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Choosing Higher Ground: Release Day!

Publishing can be a long, slow process, but there’s nothing like the feeling of holding a book in your hand and thinking I made this!

Two years ago, the head of a small publishing company I’v51TRzEd5elL._SX333_BO1,204,203,200_e done some marketing work for approached me with a new project. He’d heard a local business leader speak at a Rotary Club event (of all things) and was blown away by how much the man’s message resonated. There was a book there, the publisher was sure of it. The business leader agreed, but he was busy running a company and launching a think tank and changing the world, and didn’t have time to organize his thoughts and ideas into chapters.

They needed a collaborator.*

Within five minutes of my first phone call with Mike Weisman, I was sold. After forty years as the head of an award-winning advertising agency, he’d observed hundreds of businesses of all sizes and types, and talked to thousands of upper and mid-level leaders. And he’d come to a conclusion: a business’ long term success didn’t come from its profit statements or IPOs. And a person’s long-term sense of professional fulfillment and satisfaction didn’t come from how much money they made.

It’s all about shared values.

Here, I’ll let him explain it:

But it wasn’t just his positive message that sold me. It’s that Mike absolutely lives what he preaches. Generous with his time, open with his ideas, and absolutely inspirational in his passion for the people around him.

This guy is the real thing.

I flew to Orange County in early 2015, and we spent two days locked away in conference rooms, hashing through what we meant by words like trust, and values, and leadership. Then for the next nine months, we tossed ideas and chapter drafts back and forth. We pulled out fresh stories from Mike’s career and blended them with familiar examples and anecdotes from major brands. I read scientific papers on the measurable stages of human trust, and dozens of stories about leaders who steered their businesses (or teams, or departments) toward growth…or the opposite.

In the end, we had a book that I was proud to put my name on, and Choosing Higher Ground officially releases today.

Here’s an excerpt that sums up so much:

I’ve talked to plenty of business owners and executives, in companies of all sizes and purposes, who are still floundering almost a decade into this new culture of openness. “Mike, I don’t know what’s missing. Our company’s reputation is clean; no scandals, no bankruptcies, no bad press. We kept our prices stable through the recession, gave our employees the best benefit package we could afford, and filed all of our financial disclosure paperwork. We’re not upsetting anyone. We’re consistent. But yet there’s no spark here. We’re losing customers. Why isn’t it working?”

There’s nothing wrong with being competent and consistent. In fact, as we continue to work through these questions of trust and values, you’ll see that those are the foundation of trust. And in times of crisis and uncertainty, like in the last recession, this is what we expected and were willing to accept.

When things were hard, customers and employees need to know, at the very least, that a person and a business would do what they say they would do, and do it well. Without that, nothing else mattered. But as The Values Institute talked to consumers year after year for our Most Trusted Brands survey, we saw that as consumers became more stable post-recession, competence and consistency, alone, stopped being enough. They were just the ante to get in the game.

There are plenty of companies that are consistent and competent. Because of technology, regulation, better communication, or some combination of the three, my daily, first-world life is free from most real danger. I can confidently eat the fruit from any of the grocery stores and farmers markets in my county, knowing that there are food safety regulations in place to make sure it won’t harm me. I drive by at least five FDIC-insured banks on my commute to work every day; I can deposit my money into any of them and know that it won’t disappear in an economic collapse. I can buy a high-quality wool sweater from any of a dozen different specialty clothing companies, and the results will, generally speaking, be equally good. If my company lays me off, I can get another job.

When we’re flooded with companies that all competently make a consistently good toaster, that’s no longer enough to draw our loyalty. We raise the stakes, consciously or subconsciously, on what we look for, and start demanding something more. We start to want something bigger than a toaster.

(Excerpted from Choosing Higher Ground, (c) 2016, all rights reserved)

Talking about values was a timely message two years ago, and even more so today. This is a book for anyone who wants to take their business, or their personal career, forward.

Click here to visit The Values Institute and find out more.

Or pick up your own copy wherever books are sold:

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* In book publishing, a collaborator is a professional writer who comes alongside someone with an idea or a story to share, and partners with them to organize the material into a book project. Unlike a ghostwriter, who works anonymously, a collaborator has some ownership stake in the book, and puts their name on the book cover, usually after a “with” credit. So if you see “AUTHOR NAME with SECOND NAME,” generally in smaller font, it implies that the ideas or experience come from the first person, while the second person did the butt-in-chair work of collecting, compiling, organizing, and writing it.

If you have any questions about hiring me as a collaborator, drop me a note. I’d love to hear from you.

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