Become a Writer Today

You Can Build a Business with Your Book Says Dr. Trevor Blattner

May 10, 2021 Bryan Collins Season 2
Become a Writer Today
You Can Build a Business with Your Book Says Dr. Trevor Blattner
Chapters
Become a Writer Today
You Can Build a Business with Your Book Says Dr. Trevor Blattner
May 10, 2021 Season 2
Bryan Collins

Have you ever considered offering something in addition to your book? I've discovered several non-fiction authors who provide coaching, organize events, or facilitate courses that elaborate on their book's ideas.

Doing this helps spread your message more widely because not everybody enjoys learning via the written word. It also enables you to earn more from your writing, which you could invest in your business or live off while writing another book.

It can also help you clarify your ideas and reposition you in a way that enables more people to engage with you.

My guest in this episode has done precisely this. Dr. Trevor Blattner runs a dental practice, and his new book, Redefining the Top 1%, is out now.

He's also the hosts a podcast and offers coaching and consulting based on the seven behaviors that drive shepherd leadership, which he explains in his book.

In this episode we discuss:

  • What inspired Trevor to write the book 
  • Explaining the relevance of the seven principles written about in the book
  • Redefining goal setting
  • Trevor's process for writing the book
  • The importance of accountability
  • The value of having an editor

Resources

Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/becomeawritertoday)

Show Notes Transcript

Have you ever considered offering something in addition to your book? I've discovered several non-fiction authors who provide coaching, organize events, or facilitate courses that elaborate on their book's ideas.

Doing this helps spread your message more widely because not everybody enjoys learning via the written word. It also enables you to earn more from your writing, which you could invest in your business or live off while writing another book.

It can also help you clarify your ideas and reposition you in a way that enables more people to engage with you.

My guest in this episode has done precisely this. Dr. Trevor Blattner runs a dental practice, and his new book, Redefining the Top 1%, is out now.

He's also the hosts a podcast and offers coaching and consulting based on the seven behaviors that drive shepherd leadership, which he explains in his book.

In this episode we discuss:

  • What inspired Trevor to write the book 
  • Explaining the relevance of the seven principles written about in the book
  • Redefining goal setting
  • Trevor's process for writing the book
  • The importance of accountability
  • The value of having an editor

Resources

Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/becomeawritertoday)

Trevor:
Understand that having an entitlement mentality or a victimhood mentality is sort of the Achilles heel for leadership. And so if we can, as parents and as leaders, really make the decision that regardless of the circumstances around us, that the decisions that we make moment to moment will dictate the long-term outcome, I think that's really a huge step in the right direction.

Introduction:
Welcome to the Become a Writer Today Podcast with Bryan Collins. Here you'll find practical advice and interviews for all kinds of writers.

Bryan:
If you're writing a non-fiction book, I've got a challenge for you. Consider building a course or a coaching offer alongside your book. Hi, there, my name is Bryan Collins, and welcome to the Become a Writer Today Podcast.

Bryan:
Over the past few years, I've interviewed a number of non-fiction authors, and what I found is most of them have an additional offer that goes alongside their non-fiction book. They offer a course that talks about or elaborates on the ideas in their book, they offer coaching, or perhaps they're organizing some sort of event. The reason they do it is because it helps them share their message with more people, because not everybody likes to learn through reading. It also helps them earn more money from their writing, and then they can use that to invest in their business, perhaps write another book and help more people. It also helps them clarify their ideas and reposition them in a different way that people can engage with and refer to.

Bryan:
Because sometimes you'd read a book, 60 or 70,000 words long, and then it's helpful to just go back and watch a few videos or read some lesson notes about the book, so you don't forget the lessons in question. So if you're writing a non-fiction book, particularly if it's a business book or leadership book or productivity, or in any of those nations or genres, consider how else you can turn that book into a product that helps your readers, your students, and your customers.

Bryan:
Now, one man who's done this is Dr. Trevor Blattner. He runs his own dental practice. His new book Redefining the Top 1% is out now. He's also the host of his own podcast, and he offers coaching and consulting based on the seven behaviors that drive shepherd leadership, which he explains in his book. I recently interviewed Trevor, and I started by asking him why he decided to write Redefining the Top 1% in the first place.

Bryan:
It's very nice to talk to you today, Trevor. You're the author of the new book, Redefining the Top 1%: The Seven Behaviors that Drive Shepherd Leadership. Welcome to the show.

Trevor:
Bryan, thanks so much, man, for having me. I'm thrilled to be on, and I appreciate the time.

Bryan:
I wanted to talk to you today because you've written what I think is an excellent leadership book, particularly for creatives and also for parents. I know many people listening are balancing writing with family responsibilities like myself, I've got three kids. But before we get into that, would you be able to maybe tell us the story of how the book came to be?

Trevor:
Absolutely. Yeah. I'm glad you mentioned parents because I've got three little girls myself, so that's a big driving force of why I decided to write the book. A little backstory in terms of my life, where I'm coming from. I'm actually an endodontist. I'm a specialist in dentistry, and then I went to residency, and so I have my own private practice. Over the last eight years I've grown my team from one person to a much larger group. And so I've become very interested in the ideas of leadership and influence and what can we do as individuals to foster better lives for the people that we have influence over and that we're leading. And then about a year and a half ago, before the coronavirus, so before COVID-19 was what it is, late 2019, I read an article in The Washington Post. It was by an author by the name of Rich Lowry, who is a really well-known writer for The Washington Post. He wrote an article about the state of the union in terms of mental health in the United States specifically, but I think it's relevant globally.

Trevor:
Basically, in the article he was describing that depression and anxiety among young people specifically, so our kids' generation, is at an 80-year high. This was actually before COVID even happened, so it's higher than that now. And then also among adults, it was at a 20-year high. So the idea that depression and anxiety are peaking now and only getting worse from the fallout from COVID, for one reason or another, it just really hit me hard. It really resonated with me. Maybe being a dad, I've got a seven-year-old, a five-year-old, and a three-year-old and they're very astute as I'm sure as a parent yourself you understand. Kids see what's going on in the world, and they see it at an early age, and it influences their lives. So I wanted to dig deeper into this and figure out what was going on.

Trevor:
The other thing that's noticeable, that I'm sure you've noticed and your audience has, is the level of trust that people have in the media, government, and each other is at an all-time low right now. People are struggling to find the ability to have a lot of faith in those people that are in leadership positions and they're giving us our news and our information. And so to me, I wanted to dig deep and do the research on what does really effective influence and leadership look like. I'm a strong believer in God, and so I have a bit of a theological approach without being overtly specifically Christian, though I am a Christian myself. A lot of the ideas in this book come from principles that are transcendent and they cross generations and then have historical and scientific backing. And so I wanted to put together a book that it was really robust in terms of its scientific approach and had good evidence but that was also user-friendly, and that it was a way that people could build these ideas into their lives very quickly and make them tangible and usable.

Trevor:
So that's the long and short of why I wrote the book, but I think it's very relevant, for sure, for parents, business leaders, and certainly creatives that are influencing those that see their work, whether they realize it or not.

Bryan:
Yeah, I have three kids, and I would agree that things are even more difficult now for them because they're missing a lot of their milestones. We're still in lockdown in Ireland when we're recording this interview, so there's no schools, you can't go to football training or dance practice or see their friends that often. So it's definitely a difficult time.

Trevor:
You guys are still completely locked down at this point?

Bryan:
At least For another five or six weeks, yeah.

Trevor:
No kidding. Yeah, so in the United States, different regions have started to open things up a bit, which has been great. But you're right, I mean, you see the challenges associated with the COVID protocols. And keeping kids away from the social interaction and those kinds of things, there are ramifications for all that.

Bryan:
Did you write your book during the lockdown?

Trevor:
Partially. I had started the book at the end of 2019, finished the book about halfway through the lockdown. So about mid 2020 was it was all finished up. And then, of course, the publishing process is a logistical challenge. It does take a little bit of time once the manuscript's all finished to get it published and all those things, but it was interesting starting it before. And then having COVID happen during the writing process definitely did change the overall message in the book somewhat, because it became relevant within the context of leadership that coronavirus is a real thing, and it's something that's going to have ramifications for the foreseeable future.

Bryan:
Hm, yeah, unfortunately. So the book is built around seven principles?

Trevor:
Yeah.

Bryan:
One of the principles is embrace radical responsibility. Another one, which appealed to me, was commit to mastery. Another one is be still and know. Are there any principles in the book that you think will be particularly relevant for creatives or parents?

Trevor:
Yeah. The way that I wrote the book was for each of the behaviors, the seven behaviors to build upon the previous one. So that ideally as you're getting great at behavior number one, which is embrace radical responsibility, it sets the foundation for the next behavior to build on top of it. I think that the ones you mentioned are very relevant. I mean, I guess the first thing I would say is none of them really work well if you haven't committed to the behavior number one, which is to embrace radical responsibility. It's just the idea that we all have free will, and we all have this ability to, in one sense, make decisions that will dictate the trajectory of our lives.

Trevor:
And until we take that seriously, not only accept the fact that we're in the driver's seat of our own lives but really embrace it and understand that having an entitlement mentality or a victimhood mentality is the Achilles heel for leadership. And so, if we can, as parents and as leaders, really make the decision that regardless of the circumstances around us, that the decisions that we make moment to moment will dictate the longterm outcome, I think that's really a huge step in the right direction. And then from there then it becomes, "What can we do on a regular basis to build effective habits into our lives, knowing that ultimately we're responsible for the longterm outcomes?" So I think that just that idea, and if we can pass that idea along to those people on our teams and our children, then I think that's a really big step in the right direction in terms of a better world.

Trevor:
Some of that idea comes from psychology. There's Freudian psychology, which is really kind of antithetical to the ideas that I put in the book, because Freud's idea was any ideological psychology. Many of his philosophies are based around the idea that your past and the circumstances you were born into and the situations you were exposed to early in your life dictate your future. I think that that is very much a deterministic type of a worldview, is definitely one that would expose people to depression and anxiety if embraced. And there's a different psychologist by the name of Alfred Adler, probably people have heard of, and his approach was much more in line with the ideas in this book. He called it a teleological approach to psychology. Basically, just the idea that our lives are dictated much less by our past than they are by the specific purpose and goals that we set for ourselves to move toward in the future. And so if we can just embrace the idea that the purpose that we really grab onto for our lives and the goals that we set to accomplish that purpose are really the things that will dictate the direction we move in life, I think that is maybe the biggest decision someone can make if they want to be a leader.

Bryan:
It sounds like it's a model for looking forwards rather than backwards.

Trevor:
Absolutely. Absolutely. I think that there's a lot of damage. I mean, I personally have dealt with anxiety and been diagnosed with something called generalized anxiety disorder. About 12 years ago was when the diagnosis was made, and so I've dealt with that world, that mental health world. I think that one of the most damaging things for somebody that battles that is dwelling on the past and looking backward at maybe things that didn't go well. Using those as either a crutch or something that will drag you down, I think it's detrimental. I think that those people that are the most effective, if you look historically, are those that had something very clear in mind that they were moving toward for the future.

Bryan:
Hmm. Yeah, I think I'm definitely guilty of looking at the past a lot. I mean, I like to journal, so that involves a lot of reflection about what happened in the past. One thing I'm curious about is you say it's about looking forward and setting goals. I mean, the problem with goals is if you achieve them, they can almost feel like, what next? What do I now?

Trevor:
Yeah, no, I-

Bryan:
Or if you don't achieve them, you can live in a state of, "I'm not doing what I need to be doing."

Trevor:
Absolutely.

Bryan:
What would you say to that?

Trevor:
Yeah, I mean, I think that's a very relevant point. I think the distinction that I would make is that individual goals in and of themselves aren't enough. I think that what we have to have is, in the book I call it a major mastery mission. And so it's something I describe in the behavior called commit to mastery. It's the idea of there's something in life we need to have that's a purpose that's so large that it will never be "achieved" in the sense that it's going to end, but it's something that we move toward in our lives, eternally. That is just something out there that is going to drive our decisions and our behavior that's a bigger goal than... is much bigger than ourselves. I think along the way we can set signposts in the forms of goals moving us toward that major mastery mission. But like you said, if you just have one specific little goal in mind that you're moving toward, and then you achieve it, or you don't, the danger is there to either become disillusioned or lose that sense of purpose, or just become frustrated that you're not reaching it. But I think that bigger picture purpose is what's really important.

Bryan:
It sounds like what the goal I thought of immediately was writing a book or a best-selling book, because that's something specific and fixed. And after you've done it it's like, "What next?" It sounds a little bit like what you're describing is more like a mission statement or a personal mission.

Trevor:
Yeah, and I think just using the example you gave about writing a book, I think for authors and creatives, I think that's absolutely a worthwhile goal. Of course, it was a goal of mine to write this book. But to me, if that's the end, if that's the one thing you want to accomplish, that is dangerous. Because I think the more useful way to look at it is, what is the bigger thing you want to have happen as a result of this book? How do you want to influence the people that read the book? And then from there, how do you want to carry on forward with either the next book or the next project related to spreading the ideas in the book? And then it becomes something that continues to drive you forward and keeps you excited and moving in the direction that you really want to be moving.

Bryan:
Just to talk about the actual book writing process itself, you've kind of summarized the key ideas with graphics, visual metaphors like the 1% model. Did you come up with those after you'd written the book, or did you come up with those first and then write the book around them?

Trevor:
The way that my mind works is I'm a bit of a left-brained type of person. And so for me, the writing process, getting everything out of my mind and on paper in words was first. And then from there, I created the visuals and the models to fit the ideas in the book. And so just basically to be upfront about how I did it, I basically just sketched the best ideas I could in terms of graphic form, and then had a designer help me put them into a really good-looking visual. So that I could use the skills of someone that is very gifted in design and share my skills of the ideas and put those things together to create the visual pictures that are so nice to look at. So it was very much a teamwork process for creating the visuals.

Bryan:
One thing that I've found when I do something like that is it's important to get feedback from other people, because the way you think of something or a concept isn't necessarily the way somebody interprets it. How did you approach getting feedback?

Trevor:
Yeah, well, I mean, that's a great point. I think the first thing I did was ask the creative side, "Hey, do these ideas make sense to you in your mind? When I'm explaining these in word form and in graphic form sketched out, do they click for you?" Because clearly they clicked for me because I'm describing them. But if they don't click for the other group of people that I'm describing them to, then clearly I need to change something about it. And so, yeah, I mean, I think that feedback process is hugely valuable.

Trevor:
The other thing is having other people read and go through the manuscript along the way before ever even sending it to the editor to finish things up was part of the process. And so, people in my family, people in my inner circle, I just gave copies of everything I was doing along the way to make sure that there was resonance there, to make sure that things were resonating and flowing, making sense to people that weren't just in my own mind.

Bryan:
Did you get any feedback from your coaching clients as well?

Trevor:
Yeah. I've actually created an online course that is a deep dive video course into the ideas in the book. I took a beta group through that. Basically, I took the people that I was working with and allowed them to just go through the course at no charge and give me feedback. That was a really valuable process as far as what ideas are powerful, what specific outcomes are they noticing from going through the course that I wouldn't necessarily have noticed being the person creating it. And so basically, we just created a focus group of about 12 people that went through it, and I got feedback from those people to try to make it better and more effective.

Bryan:
Yeah. It's a good way to real test non-fiction.

Trevor:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Bryan:
Are you running your dental practice as well when you were also working on your online business and writing the book? Because it sounds like quite a lot.

Trevor:
It is quite a lot and yes. Yeah. Yes, absolutely. My practice is... I mean, we work about four and a half days a week in practice, and then the other half day is devoted to writing and coaching and podcasts. I actually have a podcast as well called Redefining the Top 1%. And so, scheduling is a discipline process, as you can imagine, to try to get everything worked out. I will say that probably the biggest challenge, as any parent listening to this knows, is keeping priorities in line and keeping the idea that your children and your family are of the utmost importance in terms of where your energy needs to be high and remembering that as you're going through these processes of creating and running your business and those kinds of things.

Trevor:
It's very easy to let that slip. So having accountability, people in your life that keep you accountable, having a good husband, wife, spouse, partner that keeps you accountable, all those things, I think, are hugely important when you're going through these kinds of creative processes. Because it's easy to get so focused that you forget to keep those things as the highest priority they need to be.

Bryan:
So when you were writing the first draft, did you write a little bit every day or did you work on it during that half day you took off your other business?

Trevor:
I wrote a little bit every day. I'm a bit of a night owl just by nature. My kids are young enough to where they would usually be in bed by 8:30, 9:00. And then my wife happens to be someone that goes to bed relatively early as well. And so I would usually write for an hour, hour and a half in the evenings when everything was quiet, and I tend to do my best thinking at that time anyway. So that did work out well. But I know other people that do all their writing in the morning. First thing in the morning they'll wake up and write for a couple of hours.

Trevor:
But I do think, and I got this from Stephen King's book on writing, it's basically his autobiography of how he started writing so prolifically, and that was the key idea I took from his book is just you've got to dedicate X number of minutes or hours to the writing process every day, just to keep things moving and keeping your mind in tune with the project. Not that you can't take days off, but it makes it much more fluid, and you stay in flow better if you continue to have that regimented few minutes, at least, every day to continue writing in the process.

Bryan:
Speaking of the process, when you got to the editing stage, because it sounds like you had a lot of feedback from students and readers, how did you approach editing, and how did you decide what to take out and what to put in?

Trevor:
Well, a great question. One of the chapters in the book, this is one piece of feedback that I got along the way from a couple of different people, was there's a behavior called strategically design your reality. There's a lot of quantum physics and epigenetics and some science that's a bit... It's not overwhelming, but it takes a little bit of thinking to get through. I did decide to trim some of that material from the book and transition some of that over to the online course where people could spend more time. And so, that was definitely something that I would not have done without the feedback. Part of that process was from feedback before it ever got to the editor.

Trevor:
I will say, I had a phenomenal editor that was recommended to me by the publishing company, Morgan James, that I used. That process of working one-on-one with the editor, that process took a couple of months just back and forth and a lot of us just talking over the phone about, "Hey, here's what I'm getting. What are you trying to convey here? Is it jiving? How can we make it more user-friendly in terms of the reading experience?" That was a really valuable part of the process for me, is having an editor that I trusted and had a good rapport with that we could really just speak frankly with one another about the ideas and make sure that they were coming across as an easy read for those people that are going to experience the book.

Bryan:
When I was reading the book, the other thing I was struck by, and you touched on it there, was all of the research. Are you reading a lot of academic journals and papers? Or what's your process for getting research? Because it's unusual to have so much research in a book like this.

Trevor:
Yeah. Yeah. Well, that's my background. For one thing is I did dental school and then I did residency. And so in residency, a big part of our training is peer reviewed journals and critiquing the scientific literature. That's something I really enjoy actually, is that process. I do read a fair amount of that, but I also am just always reading and typically trying to read different genres. I'm particularly interested in theology and faith-based ideas, but I'm also interested in science, psychology, certainly physics and how it all comes together to create the reality that you and I experience. And then also certainly leadership-related ideas and just human performance, what are the most effective ways to be as a person that's trying to be effective in this world, and how does that translate to leadership.

Trevor:
So I guess to answer your question, is I've always got something new that I'm reading at any given time and usually three or four things. I try to dig into the resources within those books, the citations and the bibliographies, to dive a little bit deeper into the ideas that are in those things I'm reading.

Bryan:
So when you find an interesting piece of research in a paper or a book, do you have a system or a place where you put all of this research? Or are you just underlining? Or is it something else you do?

Trevor:
Yeah, a lot of underlining and those kinds of things. But also, I've gotten to the point where I'll use Google Docs to create individual resource documents. And a really cool tool that people may or may not know about that's really helpful is just the voice recording feature on Google Docs-

Bryan:
Okay, yeah.

Trevor:
... that you can use on your phone. And so a lot of times actually, if I'm by myself in my car, for example, or even if I'm at my desk, I will voice record some notes into the Google Doc. It's very actually accurate, and it saves a lot of time to just jot down quick notes that I want to come back to later. Then I can just pull up my Google Doc later and add and subtract from the quick ideas that I was saying out loud during my epiphany, or whatever that I was having at that moment.

Bryan:
Well, it's important to capture ideas when you think of them.

Trevor:
Exactly. Yeah, exactly.

Bryan:
Yeah, whatever-

Trevor:
Because sometimes, I mean, if you don't do it right away, they're gone.

Bryan:
They're gone, yeah.

Trevor:
But if you can get it right away on paper in some form or fashion, I think it's very helpful.

Bryan:
Yeah, I've had less luck with the speech to text, like Google Docs, because of my Irish accent. It depends. I have to [inaudible 00:23:56].

Trevor:
I didn't even think of that. But surely that technology will get better and better over time.

Bryan:
It has a lot better over the years. Yeah. Yep. But sometimes I use transcriptionists as well. I think they help as well.

Trevor:
Yeah, that's another option. Oh man, there's a great one. What transcription service do you use?

Bryan:
There's quite a few, but I seem to use Rev because just their user experience is really good on the app. It's a $1,25 a minute.

Trevor:
Very inexpensive, yeah.

Bryan:
They're a little bit expensive, they're not the cheapest, but if I have an outline, I can dictate an article pretty quickly. So that's worked for me.

Trevor:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah, I think Rev is the one that continues to come up from recommendations I've gotten as well.

Bryan:
Yeah. So Trevor, where can people find your book or where can they learn more about your courses?

Trevor:
Yeah. Thank you for asking. So just our website, it's easy to find, it's drtrevorblattner.com. So D-R-T-R-E-V-O-R-B-L-A-T-T-N-E-R, drtrevorblattner.com. And then there's a book page on the website where you can go. The book is available for pre-order. So we're in March right now, the book officially launches July the 27th, but pre-orders are available now. And then there's also some free resources on the website that people can get access to. There's a workbook that goes with the book that's an extra resource, that anybody that pre-orders the book, if they let us know they've pre-ordered, then they can get the word book for free as a download. I'm also recording currently the audio version. Anybody that pre-orders the physical book will also get a free audio version of the book. All those things are going to be available for people that are interested, and it's easy to find them a website. They can also go to check me out on... I'm pretty active on LinkedIn and Instagram. And every place they look is just Dr. Trevor Blattner.

Bryan:
Thank you, Trevor.

Trevor:
Bryan, thank you so much, man. Appreciate you having me.

Bryan:
I hope you enjoyed this week's episode. If you did, please consider leaving a short review on the iTunes Store or sharing the show on Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you're listening. More reviews, more ratings, and more shares will help more people find Become a Writer Today Podcast. Did you know for just a couple of dollars a month you could become a Patreon for the show? Visit patreon.com/becomeawritertoday, or look for the Support button in the show notes. Your support will help me record, produce, and publish more episodes each month. And if you become a Patreon, I'll give you my writing books, discounts on writing software, and on my writing courses.