Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Writing { and reading and publishing } ~

Tag Archives: Nilofer Merchant

Writers Finding the Best Advice, Wherever It Might Be…

I’ve done 6 posts that involved Nilofer Merchant in some capacity. Nilofer Merchant

For those new to blogging—since I’m going to tag this post with her name, you’ll also find this article at that last link :-)

Nilofer has been called the Jane Bond of Innovation and it’s usually folks in business that follow her advice.

So, since I’m an advocate for Self-Publishing and since that route demands a number of activities that have the fragrance of business about them (especially, book promotion), it could benefit writers if they sought out what Nilofer thinks…

So, if you’ve never heard of this woman and you’re a writer (or, if you’re not a writer and you engage in any kind of business), I’ll share a bit from an article on the Strategy + Business Site called, Nilofer Merchant’s Required Reading:

Nilofer Merchant knows something about value creation. By her reckoning, she has had a hand in launching more than 100 products that have netted a combined US$18 billion in sales — first in stints at Apple and Autodesk, and later as an advisor to technology companies such as Logitech, Symantec, and HP.”

Substitute “writerly” for “corporate” in this quote:

“…Merchant sees the humanist values of diversity, inclusivity, and collaboration as the keys to creating corporate value. ‘It’s not that everyone will but that anyone can contribute’, she says.”

I should add that the inclusivity and collaboration will probably occur some time after the first draft :-)

This next excerpt is meant to be pondered (and, hopefully, remarked on in the Comments…):

“She argues for a more inclusive approach to strategy-making that enlists the people responsible for executing it….Merchant contends that social technologies and tools have given rise to a new era in which the basis for value creation is collaboration and co-creation by communities of people who are united by an aspirational purpose.”

Then, for those intensely interested in exploring “value creation” as a tool to include in their kit, there are three books and one article that Nilofer recommends.

And, here’s a video of her—meant to be “interpreted” from “corporate” to “writerly” advice (she starts by talking about her time working for Steve Jobs…):

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Brand New Way To Self-Publish ~ Especially, If You Didn’t Think You Ever Would…

I once said there might be too many ways to self-publish.

FastPencil Publishing

Image courtesy of Tracy Olson ~

At least it could seem so when you’re considering the possibility and you have to decide the best way to do it…

I’ve settled on two ways—FastPencil and Smashwords (though, I did recently publish a book of Fantasy Tales on Kindle Direct).

Then, yesterday, I got an email from FastPencil that said they’re “…offering all Evernote users the ability to instantly self-publish their notes using the FastPencil platform for ingestion, book building, transition to print and eBooks formats, online distribution and selling of the finished book.  Available today, Evernote users can immediately take their notes and import them into FastPencil to create and publish in an eBook or PDF in a matter of seconds. The work can then be shared via the web or distributed through FastPencil’s publishing packages.”

And, here’s Evernote’s announcement:

“It’s never been easier to be an author.

“Evernote is an especially popular tool for many writers. It serves as the place to collect, find, and organize source material, archival information, and photographs.

“For many authors, Evernote is the place where ideas are assembled into words and manufactured into stories. The white canvas of a note is a comfortable place to pour out prose and organize the elements of a publication into place.”

In case you’ve never heard of Evernote, check out this brief video:


Here are a few links that will get you thinking about ways to use Evernote:

I’ve Been Using Evernote All Wrong. Here’s Why It’s Actually Amazing

12 Surprising Ways to Use Evernote You Might Not Have Considered

6 Creative Ways to Use Evernote

Once you’ve put your Evernote material into FastPencil, you can engage readers and even editors in your project with the social tools they have.

And, speaking of social aids to publishing, you may have friends that use Evernote (or, other collaborative tools) and you just might consider teaming up to publish…

If so, take these words of Nilofer Merchant to heart:

“Instead of doing what was ‘required’, they figured out what was necessary. Most central– they tapped into the people who cared, the people who wanted to come together to solve a problem. Today, connected people can now do what once only large organizations could. That’s the fundamental truth of the social era. Those people then share information and organized in such a way that many could act as one.”
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Do You Have To Give Something Up To Collaborate?

I blog about Reading, Writing, and Publishing; but; most of what’s said can be applied in many other areas of life.


Image courtesy of Adrian ~

Today’s topic is easy to apply to nearly any activity.

Lots of people, in the work they do, feel they are the only ones who know how to “get it right”.

And, as a writer, I must admit to such feelings

But, the least I can do, if collaboration could help me, is to explore how it might make my work better.

I’ve shared ideas here before from a woman named Nilofer Merchant.

Today, I’ll share some quotes from an article by her called—(Surprise)COLLABORATIONS :-)

After she talks about an event she attended, with Sting and Paul Simon collaborating [and, if you take the link to her article you can watch a video of that happening…], she says:

“The experience reminds me that great work happens when ideas takes shape by contact with other ideas. Not by some assimilation but by the friction of difference. Not by one genius, overtaking another genius. But by exposure to those differences. By respecting difference, by honoring it, and finding ways for each to shine. Quite often it can mean you don’t know what will happen — you don’t know what ideas will be sparked, what challenge will cause you to rethink, what new inspiration might come.”

Then, a bit later, she says:

“One reason I hear people say they don’t like collaboration is because ‘sharing ideas’ is often thought of as ‘giving them away’. And while it’s true at some level, I’m more convinced than ever that when you can find someone with which you can create together, then you get more creativity, and  certainly, better results. Perhaps even to build a bigger lever to lift the world. Or, in the case of last night’s art, to lift the soul.”

So, in your work—yes, even you writers—is collaboration something you’ve not done but, perhaps, should consider?

And, speaking of potential collaborations, you could get a few free e-books during Read An E-Book Week then share them for World Read Aloud Day :-)
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Revisiting The #SocialEra

Doing Social Media or being present on a Social Network can be part of the #SocialEra.

Or, not

#SocialEra is the digital way to refer to some core ideas from Nilofer Merchant—“the Jane Bond of Innovation”.

I first wrote about Nilofer in my post, #SocialEra ~ The New Model for Book Promotion.

Two other posts about her ideas are:

The #SocialEra Is Much More Than Just “Social Media” . . .

How Do Writers Find Their “Voice”?

And, in an interview with Nilofer on Forbes, about her book, 11 Rules for Creating Value in the Social Era, the interviewer introduces herself with:

“I’ll admit it: I hate business books…There’s only so much ‘seamless leveraging of synergistic core competencies while maintaining brand integrity and mindshare in the value system of the new economy’ that I can take before the urge to set the book on fire becomes too great, and I risk violating deeply-held principles I have about book-burning.”

Then, before the interview-proper, she goes on to rave about Nilfoer’s book

Yes, Nilofer Merchant’s book can be called a “business book” and she is an Innovator who’s almost always talking about businesses.

So, some of you who are writers might wonder at my giving her so much space here (including videos in those past posts).

Well, I’m a writer and I can’t count the times I’ve learned something about how to write by paying attention to singers, painters, salespeople, religious figures, drunks in bars, and certain business people

Getting back to #SocialEra as it relates to Social Media (and “most” writers find “some” need to engage with Social Media), Nilofer has an article on her site called, IN A FRAGMENTED WORLD, GO DEEP, where she begins talking about using Twitter, then says:

“For an introvert like me, actually, it’s draining. It is the opposite of grounded connection. Online, I am never alone with my thoughts for a decent stretch of time. Even when I have an empty calendar, I can have activity going on because I allow Twitter to be in the background. At first, it was like music — nicely humming away but not distracting — but now I’m realizing it’s like a dinner party with each person getting louder and louder as the wine flows.”

A bit later in the article, she says:

“…you could do the opposite. You could go deep. You could be that voice that everyone listens to because when it speaks, it is so deep and rich that it’s worth slowing down to listen to. Sort of a Morgan Freeman voice, in the times of Justin Bieber bop. Maybe it will allow the light of an idea to be seen more clearly.”

Think that relates to writers and writing?

Sure, going deep with writing probably won’t help a writer become an overnight 50-Shades-of-Excitement success; but, it might help a writer’s work remain valuable far beyond their lifetime

And, in an article where she talks about the sacrifices necessary to accomplish something you’ve never done before, HOW TO TACKLE THE NEW THING, she says:

“…the gap between strategy and execution is a persistent one. It happens in organizations, it happens in our lives. In my 1st book (do you know about it? Published in 2010, it’s called The New How), I describe this gap as an ‘Air Sandwich’ – the persistent void between the big idea and the execution. I called it the Air Sandwich because all the stuff that matters — the thing that makes it complete — is missing. To fill it is about making the necessary tradeoffs, making tough decisions, and aligning resources. This is what I’m doing — though more slowly than I wish.”

Finally, I’ll share another video of Nilofer:

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How Do Writers Find Their “Voice”?

For those of you who’ve never considered what a writer’s Voice is, Wikipedia has a decent definition:

“The writer’s voice is the individual writing style of an author, a combination of idiotypical usage of syntax, diction, punctuation, character development, dialogue, etc., within a given body of text (or across several works).”

And, whoever wrote that definition (or, considering it’s Wikipedia, however many people worked on editing that definition) it has a peculiar Voice since it uses a completely non-typical word (not even in my Oxford dictionary)—“idiotypical”

I would have used “idiosyncratic” and had to go back to Wikipedia just to find a definition for “idiotypical”

So, leaving Wikiness behind, I need to link to two past posts that have videos of Nilofer Merchant:

#SocialEra ~ The New Model for Book Promotion

The #SocialEra Is Much More Than Just “Social Media” . . .

I’m going to share another video of Nilofer today, a video in which she uses a different “Voice” as a public speaker

And, that comment about her “voice” as a speaker seems to me intriguing, since, if you watch all three videos, she uses the same “voice”—one voice being how her vocal chords work and the other being how she uses the same vocal voice with different idiosyncratic mannerisms and stronger emotional emphasis.

Writers, too, can have different Voices in different works.

Yet, if you become familiar with all of a writer’s works, even if there are different Voices in each, there may be a single MetaVoice detectable

Young and untested writers often have imitative voices.

Finding a writing Voice is a very personal journey (nothing like the superficial “advice” some folks peddle) and the journey often involves struggle and heartbreak and commitment to some higher purpose.

And, if you need a simple method for finding your own, a method stressed by nearly all writers, just keep writing, then write some more, and never stop writing—your personal Voice will, eventually, emerge

In the following video, Nilofer isn’t talking only to writers but pay close attention because she uncovers one of the critical aspects of developing the Voice that Only You can have………

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