I should write a book…
How many times have you thought of writing a book? Why? What does writing mean to you- a way of sharing an opinion, capturing a story or a means of expression.
In his 25-year career, Dr Oleg Konovalov has written 5 business books. He dons multiple hats as a thought leader, consultant, educator and a business coach. Among his many honours he has recently been named as one of the eight finalists for the Thinkers50 Distinguished Achievement Awards (2021), he was chosen one of the Top 10 Most Inspiring Global Thought Leaders by The Excelligent and #1 Global Leading Coach (Marshall Goldsmith Thinkers50).
His latest book, The Vision Code, outlines a tangible path for leaders to develop their vision. In this candid conversation, he shares his views on the author platform and what drives him to write.
I am reading ‘The Vision Code’ right now and I really find it fascinating because you are trying to make the intangible tangible
The unconscious, conscious
Yes, that was quite interesting for me to read, my question was did you start thinking about your author platform while you were writing the book or later?
If you would tell me what is the author platform?
So what I call an author platform are the places you talk about your book, in different mediums, on different channels…to tell people about your book because your book is wonderful but people need to know about it, so how did you do it?
Should we say it’s not about an author platform, it’s about a publicity platform.
My view is that, can you talk about your book for the rest of your life?
No, you must be really focused on what you do, how do you present and why it is valuable for people, not because ‘I wrote it.’ The questions you need to answer are, “what is new for people? This is more important. What kind of a solution they could gain for themselves?”
That’s so true… when you start unravelling those questions, then you come to the solution of where all you can talk and what all ways you can talk about your book.
And sometimes I find that a few people, I don’t know them… they take pieces of my conversations and presenting it as theirs’. Do I care? No!
It will come to you…
Absolutely. I can’t chase them, I don’t need to, I don’t have the time for this, I don’t need that but if they see it is valuable and they are sharing, great, it will come!
Yes, I believe that too…the idea that stops many from talking about their books is that a lot of people think that they have to be on every social media platform or at least 2-3 to talk about their book. What do you do?
I mainly use LinkedIn. I do use a little bit of Facebook but it’s mainly for Russian-speaking people. Twitter, I do not use much…hardly. I got Twitter, Instagram, I am not good at all with it
You can’t be on every social media platform; you should probably choose the one which is more productive for you. Probably if you are writing a novel, Twitter would be good, or Facebook would be good. I am more into business books, and my books speak to a more professional audience that’s why I am on LinkedIn.
Do you ever envision doing a podcast series, or a YouTube series where you talk to other leaders about these ideas?
I talk with phenomenal people almost every day and I don’t want those conversations to be released because at times we talk about some very interesting ideas…ideas that might define future research. Certain things like interviews of course I release and share them actively, that’s fine. But I believe sharing everything with the world is not right, one has to be sensible. There is a grade of confidentiality in certain conversations. I cannot keep saying, ‘Oh I met X yesterday and we spoke about…’ Sharing these conversations doesn’t make me better; it makes me foolish. It’s like showing off just because the conversation was with a well-respected person, but if I agree to have a conversation that will be shared on social media, that’s fine and it can be good for both of us. I believe you have to be sensible… this is my subjective view, I not saying, it is right or wrong, I don’t know.
Completely agree…every writer, every author has their own view about their author platform and how they want to address it.
Of course, I am in the field of serious research, serious books and things like that, therefore this is my style of being on social media.
Let’s talk about your book, ‘The Vision Code’… how long were you thinking about it before you started writing it?
The Vision Code, actually took quite a while, because I spent quite a few years thinking about it. I was writing other books, but this one was always sitting at the back of my mind because you see in this book, for the first time in human history, the vision was revealed as a kind of an algorithm.
If decoding Vision were so easy, it would have been revealed ages ago! It is quite a serious discovery in the world of business and human science.
It took me quite a while because Vision as an area of discussion or exploration is huge. You need to focus on and define the more important aspects to start exploring them. There were a lot of things I needed to think through… ‘What questions I should ask my respondents?’ I had to test run those questions and then I had to talk with many people. In this book, I have published interviews of 19 people, but believe me, I talked to many more. After talking to them I analysed the data before I started writing the book. So, it took me quite a while to write it from the time I had the idea for it.
I have written quite a few books as you might know and when I was working on the present book, I would think of the next project. But it’s most interesting… I have always found that I will work on a different project after I finish a book on one topic…strangely or not it will be a different project. Even after this book, I thought I would explore Vision, but when I finished it I realised I wanted to explore in a different direction. I don’t know why this happens…but it does. Every time I finish writing a book, I always tell myself, ‘that’s the last one. I am exhausted, I am tired, I can’t do any more books… I am not a writer, c’mon, I am a consultant, I am a coach, I am a businessman and then I have another idea, that makes me want to explore it and I start again!’
Ah! You are a writer, whether you believe it or not…
Well, yes but I still think of my writing as a side effect of my desire to explore things. I am more of an explorer who is obliged to prove that, ‘yes, I was there!’
I can relate so much to the idea of going in a different direction after a certain book because I need to think of something else after I finish a book. That’s why I love my work as a ghostwriter, every book I have written was for a different niche and it was a completely different idea.
I have a couple of I what call as criteria. The first, and the most important one—it is not about what I put on the paper or how I write this book. Millions of books are written every year, people hardly read them, and I believe some of them could be good but what is important to understand is how this book impacts me.
Yes, it is important to write well, but for me what is more important is how writing this book makes me stronger and better, how it impacted the way I thought or the way I viewed a certain idea or subject …that is the real journey for me.
When I look at The Vision Code through this lens, I realise that it has impacted me more than anything else I have done in my life. That is a clear confirmation that I have put the best of myself, of my ‘present’ myself into this book. I have done something beyond myself and therefore it should be good. It’s not for me to judge but for readers to judge but if you don’t feel that, if you are saying, “yeah I finished the book.” Then you’ve just done it like work…a ton of sweat. It’s just writing, it’s not the creation of the book.
The last fact I consider, it’s not only about writing a book that somebody, somewhere on the other side of the world of the book would read the book and he would enjoy it. I might get a message, and in fact, I am getting lots of messages from different people from different countries but I have a little son and I have always considered a simple thing…
If he would appreciate what I have written in years’ time…would it be valuable for him…for his generation in twenty years? If yes, then that means it is really worth exploring or writing about it.
You’ve probably noticed that many books (in the business books genre) have been written on our findings of today or even based on the past findings. What’s the point to write them? While the ink is still drying, the book is not relevant. I am talking about business, not talking about novels, fiction, I don’t know about them. Therefore, I am always considering an extended time lock…my reader is not today, my reader is the next generation which is still about to grow.
That’s a wonderful idea…
The first couple of books I wrote, I devoted to my mother, to my wife and then devoted one of my books to my newly born son and the book ‘Corporate Superpower’ became very successful, and (laughing), ‘I said to my wife, did you see as soon as I devoted it to my son it became successful.’ That was the book that taught me this.
You want to share your learning with the next generation…
It’s not just about the next generation that we physically see, it’s for the generation we can feel. Like my son… he is four years old now, in twenty years, he will just enter adulthood…I hope that he might find the time to read my books! He could say, ‘hey dad, are you stupid,’ or he may find it cool or something like that and talk to me about it. That’s why I am using those signals for myself.
To dream of writing something that resonates with so many ideas, that is relevant for so long…
It’s not only being relevant, you see, call me strange, but I think we don’t really grasp the understanding of the word ‘relevance’ because relevance is how valuable it is for today, for ‘now’ in practical terms. That is very important to consider, relevance is like a Google search, you will get millions of results, but how relevant they are. They might be relevant but not valuable. For me, the ideas I want to write about, need to have that additional value.
This is a very interesting way to look at your writing because if you consider these criteria they add a lot of depth to your writing.
You know several of my friends are authors, good authors…and I have understood that for every practical business book if it is really an in-depth book, you need to write another little book like a manual for understanding it. I believe a good book is always multi-dimensional, it has a few layers within it. You remove more layers every time you re-read the book because it will have a lot of layers.
Which of your books do you find to be like this?
The Vision Code, for sure, Leaderology yes, Corporate Superpower almost there but I am not too sure about my books before that (Organisational Anatomy and Hidden Russia), particularly when you go into the not-just practical things… when you go into discussing the mentality or discussing things which are really multi-dimensional.
I would say, a good book should have four dimensions. We are all good at understanding three-dimensional space, but a majority of us are not good at understanding four-dimensional space whereas I believe we already know how to imagine a five-dimensional space. So, a good book has to have at least four dimensions. It might be written in simple language, but it should be very deep in its meaning.
When you approach writing with such depth every time, how do you find time for your work?
When I am writing, my working day is about 14 hours! I do work if it is a weekend, but I still need to spend time with my family, so I work for about 10-12 hours on weekends. When I finish writing…oh, then I am ok! I can become a normal person who works for 9-10 hours.
I do work long hours. You see I write books myself. It’s not about asking somebody to write for me like a ghostwriter. I love doing these things myself because for me it is a very important process, and it can easily become very challenging. So, when I start writing a book, my wife says, ‘not again!’ She knows that I will be late into bed, I will always be thinking about what to put in the book, while I continue with my other work.
I can totally relate to thinking about it all the time because when I start a new book I need to have notebooks or as I have discovered apps work better for me because I end up writing in many different notebooks…they go all over the place
I have a lot of note pads with me and I always take them with me wherever I go… in the evening when I come back home I copy everything in one place and that helps me because at the same time I can review what I wrote and see if I can expand on it or if it’s not good enough.
I can see that your journey is more about creating a book, about thinking through a new idea and then putting it down there. What other authors and genres do you like…
I love Paulo Coelho, but I am not a big fan of fantasy except Terry Pratchett, I love him. I was fortunate that I had a chance to listen to one of his lectures with Jack Cohen…
I love Terry Pratchett! (Total fangirl moment here😃)
If you talk about Terry Pratchett, each one of his books is multi-dimensional and multi-layered. I quote Terry Pratchett in a couple of my books because I love him and his approach. You know, I even question my students in business schools on Terry Pratchett. I tell them that before you read any business leadership book, read Terry Pratchett, it will release your mind!
And then I ask them questions about his books. Questions like, ‘tell me what do you understand from the luggage chest with hundreds of legs* ?’
I think it is like a bank of knowledge because it is always with you, always follows you, always.
(*Confused about the ‘luggage chest with hundreds of legs’ ? Click on this link to know more…)
Liked the interview? I believe every authors path is unique and there isn’t any ONE cookie-cutter way to write your book…your book, your journey.
My name is Nishka and I call myself an Ideology Empath because I use my empath skills to understand my author’s ideas from their perspective and then weave those complex life-long learnings into an easily understood ideology for their expert book…
I have written 7 non-fiction books in different niches for my authors and plan to write many more…
Want some help?
Email me: Nishka@Nishkawrites.com
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