We spoke to Martin Grunburg, co-founder of C3 Networx about his endeavor in writing The Habit Factor. The entrepreneur has a steady hand in continuing to grow his IT business, as well as balancing being an author and speaker. Grungburg’s major in college was fine art and graphic design, which, in a strange twist, ultimately led to his decision to partner with some individuals looking to start an IT company. 20 years later, and a couple of Better Business Bureau Torch Awards, that business is still going strong.1. It is the journey that matters not the destination
- Can you tell us a little bit about your journey in writing The Habit Factor?
“I set out to do a bucket list event, which was a 32 mile paddle, and from that experience of figuring out how to accomplish that goal, which I ultimately did and had great success at, came the process of The Habit Factor. I then started coaching and sharing it with some fellow entrepreneurs, who then had their own success and next thing you know, the iPhone was introduced. Shortly after that a few people convinced me to turn the spreadsheet we were using for the process into an app. In the mean time, I had already started writing a book around the impact, influence, and magical force of habit. All the philosophy and research behind it became all encompassing, I just couldn’t shake this idea, therefore, I really didn’t decide to write the book, I was pretty much compelled to write it.”
- What unexpected challenges did you have while writing the book?
“When I had to start writing the book, there was the question of how to start. The first and obvious answer is to just start writing, but then it occurred to me that this was a golden opportunity to use The Habit Factor methodology. The goal was to write a book and the habit I had to develop was writing. The beauty is that I was able to use the app to write the book; I used the process, the methodology, and all the things I mention in the book about goal achievement. Certainly I had never written a book, I never wanted to write a book and when it came time to figure out how to do it, I just used The Habit Factor goal achievement methodology.”
- What surprises did you encounter along the way?
“It’s a lot deeper than you can at first imagine-- the process of writing a book. Even when it comes to ultimately promoting it and reaching out to other authors or people you think might have interest in it, then asking them to give the manuscript a look. The big surprise was it’s a much bigger project than you might initially suspect, assuming you want to do it the right way.”
- What tips do you have for other CEOs or business owners who want to write a book? How do they start?
(Laughs) “I laugh because part of the key is in the question itself; the key is to start. I think a lot of people talk about it, very few start and even fewer finish. The other part is being super passionate about the topic; it’s what drives you though, helps you to finish and be committed to the final execution.”
- You were talking about how hard it is to actually start writing a book, do you have any advice as to how to go about that?
“The funny thing is you end up realizing that what you thought was going to be the beginning may be the end or vice versa. I actually get a lot of compliments on the table of contents and what’s incredible in my mind is that it wasn't even ironed out until 15 or 20 days before it went to press. Having said that, start with whatever the idea is, don’t be so concerned about how it’s going to look at the end, just go with whatever it is that’s telling you to begin.”
2. Promoting the book and building a brand makes the difference
- What ways have you found to be the best in promoting your book?
“The best thing I can tell you for promoting the book is to write a great book; then people will read it, enjoy it, and tell others about it or write nice reviews. Nothing is going to take the place of a quality product that produces value. Having said that, it just so happens that this book has an app that goes with the book. By design, they’re very complementary and people who find the app before they knew about the book are more likely to read it and people who read the book first are more likely to search for the app. A recent review is from a guy who downloaded the app, then said he read the book and wrote ‘I wound up with much more than I anticipated’. The app came out in 2008 and it was the first of it’s kind, a productivity combo where you have an app and a book together and it turns out, it's a neat way to cross-promote as well.”
- How is promoting the book different than marketing a service set like IT services?
“I think, in either case, ultimately the truth surfaces --- there’s got to be transparencies. With our IT company, we've been around for 20 years and have also won a couple Better Business Bureau Torch Awards; we have a fairly impressive record of excellent customer service. That's not to say we never make mistakes. We do but it's been how we react and rectify the situation if something goes sideways. Keeping clients happy is a great way to promote. IT is critical to business owners and they’re not going to just let anybody handle or manage their infrastructure for them. Knowing that a company has been around awhile, they take care of their customers, and they do the right thing adds credibility and helps make the decision easier for business owners. When it comes to being an author, a lot of people just think they’re going to write a quick 30 page e-book and make millions. Readers easily identify those types of people and that quality of work; therefore, if the book is rooted with an author who is passionate about the message, really cares about it and it represents a great brand that is a great way to increase market share.”
- How has your perspective changed from when you first thought of promoting your book to what you have learned now?
“It’s changed a little; I've seen very well-respected publishers talk about this and unfortunately bad books that are well promoted will actually sell well (at first) and good books that don’t get promoted or marketed correctly will struggle.”
- What best practices have you found to build a brand around yourself as an author?
“If you’re knowledgeable and passionate about a subject then you’re a subject matter ‘expert’, you've done your research and then you put out a quality product, one that produces value, that is what is going to help promote the book.”
- How is building a brand around yourself different than just promoting the one specific book?
“A book is usually branded into one message; an author, however, might be known differently, as philosopher for example, but has written many books dealing with varying topics. The book is very specific whereas the author might be more general. In iTunes, The Habit Factor is a best seller under the spirituality category, which is an interesting twist but I can see it, and in Amazon, it’s under creativity and motivation; there are different genres for the book versus the individual.”
- Any stories that you can share around speeches that you have given or people you have met because of the book?
“The first story that comes to mind is the one immediately following the books release; it had only been out two or three months. A great guy, English gentlemen residing in the United Arab Emirates had read the book, became quite a fan, and reached out to me. He was putting on a TEDx conference in the Emirates and I received an invite, all expenses paid, to visit and present on The Habit Factor.”
3. Writing a book does change you and your business
- In what ways has writing the book changed you as an entrepreneur?
“I wrote the book to get it out of my system because I felt very passionate about the message and value it would bring. Once you put it out there, at first you think you got it "out" of your system. However, what I've found is it sucks you back in; people want presentations which is great because this is what I love to talk about. But, it's funny, there was no just writing it and it going away. Turns out, you write it and then you grow it or, rather, it grows you. It's changed and challenged me a lot -- it's become very consuming in a good way. When I see the reviews for the book and the app or the emails I realize this is what I'm supposed to be doing.
- How have you been able to balance being a CEO and an author?
“We are an established company, we have great people and that’s the key; you have to have great people who know what their roles are. This has allowed me to do some of the travel and author gigs.”
- How do the sales of the book compare to what you originally thought?
“There are two ways to look at it, on one hand, I had no idea what to expect; I would have been thrilled if 10 people bought the book--initially. It was a total unknown and then, on the other hand, now, you see the traction it’s got-- the impact it's had on people in just a few short years and it makes you realize there really is no limit to how many more copies will sell. My sense is it will continue to far exceed expectations.”
- Are there any final gems you can share that you would want other CEOs to know about writing a book?
“The world has gone as long as it has without your book. So, there's this paradox where you want to keep setting deadlines and forcing yourself to finish your book but you also want to be lenient enough as to not rush it and put out a bad product just because you’re trying to hit some timeline. Having that balance and making sure you’re really passionate about the product or idea will help you get through it. The other thing is making sure the book has practical application. The Habit Factor is rooted in all sorts of philosophy and ideology but if it began and ended there, people might have had a hard time with it. It’s very balanced with a practical application section and also a corresponding mobile app, which takes this book out of the realm of just philosophy and ideas, like 99% of self-help books. It actually allows people to understand the ideas, why they work, and then shows them how to put them to use. so, the key I think is to balance your deadline and make sure there’s a practical component to it where people can put your ideas to use.”