Posted by Elena del Valle on January 17, 2019
You Can Do All Things
Photos: Kate Allan
Has the New Year got you down? We all know someone who could use a pick me up. California artist Kate Allan does too. Many times drawing and being kind to herself helps her feel better. Her first book, You Can Do All Things (Mango, $22.99), is filled with 187 colorful drawings of animals and plants as well as words of encouragement for anyone suffering from anxiety and depression.
“I’m an artist and writer who has struggled with anxiety and depression for most of my life,” she said by email when asked about the book. “Both illnesses have set me back in a variety of ways; I learned to drive, had my first relationship, and got my degree later than my peers. So, I wanted to create a book of all the things I’ve learned along the way, everything that kept me going— whether it was calming myself through a small worry about not being good enough, to diffusing an intense preoccupation with suicide. The biggest lesson for me has been that self compassion and understanding will carry you through the worst of life, so most of the book’s messages are about validation, encouragement, and kindness.”
The 201-page hardcover book published in 2018 is made up mostly of color full page drawings in pages without page numbers, accompanied by short text. Examples of the inspirational messages include: “No one else knows what they're doing either. It's all going to turn out fine; No negativity today. You're gettin' work done! everything will work out, you'll see.” In the conclusion she shares self help ideas such as creating something or de-cluttering.
Kate Allan drawings
“All of my book is written by someone who has been through the same struggles,” she said. “I argue my negative thoughts and turn those arguments into captions. Somehow it can feel more legitimate to hear something like, “you’re not failing, anxiety lies” coming from a sparkly purple cat rather than a person. Not sure why, but I’m rolling with it!
It’s all about challenging those insidious thoughts that bring us down, and I think that is the unfortunate commonality we share, no matter what gender or age.”
“I was a bit lucky that most of the book’s content had been created before my publisher Mango came along— I have always wanted to create a book of my writings and illustrations, and it was really just about waiting for the right opportunity,” she said regarding the publication timeline. “Mango contacted me in February 2018, and it was all put together by July.”
Regarding the artwork she said, “My process is that I sketch in pencil, looking at various reference photos online. Then I do the digital line work, coloring, and lettering in Paint Tool SAI and Photoshop.”
Her way of measuring success? “I just want the book to be helpful. I’ve created something that represents all the work I’ve done over the course of my life to succeed despite mental illness, and I hope that work will benefit others as well.”
Kate Allan, author, You Can Do All Things
Allan has been making a living as an artist for several years, partially through a shop where her artwork is sold, and partially through support by Patreon members. She is also the creator of the mental health art blog, The Latest Kate.
Click to buy You Can Do All Things
Posted by Elena del Valle on January 9, 2019
Photo: Diane DiResta
Diane DiResta, chief executive officer, DiResta Communications, Inc., has dedicated her career to sales training and communications consulting. She coaches leaders on communications and public speaking who wish to gain business influence and impact. The third edition of her first book Knockout Presentations How to Deliver Your Message with Power, Punch and Pizzazz (Morgan James Publishing, $19.95) was published recently.
The 268-page softcover title has 10 chapters and an appendix of resources. She discusses issues such as myths, mistakes, nervousness, listening, presentation and persuasion skills, visual aids, setting the stage and dealing with difficult people. The third edition features new links, resources, and references representing about three percent of the book's total content.
The target audience? "Business professionals," she replied by email. "It has a wide breadth and has been read from the college campus to the C Suite. There are college professors who use it in their public speaking classes. It’s also the perfect book for sales teams as so many sales professionals give presentations. A professional speaker said Knockout Presentations helped her to write her keynote speech. The book has valuable tips and exercises for the novice to the seasoned speaker. Another professional speaker was given the book as a gift and thought she wouldn’t learn anything. But she was surprised that she gained some new tips even though she was an experienced speaker."
"It took me 15 months to write it while working in my business," she replied when asked about the book project duration. "It took a bit longer to publish. A traditional publisher can take up to 18 months to publish a finished manuscript."
Regarding the book title and cover art she said, "The boxing glove is a visual for the title and a metaphor for giving a knockout presentation. It’s not a sports book but I did work with clients from the NBA, WNBA and USGA."
When asked how she will measure success she replied, "Success is measured in two ways: sales and impact. Sales can be measured by the publisher. Impact comes from the many testimonials saying how it changed people’s lives."
When asked: Many executives underestimate the value and effort required to be a good public speaker. What is the strongest financial argument you make to prove them wrong? she replied, "People who have good presentation skills have greater success in getting the job, getting promoted, making a sale, and making more money. Professors from Duke University, Fuqua School of Business studied voices of CEOs during investor earnings calls. They discovered that the CEOs with a deeper voice earned $187,000 more in pay and led companies with $440 million more in assets.
A CEO from a pharma company was able to convince the executive committee to fund the building of a $300 million facility with no guarantee of success. He was awarded the money and the initial investment yielded a 1 billion dollar profit. Public speaking is a soft skill that has a hard bottom line result."
Click to buy Knockout Presentations
Posted by Elena del Valle on December 6, 2018
Smashing Glass & Kicking Ass
Photo: Smith Publicity, Linda Jane Smith
According to her bio, Linda Jane Smith has found much success as a lawyer; and she has defended Exxon in an Alaska environmental lawsuit among other high profile cases. She believes she knows the path to the top and wants to share it with women. She dedicated time during one year to gathering her thoughts in Smashing Glass & Kicking Ass: Lessons from the Meanest Woman Alive ($19.97), a 245-page softcover book published this year.
It seems she believes those women who have not risen through the ranks the way she has are attempting to advance the wrong way because they are competing according to the rules of the male playbook; if they try harder, stop underestimating themselves and apologizing and start playing by a new set of rules they might become successful like her.
When asked by email via her publicist what inspired her to write the book she replied, “I am outraged that talented, fantastic women are still not making it to the top.Despite decades of superficial change in the ranks of business, today’s women are stalled in their quest to advance their careers. Across every level of work, in every industry, women still struggle to earn the same level of pay, to receive equal access to opportunity and promotion, and to do the work they were hired to do without fear of harassment or the discrimination of pervasive gender bias.”
Regarding the target audience for her book she said, “Despite graduating from college and professional schools and entering the workforce in equal numbers with men, females fail to make the same progress in their jobs as their male counterparts do, and that phenomenon repeats itself throughout the leadership pipeline. The number of women shrinks by about half at the middle-management level and dwindles to a fragment when it comes to promotion to the C-suite.
I thought my target audience would be college or grad school women in their mid-20s. 'Here’s everything you need to know to succeed as a woman in business.' But women tell me it takes a few years before they feel the brunt of gender discrimination. These women, in their late- twenties, early thirties and older, are looking to take their careers to the next level and are stuck, getting pushed out, settling for positions for which they are overqualified, or burning out along the way.”
When asked what makes her the Meanest Woman Alive she replied, “I am one of the top women litigators in the United States. Corporate Board Member Magazine did a profile on me in 2001 and entitled it 'The Meanest Woman Alive.' Clients love it. When I’m representing them on gigantic cases with billions of dollars and their company are at stake, they love to say they are represented by the Meanest Woman Alive and my law firm.
I view myself as a gladiator for my client—I protect them and defend them. And I am professional and fun to deal with. It’s only when they are attacked or someone lies or misrepresents the facts or the law, that I become mean. If anyone messes with my clients and doesn’t have integrity, I will go after them hammer and tong.”
How will she measure the success of her book? “Based on the number of women I inspire to unleash their unique feminine advantages. My Facebook website has a half million Followers whose comments uplift me as do women’s responses to the 11 tv shows, 25 plus podcast and innumerable articles and blogs I have written,” she said.
Click to buy Smashing Glass & Kicking Ass
Posted by Elena del Valle on October 4, 2018
Photo: Think Tank, Island Press
About 40 percent of the land in the world is used for agriculture and livestock; at the same time in the past 40 years 30 percent of the arable land has become unproductive; and soil erosion and soil degradation are widespread, according to Nourished Planet: Sustainability in the Global Food System Voices from the New Food Movement (Island Press, $25), a newly published book.
Convinced everyone has a right to food and the world needs a food and agriculture system that nourishes all sixteen people contributed their insights to the book “to show what's working on the ground to alleviate hunger and poverty, prevent food loss and food waste, cultivate the next generation of leaders, and create more equity and social justice in the food system.” From conception to publication the book, edited by Danielle Nierenberg, required a year.
When asked who is the target audience Nierenberg replied by email, “All of us. The more than 7 billion eaters who inhabit the planet. However, we hope that academics and students will take special interest--it's an easy to read, engaging book, full of hopeful examples of successful projects that can be replicated and scaled up and out in rich and poor countries alike.”
The 250-page softcover book with many graphics and images is divided into four chapters: Food for All, Food for Sustainable Growth, Food for Health and Food for Culture. Each chapter is accompanied by perspectives from several New Food Movement contributors.
The most critical food issues the United States faces today? Nierenberg responded by addressing the topic on a global scale and indicating that climate change and other environmental problems that impact the food system should create a sense of urgency; food production contributes 30 percent or more of all greenhouse gas emissions and there are some 815 million people who are hungry, while another 2 billion are overweight and obese; and that massive amounts of food are lost or wasted before they can reach peoples' stomachs, at least one third worldwide.
She believes action from the grassroots and the top is necessary, she said by email. She also supports the participation of organizations and communities, researchers and scientists, corporate leaders, and decision-makers to make the food system better.
Danielle Nierenberg, editor, Nourished Planet
When asked what defines the new food movement the book editor replied, “The interest in food has been growing for decades--wealthy consumers have wanted local, fresh, healthy, sustainably grown food--but today we need a food system that goes beyond our personal lives and impacts the women and men all over the globe who depend on the food system for their livelihoods. We need a food system that focuses on equality among women and men, that considers future generations, that helps create opportunities for young people to become not only food producers, but also scientists and researchers, story tellers and advocates, business leaders, and policy makers who can change the way we grow, process, and consume food.”
The definition of farming and food system for purposes of this discussion is she said, “A food system is all of the activities involving the production, processing, transport, sale, and consumption of food. Sustainable food systems are those that are economically, environmentally and socially sustainable--they are regenerative and resilient by helping build soils, protect water and biodiversity, and they recognize the importance of women, workers, and youth for the future of agriculture."
When asked about groups in particular need she said, “Poor and underserved communities often are labeled food deserts because of a lack of grocery stores or markets providing healthy food. Racism and lack of economic communities lead to chronic health problems including diabetes, heart disease, and obesity in communities that lack the resources to address these problems.”
The book contributors are Hilal Elver, special rapporteur on the Right to Food, United Nations; Hans R. Herren, president, Millenium Institute, and president, Biodivision Foundation; Sieglinde Snapp, agronomist, professor of Soils and Cropping Systems Ecology, Michigan State University, and associate director, Center for Global Change and Earth Observations; author Vandana Shiva; Dario Piselli, founder, Sustainable Development Solutions Network; Steve Brescia, chief executive officer Groundswell International; Shaneica Lester and Anne-Teresa Birthwright, 2016 winners of Young Earth Solutions; Alexander Müller, study leader, United Nations Environment Programme–hosted project The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity for Agriculture & Food; Bruce Friedrich, executive director, The Good Food Institute; Tristram Stuart, founder, Feedback; Natasha Bowens, author, The Color of Food: Stories of Race, Resilience and Farming; Lindsey Shute, executive director National Young Farmers Coalition; Stephen Ritz founder, Green Bronx Machine; Ruth Oniang’o, founder, Rural Outreach Programme.
Click to buy Nourished Planet
Posted by Elena del Valle on August 23, 2018
Photos: Richard A. Marin
For 20 years Richard A. Marin (see Podcast with Richard Marin, CEO, Low Emissions Resources Corporation, on how retirement is not for wimps) gathered personal stories. In the last six months of 2017 he wrote more. Over a three month period he dedicated his efforts into making the stories into Tales of a Modern Prisoner Gulag 401K (Lulu Publishing Services, $20), a 220-page softcover book. His intended audience was general although he felt the stories would appeal most to Baby Boomers.
When asked by email what motivated him to write the stories he replied, “I am a student of the retirement topic and hence the overall subject matter, but mostly I am a storyteller who finds the topic of retirement to be a compelling human phase that is rich in social, psychological and economic reality with which everyone can relate.”
When asked what he meant when he said in the book that it's not possible to build high enough walls he replied, “I mean that the retirement or pension crisis is so globally and demographically pervasive that you cannot insulate yourself from it. It is a problem that we as a species must face in the next 30 years. It will affect us all, regardless of how wealthy we are or where we live. We will all need to deal with the humanity of the issue.”
Richard Marin, author, Gulag 401K
As to in what ways he has marketed the book he said, “I hired a top-class publicist in Lavidge and I promoted it via Kirkus Review. The two have reached out to both professional and general populations that have a broad interest in the topic.”
Marin is a 42-year finance, real estate, and venture capital industry executive. He also is involved in managing private equity investments, consulting on major commercial real estate and attractions projects, and the retirement field. The book is divided into seven sections and 23 chapters.
Click to buy Gulag 401(k)
Posted by Elena del Valle on July 19, 2018
Zen of Zinn Instant Wisdom from Silicon Valley's Longest Serving CEO
Photo: Ray Zinn
Ray Zinn spent decades as head of Micrel, a financially successful Silicon Valley company. Now that he is retired he founded ZinnStarter to provide seed funding to college students launching new products. The program, still in the initial stages, is at five universities with plans on expansion next year. As part of his efforts to reach a young demographic he spent two years writing Zen of Zinn Instant Wisdom from Silicon Valley's Longest Serving CEO ($9.95), a 195-page softcover book published this year.
His target audience? “Anyone who seeks understanding and wisdom concerning the dynamics of people, society, business and culture,” Zinn said via a spokesperson by email. His goal was “To impart 37 years of executive insight and 50 years of Silicon Valley experience concerning how people, organizations and society are interconnected.”
The book is divided into an introduction and ten chapters titled: Leadership, Entrepreneurial Lift, Management, Startup Life, Discipline, Determination, Government and Society, People, and Life. Each chapter is made up of small segments of text, many of them a paragraph long.
“Two factors fed into the book’s conception,” he said when asked what prompted him to write a collection of short tips for the entire book. “First, along with my daily observations about business and Silicon Valley that I shared on social media, I offered my insights and experiences into the soft side of people. It were these latter elements to which people reacted most positively. The second factor is that in the 21st century, people want content in small, bite-sized pieces. Hence, I designed the book as a collection of memes, that can be read quickly remembered discretely and shared easily.”
When asked how his first and second books differ he said, “Tough Things First was my management and leadership opus, one specifically for business leaders from founders of brand new startups to seasoned executives. Zen of Zinn is for them as well, but also for the masses. Many parts of Zen of Zinn deal with the spiritual essence of humans, and how that shapes communities and organizations. Anyone looking for insight and uplift will find value in Zen of Zinn.”
When asked “You discuss dignity and respect in the book, how does that align with the lack of diversity in Silicon Valley and elsewhere?” he replied, “Indeed, part of my goal with Zen of Zinn and Tough Things First was to show that dignity is tied to profitability. Respecting the dignity of all people was a cultural foundation of my company, Micrel, and we were profitable 36 of our 37 years (and the one unprofitable year was a paper loss due to the closing of a redundant facility).
As you suggested, a lack of dignity and a lack of diversity are often interrelated. Any action that marginalizes people because of their differences is a form of disrespect and an afront to their dignity. This in turn results in lower diversity. This is a shame because diversity breeds innovation. Too many Silicon Valley companies are losing out because they do not encourage a corporate culture that values diversity.”
When asked to share wisdom based on personal experience regarding diversity he said, “Two elements come to mind. First, leaders have to put effort into making diversity work. It is not automatic. Simply proclaiming that your company embraces diversity is insufficient. It takes commitment, monitoring, corporate culture shaping, and real work. Second, it requires diversity being part of the corporate culture, part of the organization’s mind set. If you force diversity onto employees that don’t fully embrace it, you may cause more problems.”
When asked if Silicon Valley has peaked he replied, “I say the best parts of Silicon Valley are being cloned elsewhere (my ZinnStarter program is one small piece of this process). Silicon Valley will continue to be itself, but it will slowly quit being the epicenter of technical innovation. That will be everywhere smart people live.”
Click to buy Zen of Zinn
Posted by Elena del Valle on June 14, 2018
Babies Nurse/Así se alimentan los bebés
Photos: Platypus Media
Platypus Media released two new bilingual titles this month, Babies Nurse/Así se alimentan los bebés, for children four to seven years old, and Cuddled and Carried/Consentido y Cargado for children up to four years of age. The softcover titles, in full color and 32 pages in length, each sell for $9.95. The first booklet was written by Phoebe Fox and illustrated by Jim Fox. The second title was written by Dia L. Michels and illustrated by Mike Speiser. Both were translated by Victory Productions.
When asked about the translation Michels, owner, Platypus replied: “The bulk of the translation was done by Victory Productions, a company based out of Massachusetts, but we also had many many trusted individuals look over the translation to ensure accuracy. Most notably, Edgardo Moctezuma of Latin American Book Source, Inc volunteered to guide us through the translation process and gave his advice along the way.”
Cuddled and Carried/Consentido y cargado
The publisher plans to target educators, especially those with a high percentage of English Language Learners or who offer dual language programs, librarians, health care providers and departments of health, breastfeeding organizations, mother-to-mother support groups, early childhood centers, and literacy programs across the country.
Dia Michels, author, Cuddled and Carried
“We are committed to the promotion and protection of breastfeeding, and donate a percentage of profits to groups that work in this field,” said Michels. “These two publications are the inaugural titles in our new Beginnings series of books for young readers.”
Michels is an internationally published science and parenting writer who has authored or edited more than a dozen books for children and adults. Her titles include If My Mom Were a Platypus: Mammal Babies and Their Mothers and Look What I See! Where Can I Be? With My Animal Friends. Her books have been translated into Spanish, Hebrew and Dutch.
Mike Speiser, illustrator, Cuddled and Carried
Speiser's artwork has been featured on the covers of Wild Animal Baby magazine and on fundraising products for science organizations. His paintings have been displayed at the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum. He is involved with efforts to protect the natural world for future generations. He lives next to the Black Hills of South Dakota.
Phoebe Fox, author, Babies Nurse
Phoebe Fox wrote Babies Nurse / Así se alimentan los bebés to show children that all mammals provide milk for their babies. She has degrees in Early Childhood Development and Curriculum Instruction and experience as an elementary school librarian.
Jim Fox, illustrator, Babies Nurse
Jim Fox is Phoebe's father-in-law. He retired from the NBA, where he played for the Phoenix Suns.
Platypus Media is an independent press that “creates products with a broad appeal to diverse families who believe in the importance of close family relationships for the full and healthy development of children.” Platypus books are distributed through National Book Network and are available widely through bookstores, retailers, and online sites as well as through the publisher's website. Title 1 schools, literacy groups, and non-profits can find them, at deep discount, on the First Book Marketplace.
Click to buy
Cuddled and Carried / Consentido y cargado
Babies Nurse / Así se alimentan los bebés
Posted by Elena del Valle on May 23, 2018
Let the Story Do the Work
Photos: Leadership Story Lab
After dedicating 20 years to evaluating the potential of future leaders to succeed for a living, as a university admissions officer, Esther Choy, M.B.A., decided to change career tracks. Now she is president of Leadership Story Lab. Taking advantage of the lessons learned in both jobs about the value of stories in the business environment she wrote a 230-page hardcover book for business leaders with technical, quantitative and analytical expertise who need to master communication so that they can inform and influence a broad set of audiences. Last year, Let the Story Do the Work The Art of Storytelling for Business Success (American Management Association, $24.95) was published.
“I’ve seen it from both sides,” Choy said by email when asked what makes her an expert on the subject. "Spent my twenty-year career on developing and evaluating leaders’ potential to succeed. The key is storytelling, which leads to job promotion, new clients and record fundraising.”
In the jacket of the book she promises readers it will help them by breaking down the art of storytelling into step-by-step guidelines, insights, and examples so they can weave storytelling techniques into their communications and strengthen their impact. The book, which has several pages of end notes, is divided into eleven chapters and three main parts: Anatomy of a Story, Bringing Stories to Life, and Stories in Action.
When asked if there are business types for which letting the story do the work is not advisable or doesn't work she replied, “No. I wrote the book with a general business audience in mind. However, one thing to note is that Let the Story Do the Work is not meant to be a book on writing. Contrary to popular belief, oral storytelling shares more things in common with performing arts and it does with writing.”
Esther Choy, author, Let the Story Do the Work
The author believes in the power of well told personal stories combined with social influence to elevate a narrator's ability to stimulate effective networking and inspire conversations as well as audiences during presentations. Asked about data accumulation by third parties, that some people may be shy about sharing more private information, and what other options they have she replied, “It’s precisely because third parties data collection is constant and inevitable that we have to take active control of our own narrative. Keep in mind, your compelling story shouldn’t just have your credentials or competence, which are both easy to search in this day and age. It should first and foremost share your characters. What make you you is the core of personal storytelling.”
When asked about the impact of technology, including AI, on the work environment and whether story telling may be affected she said, “Technology can connect us in ways never imaginable. If misused, however, technology create more harm than good. Just think the term, 'Death by PowerPoint.' The key to using tech without abusing is to never assume that it will solve all our problems. People still need other people, that may never be replaced by machines.”
In her current company Choy coaches managers in storytelling techniques. She also teaches in the executive education programs at Northwestern Univerity's Kellogg School of Management. Prior to that she served as admissions officer for the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
Click to buy Let the Story Do the Work
Posted by Elena del Valle on May 10, 2018
Meet the Frugalwoods
Photos: Courtesy of HarperBusiness, Nate Thames
The rat race sometimes gets to be a bit much, dragging down the best of us. A few lucky people discover a way out. Fewer still find financial independence of some kind and share the story of how they did it. Elizabeth Willard Thames and her husband Nate are working yet living life on their own terms. While many may not want to relocate permanently to remote and rural Vermont as they did achieving their goal of financial independence may appeal to many of us.
In Meet the Frugalwoods Achieving Financial Independence Through Simple Living (Harper Business, $22.99), a 229-page hardcover book published recently, Elizabeth Thames shares the experiences in life and work that led her and her husband to quit their jobs and leave a conventional life in upscale Cambridge, Massachusetts in search of a more meaningful and satisfying life in the country. She also explains in general terms how they followed a more frugal than most approach for years that allowed them to save enough (as much as 70 percent of their take home income at times) to make big purchases with relative ease without having to always borrow for a mortgage or bank loan.
Elizabeth Willard Thames, author, Meet the Frugalwoods
Thames is the blog voice behind the Frugalwoods website, focusing on personal finance from her personal perspective. She, her husband and their small children live in a homestead in the Vermont woods. She did not respond to questions submitted more than one week in advance via her publishing company.
Thames holds undergraduate degrees in political science and creative writing from the University of Kansas and an masters in public administration from American University. Prior to following her calling as a writer and homesteader, she worked for ten years in the nonprofit sector as a fund-raiser and communications manager.
Click to buy Meet the Frugalwoods
Posted by Elena del Valle on May 3, 2018
The Making of a Massacre
Images: Audible, ProPulica
On May 4, 2018 the final parts of The Making of a Massacre, a five-part audio series (The first part of the series is already available for Audible members on the company website) should become available. In the series, Ginger Thompson, investigative reporter, ProPublica, takes listeners through the nonfiction story of the disappearance of dozens of people from Allende, a small Mexican border town. She relies on interviews, English voice over excerpts of interviews with townspeople, officials, and cartel members to illustrate “the way in which well-intentioned efforts to curtail the drug trade had devastating real-life results.”
The review edition of the audio recording, about two hours long, had uneven volume and at times it was difficult to distinguish sounds and words from sound effects and background noises. Despite multiple requests submitted two weeks in advance via a publishing company representative first and later directly to the journalist, Thompson declined to respond to questions about the recording.
According to promotional materials, Thompson spent 15 years at The New York Times, including time as a Washington correspondent and as an investigative reporter whose stories revealed Washington’s secret role in Mexico’s fight against drug traffickers. While at The Times, she covered Mexico’s transformation from a one-party state to a fledgling multi-party democracy and into breaking news events across the region, including Cuba, Haiti and Venezuela.
For her work in the region, she was a finalist for The Pulitzer’s Gold Medal for Public Service. She won the Maria Moors Cabot Prize, the Selden Ring Award for investigative reporting, an InterAmerican Press Association Award, and an Overseas Press Club Award. Thompson was also part of a team of national reporters at The Times that was awarded a 2000 Pulitzer Prize for the series How Race is Lived in America.