Lessons For 21st Century Creatives With Mark McGuinness

The opportunities for creatives continue to explode but in a world of so much fast-paced change, it can be overwhelming to navigate possibility. In today’s show, I discuss what it takes to be a successful 21st-century creative with Mark McGuinness.

Lessons For 21st Century CreativesIn the intro, I discuss Mark Coker’s 2019 predictions [Smashwords blog], as well as Kris Rusch’s thoughts on continued disruption of the publishing industry [KrisWrites], plus how to add the podcast to your Echo/Alexa device [The Ambient].

Plus, if you want to generate multiple streams of income in 2019, check out Teachable’s Fulltime Creator Masterclass which outlines how to build multimedia online courses.

ingramsparkToday’s show is sponsored by IngramSpark, who I use to print and distribute my print-on-demand books to 39,000 retailers including independent bookstores, schools and universities, libraries and more. It’s your content – do more with it through IngramSpark.com.

Mark McGuinnessMark McGuinness is an award-winning poet, a nonfiction author, a creative coach, and international professional speaker. His books for authors include Resilience, Motivation for Creative People, Productivity for Creative People, and 21 Insights for 21st Century Creatives.

You can listen above or on iTunes or your favorite podcast app or watch the video here, read the notes and links below. Here are the highlights and full transcript below.

Show Notes
21 insights for 21st century creatives

  • On the current climate for creatives and makers
  • Having rules and boundaries around creative time and connected time
  • Different types of assets creatives have, including reputational assets
  • The importance of creating value with our work
  • Looking through ‘the other end of the telescope’ in order to serve the reader
  • The ‘ecosystem’ of a creative’s time and business
  • The importance of rest and taking time off from creative work and listening to your body
  • Swallowing the frog in any type of work
  • Opportunities available with audio

You can find Mark McGuinness at LateralAction.com and on Twitter @markmcguinness. You can find Mark’s 21st Century Creative Podcast here.

Transcript of Interview with Mark McGuinness

Joanna: Hi, everyone. I’m Joanna Penn from TheCreativePenn.com and today, I’m back with Mark McGuinness. Hi, Mark?

Mark: Hi, Jo. Nice to be back.

Joanna: I reckon this must be fourth time on the show, maybe more.

Mark: Fourth time lucky. Let’s hope we get it right this time.

Joanna: Well, just in case people have missed your earlier interviews:

Mark is an award-winning poet, a nonfiction author, a creative coach, and international professional speaker, and a friend of mine as well, which is wonderful. His books for authors include, ‘Resilience,’ ‘Motivation for Creative People,’ and ‘Productivity for Creative People,’ all of which we have previous interviews on. And today, we’re talking about ’21 Insights for 21st Century Creatives.’ And I should have said you’re a podcaster as well. I forgot to say that.

Mark: I am, yes. That was an idea I borrowed from you.

Joanna: Well, over the years, we have borrowed ideas from each other, which I think is an important part of being a creative.

I want to start with an overarching question. This is going out at the beginning of 2019. The pace of change seems ever faster and many people are worried, I think, about some of the developments going on in the world, technological, political shifts. And I think there’s these two major differing views.

Can you start by outlining what are the two major views around creatives and the future, and how can we face the present and the future in a positive way?

Mark: There are basically two schools of thought out there. There are the enthusiasts. There are the people who are telling us, ‘This is the brave new world, and all the gatekeepers have run away and the Creatives can come out to play. And we can go direct to our audience and take control of our platforms and attract our 1,000 true fans and become millionaires overnight.’

Joanna: Or at least over 10 years or maybe more.

Mark: Well, you know, there’s varying degrees of enthusiasm.

On the other hand, there’s the doom mongers and the naysayers. These are the people who say that the internet and smartphones are actually making us dumber by eroding our attention span, that Amazon is destroying literature, Instagram’s destroying photography. Spotify or whatever is destroying the music business, and it’s getting harder and harder for Creatives to make a living.

And I know on the one hand, you talk about great opportunities that there are for authors, and then we regularly see, at least here in the press in the UK, how ‘It’s the worst time ever for authors and they’re all on the breadline’.

So, as ever, I think the truth is somewhere in between. And one thing I talk about in the book is the idea that it is always the best of times and the worst of times to be a creative. And I contrast our situation now with Geoffrey Chaucer, one of my heroes, his situation in the 14th century writing his poetry above a bustling gate and an open sewer. By and large, I think we’ve got it quite cushy compared to that.

But there’s definitely an issue particularly around technology and society that, on the one hand, technology gives us the tools to do things like this. You and I have got podcasts, we’ve got books, we’ve got blogs that go out to thousands of people every week, which was kind of unheard off when I was solo.

But on the other hand, there’s all the distraction, there’s all the interruptions, there’s the pressure to be always available and always engaging. Not to mention, sitting at the computer too long, so I think my stance is it’s a two-edged sword, but it was always thus. Whether you’re in the 18th century or the 21st century or whatever is going to be happening in the 24th century.

And our job as creatives is to try and navigate that, to take advantage of the good and minimize the downside.

Joanna: I think also it’s a constant juggling act. I don’t know about you, but I want to learn everything. I love learning more and more and both of us listen to podcasts as well. And I listen to one of your shows and I’m like, ‘That person’s interesting,’ and then you go down the rabbit hole, and you find another podcast, you find another book, and it all just gets a bit overwhelming.

I find that overwhelm, to me, the best thing to do is turn it all off and step away. I take my journal and just go analog with my hand, writing…handwriting which is kind of crazy, but it’s…

It feels like I don’t want to let it go, but you kind of have to step out of the stream sometimes to recharge.

Mark: I think it’s very important to know when you’re on-stage, so to speak, and when you’re off-stage. And either working doing focus work, or doing something that’s got nothing to do with the internet or business or writing whatsoever because creatively, not to mention health-wise, as you know, it’s essential.

If you’re always plugged in, if you’re always on, if you’re always available, your work will suffer and, sooner or later, your health will suffer too. So, personally, for me, it’s fairly easy. I divide my day into mornings when I am in airplane mode, so to speak, and I’m writing or creating.

This morning I was working on my podcast, and then afternoons, I’ll be on Skype or Zoom with clients. That’s when I have my social media time, that’s when I answer my emails, and then in the evenings, again, I’m pretty well switched off from email. I might check in on Twitter or whatever, but that’s family time for me. That’s my rhythm. Some of my clients hold their hands up in horror when I describe what a boring life I live.

But, for you, it’s think about your own life. When do you write best? When do you want to be focused? When’s the best time for you to be engaged and available? And try and have some fairly strong rules around that because that’s a way of getting the best of both worlds. What you don’t want is for one to be interrupting and being a distraction from the other.

Joanna: You definitely go into a lot more about that in the ‘Productivity’ book, which is fantastic. And I think what’s interesting about this book is you do bring in insights across the whole creative career.

I will read a couple of the great sentences from the book, and then ask you what they mean. The first one I like is, ‘Forget the career ladder. Start creating assets.’

What do you mean by that and what are some of the different asset types that authors, in particular, can be creating?

Mark: Well, this is kind of in response to, partly, my own situation and also, working with clients and talking to other creatives. It’s very easy for us to be, if you like, the odd one out in the family, or the group of friends. And to have well-meaning people close to us say, ‘Why can’t you be a bit more like your cousin George, who’s doing so well in the law firm or the accountants or whatever it is?’

And you look at cousin George, bless him, and he’s climbing the ladder. He’s got promotions. He’s got job titles. He’s got a company car. He’s got a corner office, whatever.

And on a bad day, it’s very easy to be sad and thinking, ‘And what have I got? It’s just me in my studio or in my writing desk. And I don’t know if I had another rejection, or my latest release didn’t go so well, or I’m stuck on a difficult part of the book, am I just kidding myself? Am I wasting my time?’

But if you compare somebody…I’ll give you an extreme example, someone at the very top of our industry, somebody like Stephen King. Well, he doesn’t generally worry about whether he’s in line for a promotion at the firm, or whether his job is secure, or what the people at the boardroom think of him because he’s got this body of work, which is effectively an asset, or a set of assets. He’s got all these books, he’s got a great brand, he’s got the intellectual property in the books.

That kind of recognition that if Stephen King were to email you and say, ‘Hey, Jo, do you think we could collaborate on a project?’ you’d at least take the call, wouldn’t you?

Joanna: I’d be like, ‘Anything you want, Stephen.’

Mark: Right? So, he doesn’t want for opportunities or money.

Now, maybe we’re not all going to reach that level, but even if you’ve got one book, that’s an asset for your career. That can be earning money, that can be bringing you readers, that can be growing your mailing list, your audience, your network.

If it’s a nonfiction book, you can be selling consulting and other products off the back of that. If it’s a fiction book, then that’s the start of your audience and you’ll be, of course, writing the next book and the next book and then the next book.

The more books you have, the more enthusiastic subscribers to your mailing list or followers on social media, the more people know, like, and love your work, the more opportunities you have, and the easier it is to leverage that into income.

Joanna: I wanted to ask you particularly about these different types of assets. Again, like you mentioned, I talk about books that can earn you income for the long term, but what’s interesting is you talk about different kinds of assets.

Reputational assets, I thought, was interesting because you are a poet, which is one of these things I love about you and you’re like, ‘Oh, no, I don’t just do like poetry, I do like quite serious poetry,’ and your translation of Chaucer, which has won you an award.

This is not something that is necessarily an income-generating asset, but talk a bit about reputational assets when it comes to creatives.

Mark: I think there’s three basic kind of rewards on offer apart from the sheer joy of doing it, in terms of writing or making some kind of art. You’ve got money. You’ve got fame, i.e. how many people know about you? And you have reputation in the artistic sense.

To take an extreme example again, Geoffrey Hill who died last year, widely considered within the poetry world to be possibly, the greatest living poet in English. Most people never heard of him.

Joanna: I haven’t heard of him.

Mark: And I heard him interviewed and he was saying, ‘You know, when I look at my annual royalty statements, I appear to have hardly any readers at all.’ And yet in a lot of people’s estimation, he’s a genius. He was Oxford professor of poetry, he was professor in the States, he always had plenty of opportunity and he worked really hard for that.

And again, if you’re talking about popular entertainment, writing thrillers or romance or something, it’s more at the fame-end of the spectrum. Maybe you don’t care what the ‘New York Times’ or the ‘Times Literary Supplement’ says or doesn’t say about your work, but if you’ve got millions of readers then, hey, who cares?

And I think there’s a huge difference if you’re releasing your 20th book and you’ve got thousands of people on your list and looking for your work online, to releasing the first one. So, yeah, the book is an asset, but you also need the social assets, either in terms of critical reputation that can create opportunities in your artistic field.

Or just in terms of the sheer number of fans that you have and readers that you have waiting for that next book because if you do this right, you should make a lot more money from that book number 20 than book number one.

Joanna: And it’s interesting because that reputational asset… I still want to win an award, you know? I’m award-nominated, but I’m not an award-winning author so, to me, that is an ego goal, a reputational goal.

I want to do that in my lifetime and I would probably have to give up an income goal in order to have that goal because they don’t necessarily go together. But I did want to come back on the money side.

Another quote from the book, ‘Stop trying to earn money, start creating value,’ and I thought about this a lot.

It’s definitely something that I’ve tried to do with ‘The Creative Penn’ and I find it’s easier with nonfiction in a way because it’s easier to answer someone’s problem. Someone has a problem and you can answer it with nonfiction. So you feel like, ‘Yes, I’m giving them value.’ But entertainment, which, let’s face it, fiction, poetry, I guess is entertainment. It comes under entertainment.

Mark: Even if it’s not always entertaining.

Joanna: It might come under inspiration, but it’s not usually under information.

Mark: It’s not going to help you fix your boiler.

Joanna: No. So let’s talk about creating value with fiction and poetry.

How do we change our mindset around not trying to earn money, but creating value with entertainment?

Mark: Firstly, I would suggest that we just pause for a moment and think of the billions of dollars of value in the global entertainment industry of which we are a part. So, yeah, in some sense, it’s easy to say you buy a book that’s going to help you exercise more or procrastinate less or whatever it may be. And there’s a clear practical value for that.

But there’s a huge appetite for fiction, slightly smaller appetite for poetry.

Joanna: Apparently, IngramSpark have said poetry’s their biggest segment in print publishing right now.

Mark: I should sign up to IngramSpark sooner rather than later, in that case. So, people do pay money for fiction, particularly. And I think the point I was trying to make there is just because you work really hard, you don’t get paid for suffering and working hard.

You get paid when you deliver something to market that is valued by your audience. If you’re a fiction writer and you’re doing literary fiction, it’s not going to be as easy to make money from that, as it is if you’re writing genre fiction.

And usually, people have made their peace with that. Sometimes, they haven’t and they complain about it loudly, but you’ve got to think about the reward that you want.

But if you’re interested in money, then it’s really about looking through the other end of that telescope and thinking, ‘What does the reader want? What can I give her? Is it more of this kind of book? Is it books in a different kind of format?’ And I know, Jo, you were very good at this. You’ve got all your books coming out in all possible formats.

Joanna: Pretty much.

Mark: And it’s great. And that’s a very smart thing to do, and it’s something I know you’ve nudged me to do more with my books and I can be a bit lazy about that because I want to go and write the next book, which is working hard rather than smart.

So, it’s about looking at how can I leverage what I’ve got in terms of existing assets in intellectual property? Things like film rights can come into play as well. And also thinking about well, what could I create that would have the biggest impact for the least effort.

I think that’s a really interesting question to ask. And again, I’m the world’s worst at this in some ways because I’d much rather be translating medieval poetry than writing something that’s going to be mind-bendingly useful.

Joanna: And therein lies the problem for creatives.

Mark: Right.

Joanna: And although, like you said, making your peace with it. You are at peace with the fact that you would rather spend a morning translating half a line of Chaucer or one word or whatever.

Mark: And who wouldn’t.

Joanna: Than creating another intellectual property asset, like a book in another format, for example. So, I think it does come back to mindset, and I wanted to ask you about this.

And the mindset stuff comes into the value and the earning money. So, how do we change our money mindset? Because if you were chasing after that other $100 bill, you wouldn’t do that Chaucer, but you’re not.

I’ve known you for a long time and I do find you very mature in the mindset thing. You come out of psychotherapy, you have that healthy attitude towards money, which is, yes, I’d like to make money, but, no, I’m not going to give up everything else in order to make money.

How do we balance that and change our mindset if we just think, ‘It’s how many hours I work’?

Mark: Right. So I think ‘balance’ is the word I want to put out there because it is really important. Firstly, you know yourself and you know your inclinations, so I know I just wouldn’t be happy if I was writing stuff that was designed to be purely commercial all the time.

I can look at a spreadsheet and come up with a logical argument for that, but my heart sinks just as I entertain that scenario.

You think about your work as almost like an ecosystem, so in my ecosystem, I have some time, not all day every day, devoted to poetry. I have other times devoted to making something that’s going to be useful for my audience, like a book like this or a podcast.

I also have a coaching business, which is my main business, and that’s something I definitely don’t neglect. So, typically, I spend my mornings writing, the afternoons with my clients, so I’m balancing both sides every day.

But one of the things I’ve noticed and my coach pointed out to me a while ago is that actually, my kind of clients, one big reason they want to work with me is that I am following my own path, I’m doing my poetry. I’m doing something that they respect at a reasonably high artistic level.

So, you’ve got this whole ecosystem and they all depend on each other. Like, the little fish and the jellyfish and the rays and…

Joanna: Big shark.

Mark: And the big shark, that’s right. Let’s not forget the sharks, and it’s very easy to come in and say… I believe they did this at 3M years ago. You know the people who made the post-it note?

Joanna: And earplugs. They are my favorite earplugs, 3M.

Mark: And earplugs. Well, they got some efficiency experts to come in and say, ‘Right, this company is doing really well. Just think how much better we could make them if we make them more efficient?’

So they went around the office and surprise, surprise, they found loads of examples of wastage. People hanging out by the water cooler having unproductive conversations, and office design – you couldn’t get too many people in the room, etc. And you can guess the outcome, they killed the innovation. They were in danger of killing the goose that was laying the golden eggs.

And fortunately, they realized in time and they pulled back. So, I don’t think you can look at a creative career and assess it purely in terms of efficiency and productivity. I think you’ve got to have the creative element and if nothing else, because it builds you up and it gives you energy.

If I’ve written my thing this morning, then I’m very happy to go out there and help someone else with their things as a client, or to be doing some marketing stuff and putting things out into the world that are going to help other people.

So, I think as writers, we’ve got to find that balance between what we’d ideally like to write and maybe we do that, and something that’s more pragmatic, or maybe we find something that’s a bit more of a sweet spot.

I like writing this, there’s a good market for it. I’ll focus all my efforts there.

Joanna: I think you’re right. I find as well that I need the fiction and the nonfiction to kind of satisfy both sides of me.

And also, I don’t think I would have any credibility if I was only writing nonfiction, that’s fine, but I don’t feel I could have the authority to even talk about this stuff unless I had books. So, it’s important for me even if I didn’t want to do it. It’s a credibility thing to keep creating as someone who talks to creatives, but also, as you say, it’s like a life thing. Why else are we doing this?

And I was also reminded when you were talking about that, I just spent a couple of days in London last week. I went Edward Burne-Jones, which was a Pre-Raphaelite artist. I spent about two and a half days just wandering around London, just looking at stuff and taking pictures and writing in my journal.

Some people would say that was not productive, but that gave me lots of ideas. And I’ve been on your show, obviously, talking about the healthy writer and, of course, on my show.

What’s the place for rest/relaxation/recharging when we hit burn out? And how do we incorporate that?

Mark: One of the things I say a lot to my clients is your body is your best coach. If you pay attention, it’s giving you feedback about how tired it is, or how stiff it is, or have fed up it is with being cooped up in this office, or whatever it is.

But usually, what do we do? We ignore it and we just kind of focus on here, and just, ‘I think I’ll have some more coffee and I’ll get another gadget to make myself more productive that way.’

And I’ve certainly got into trouble by doing that. I’ve had health and fitness problems from that, and I’ve learned the hard way from listening to it that actually, I need to build in more time.

So, years ago, when my doctor was kind of signing me off with stress, he forbade me from doing any work in the evenings for my exams. And he said, ‘You will actually be much more effective. You’ll be able to learn more during the day if you take your evenings off.’

Now, at that time, it felt terrifying to me, but that’s because I was stressed out. And I’m pretty well stuck to that, so it’s quite rare that I will work at the weekend or an evening these days. I’m also trying to build in more movement during the day, so I’m learning Tai Chi, partly from a little nudge I got from reading this great book called, The Healthy Writer and thinking, ‘Okay, I should be doing a bit more about that.’

And the nice thing about Tai Chi is I can do it during the day in between writing, in between clients, even in between email. You don’t need to go and get changed and you don’t get all hot and sweaty, so I can do 10 minutes here and there during the day. So that’s making a big difference.

I would say, if you’re listening to this and you’re wondering where to start, start by listening to your body and noticing what are the aches and pains, and also, one thing I noticed when I got a sit-stand desk, which is this desk, I can press a button and the desk will stand up.

But one of the things I do now is I stand until I feel like I want to sit and I sit until I feel like I want to stand. And what I’ve noticed is for years and years, I’ve been ignoring that urge to fidget and move about and get up. So, I would say it starts and finishes with the body.

Joanna: Fantastic. We’ve talked about this a lot, and I think as this goes out, beginning of 2019, let’s everybody try and listen to our bodies more because it really is so incredible. I have very much moved to mainly a lot of more plant-based eating in the last six months, and I just feel so much better for it.

I’m not recommending that everyone do that, it’s just that by listening to how things feel in the body, you can change. And changing is so important too, right? We all need different things at different parts of our lives. So, that’s important.

What worked for you two years ago might not work for you now, for example, and that’s true in our businesses as well.

Mark: If there’s one constant these days, it’s change. Again, the thing that I noticed about the happiest as well as the most successful Creatives are the ones who go, ‘Oh, everything changed again. Where’s the opportunity? What can I do?’

There’s no time to sit around and complain because the world is not going to change in relation to that. I know because I tried it for several years, and it didn’t work.

Joanna: This is something that we always talk about when we get together, it’s like, ‘So, what’s moved on since we last had a chat?’

Mark: What’s old news?

Joanna: ‘What do we need to be doing next?’ So, I do want to ask you because the book has a lot of really positive tips and things to change in terms of mindset and potentially business practices. But I love the fact you also say, ‘There is always a crappy part to any business.’

And one of the things I find is that authors are like, ‘I just want someone to do the publishing for me,’ or, ‘I just want someone to do the marketing for me,’ ‘All I want to do is write.’ And I’m sure you hear that in lots of different guises.

How do we make sure that not everything’s crappy and what are your tips in dealing with that crappy bit?

Mark: This is something I see a lot because I work with clients across all the different creative industries and arts. Authors can complain about the publishing industry, or can complain about Amazon, or whatever. People in the film industry, there’s a lot of politics. People in the advertising industry, there’s a hell of a lot of politics and a fair bit brutality as well.

One thing I noticed is that whatever path you pick, there will be a crappy part, and that will be the the proverbial frog that you have to swallow every Monday morning when you’re going to work. But the ones who are happy are the ones who say, ‘I accept this because this is the price of the bit that I love.’

If you can do that, then that’s part of turning pro, in Steven Pressfield’s language. The pro is someone who says, ‘It does suck. I’d rather be writing than marketing, but I’m going to do it anyway.’

Was it Peter De Vries, the Australian novelist. I assumed what he was saying was tongue in cheek. He said, ‘I love being a writer. What I can’t stand is the paperwork.’

Joanna: It is a bit like that. There is that bit and you just kind of go, ‘Oh, do I have to do…’ Like, you said about me putting all my books into large print and hard back. I’m thrilled about it, but boy, is it a pain in the neck because I have to keep uploading all these files and filling in these fields, but there are benefits, so I’ll do it.

Mark: It’s a tough life. There’s no doubt about it. In some aspects.

Joanna: No, it’s actually what I like about the book. And to everyone out there, it’s a good book for kicking you up the behind a little. This is not a, oh, nice-nice creative book. This is a, ‘This is how you can be more effective,’ which I like, which is fantastic.

We’re recording this just before the end of 2018, but it goes out in 2019. So I was wondering about you personally.

What are you excited about in 2019 and even beyond? What are you taking as your next steps?

Mark: On my podcast, ‘The 21st Century Creative,’ I’m into season 3 now, which is starting almost to feel like a proper podcast. And so, I’m looking to do at least another 2 seasons of that in 2019.

And one of the great things I’ve discovered about having a podcast now is that it’s a great excuse to get in touch with people and sate my own curiosity. If I see somebody making amazing art or doing something interesting with technology or personal development, I can send them an email and say, ‘Hey, I’d love to have you on the show.’

I ask them the questions that I’m curious about. So, apart from any other benefits that come from having the show, it’s just a great way of educating myself by interviewing lots of very smart people doing very clever and interesting things. So there’s the podcast.

I’m also creating another podcast which is top secret for now, but will be completely different in form and content to ‘The 21st Century Creative.’

And then I’m always learning something in my personal life, so Tai Chi is my latest enthusiasm. I’m very pleased to hear that the first thing I need to learn is a 74-move routine that takes about 3 years to learn. So, I found a great teacher who’s helping me with that.

I’m also learning Japanese which is an ongoing project, and finishing my poetry collection. So there’s always plenty to do. And I think there is maybe a bit of tough love in the book, but at the same time I do come down on the side of the enthusiasts, by the way, I do.

Joanna: Oh, yeah. Definitely. We wouldn’t be friends unless you did.

Mark: Right. And it is a great time of opportunity and there is amazing things we can do with the technology. 2019 is going to be another year of discovery.

Joanna: Exactly. I’m interested in the audio because, of course, you and I talk about this all the time. I think I may have even kicked you into doing the podcast.

Mark: You may have had something to do with that, yes.

Joanna: I’m interested because again, you have your coaching business, but you have books. You have the website, and you have a lot of technology. Many people don’t think that poets necessarily are really into tech.

Can you talk about how you think that the podcast particularly, and audio, I guess, makes a difference in your business? Because I know a lot of people are thinking about audio 2019. Audiobooks is still going nuts as we speak on Black Friday, the Alexa and Echos and everything, again, the biggest seller.

We’ve got a massive, huge scope in audio. I think 2019 is going to be big.

What are your thoughts on how it fits into how you make income with audio?

Mark: So, you mean business-wise rather than creatively?

Joanna: Both.

Mark: First of all, what I love about it is it feels like a much more direct and immediate connection. I had a blog for over 10 years before I started podcasting, and it was very interesting.

I remember one day, a client said to me…I’d been coaching the client, said, ‘I’ve been reading your blog for years, but it never occurred to me to hire you until I heard you interviewed on someone’s podcast.’ And it may have been your podcast, actually, Jo, a while ago. And she said, ‘Because then, I’ve just felt that connection, and I knew this was somebody I wanted to work with.’

So, if you are a coach or a consultant of any kind, then I think there’s a really important lesson there because what we sell is conversations. So, certainly, I’ve seen the benefit of that. I’ve had people saying, ‘Oh, when I heard your podcast, I knew I wanted to talk to you.’

Even people who find me on a search engine or via a book, nearly always by the time we have the first coaching conversation where we decide if we want to work together, they will say, ‘Oh, and I’ve been listening to the show.’ And they’ve been getting a sense of what I’d like from that, and I can point them to past episodes where I’ve actually interviewed previous clients of mine. So, certainly, from their point of view, it’s been really great.

Also, just in terms of content production, I wouldn’t say it’s quicker and easier, necessary, but I am certainly creating more content. I think one thing as I discovered that audio just take a bit more work when producing text, but again, a great tip I got from you was to start putting transcripts of the audio onto the website, so you get SEO benefits as well as accessibility from that. And I just think overall, it is a really great way to give more to the audience because I think we all feel when we hear somebody’s voice, we feel a much stronger connection to them.

I will be getting into audiobooks in 2019 so that will be hopefully, another income stream from there. So I would say certainly, if you’re curious about it, then I would say creatively and business-wise, it’s one of the best things I’ve done in several years.

Joanna: Obviously, me too. And like you, I have another podcast coming in 2019. And it’s funny, isn’t it? And also maybe you could comment on, because you used dictation a lot, so you’re actually using your voice to write your books as well.

Have you found any changes or anything different through doing podcasting and creating a different work for audio versus dictation for writing? Or are they kind of completely different?

Mark: Well, poetry is always completely different, so I quite often write that in my head and then write it down afterwards. I tried using voice recognition, it doesn’t work, so I write poetry quite slowly.

But certainly for pros, this was actually something, again, I discovered through not listening to my body. I had really bad RSI from typing too much, having the bad posture and so on. Couldn’t use a keyboard for six months which was kind of inconvenient, this was 10 years ago, when you have an internet-based business.

And I discovered Dragon NaturallySpeaking and started using it, which you could say probably saved my business because I could actually work again. But even when the RSI recovered, I discovered I preferred writing prose like this because I could make a few notes and really crank out an article or a chapter much more quickly and easily speaking than typing.

And so, I stuck with it and some of the feedback I’ve got is people said, ‘Oh, it sounds much more like your voice now when I read your book than it did before…much, much clearer, more of a flow.’

I use DragonDictate now which is the Mac version which isn’t quite as good as the PC one, but I’m not going to buy a PC.

Years ago, I did install Windows on my MacBook Pro because that was the only way I could get Dragon NaturallySpeaking to work, but now they’ve got a Mac version that’s quite good, so, there it is.

Joanna: They have. No, that’s fantastic.

Where can people find you and your books and your podcast and everything you do online?

Mark: Okay. So for the podcast, it’s 21stcenturycreative.fm, that’s the ’21st Century Creative Podcast.’ Then 21stcenturycreative.fm/21insights is where you can get the book, 21 Insights for 21st Century Creatives, and the e-book edition for that is free.

If anybody is interested in getting some help as a one to one coaching client, then my site is lateralaction.com. And you can go there and you find my other books and blogs I’ve had for about 10 years or something as well, so.

Joanna: Yeah. Fantastic. Well, thanks so much for your time, Mark. That was great.

Mark: Thank you, Jo. It’s always a pleasure.

[Image of creative with paint on his hands courtesy Alice Achterhof and Unsplash.]

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  • January 6, 2019