Right now I’m teaching a senior capstone course that prepares e-media seniors to graduate and enter the workforce. There are two required texts: The Education of Millionaires by Michael Ellsberg and Uncertainty by Jonathan Fields. Why these two books?
- The Ellsberg book focuses on all the practical stuff you don’t get taught in school (at least not typically): how to turn passion into a paying career, how to learn sales and marketing, how to find mentors and network, how to build your brand.
- The Fields book focuses on training yourself to be better at handling uncertainty and risk, which we all know is abundant in any worthwhile creative endeavor. I excerpted this book last year; if you missed it, read: A Hidden Aspect of Creative Life That Underpins Great Work.
But to get to the key point: In the Ellsberg book, what has stuck with me, months after initially reading it, are his two questions to help you network with anyone, but particularly those who reside higher on the food chain than you. Quoting directly:
I’m going to teach you two questions that, if you put them into use at parties, events, and conferences, will change your life forever and will grow your network faster than you ever thought possible.
1. What’s most exciting for you right now in your life/business?
2. What’s challenging for you in your life/business right now?
Ellsberg believes—and I agree—that everyone (even those more successful than you) are struggling with at least one area or issue where you might know more than they do. To explore this issue more—and to get a deep dive into how to use these questions with the right attitude—then I highly urge you to get the book.
While I’m talking about Ellsberg, I’ll go ahead and point you to his Forbes blog, where he has some invaluable advice for writers:
- The Tim Ferriss Effect: Lessons From My Successful Book Launch
- Nix Your Neediness Now (read before you attend another conference)
- The Paradoxical Secret of Obsession-Worthy Branding
Jane Friedman (@JaneFriedman) has 20 years of experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in digital media strategy for authors and publishers. She is the publisher of The Hot Sheet, the essential newsletter on the publishing industry for authors, and was named Publishing Commentator of the Year by Digital Book World in 2019.
In addition to being a columnist for Publishers Weekly, Jane is a professor with The Great Courses, which released her 24-lecture series, How to Publish Your Book. Her book for creative writers, The Business of Being a Writer (University of Chicago Press), received a starred review from Library Journal.
Jane speaks regularly at conferences and industry events such as BookExpo America, Digital Book World, and the AWP Conference, and has served on panels with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Creative Work Fund. Find out more.