James was our first video interview guest, and what a wonderful guest he was.
In this latest instalment of Georgia Interviews…, James Sale, Founder of Motivational Maps Ltd and new author of Mapping Motivation: Unlocking the Key to Employee Energy and Engagement, tell us about how he brought an innovative and never-done-before idea to the masses, authored his first book, and skyrocketed his public profile and his business as a result.
James gets pretty specific about how he did this, so read his answers carefully because there are more than a few book marketing gems in there!
Georgia: Hi James, thank you
so much for joining us today! It's a pleasure to have you on...could you start
by telling us all about yourself and your business, first of all.
Motivational Maps has been in business for 11 years—we started in 2006. Motivational Maps are an online diagnostic tool—like a personality test; the only difference is they explain what motivates you. We've developed a language to describe things and a metric to measure it. We have over 300 licensees in 14 countries. This tool is now in 7 different languages around the world, and so it's growing.
Typically, SMEs, corporates, and public sector companies use this tool in order to find out what is motivating their employees, and because motivation is very closely correlated with performance levels, and at the end of the day it's all about performance, productivity, and ultimately for a company—profitability. Clearly you could have a whole load of highly performing people, but with the wrong strategy for the company you'd still go bust. With that proviso we can increase performance and productivity, and that is what the tool is designed to do.
What inspired you to create a product around this?
Peter Drucker, who was the world's greatest management consultant, said there were only two things that made money for a business, and everything else was a cost. One, is obvious—he said it was marketing, in which I would include sales. Marketing and sales make money for a business. The second thing is innovation. We have to find new ways, faster ways, cheaper ways, better ways of doing and delivering services and solutions to our clients and customers.
I found that everyone was talking about motivation, but I realized there was no way really of measuring it and having a language to describe it. There were various models, but none of them were exactly about motivation, so motivation was ubiquitous. Everybody, in every walk of life was experiencing, or not experiencing motivation, so I decided to innovate around this whole missing dimension and create this tool.
I imagine this strikes a chord with a lot of entrepreneurs, because actually when people have that passion and they have the idea that they just know if they can find a way to conceive it and make it a reality, and get it into the hands of as many people that need it as possible and solve those issues for people, then it's a winning business. Ultimately what drives people I think more than money and business success is actually impact, and it certainly sounds like that's true for you.
Yes, I think you have to do something you believe in, something you really feel is going to make a difference, and you actually like yourself as a product or service, and you'd use. For me it has to be something unique and special, and that’s what this feels like.
Nobody starts out an expert. People think, "Oh if I had the expertise then I could actually do this." I didn't start off as an expert. What has to happen is a series of small steps you take at the beginning, and you just build on each step. You suddenly realize you've mastered this whole field of motivation and you've become effectively a world expert without even trying to be one.
Incredible. I was going to ask what inspired you to write your book, but it's so obvious, is it a bit of a redundant question?!
Well it's not a redundant question because actually, I could give you three primary reasons why I've written this book. Motivational Maps has been going for 10 years, but we're not a corporate, we are small. Writing a book, to me, had three keys things that were powerful.
One would be our position in the market. This book provides the evidence and the proof that this is a valid system, a valid way of going about measuring motivation. It's got all the footnotes, it's got all the details, and it's got all the practical things you can do as well that actually demonstrate the intellectual property that this product contains.
The second thing it does is it strengthens your tribe. You probably know Seth Godin's book called Tribes? One of the key things any business that's got any sense does, is try to create tribes of people who are following you.
Over 400 businesses use the product around the world. These people follow what you do. A book coming out enables your tribe to have real confidence in what you're talking about, what you're saying, and they can refer to it, and they can refer other people to it. "Have you seen the book? Have you seen that article in the book? Have you seen that chapter?" This is really, really important.
I think there's a third reason for anyone who's interested in innovation, and that is writing a book is not just about writing what you already know, it's also about the discovery of ideas. You don't know what you know until you've come to write a book.
You mean discover your own ideas by the mere act of writing?
In fact, you don't actually know what you're going to write necessarily in advance—you have an idea, you have a plan, you structure the book, but then when you come to write it you come up against roadblocks where you discover new things. I actually discovered what the real mission of the company was, which I didn't know before I wrote the book.
I thought the mission was something to do with spreading motivation around the world. It's not. What I realized when I came to the concluding chapter was, our mission was to transform the way management works throughout the world, from a top-down to a bottom-up approach. I discovered that the maps only ever worked with companies who were able to actually bottom-up it rather than to top-down it.
The mission wasn't really about motivation. The product was enabling us to affect the management, not just motivation. It was a management tool as opposed to just a motivation tool.
Books connect people, they connect ideas, they connect ideas to people. I think for you to have explained it in that way makes that statement real. The idea that you discover your own ideas as you write, and as a result you're profoundly and fundamentally improving your business.
There's something about the authority of a book, a physical book that goes beyond simply doing just eBooks—and eBooks are good. To get a physical book as well, that is the crème de la crème. That's a key defining moment you are an author.
There are doors opening for my business which are very powerful. I am going to be appearing at the Dominion Theatre in London on the 8th of September as one of the three top speakers at a big leadership event. I am convinced that I was invited to join the party because of the book. That's a fabulous thing that may not have happened for me, without it.
By the way, the book gives you an authority because of course, the word author and authority come from the same archaeological route. To be an authority is to be an author.
That's a good point.
As soon as you've written a book you become an authority and that's a very important thing to be in your business, whatever your business is. It’s to be the authority, the go-to person. With motivation—I am now the go-to person.
What do you say when you meet people who you know are successful but they're just not taking that next step? How important is having a book?
I would say it's arguably one of the most powerful things you could do in terms of marketing your business. I think the procrastination reasons don't add up. The only one that actually has got any legs at all in my opinion is actually, "Well I can't really write. I just can't write." Even that doesn't matter now because there are loads of people who can't write. They get ghostwriters. They get copywriters. They get people to help them write it. They have the ideas and have these people actually do it. Here's a little known fact about Motivational Maps, which I'll share with you. Up until I wrote the book, I would regularly, from my 300 plus licensees, get the question, "Well, who has validated this product?"
Since the book has come out, I've had no inquires at all about what's the validity of the product. Because in fact, it's completely circular. The book validates the product and the product validates the book.
I think no matter how it gets into the book, that's irrelevant. Even if you use a ghostwriter.
Exactly so. I totally support that. The key issue is getting the right person to write/ghostwrite the book, because you need somebody who is empathic, who understands, and who is going to reflect the true nature of your ideas. Equally you as the originator of the ideas have to actually commit. You've got to commit to it financially. You've got to commit to it emotionally. You've got to commit the time to it.
You did mention 'strengthens your tribe' a little earlier on. Do you have any thoughts you might want to share for people who are thinking about how they might want to promote their book? How to engage them?
You need to bear in mind a basic distinction. People basically, at some deep root level, can buy one of two things. If you buy yourself a product, a BMW or a Mercedes, or a brand new spanking house, or whatever, a gold diamond ring or something—they give you a hit to start with, but very quickly you get bored, and the effect wears off. On the other hand, what people really want are experiences and they are much more powerful. If people are part of your tribe, they want experiences. What they don't want is corporate. What they don't want is business as usual. What they don't want is just the normal stuff you get from any other company.
We booked the Radisson Blu in Leicester Square for a book launch in February of this year. We invited a shed load of people. As it happened, while our book launch was going on Ben stiller and Jennifer Cruz were having the launch of Zoolander 2 outside, so we had a red carpet outside with them standing there. I was walking past Ben Stiller as were some of my guests thinking this was all part of my party. We went to the penthouse suite. A top 5-star hotel, overlooking London, with canapes and wine. Somewhere around 100 guests, and we launched the book.
We had the commercial director from the ordinance survey who had used our product give a talk for us. We just had a quality event. We went out of our way to make this an experience— to show that when you come to Mapping Motivation events you get an experience, which is really powerful. Of course, it led to sales. It led to people talking about us. It led to a whole range of things.
It's just a morale-boosting thing. Everyone goes away thinking wow. The book is great. The party is great. The event was just marvelous, and we're just having a great time.
Subsequent to that I had a meeting with, I can't mention the name of the company, but it's one of the biggest top 20 companies in the world. A food company. I was with one of their top people. I went to their office in London. I got up there and I'd not met this person before. We just had that small talk.
I said, "Before we go. I've just got a little gift for you."
"For me? What?" he said. I handed it to him, wrapped up properly.
I replied, "Oh, just have a look."
It was my book. Signed with his name in it, and do you know, I spent an hour and a half with him? He just kept picking up the book and looking at it. I haven't got a client out of this yet, but I am getting closer, and closer, and closer. Our conversation is continuing. It's a long time to break into corporates anyway, but the book just had a mesmerizing effect.
Wonderful. It sounds like it's shortening that whole cycle of that relationship building.
The book was just mesmeric, so get a book out. That's my advice. I've done it. I'm going to get another one out soon, and I'm going to carry on getting books out. I like getting books out. It's almost becoming a career for me.
Could you please tell us where everybody can find a copy of this wonderful book? Remind us of the title again, your website, and how they can continue this conversation with you after this interview.
The book is called “Mapping Motivation” subtitle “Unlocking the Key to Employee Energy and Engagement”. The best place to get it is on Amazon.co.uk. My website is called MotivationalMaps.com. I'm on LinkedIn. My name is James Sale. Find me there. Just say the phrase, "Georgia on my mind." I'll know exactly where this comes from.
If you’d like to learn how Motivational Maps could benefit you, your team and your bottom line, contact James using the details above.
For more information on how you can get your own book written, designed, published and marketed, so that you can see results similar to James’, or if you’re an author who’d like to be interviewed as part of your book marketing, email Georgia at firstname.lastname@example.org with your enquiry, and a member of the team will be in touch to set up an appointment.