Stand out by Writing Your Own Book

In this episode of The Faces of Business, Michael Levin, the visionary behind the Michael Levin Writing Experience and New York Times bestselling author shares how writing your own book can help you stand out, demonstrate thought leadership, and help you break free of the commodity trap.

In this episode of The Faces of Business, Michael Levin, the visionary behind the Michael Levin Writing Experience and New York Times bestselling author shares how writing your own book can help you stand out, demonstrate thought leadership, and help you break free of the commodity trap.

With a storied path from a law career to becoming the world’s most seasoned ghostwriter, Michael’s insights promise to revolutionize how we perceive the impact of writing on personal and professional branding.

Michael’s adventure began at Columbia Law School, leading him to unexpected paths that forged his destiny as a celebrated author and mentor. Rejecting the constraints of an unsatisfying legal career, Michael embraced his passion for writing, ultimately guiding over a thousand authors to publish their dreams. His accolades include prestigious publications and collaborations, stretching from Simon & Schuster to The New York Times, and contributions that have shaped the careers of industry titans and creative minds alike.

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Damon excitedly opens the show with Michael. The host admires the guest for his impressive track record in helping notable individuals write books. He asks Michael to share his journey into ghostwriting.

Michael reveals that his journey into ghostwriting was unplanned. Despite being trained as a lawyer, he found himself disinterested in the field and struggled to find stability in traditional employment. Instead, he sold three novels to Simon and Schuster in his late 20s but faced financial hardships afterward. Michael candidly describes his experience of being a “starving writer” and even qualified for heating assistance due to his low income.

However, his fortunes changed when he met a mentor who guided him into the business. This mentor taught him the ropes of starting a business, initially through offering writing classes. As demand grew, people began asking him to consult and eventually write books for them. This marked the beginning of his prolific career as a ghostwriter, which has spanned over thirty-five years and encompassed the creation of over a thousand books.

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Damon requests Michael to reflect on the lessons learned from those endeavors that still influence his work today.

In response, Michael shares a story about his editor at Simon and Schuster, Robert Asahina, and how his wish to learn impressed him even when surrounded by accomplished authors. Teaching writing forced him to break down the writing process, helping him understand it on a deeper level. These principles, learned from teaching at various institutions, continue to guide him in his writing career.

Similarly, Michael recounts a memorable experience from his time teaching at UCLA, where he introduced his students to Michael Connelly’s novel “The Poet” on a whim, despite having prepared a course pack with other authors’ works. He fell in love with Connelly’s novel and invited the author to speak to his class, which Connelly graciously accepted. Connelly engaged with the students, validating Michael’s teaching approach and demonstrating humility in his craft.

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Damon expresses his fascination with the intricate process of writing, acknowledging the depth of character and scene development that readers often take for granted. He marvels at Michael’s impressive clientele, including renowned figures like Alan Mulally, Dave Winfield, Zig Ziglar, and Pat Summerall.

Michael reflects on the “surreal” experience of working with high-profile individuals. He describes moments like attending the 50th-anniversary Cowboys Party at AT&T Stadium with disbelief, surrounded by iconic figures from sports.

At Damon’s request, Michael shared some of the unusual and uncomfortable situations he’s encountered while working with clients. Despite these challenges, he finds fulfillment in helping successful businesspeople share their wisdom and experiences through writing. He believes in the power of their messages to positively impact others and appreciates the opportunity to learn from a diverse range of fields.

Michael’s role is to recognize the value of his clients’ insights, even when they may not realize it themselves, and to help convey these insights effectively to readers. He finds joy in facilitating this process and seeing the transformative impact it has on readers’ lives. Similarly, the guest prefers working with humble clients who put the reader’s needs first, rather than those who prioritize self-promotion.

Damon, impressed, inquires whether Michael has observed this trend among the people he’s helped to become more successful.

Michael believes the more successful people are, the kinder and more generous they tend to be. Their success is often rooted in a mindset of loving service, where they strive to help others within their organizations and their clientele.

Michael tells a story about Alan Mulally’s generosity and willingness to offer advice despite his immense success and consulting rate. While not every successful person may demonstrate such generosity, those who reach the top and remain there often possess exceptional character traits that inspire loyalty and respect among their colleagues and teams.

Damon shifts the conversation to asking about the book that had the most profound impact on Michael.

The ghostwriter discusses the unpredictable magic that can arise from writing a book. “I’m gonna give you life experience wholesale,” remarks Michael. He cites Gary Kadi, who transformed his dental practice and sold it for $20 million after publishing a book. Likewise, Michael also recounts a poignant story of a woman who survived sexual abuse and trafficking, using her book to empower others and speak at large conferences.

Damon expresses awe at the profound impact of Michael’s work.

Damon wants to learn the reasons why businesspeople might want to write their own book and how it can help them stand out or achieve their goals.

Michael provides a comprehensive response, drawing from insights shared by Dan Sullivan from the Strategic Coach. By writing a book, individuals can differentiate themselves by telling their unique story, explaining their approach to problem-solving, and showcasing their expertise through humble storytelling.

Damon asks Michael to discuss a specific example of someone whose story resonated deeply with readers.
Michael shares a story about a financial advisor who initially hesitated to talk about the national deficit on his website, fearing it would make him seem crazy. Michael encouraged him to embrace his niche and published a book focusing 70% on the deficit and 30% on financial guidance. Despite initial reservations, the advisor found success by targeting a specific audience that shared his concerns.

Moreover, Michael advocates owning a niche market rather than trying to appeal to everyone. He shares an example of a retirement services provider for firefighters in California who focused solely on that niche, leading to success.

Additionally, in Michael’s view, one should be confident in one’s unique offerings to stand out in a crowded market. He talks about a business book written by a former mafia member who wished for a distinct identity.
Damon inquires about the changes Michael has observed in the publishing industry and the listening audience over the past few years.

Michael discusses the significant changes in the publishing industry, primarily driven by technology and social media, which have shortened attention spans. He notes the decline of traditional publishing houses and the rise of independent publishing. He advises against relying on New York Publishers unless one is already a celebrity.
“Awesome,” exclaims Damon. He wonders if independent publishing has accelerated the dissemination of good ideas to people due to its accessibility and efficiency.

Michael acknowledges the prevalence of diverse ideas in today’s world, often discovered through platforms like Amazon. He reflects on the abundance of peculiar content available and notes how everyone, regardless of their eccentricities, now has a platform to express themselves, which he finds both fascinating and peculiar.

Toward the show’s conclusion, Michael advises using Amazon as a tool for research and idea generation, that can help gain insights from existing resources like the “Idiot’s Guide” series. However, it is noteworthy to offer original perspectives and cut through the clutter to provide readers with focused and valuable insights.

Our Guest
Michael Levin

Michael is the visionary behind the Michael Levin Writing Experience and New York Times bestselling author.

With a storied path from a law career to becoming the world’s most seasoned ghostwriter, Michael’s insights promise to revolutionize how we perceive the impact of writing on personal and professional branding.

Michael’s adventure began at Columbia Law School, leading him to unexpected paths that forged his destiny as a celebrated author and mentor. Rejecting the constraints of an unsatisfying legal career, Michael embraced his passion for writing, ultimately guiding over a thousand authors to publish their dreams. His accolades include prestigious publications and collaborations, stretching from Simon & Schuster to The New York Times, and contributions that have shaped the careers of industry titans and creative minds alike.

The guest has a JD in Corporate from Columbia Law School.

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Damon Pistulka, Michael Levin

Damon Pistulka 00:02
All right, everyone, welcome once again in the faces of business. I am your host, Damon Pistulka. And we are I am really excited. For our guest today. We’ve got Michael Levin, from Michael Levin writes, we are going to be talking today about standing out by writing your own book from someone that’s helped over 1000 people write books, Michael, welcome,

Michael Levin 00:29
David. Thank you for having me. Pleasure to be here. Oh, it’s

Damon Pistulka 00:32
awesome, man. So, Michael, it’s it. I mean, I don’t even know really where to start. Because the who’s who that you’ve helped write books is really something. But let’s start like we always do. How the heck did you get into writing books for people?

Michael Levin 00:50
Oh, man. I really backed into it. There was no plan. I’m a lawyer by training. Please don’t hold that against me. I went to law school for three years and worked for two firms for five months each. And all but fired from the first fired from the second. They could tell I didn’t want to be there. And that somehow sold three novels to Simon and Schuster in my late 20s Around the same time, and couldn’t sell the fourth ran out of money. Literally a starving writer. My classmates from Columbia Law School were making partner at the top firms. Yeah, I was on heating assistance in 1993. Because my income was below 13,000. A year in Massachusetts, and they don’t want the poor to freeze. Yeah. You know, so I met a man who became my mentor. He was my mentor for 29 years, showed me how to business how to start a business which was offering writing classes. I rented space in the yoga studio and a church. Yeah, filled up the classes and people said, consult with me. And then they said write it for me. And that was 1000 books ago. So here we are 35 years later. That’s

Damon Pistulka 01:53
you published three novels. What What? What were those novels you first published? Oh, well,

Michael Levin 01:59
one was about law school. One was about classical music, which I love. And one was about families and wills that come from a pretty insane family. So I just sort of imagined a more insane one than mine and wrote a book about it. And it was fun. You know, it got great reviews, not enough people bought it, which is how these things go. And that’s how I ended up being starving. Right?

Damon Pistulka 02:19
Yeah. That’s awesome. That’s awesome. So I remember reading that about that you you were running yoga studios and teaching writing classes. What were some of the things that you learned when you were doing that you think that really helped you today?

Michael Levin 02:38
Well, it just the ability to sit still and look at words on a page and ask yourself, How could this be better? My editor at Simon and Schuster was a guy named Bob ASA Hina. And when he was working with me, Bob was also editing Henry Kissinger, Susan powder, if you remember her, stop the insanity. Tony Robbins, and all these huge names, I’d come in, I’d see these files. And what what Bob told me was I was the only writer let him do his job. Because I was so hungry to learn how to get this right. And then teaching writing, you really have to, whenever you teach anything, you have to stop and break it down and say, What exactly am I doing here? What is the process that sort of underlies what I’m doing, so that I can share it with others and have it make sense. And I taught at UCLA I taught at NYU taught around the country taught a little bit around the world. And, you know, the same principles that I that I taught the students or what kind of guide me as a writer today, so that helped to helped a lot was a fun thing to do. No one’s ever asked that before, by the way.

Damon Pistulka 03:43
Yeah, because it that’s cool. That that you did because and I didn’t even realize this. But when you talk about people talk about teaching different subjects, you have to learn it even better as a teacher to be able to teach someone else. So that I bet that really did help you just in the process of thinking about, hey, what am I really doing here? Because I’m going through 10 steps. And I do it without thinking about it. How do I teach these people what those steps are? You I’ll

Michael Levin 04:13
tell you a story real quick from UCLA from when I was teaching UCLA, 10 week course 15 adults 20 adults, something like that. Over the course of a summer. I had a course pack to authors. Were going to study them each week in addition to the writing. And just before I left one of my clients gave me a Michael Connelly novel called The poet never read Michael Connelly before read it on the plane, fell in love with it throughout the course pack tossed it, all the work that I put into it didn’t matter. And I had the class read 30 pages a week, and then we would discuss what he was doing. And then I thought wouldn’t it be fun to have him here? So I reached out and I was able to get a hold of Michael Connelly I mean today be a lot harder because he’s, you know, got 36,000 best sellers and TV. Yeah. But he came to class. And he sat there with my students for three hours and they said It Michael said meaning me with that on page 27. You meant to do this and Khan was like, Yeah, that sounds about right. Yeah, that’s right. That’s right. So yeah, he never threw me under the bus even though that’s awesome. So but that was, you know, it’s just a great moment. It’s just so exciting when you I mean, if you love books, you just to get under the hood of one and understand what the writer is doing and why he or she is making the choices because it all comes down to choices. You know, why this word? Why why that age for that character? Why that gender for the character, why that career? You know, it just it just gets really, really interesting when you kind of see what people are really up to. So I’m fascinated by that. But, but I’m a nerd.

Damon Pistulka 05:40
I’m a book nerd. So

Michael Levin 05:41
you know, that might not light somebody else up, but it sure lights me up.

Damon Pistulka 05:45
It’s super interesting now, because you don’t think about it as a reader of a book. What went into character development, scene development, what should I write about the whole where we’re at and the background and the different things that you have to do as a writer to really create a great, great novel? Yeah, that’s super cool. A super cool. So as you’re doing this, and you’re starting to help people, I mean, let’s just let’s just go. I mean, you’ve Alan Mulally from Ford. Dave Winfield Zig Ziglar. Pat Summerall. I mean, holy hack, you do it? I mean, it’s seven times doing this like even when Michael Cullen was in there, did you just pinch yourself and go holy heck, I’m sitting by this person and have helped him do this. Yeah,

Michael Levin 06:41
I didn’t say Holy heck, though. I said something else. But yeah, I mean, it’s it’s it’s mind boggling to me. I mean, you know, everybody who loves football and is you know, kind of a little older knows Pat Summerall. Oh, yeah. And, you know, to talk football with Pat Summitt, Summerall, or baseball with Dave Winfield, or go to, you know, or go to games with with Dave or with Chad Hennings of the Cowboys. I got to go to the 50th anniversary cowboys party in Jerry Jones is sweet at AT and T Stadium. Few years. Oh my goodness. And, you know, I’m like, I can’t believe my eyes. There’s Hollywood Henderson. There’s Tony Dorsett. There’s, you know, every one of the guys, you just you just it’s like, you just can’t believe this is happening? Yes. So yes, yeah, I’ve had that experience. A lot of times we sit there and say, I just cannot believe I’m talking to this person. So real lucky guy.

Damon Pistulka 07:35
That’s awesome, man. It’s awesome, man. And it’s, it’s when you see someone like yourself, and you have not just one. But many people like this, you really begin to realize that you do this a little differently. And that’s because it doesn’t you know, anybody can hit one homerun, but hit him over and over and over. It really pays testament to you and your process.

Michael Levin 08:05
Thank you, that’s very nice of you. It’s, it’s a privilege. And, you know, I work. I mean, I, I’m really grateful for the celebrities and sports figures, that and so on that I’ve worked with, the celebrities can be work and you know, you can like put your heart into a project. And then you know, work on it for months. And all of a sudden, just somebody in their entourage says you shouldn’t do that book. And it’s dead in the water. And you’re like, I can’t believe this. So when I work with business people, which is sort of the bulk of what I do for a living, you know, in that sense, it’s a little more straightforward. It’s, you know, you’re not kissing supermodels. But by the same token, you’re getting stuff done. And so there’s a certain reward in, in working with, in work with business people are just sort of a little more kind of on the on the straight and narrow in life. You know what I mean? Yeah,

Damon Pistulka 08:56
and it’s not so much with a business person, I’ve got to believe so I’m the CEO, and I want to, you know, communicate my vision or my life story, or whatever they’re trying to do with their book. I mean, there is definite purpose in writing that book, rather than it might be just nice that I have a book. And so, you talk about business people. So you have to have been exposed some interesting situations with business people or learned stuff about business. So share a couple of those things that you just

Michael Levin 09:34
well, you know, there’s some there are some weird things like sometimes Sometimes people tell you stuff and you just, you just wish they hadn’t told you. I mean, just just it’s like, really, I’m not your therapist, and it’s okay. And, you know, so I mean, I could tell you stories that would curl your hair, I mean, you know, like sexual stuff that that, you know, it shouldn’t be it shouldn’t be out in the world. Yeah, you know, or you have your meeting a client, the hotel room. And, you know, and the bed looks like, you know, World War Three just took place on it. And he’s sitting there with a woman, not his wife, and you’re sitting there going, oh, you know, why do I have to be here for this right now this is just not this is above my paygrade or below my or something. Yeah. That’s not where I want to be. But that’s the weird stuff. But the positive stuff is that, you know, successful business people help a lot of people in the world, they they make their companies great. And the companies make products and services and services that make people’s lives better, save lives, change lives. So when I get a chance to work with someone who wants to express the meaning that he or she finds in work, or the lessons that they’ve learned, or the guidance that they can share with the world, or they reached an age where they want to turn around and say, you know, to the younger people coming up, this is how you do it, this is I’m gonna I’m gonna give you life experience wholesale, instead of you having to buy at retail. And when you get a chance to, I like to say that the two qualifications for working with me are positive person positive message. And I’ve worked with folks in business and finance, in real estate and consulting, in dentistry, in medicine, in body mind, spirit in therapy, obviously, the sports and the celebrities and all that. So I’ve had a chance to work with, with people in so many different fields, and I’m constantly learning. And then because I’ve done, you know, I’ve done just a lot of books. I know what people in their fields are saying. So when it’s not when it’s like, if you write it yourself, you run the risk of not recognizing how unique your thinking is, or how valuable an idea might be, you might well everybody knows that, because you know it? Well, everybody doesn’t know that. So it’s my job to stand and say, Wait a minute. People don’t know that. Let’s come back to that point. Can you expand on that? And, you know, that’s not something that you have to read a ton of books, to be able to do to to know what people are saying and not saying in a given field. So that’s something I bring to the table, and that benefits the client. And then it benefits the reader because the reader ends up with a book full of insights, that might seem just totally obvious to the client. Yeah. But you know, they’re life changing for the reader. So it’s fun to it’s fun to ghost get those sorts of things across.

Damon Pistulka 12:35
Well, yeah, I, it makes a lot of sense. Now, what you’re saying by I had never thought about that, because they’re so skilled, so gifted at what they do, it’s the same thing. Like when you’re talking about your writing and developing the process, they skip through one through 10. They’re working on 11 through 15. And they think that’s what people need to know. But you can bring them back and go, let’s talk about this stuff, that really makes a difference when we’re going to hear. So,

Michael Levin 13:03
yeah, it’s really true. And then another thing people are concerned about is, especially people who have just some degree of humility, you know, they don’t want to put themselves out there in the book, and they don’t want to tell their story. They don’t want to make it look like it’s all about them, and so on. And what I do is I remind them, that you’re not telling your story for your own gratification or your own glory, you’re telling your story, or you’re explaining things for the benefit of the reader, you’re putting your life experience in service of the readers life, so that the reader ends up with a better life, or a better career, or a better marriage, or better health, or whatever outcome you provide. And it’s important, you know, to just say, I have to tell I have to put just enough of myself in the book so that the reader understands who the author is not so much that the reader says, Oh, my gosh, this person is just so full of himself or so. And not so little that the reader says, I don’t know who this person is, you know, I so. So it’s like, Fine, you know, yes, helping the client find the sweet spot, so that they’ve got just enough for their lifestyle, you know, the people who are very narcissistic, you know, it’s like, let’s make the book all about me. No problem. It’s like, let’s slow down. Yeah, you know, the reader. Remember, the reader is the hero of this journey, not not us. So, you know, I’d rather work with the people who are a little more humble, and have to be coaxed a little bit into into, you know, revealing stuff. I don’t mean anything inappropriate, but just just talking about their processor. I’d rather work with them than the people who are just absolutely convinced that everything they have to say solid gold, so yeah,

Damon Pistulka 14:35
yeah. Well, you brought up a lot of things here that because first thing successful people help a lot of people. I mean, I’ve always thought that a lot of successful people maybe in the majority of people, give to philanthropic causes give of their time give their their knowledge a lot more than a lot of people realize, do you think that’s true with the people you’ve talked to across that they’ve got? They really like to be helping a lot of people as they’re as they’re getting more successful? Yeah,

Michael Levin 15:13
you know, I, it’s not gonna be true for everybody. But by and large, the more successful the people are, the better the nicer and kinder they are. And that’s why they succeeded. You know, people have, especially younger people have misguided notion of what business is about that it’s Doggy Dog, and you know, it’s a guy. And in reality, it’s just loving service. It’s just trying to be a love and service to the next person, whether it’s somebody in your organization, helping them to be better, helping them to be their best self, or what you’re doing for your client or customer. So you know, the more you give, the more you’re in the flow to receive. I don’t want to sound too, you know, yeah, left coast, but you’re a Left Coast guy. So I can I can say this. Yeah, your show, but it really comes down to that life’s all about flow, I might in the middle of the flow, am I giving and receiving? Or am I or am I hoarding and withholding? And guess you know, guess who wins? In the end? You know, it’s not that complicated. So,

Damon Pistulka 16:11
yeah, well, I think I think too, when people think about that, being in the flow, and being in a, you said, in love and service, they sometimes mistake that for being a pushover or being not, you know, not really good in business. And it’s they can coexist, you can be really good, really great negotiator, but still be doing doing business the right way. And yeah, I’ll tell

Michael Levin 16:37
you a story about Alan Mulally, who, you know, he likes to point out that because he ran GM, Ford, and Boeing, Ford and Boeing, he was responsible for 25% of the nation’s GDP. And sometimes I would call him with a business question, you know, because we become friends. Yeah, very, very generous with his time. And he’ll say, Okay, I just want you to know, my consulting rate is $200,000 an hour. And then about half an hour’s with a call, or 20 minutes into the call Jose, just want you to know that your bill so far $70,000. He can he can he get any he can ask any anybody for 20,000 an hour for his? Oh, yeah. And get it. And so there you are just, I’m just, you know, I’m a typist. You know, I’m a guy types. And he’s that generous with me. So it’s not always the case. But by and large, the people get to the top and stay there. There’s a reason why. And it has to do it has to do not just that they’re great at what they do. But but but the character that they have people want to work with them, their board respects them, they’re the people on their team respect that respect him or her and, you know, don’t want to go elsewhere, because they’re having a great time. Working hard getting stuff done for people. So I love people like that. Yeah,

Damon Pistulka 17:53
yeah. Well, it’s awesome to see that it’s not, as you said, it’s not Doggy Dog. It’s it. There’s, there’s situations where the same people have to make tough decisions and things like that. But it’s really they can be good people and very successful in business at the same time. Yeah,

Michael Levin 18:09
you don’t have to sort of check your spiritual walk at the at the office door, you know, you can be and that doesn’t mean you know, Paramount today is firing 6000 people, I saw that in the news doesn’t mean the guy runs Paramount’s bad guy just means that if he doesn’t fire those 6000, he’ll have to fire the other 200,000. Exactly. You have to make tough choices. But the thing is that, you know, again, positive person positive message I’d like to write your book. Not you don’t have both of those things. There’s somebody else will gladly cash your check. It’s not me.

Damon Pistulka 18:44
Yeah, that’s awesome. That’s awesome. And so. So use, you talked about several way or several types of books where people are finding meaning in their work or lessons or guidance or you. So what’s probably the most impactful analysis tough question because you’ve written a lot of books, book that just said, Someone found so much meaning in what they did that this is just incredible, to listen to them talk about it just like just comes right out of them.

Michael Levin 19:20
You know, I’m working on a project right now. It’s sort of a marketing tool for my business. And it’s about 40 of the books that were the most powerful, the most impactful. And they range from business people who are in their 60s and 70s. And they they’re summarizing their careers and sort of teaching the younger people as we discussed, their their books that that have driven, you know, incredible levels of business. For the author. I always say magic happens when you do a book. You can never predict where the magic is going to come from. I have one client Gary Katie, who consults to dentists or he did. And he came to me 20 years ago, he said, I want to do a book that’s going to attract five dentists at 120,000 a year to my practice. That way I’ll make people will have my cell phone number. And that’ll be great. So we did his book. And then we did another book and another book, his first book sold 5050 60,000 copies, he recently sold what was supposed to be a five client practice, to his, to his employees for $20 million. And then on top of that, he’s rolling up the top 20 dental practices that he works through that he works with. So and it all started with that book. So you know, and then and then I did a book for a woman in Utah, who, and this is a tough, this is a tough story. She had been repeatedly, sexually abused by her father growing up, and she married a guy who was the spitting image of her father in terms of the way he abused her. And then this other guy is helping her get out of that bad marriage. What she doesn’t realize is that is that this guy puts her into sex trafficking, oh, my, and she’s a mother of three in a little town in Utah, and, you know, a little Mormon community. And he basically says, if you tell anybody about me, I’m going to tell the whole community that you’re a prostitute. So she’s in this for, I think, about eight or 10 months. And somehow she gets out in five years in therapy. Now she uses her book, she speaks in front of audiences of 25,000 people at conferences, to talk about how to escape sexual abuse, or trafficking, or any of the horrific things that she went through and that the audience has gone through. So, you know, it was not easy to listen to her stories. And, and yet, if I don’t do that, the book doesn’t come out. And it’s not, I’d like to think that it came out better because because, you know, because I had a hand in it. And, and so that’s what I mean, when I say that these books, absolutely transform lives, whether they’re there, whether it’s a business book, or it’s a, or it’s or it’s a memoir, it’s a personal story that needs to be told help other people.

Damon Pistulka 22:15
Wow. Wow, you just take it to a whole nother level there. That’s that. I mean, and I can see that now you’re saying that because you’re the wide variety of topics and in the way that people’s experience can really help others? Yeah,

Michael Levin 22:32
I mean, I mean, in the course of a day, I might be doing an interview with her. And then an hour with chris myers, we’re writing a book on NASCAR, and then an hour with a financial advisor. I mean, your head is like a ping pong ball. But the thing is that it all comes down to the same thing. You’re, you’re helping people get the word out. And so many people ask, you know, is it legitimate to have a, you know, have a ghostwriter or a personal biographer, whatever you want to call it? And my answer is, I have a lawn, I don’t mow my lawn, but it’s still my lawn, you know, better things to do. And most people have better things to do than try to sit there and write their own book. I mean, I can teach people how to write their own book, if they want to do that. I have a course for that. But, you know, a lot of folks would just rather have it done for you and just make their lives easier. So yeah.

Damon Pistulka 23:20
Wow, it’s powerful stuff. I could go down that along ways because it’s, you know, you are really helping these people get their message to the world to help others. And that’s, that’s incredible. That’s incredible. So, you know, today, we were talking about standing out by writing your own book, and you know, primarily, the people are going to be listening to this or business people, they’re thinking about, why would I want to write my own book? What can it really help me to do? If I’m in business, or I’m trying to stand out? What are some of the things you can say about that?

Michael Levin 23:56
Sure. It’s a great question. And, you know, Dan Sullivan runs a thing called Strategic Coach, which is an entrepreneurship program. And I know that I go to for 15 years, he’s really smart. One of the things Dan says is that the Internet gives buyers more choices than ever. And when people have a lot of choices, those choices become commodities. So you could be a top financial advisor or a top accountant, you could be running a company that makes a certain kind of product. But the thing is that, you know, years ago, the buyers could only really, you know, choose somebody within a five mile radius. And today, they can they can have, they can have their accountant in the Philippines, they can do anything. So the question becomes, you know, how do you avoid being perceived as a commodity, because commodities are judged primarily on price. And if you’re meeting on price, you’re in a race to the bottom, and that never ends well. So when you do a book, you get to tell your story in full, you get to explain what makes you unique and different, and you get to explain your process for solving problems, basically, you know, people have problems. And sometimes it’s I don’t know how to buy a car. And sometimes it’s I don’t know how to get divorced. And sometimes it’s, I don’t know how to, you know, leave my leave my money to the charities that I want instead of the government getting it. But whatever it is, it’s a problem. And it’s a big problem for the reader. So in a book, you get to describe how you solve that kind of problem for people. And you get to demonstrate through the stories that you tell about yourself, in sort of a humble, humble bragging way, this is how I do it, these are the people I’ve helped. And these are the things I’ve done, not necessarily the names of the people you’ve helped. And by the time the reader gets the end of the book, they’re saying, Wow, I found the right person. And then they can give that book to the CO decision maker, whether it’s a spouse, or whether it’s the accountants of the trust attorneys, and the other, you know, folks, if it’s a high net worth individual, and share that book and say, we think we found the right person, and all of a sudden, you’re not a commodity anymore, and all of a sudden, you’re able to command the premium pricing that you deserve for your service, or your or your products, because you have this new relationship with them founded in the respect they have for you as an author. So it’s kind of a long answer, but that’s, you know, stop being a commodity. Yes. Stop, stop blending in. You know, be who you are.

Damon Pistulka 26:26
Yeah, cuz you’re right. I mean, it’s, it’s it is, and you said this is, it’s the opportunity for you to tell your story in full through the stories of the people you’ve helped and, and, and really explain why you could be the right person to solve their problem. Yeah.

Michael Levin 26:46
Yeah. And people don’t need to think about it in terms of, well, you know, am I going to be on the New York Times bestseller list? First of all, they don’t do business books. But and you can, you can get Amazon, there are ways to get Amazon bestseller status, just you know, drop the price for two days and go to your list, say buy my book, trying to make it a best seller, that’s easily done. The point is being a best earning author, it’s like, how are you gonna make money with the book? And the way you do that is not you know, how great Am I it’s simply, this is how I’ve solved the problem that you have, I’ve solved for others, this is my process. These are the steps I take, these are the success stories. This is how and then the reader goes, Wow, this person can solve my problem. I’m going to call him I’m going to call her. Yeah, you know, that’s, that’s me trying to, I don’t care if you never sell a book, most of my clients never sell one copy of their books. But that’s not the point. The point is, I mean, you know, put it up on your website, front and center downloadable as a PDF in exchange for email, an email address, so you can drip market them, or just, you know, give it away without the email address. Yeah, your signature on your email, so people can download it instantly as a PDF. That counts. You know, as Chet Holmes said, identify your dream 100 prospects, put a book in with a cover letter signed copy of your book with a cover letter in the mail, because 200 $1,000 to send 100 books to 100 dream prospects, I wrote this book with you in mind, if take a look, if you’re interested, let’s talk I’ll follow up with a phone call in two weeks. You know, it’s cheap and dirty marketing, but it works every time. So there’s just so much you can do with a book. You can give it to your past clients who love you, and your past customers, and they can pass that out to other folks. You can give it to people who are centers of influence. You know, you don’t have to spend crazy money on a book marketing campaign. Just get in the hands of people who can who will who already feel good about you. And or people you want to have feel good about you.

Damon Pistulka 28:46
Yeah, yeah.

Michael Levin 28:47
It’s better to do that.

Damon Pistulka 28:48
Yeah. Wow. Wow, this is this is this that we’re getting to schooling right here. Awesome, Michael. So, you know, we heard the example of the lady that in in Utah that had the experience like that, but when you’re talking about what you just talked about somebody, Susan is great at what she does, she’s gonna get to tell her story. People are going to start reading it. What’s an example where somebody did that? And it was like, Oh, my goodness, I never realized and they call you up and they call you up and said, Michael, I just can’t believe what happened. Yeah, I mean,

Michael Levin 29:33
you know, it happens a lot. And it’s, I mean, when that does happen, I typically work myself out of a job because they don’t need a second book. But, you know, the good news is that I you know, I don’t really mark it at this. Yeah, well, word of mouth. You know, I was honored to be asked to come on your podcast, but you know, I don’t have ads. I don’t have anything people just. They did. I mean, I’ll give you an example of this is a story that I loved. I was I was, I met a financial advisor at a conference and he was literally signing the agreement on the spot to move forward with his book. And I’m saying, Okay, this is a confidentiality clause. This means that I’m not going to reveal that we work together anyone under any circumstances without your permission. He said, Yeah. Do you know we have a $20 trillion deficit? I mean, today, I don’t know what it’s 35 trillion that bill. Yeah. He said, said, Yeah, I said, you know, if you don’t deal with that, you just rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. I said, Okay. Now, this clause over here, and whatever I said, all he would talk about was the trip was the deficit. And I said, Okay, so I got home, went to my laptop, fired it up, went to his website to see what he said about the deficit on his website. Nothing, not a syllable. It had the same, the same stock photo of the vice financial advisor of the Viagra couple on the bicycle built for two on the beach. It’s yeah, you know, the stock photo of the, of the, you know, the six young ethnically mixed gender mixed men and women, shaking hands and smiling, beautifully dressed, shaking hands across a glass table. Nobody even knows what that means. But it’s on everybody’s website. And, and that a word about psychology. I’ve said, Dude, why is there nothing about the deficit on your website says, Are you kidding? If I talked about the web the deficit, people would think I was crazy. I said, Well, you can’t help yourself. So they’re gonna think you’re crazy once. Yeah. But the thing is that there are a lot of people who feel the way you do, and your niche will make you rich, why don’t you do a book aimed at them. And we did a book that was 70%, about the deficit 30%, about his financial guidance. And I said to him was there going to the people who feel this way, I’ll tell you a secret about them. They all know each other, they all go to the same clubs, they all read the same magazines, they all, they all hang out in the same place on the internet. Once you get to a few of them, you’re gonna get to all of them. And now he’s cleaning up why? It’s because he recognized that his niche was making him rich. And then he had the courage to stand up and say, This is what I stand for. And instead of being most people just, they don’t want to offend. And I respect that. But the thing is that nobody wants a generality. Nobody wants somebody who’s average or mediocre in the middle. You know, if something happens, God forbid to your heart, you want the best heart surgeon in town, you don’t want your brother was a GP. So well, you know, you want somebody who’s a standout, whatever you need. So why not be the standout for your niche and recognize that the other people who might have been offended or bored or uninterested in what you what matters to you? They were never your market to begin with. So yeah,

Damon Pistulka 32:45
that’s an awesome example. Because my friend, Kurt Anderson, he talks about all the time, he says you need to niche down until it hurts, because because when you can really talk to that soulmate person, that’s gonna get you. You can you can go so much farther with that. Yeah,

Michael Levin 33:04
it’s true. It’s really true. You know, I, I had one prospect who was he did retirement services for firefighters in the state of California in their last year of service before they retired. And I said, Wow, that’s great. That’s a great niche. What about police officers or, you know, justices of the peace or teachers or other civil servants don’t need them. He said, they just pass them around from firehouse to firehouse, I just go up and down the state of California. And they said, Well, within what do you need a book for? He said, You know, you know, you’re right. They walked out. Which is fine. He didn’t need it, you know? Yeah. Yeah, the thing is that he owned his niche. So you really have to ask yourself, Do I own a niche? Or am I, you know, am I competing and getting one out of four, one out of five? Hope is not a strategy, you know, a numbers game is not a strategy. Because it just means that you’re going up against people who may be better funded with their marketing or clever or when they say stuff. One of the things I say to my clients who are doing books that are meant to build their businesses or their practices is, when you’re in the selling process. Is there one thing that you say or do that just all of a sudden makes people say, Okay, done deal, let’s go, let’s go forward. And they have to stop and think. And they say, you know, there is, and what’s amazing is that they aren’t saying that every time. It’s just that, you know, when they do remember to say it, they get the deal. So we build around that. It’s like let’s, you know, let’s get front and center that what’s working for you. So that when people are you know, people are clamoring to get on your schedule, instead of you trying to get them on. There’s, you know, behind me, well, there it is. I have a picture of a painting of a lighthouse behind me because I was told that when you want to think about prospects, you want to be a lighthouse, you want to be a beacon, you know, putting out a you know, just just just a light that says Come this way Safe Harbor, everything’s good here. The alternative is to Just be a flashlight you schooner I go, where’s the prospect? Where’s there’s way, you know, and they’re like, Get away from me, you know? So so it’s like, the books that the books that are successful and ones that I tried to do are all about demonstrating you as a beacon, you as a lighthouse instead of, you know, instead of being a flash, let the other people be the flashlights in your field, but then scurry around, yeah, scaring away the prospects with with their, you know, with their hard sell, and here you are with the book, you’re the dignified one, you’re the one with a clear process, you know, what could go wrong? It’s just great. So

Damon Pistulka 35:35
I think credible, I think credible advice is it really is to a as you start with the niche down and, and really know who who can act with you the best and speak to them? And then don’t be afraid to stand up to I think that that watered down, doesn’t really do anybody any good. In in some of this, that’s for sure.

Michael Levin 35:59
No, and you have to have confidence in what it is that you offer and what makes you unique and different. And and, you know, one of my one of the books that it didn’t write that I really enjoyed was a business book written by a guy who had been in the mafia in New York, I think was Michael Franzese. And it was called making an offer you can’t refuse. And it was basically mafia business secrets. Because, you know, they invest in tons of businesses, and they make lots of money. And they’re smart about it. I mean, they’re criminals and they kill people. But they’re also you know, a smart businessman. He says guys would come to me nice and say I want to borrow money and work for I want to start a business. What’s it going to be? It’s going to be carwash it’s gonna be beauty salon. Okay, how is it going to be? What’s it going to be like? Oh, you know, it’ll be like all the other car washes. All the other beauty salons? Forget it. I’m not giving you a penny. If they had an idea about what was going to make the thing different friend says they would lend them the money. And I think they’re better off not borrowing money. Yeah. You know, because Vinnie, the leg breaker is going to come if you you know, but no disrespect intended to people. But the thing is that you get where I’m going here. He was saying you’ve got what is your uniqueness? Own it, get it out there. And and let people benefit from it. And let people say, that’s the person. Because the people who say that’s the person when they see you, they’re going to be much better people, much better clients or customers than the ones who just you know, pick you but could have been just randomly the other guy or the or the third person they saw or whatever the fifth. So, you know, get get out of those bake offs is what I’m saying.

Damon Pistulka 37:35
You get out of a cops. There you go. That’s awesome. That’s awesome. Well, as you’re doing this, Michael, what are some of the things that you’ve seen change over the past? You know, few years, five years, as you know, it’s just the publishing industry has changed so much the listening audience has changed so much. I mean, there’s just so many things that have changed. Yeah,

Michael Levin 37:57
I mean, the number one change is technology and social media. And what that has done is it’s killed the attention span. And it so used to be the biggest book one, you know, like, you’d see these books in the 70s of the 80s, or the 90s, that were five 600 pages long on how to invest, or you know, how to run your business. And you couldn’t do that today. I mean, Stephen Covey’s seven habits. And nobody would read it, because it’s, it’s, it takes seven years to read the book. So today, people want shorter books. And the New York publishing industry is practically it’s really cratered. It’s really cratered. They don’t know what they’re doing. They never had a sense of how to market books, but they had a monopoly on it before. They’ve never figured it out. So the rise of independent publishing is a huge trend. And I like to combine shorter books with independent publishing. Because shorter books get done faster, they’re cheaper to produce. And and then, you know, people really, if you cannot close people on your ideas on 100 125 pages, you’re not gonna get them in two or 300 pages. And then and then with independent publishing. Today, independently published books look just as nice as books from Simon and Schuster Random House, they get the exact same treatment on Amazon, your book comes up, it’s indistinguishable from a book on Amazon from a book that was published by one of the major houses, and then you know, it comes out two or three months later, after it’s done instead of a year and a half. You can, you can you can buy copies for 234 dollars from the printer instead of buying them from a New York publisher for 16. And you pocket the difference if you’re selling it back to the room or it’s just radically cheaper if you’re using them as, as leave behinds. Those are sort of the biggest trends, shorter books, independent publishing, and forget New York. Forget New York, get New York publishers it’s unless your name is Harry Harry as in Prince Harry or Oprah as an Oprah Winfrey or you shouldn’t as Michelle Obama They don’t care anymore. I mean, sometimes like when I speak, I hold up copies of Unsafe at Any Speed by Ralph Nader, which was written the 60s and ushered in the consumer safety movement, and the feminine mistreats Mystique by Betty for Dan, which was published read 63, which ushered in modern feminism. And I hold these books up on I say, these books would never have gotten deals today, because their authors were too busy creating great ideas, instead of building up their social media feeds, flying around the country, doing keynotes, and being on the Today Show once a week as the baby doctor or whatever. So it’s just an upside down world, the people with the Least to say, are getting the book deals in New York. And everybody else is publishing independently and getting their words out getting their message out. And I’m all for I’m all for independent publishing. It’s just it’s just smarter, cheaper, faster, and you control the money, the cover design, the length of the book, you could put out a second, like somebody could come up and say, Hey, I read your book. But I wonder why you didn’t talk about XYZ? You go, oh, my gosh, how could I left that out? Well, you know, you call me up. And then we do a chapter on XYZ. And 60 days later, Second Edition is out with a check. So you know, New York will never let you do that. So yeah.

Damon Pistulka 41:14
That’s awesome. So do you think because of the independent publishing now that there are more ideas, getting to people, good ideas, getting to people faster? Because of it?

Michael Levin 41:28
That’s a great question. I think you to have more ideas of all kinds. And when I have an idea for a title, I’ll go to Amazon, the first thing I’ll do is go to Amazon to see if there’s a similar tie or if that title has been used. And it’s always exciting when that’s, you know, when you don’t see it? Yeah, you go on Amazon, you look at books, you see a lot of weird stuff. Yeah, yeah. A lot of weird things today. So it’s just a weird world. You know, and everybody weird has a platform, whether it’s Instagram, or Yeah, any publishing or something. They’re all out there saying, saying they’re weird. They used to be they were just like, you know, walking down Fifth Avenue, mumbling to themselves. And now, you know, and now they’ve got followers. So I feel about that. But yeah,

Damon Pistulka 42:08
yeah, that’s that’s a whole nother story. But it is. It is interesting, though. You bring it up the the shorter books, independent publishers, and then being able to use an Amazon to really research who else has written about what I’m writing about? And what are people saying about it? It’s

Michael Levin 42:27
huge. It’s a great tool. It’s a really great tool. And you might get ideas. I mean, there, I’ve seen people say, if you have to make a speech, go to Amazon and find the Idiot’s Guide to whatever the topic is, and just copy the table of contents. And there’s the there’s the outline for your speech. And, you know, back in the day, I wrote some idiots, guys, when I needed, you know, when I started, I needed the money. And, you know, they’re very thoroughly written 150,000 words, that’s a big book. But you know, but the thing is, you can get a lot of ideas. But again, people don’t want a rehash of what’s out there. They want you to say what you know, and not everything that you’re saying is going to be original. But what they’re looking for you to do is to combine your original thinking, with what’s important out there, they want you to cut through the clutter on their behalf and say, These are the things that you need to pay attention. These are the things that matter, out of all the stuff out of all the weird stuff, you can find the world focus on these five or six points. And that’s how you’re going to, that’s how you’re going to succeed. So that’s, you know, that’s, I think that’s the way to go.

Damon Pistulka 43:35
Awesome. Awesome. Well, Michael, it’s been incredible getting to learn from you and talk with you today, because I knew this was gonna be good, some of your kind of experience the people that you’ve helped write their books, but then to show us and explain to us today how standing out by writing your own book, how they can do really what they should be thinking about how I can help them the examples you’re giving. Thanks so much for sharing that with us today.

Michael Levin 44:05
David, it’s been my pleasure and you can kind of get my websites is just

Damon Pistulka 44:09
gonna ask you I said, give us your website how to get a hold of you. Because I think there’s gonna be a lot of people that want to go, Hey, Michael, I might have a book. Well,

Michael Levin 44:19
you know, let’s let’s let’s talk and figure it out. My website is my name Michael Levin writes, le vi N Michael Levin And I also have a course that I think it’s the only course in the world that teaches business people how to do their own books, basically everything I know, and it’s at best earning So have you go to Michael Levin and best earning If you want to do it yourself? And then Damon, I’m gonna give my cell number out, okay, it’s 617-543-3747. I’ll say it again. It’s 617-543-3747 operators are not standing by, it goes to this, and I will talk. And so you know, so I feel comfortable with you. And I’m sure that your audience, you know, the only people we’re going to call are the ones who really need something. And, you know, pick up the phone call, let’s, let’s have a conversation, or if there was something that I talked about today that, you know, didn’t make complete sense or something like that, even if you don’t want to do a book, give me a call. I like talking about this stuff, as you can see. So if I can be useful, let’s do it.

Damon Pistulka 45:29
Thank you, Michael. That was so incredible to get to talk to you today. I just, I want people that are listening. Thanks. We had David Ray stop in and thanks for dropping a comment. He asked thought on Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. We can talk about that another time Michael was going and I wanted to just let him keep going at that. But thanks for the comment. David. Thanks for everyone who’s listening and didn’t comment. If you started late. Go back to the beginning. Michael talked about a bunch of just so many good things here. If you’re considering a book if you really want to show people why you are different, how you can help, all those kinds of things that he explained much more eloquently than I just did. Go back to the beginning of this thing. And listen, Michael, thanks for being here today. Hang out for just a moment and we’ll wrap up after we’re off the air.

Michael Levin 46:19
You bet David

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