know, so.
Peter Winick Yeah. Yeah. Interesting. So you are. Now, when did the book came out? Fairly recently. Month. Two months ago. Well, I just finished in February. Okay, well, a couple of months ago. So you’re sort of on the tail end of launch? I would imagine. Kind of kind of winding down. What are the things that you’ve learned? This time when launching it around, whether it’s strategies, tactics, what’s working, what’s not working. I mean, you mentioned how many appearances you’re doing. I love being able to do it from your office. That’s kind of fantastic.
Dan Pink Yeah. Yeah. You know, I think what I what I’ve learned is that it’s that it’s that it’s that it’s really hard out there. You know, so. And I think about someone. Coming out with his or her first book. You know, this is my seventh, so I have some mileage on me, I have some experience, I have contacts and things like that, credibility. It’s ferociously hard out there to break through. I also think to you, one of your earlier points is that there are returns to the returns, the doggedness. I do think that that a lot of times publishers are too seduced by the idea that you have this white hot center to make it big. And if you don’t hit during that period, it’s over. And I do think that.
Peter Winick Is not true.
Dan Pink Yeah, I agree. I agree that you really, really have to stick with it, which is the other reason, even more so today. That was true. That was true before. Even more so today. You have to stick with it. You have to you have to think about it as a long term proposition, which is why you have to pick topics that you’re deeply interested in. And I think that’s true for anybody who begins to amass any body of work. I’ll give you an example. So I think it was it like. Yeah, I think it was like about a week ago I was on this call and someone said, Oh, you know, are you done promoting this book? Meaning this. Right, exactly. Thank you for that laugh. And I said, No, dude, I’m still promoting a book I wrote 20 years ago. Like, I never stopped promoting it.
Peter Winick So sustaining that because I think, you know, you pointed out the inherent conflict is. Bookshop books have a long-term amortization schedule, right. And there’s a lot of reasons why the cadence of the publishing industry, oh, your fall release or a spring release like it was a piece of fashion. But I mean, I live in a world of books, right? And when I give a book or recommend a book to someone, there is what was the publishing day? You know, it’s like a bottle of wine with the. Oh 2018 was a great Napa vintage for 2019. Not so much. It’s like good ideas last and live, right? But we’re living in a world that just because you can go to Amazon, like with your OCD and say, Oh, you know, where am I in the list? Where my list, that’s actually a good fit. And the reality is the data shows us that most nonfiction books do better today, year to than year one, which is the opposite of what sort of the book industrial complex will have you believe, and the PR firms and all that sort of stuff.
Dan Pink I think a lot of times it takes readers time to find the book that is right for them. Word of mouth, even with the. Word of mouth for worthy things, I think remains slow. Were the word of mouth for deceptive, enraging things is incredibly fast, but word of mouth, even today for these kinds of things, is slow. And so you see a lot of books out there that sell and sell and sell and sell and sell and sell over time and even the whole even the whole idea of I mean, again, this is controversial in this world, but even the whole idea of like a best seller list, which is based on sales for one week, I mean, it’s silly. It’s silly and it’s silly in a sense. It’d be like.
Peter Winick You know, he falls into the trap.
Dan Pink Of course I knew. Let’s see. Let’s see who let’s see who can run the furthest. Alright. And our measure of who can run the furthest.
Peter Winick Is.
Dan Pink Who, who can run the fastest during a few days. And whether that person actually achieves any distance, we don’t care because all we’re measuring is who had the fastest velocity over those few days. I mean, it’s completely bonkers.
Peter Winick I just titled your next book for you, by the way, Rage and Deceive. That’s your next book, guaranteed bestseller. Write that down.
Dan Pink The but you know, one of the things that you see is, you know in the UK is that they actually they actually print they print actual sales figures which I think would be something the American publishing industry does not want, because what they’ll find out is that a lot of these a lot of these were the books that the intelligentsia loves, don’t sell any copies. And what sells copies in enormous numbers are books that the intelligentsia doesn’t barely even knows exists, let alone, you know, let alone read.
Peter Winick So, like the Kardashian cookbook or something?
Dan Pink Yeah, but not even. Not even that. I mean, if you think about if you think about something like give me an example. So atomic habits, incredibly successful. I mean, just unbelievable commercial success. My hunch it’s only a hunch is that The New York Times has never written about that book, that The New York Times has never covered that book and said this is a phenomenon. What’s this guy saying? This is something that people are embracing. My hunch is that The New York Times has never written anything about this. This reminds me a little bit of and I’m showing my age here on two dimensions, is that when that book Good to Great came out, it must have been like in the midnight.
Peter Winick 20 years ago.
Dan Pink Even longer yet when Good to Great came out. Huge phenomena, huge phenomenon. And I remember at some point one of the big one of the big outlets, it was like news, Newsweek, a thing or.
Peter Winick A thing, right?
Dan Pink It was like seven years later. They’re like, there’s this book called Good to Great that everybody seems to like. And it’s like after it, it sold millions and millions of copies. So I guess to all the authors out there is it is really it’s like, you know, we return, you know, low overhead returns to doggedness and finding stuff you believe in.
Peter Winick High Quality.
Dan Pink And high quality, doing your very, very best work, doing work you’re proud of, doing work that serves and being relentless in talking about it and sharing your ideas with people, which again, goes back to the fundamental thing. I mean, Peter, you’re so right. Quality, but also something you care about. I’ve seen a lot of journalists get seduced, a lot of journalists who write a story, especially now they’ll write a magazine story and for whatever weird set of circumstances, it catches fire. Right. And so in.
Peter Winick A moment in time and they.
Dan Pink Start getting phone calls, that should be a book. That should be a book. And they are so seduced by that they end up writing a book and they realize that, like, this is not a book. This is not a book I want to write. And they’re trapped. And they end up writing a mediocre book that on.
Peter Winick A topic they’re not all that interested.
Dan Pink In and a topic that I’m interested in. And they just they just want to move. They just want to move past it. It’s like it’s like having an ex spouse and you just want to, like, move their stuff out of the apartment.
Peter Winick Right, Exactly.
Dan Pink Right. And it’s not that I not that I I’ve been happily married for 27 years. I have no ex spouses, but that’s the analogy.
Peter Winick Good. Good to close that loop because you were about to get a text.
Dan Pink Not really.
Peter Winick Any other words of wisdom before we wrap it here. This has been phenomenal. I appreciate and admire your work. I appreciate your time. Thank you, Peter. And you’re the person which, you.
Dan Pink Know, I just think I mean, I think that it’s I mean, curious, you know what? You know, for you to keep thinking, because I’d love to hear what else you have to say about this in the future and even your viewers about I think it’s an important question is like, what if what if you are if one is trying to convey ideas, make arguments, make a case, tell stories. What is the best medium for that today?
Peter Winick And I would say not even for that for you at this moment. True. True. I don’t think so. I think it’s a bespoke answer, actually.
Dan Pink Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. And for me, again, I mean, you know, I’m talking to myself is that, you know, I’m trying to lose the muscle memory of immediately saying that’s a book that’s about every idea I have. I think that’s a book. And I don’t think that’s a way to think about things now. I think that I think there are many, many more opportunities out there to do really interesting things that help people understand the world, that help people live their lives better, that are cool and interesting and engaging, that work that you can be proud of and that serves other people. And, you know, as much as I’m a reader and as much as I’m a writer, as much as I love books, I think that we have to think about whether in all cases the book is the best vessel for that, and I don’t think that it is.
Peter Winick Yeah, great stuff. We appreciate it. Thank you so much for your time. Thanks so much, Peter.
Dan Pink What a pleasure. Thanks for having me.
Peter Winick To learn more about Thought Leadership Leverage, please visit our website at ThoughtLeadershipLeverage.com to reach me directly. Feel free to email me at Peter at ThoughtLeadershipLeverage.com and please subscribe to Leveraging Thought Leadership on iTunes or your favorite podcast app to get your weekly episode automatically.