My friend and colleague Michael Bungay Stanier’s new book will not only introduce you to fabulous ideas, tools, and steps that will inspire you to do more of your own life-changing work, it will literally save lives with every copy purchased.
The book is titled End Malaria: Bold Innovation, Limitless Generosity, and the Opportunity to Save a Life and it is a collection of essays by 62 business thinkers on the theme of what it means to do “Great Work,” including Dan Pink, Tom Peters, Nancy Daurte, Brené Brown, Sir Ken Robinson, Pam Slim, David Allen, Steven Johnson, and so many more of my author heroes with their astuteness, brilliant ideas, graceful prose, and good works in the world. Reading the book will inspire you to do more of the work that makes a difference to your life and the lives of others. More than that, the action of purchasing the book will set in motion a donation of $20 to buy a mosquito net to protect a family and to support Malaria No More, an international charity whose goal is to end malaria in Africa by 2015.
The entire project is made possible by The Domino Project business model, the new publishing project created by Seth Godin and powered by Amazon. Please buy the book now—I just did here—and then read the Q&A with Michael below and listen to the fantastic 30-minute audio conversation we recorded about how the book came to be. It’s rich with key lessons on effort, letting go, stretching, getting help, publishing models, and working FAST (audio links below). It’s relevant for everyone who wants to get their work and message out into the world.
Michael – You’re a huge proponent of helping all of us do more of what you call “Great Work,” less of the “Good Work” (we need some of it because if we did great work all the time we’d be neurotic messes), and the minimal amount of the “Suck-y Stuff” (which depends on who you are). To start off this Q&A, can you tell us what inspired this theme for your work?
I have a favorite quote which is: “Inspiration is when your past suddenly makes sense.” My background is in the world of innovation, change management, and coaching. When a friend of mine sent me a photocopy of the one-page introduction to Milton Glaser’s book Work Is Art, it provided the serendipitous insight that made everything else fall into line. Suddenly I had an angle on how I wanted to talk about this age-old theme: how to live the good life. “Do more Great Work and less Good Work” has become the on-going touchstone of the work I do now.
So that begs the questions: How did the idea for this new book, End Malaria (publishing today, September 7), take shape and how does it tie in with your own efforts to do more great work?
My book Do More Great Work had just had its second life; I self-published it initially, and then it got picked up by Workman, a New York publisher. In the book, I encourage people to think about defining a Great Work Project—something that will focus them for the next 3 to 9 months and that they can put time and effort and energy into. This is the project that, at the end of the year, you want to be telling stories about: either success or heroic failure. So, in an effort to practice what I preached I sat down and thought hard about what would be the Great Work Project for me that would stretch and challenge and excite me.
Which came first for you, the cause or the desire (perhaps bug, or itch) to write another book, perhaps a conversation?
It was actually the hunger to do a Great Work Project. From there, I took time to look at my assets. They included some weak ties to some famous and influential writers and bloggers, the ability to write books and do OK at selling them, and a hunger to Save The World. Writing a book was just one option. As you know, it’s just one channel for an idea and it’s got its pros and cons. But when Seth Godin launched The Domino Project, and that became a real possibility, it all seemed to make sense.
Can you tell us what the most challenging part of the book project has been—whether on the creative and editorial side, or the publishing and launching side?
It’s actually been the need to share control/power with others on the project—The Domino Project Team and the Malaria No More partners. They’ve all been pretty fantastic, but I’ve found that I like to have my fingers in all the pies. Which is a way of saying “Michael is a bottleneck.” A friend of mine says “there are always punishments and prizes,” and in this case the “punishment” of stepping away from control is more than compensated by the prizes of working with Seth and the team, feeling like I’m on the edge of what’s possible in publishing, and having a deeper commitment to marketing the book than I’ve experienced to date.
And what about the unexpected and exciting aspect? Tell us something specific that goes beyond “everyone has been so wonderful.”
What’s been cool is having my ambitions stretched. I started the project going, I’d like to make $10 a book and raise $100k. We’re now able to donate $20 a book to Malaria No More (100% of the Kindle and 80% of the $25 book price), and (secretly) I think we could sell up to 100k copies. That’s two million dollars and many, many lives saved. Normally, I’m the slightly out-there person on the team being bold, but this time around I was the one having my edges pushed.
Thanks so much Michael. It’s been wonderful knowing each other so long and sharing your powerful, creative ways of making a mark in the world—and this time with such a life- and world-changing cause.
Here’s download link for our 30-minute conversation about the book, the writing and creative process, and the publishing path and strategy for this book.
Please, take action NOW on your Great Work: Buy a book, save someone’s life. I’m a tough reader, as most of you know. I promise, it will be worth it—for the lives saved and for the inspiration gained.
For more information about the initiative, visit here.
And please add your thoughts and questions about the book, the interview, and your good and great work. I hope to do more of these in the future and would love your reactions.