This is the first in a series of audio Spotlight Interviews with our Future of Ink Expert Contributors. In this series, we will spotlight each expert and bring you a valuable, incisive and informative interview on each of our contributors’ expertise. In addition to providing you with the audio, the complete interview transcript is also included below.
Your host and interviewer is Ellen Britt, the co-founder of The Future of Ink. Ellen has produced and hosted a dozen telesummits and has interviewed many of the most well known and respected names in online marketing, as well as self-development…
Just click on the ‘play’ arrow below to hear Marnie’s interview:
Transcript – Spotlight: Marnie Pehrson
Ellen Britt: This is Ellen Britt, co-founder with Denise Wakeman of The Future of Ink and I’m here with one of my very favorite friends and colleagues…digital and print publisher and author Marnie Pehrson. Marnie is a prolific author and has an astounding 23 books to her credit, I know that because I counted them on Amazon this morning.
She is also the founder one of the most well respected, successful (and oldest) content directory sites on the web today, IdeaMarketers.com.
[NOTE: After this interview was recorded, Marnie began the process of a major upgrade to her site, and is currently not taking any new articles. Watch Marnie's site for the latest news.]
So when I say that Marnie knows a thing or two about publishing, as well as about, writing and business, that’s the understatement of the year. Plus, I’m super excited to announce that Marnie is now on board as one of our contributing writers here at The Future of Ink, so you’ll be seeing much more of her wisdom very soon.
Welcome to The Future of Ink, Marnie!
Marnie Pehrson: Thank you Ellen! It’s fun to be here. I can’t wait to see where this goes.
Ellen: Fantastic! Me too. Well, you know there’s a thousand things I could talk to you about that would be of interest to our readers because you have so much experience, but today I want to focus in on something that I’ve noticed about your newest book, and that’s Light the World: How Your Brilliance Can Shift the Planet. And the thing that I’m most interested in is how you got this book done so fast…basically in just a matter of weeks from idea to publication.
That’s the thing that really intrigues me the most about you Marnie, how you are able to manage a very successful business and yet you seem to get your ideas out there with just lightning speed,and not just this book, but I’ve noticed on every project you tackle, unless you’re hiding something! But before we get into your process. I want to talk for a minute about the book itself…what exactly is Light the World all about?
Marnie:It’s basically a book speaking to a specific audience, people I call “light-bearers” and light bearers are people who…they are creative, inspired individuals who are
lighting the way for other people out of bondage to freedom. And that bondage could be emotional, mental, physical, spiritual…and the bondage could be of their own making or imposed on them by others…generational or whatever. They are people who are leading others to greater levels of freedom in their lives. So this book is kind of an outline for those individuals to understand the process, the natural phases they go through and how to get their messages out.
Ellen: Awesome! How did you get the idea for a book like this?
Marnie: I was actually reading another book…Oliver DeMille’s book Freedom Shift and then I read Seth Godin’s Tribes. And between those two books, something clicked and I understood what I’ve been doing for the last twenty years. You know, where you just naturally feel like you’re doing things and you’re doing what you feel like you want to do, but I now understood the big picture of where I was going and what it was all about.
The main key ingredient of why I think this book came together so fast is because I caught my vision…that big vision I was excited about and it’s like the last puzzle piece falling into place.
Ellen: So when you say this is something you’ve been doing for twenty years, you haven’t been doing that to make your living, right? I mean you’ve been running Idea Marketers and…
Marnie: Right…but this made sense out of all of that because in the book Freedom Shift he talks about the three things that are needed to create a shift in a positive, free direction and it’s more entrepreneurs, more voracious readers that think outside the box and more tribal leaders. And so if I look back over my business over the last twenty years I’ve been fostering entrepreneurship, helping people think outside the box and promoting tribal leaders.
And I had just figured out that my main theme was freedom…the governing common thread between the people I like to promote and the things I like to share is about freedom in one aspect or another so put those together and ‘click’ and now I understand what my whole life is about.
Ellen: Can you just say those three things again for the benefit of those of us who might not have gotten them? More entrepreneurs…more voracious readers and what was the third one?
Marnie: Tribal leaders.
Ellen: More tribal leaders. So that’s where maybe Seth Godin’s book came in because he speaks about tribes…
Ellen: I love how this organically evolved, but it seems like and I think I saw you post this thing in a class we were taking together this idea and it seems like the next day it was done and you were marketing the thing. I was like “Whoa!” it made my head spin it happened so fast. Actually how long did it take you from the time you had the idea to when you were holding the published book in your hand?
Ellen: Unbelievable! Well, logically my next question is how did you put this thing together so fast?
Marnie: One thing…I had a deadline. I work better under a deadline. So Laura’s program that we were in, the 30 day deal, plus I wanted to do some events so I was going out West and I decided to center them around the book and I knew I had to have books in hand for the event.
Ellen: Let me just stop you a minute in terms of the deadline, do you work better when the deadline is imposed by somebody else or if it’s self-imposed or do you do a mixture of those or what?
Marnie: In a way, I impose my own deadline and then I make it immovable by committing to it by say, signing people up to an event…I can’t get out of it now. So self-imposed and then I commit to other people.
Ellen: Ok, and you did that in the 30 Day Passion Project with Laura’s thing…now this particular book had a collaborative aspect to it, did it not?
Marnie: It did.
Ellen: Could you speak to us about that?
Marnie: Yeah…I have a private Facebook group of people that I call ‘Light Bearers’ so they are my ideal reader, the ones that would totally buy into the book. So I created this group for them to share ideas and things and then when I went to put the book together, I would do things like post the cover as it was being created…my book designer’s first draft of the cover…what did they think and they ended up coming up with a better image…the members of the group helped me track down the image that’s on the front cover and I love it.
So then I said well, you know this book..stories are important in books and I think they make people keep reading so it’s ok, I need some stories to illustrate my points and I put out hey I’m looking for some stories on surrender or I’m looking for stories on when you felt like you were called to do this and within…I told them you’ve got 48 hours to send it to me…and I got fifteen stories in 48 hours.
Ellen: Wow! Incredible…so you basically had your material in hand then just like that.
Marnie: The rest was working from an outline. So I outlined what I wanted to cover and I started writing but then I would remember hey, I’ve got a blog about that or I did a video on that or an audio, so I just pulling in all the stuff that I’d written over the last four or five years and started incorporating it in. One day I got about 9,000 words done but a lot of it was pulling from existing content.
Ellen: Incredible…so not only did you use the collaborative aspect of this thing you also went back and used your own work and repurposed some of it into this book. You know, I’ve heard a few people hesitant to do that…they think well you know, that stuff’s already been published, it’s up there on my blog or I wrote an article about that two years ago and somehow they feel like it’s not original anymore because…can you just speak a little to that?
Marnie: Well, number one, nobody’s going to remember!
Ellen: I knew you were going to say that!
Marnie: Number two, they are not going to scrounge all over and find it and number three, when you pull it into the book it takes a different shape. It is now within the context of a bigger picture…not just in an isolated blog that’s sitting out there. Now you suddenly understand how this fits into a big picture.
Ellen: I think you’ve told me plenty of times Marnie that I probably have enough material for three or four books worth of content sitting out there on my blog and I’m sure that if that’s true of me it’s probably true for a lot of our listeners. If you have been blogging for any length of time at all or you have been article writing and that kind of thing maybe it’s time to go back, especially if you’ve been itching to get a book out there to look at this.
And I just love this idea of going to folks and saying ok, instead of trying to come up with stories of your own, you went for the very audience that’s going to be the consumers of your content and asked them for stories. I think that’s just a stroke of genius…it really is! One question I want to ask you about that our listeners might be curious about is how did you form that private Facebook group in the first place? This group was already there as a resource for you right, before you even had the book idea?
Ellen: How did that come about?
Marnie: I created a video that explained my vision for shifting the planet. And I put it up on a blog somewhere but then I hand-picked people. I would send them my video and say would you take a look at this and if this is something you agree with, would you like to be part of a special group of light bearers? And so they would look at it, and would say yeah and I would add them to the group. So they were just hand-picked and educated beforehand.
Ellen: Now did you have the book in mind already when you were doing this?
Ellen: Ok, so this came way before but you still had this idea about the light bearers well before the book came into being…
Marnie: Right…technically the book idea had been percolating since 2009 that I need to write a book about my ‘light the world’ stuff it wasn’t like it had ever…I had a little bit written but it never clicked until I had the big vision.
Ellen: And that’s the thing you were telling us about…tell us the title of that first book again…the freedom book…
Marnie: The first one’s called Freedom Shift by Oliver DeMille and the other one’s Tribes by Seth Godin.
Ellen: So it was only by reading Freedom Shift…it acted almost like a catalyst for the thing that had been percolating all along and you said aha! I’ve got it then because you said the three things about more entrepreneurs, voracious readers and more tribal leaders then of course…whenever I hear the word ‘tribe” I think of Seth Godin’s book Tribes…it’s just so very well known. So you read that and it helped you flesh everything out…
Marnie: Yeah…and Oliver DeMille recommended Tribes, so that’s where I found out about it.
Ellen: Now Marnie, not all of your books have been collaborative efforts. You’ve done a lot of books solo. You are also quite an accomplished fiction writer as well as a non-fiction writer but it still seems to me…looking at you through the window from the outside that you still seem to get those projects completed at lightning speed too. What’s your secret?
Marnie: I think it’s because I operate from the space of vision and inspiration. And I don’t really take action until I feel that engaged and once it’s engaged it’s like a jolt.
Ellen: Ok, now let’s go back and pick that apart. When you say you operate from vision and inspiration…I mean we talked about this a little bit and we could see how you did this with Light the World but is this all an unconscious kind of process or do you have any structure to this? How does this work?
Marnie: I have a conscious practice of seeking inspiration but it doesn’t come just when I want it to you know, but I’ve leaned to recognize it when I do get that stroke of inspiration and it’s like ‘Do it now!’ and then I act immediately.
Ellen: Well I know that! I’ve been the recipient of that because I’ve been fortunate enough to be a contributor on a couple of your collaborative books, two of the Trust Your Heart series books and you had this idea and you got word out to everybody like immediately about this thing…it was just amazing how quickly that project came together. When you talk about seeking inspiration and I understand that you can’t seek inspiration and get it when you want it…but what are some ways in which you get inspiration for your writing and publishing projects?
Marnie: Nature is a big part of it…getting out in nature. Reading other good books kind of gives you some fodder to throw around. Just taking some time to step back…periodically I have to just step back and disengage from my business just a little bit and kind of get off the rat wheel and see it from an arial view…that helps. Music is a big inspiration for me too. And meditation.
Ellen: I know also that you are a big fan of brainstorming, with particular people. And I think you have a regular brainstorming partner don’t you…
Marnie: Yes…Lisa Rae Preston.
Ellen: Lisa seems to really sit well with you as a brainstorming partner. Can you just let us in on how that process works because you gals have come up with some fantastic stuff. I remember when you were…was it the first Trust Your Heart series book where you were thinking about how to put a twist on the Amazon launch and Lisa Rae was egging you on to do something even more?
Marnie: Yeah…Lisa makes me stretch. How could we go over the top? What would be something we could give to each one of these people…and I’m like well we could highlight every one of their ideas. Then it’s ok so how can we do that? So we came up with the idea of putting the readers on the JV download page page. She challenged me to think of something that’s never been done before or how can it be a win-win-win for everyone and shoot for the moon, take the limits off.
Ideally what could you give people or what could you do or offer that ‘s just way over the top. And stop worrying about how and then once you have that big idea then you come back and you say, ‘ok now how could we make this practical.. at least offer something in that direction.
Ellen: So this is more than what we might consider as just a regular brainstorming session then, with each of you coming up with ideas…
Marnie: Yeah, it’s more…she really gets you to lift your lid!
Ellen: How did that get started with Lisa Rae and could you advise us as to how we might look for the characteristics of a person that we might want to have do that for us?
Marnie: Lisa and I met through Idea Marketers several years ago and kind of hit it off. She is one of my Experts. I would say that really good partners if you take Lisa’s StepIntoDestiny.com…she has a free test over there you can take. And Potentials…the people who turn out to be the Potentials on there make really good brainstorming buddies because they lift the lid on the possibilities.
Ellen: Oh, neat…let me just mention this again that Lisa’s got a site that’s called StepintoDestiny.com and what Marnie’s referring to is this assessment that Lisa Rae has come up with and they are like…I don’t know…personality types you might say?
Marnie: Yeah…it helps you uncover your core passion…your core drivers.
Ellen: Your core drivers…you can go over there and you can take that test for free and you can have some of your colleagues take the test for free and you find out which category they fall into and so what Marnie’s saying here is that those that fall into the category of Potentials would make great brainstorming partners for you. Everybody else we just have to say we’re sorry we’ll have to use you for something else.
Marnie: Well, the others are good too at brainstorming…let’s say when it comes time to…you’ve got your big idea and now you want someone to help you brainstorm all the details that need to happen…then use a Service for that, because they are going to help you see all of the things that have to be done. I used to have a friend who I’d run things by, she was a Service and I’d say if the idea could survive her taking it to the details, if I still had any desire to do it…it was still a good idea because she could pick it apart and show me everything.
Ellen: So one of these other categories is called Service?
Ellen: Do you remember the others…there are Potentials…Service…
Marnie: Service, Truth, Empathy and Potential.
Ellen: Service, Truth, Empathy and Potential. So the Potentials are the ones we want and that would make sense with just the word ‘potential’…to be able to see the potential in something would make a great brainstorming partner.
Marnie: But Services are great for helping you to get it done!
Ellen: Ok, so they are the detail oriented folks…
Marie: Yes…like my assistant is a Service, so she can help me get things done.
Ellen: All right. Well, Marnie how do you know when you get one of these writing ideas or publishing ideas…how can you be sure which ones to act on? You take such fast action. I know for myself, I tend to mull things over, probably too much and I’ve heard my clients talk about this too ‘well you know, I don’t know if my idea is good enough’…how can you be sure which one to act on. You seem to be so confident in taking fast action. How do you do that?
Marnie: Now some ideas I don’t take fast action on. Actually, the collaborative book idea, had percolated for a couple of years but I didn’t put that out but I kept coming back around to it. So something that keeps cropping up, keeps coming back around probably is something you should pursue. And when you feel like a lot of energy behind it and a lot of ideas and motivation, act fast while you have that fuel. It’s just a higher level of desire to do it. I just pay attention to that. And a lot of my books have been that way. They percolate for awhile and then there’s that moment where “Ah! There it is…let’s run.”
Ellen: OK, so by percolation you’re saying that you have a certain level of interest in it but it’s not that driving kind of fuel that you get when you think ok this is it, I’ve got to do this now.
Ellen: So maybe I’m wrong that these ideas don’t just come out of the blue and then boom you are acting not them… most of these have been percolating for awhile and it seems to be maybe something like then becomes the catalyst for action. Like you read that book Freedom Shift and it became the catalyst for action. Or maybe it just reaches a critical mass or it’s just the right time or something…is that a fair assessment?
Marnie: Yeah, I think so. And I think a lot of people obsess because they can’t make things happen but sometimes it’s just a timing thing. If the timing is right you can just crank something out.
Ellen: And if the timing isn’t right then all the effort in the world is not going to make it go.
Ellen: Marnie, the one thing that enable you to not do what so many of us are guilty of and we talked about this a little bit tangentially, but let me get more to the heart of it, that’s to second guess ourselves, to tell ourselves our ideas are not good enough. What do you say to yourself or think to yourself or tell your clients who are struggling with this that gets you into immediate action. It’s like oh, well this idea is just not good enough, a lack of self-confidence…those kinds of things…
Marnie: I’m trying to think if I tell myself…(laughs)
Ellen: You don’t have that problem right…?
Marnie: I guess sometimes I think I’m missing something…and if I see that something’s missing…like in the Light the World book, I tinkered with it, tried to write something…but nahhh it’s just not it…I just go into kind of observer mode and say ok, so something’s missing, something will come. So I’m going to keep my eyes open for that thing that’s going to take this over the top.
Or sometimes I’ll proactively brainstorm with Lisa or Luanna or one of my other people so how could we make this…or what am I missing here. I like things to have a wow factor when I do them…when I’m going to speak or whatever, I want it to have that pop. So I’m always looking for that thing but I expect it and I think some people don’t expect it to come. They just think, I don’t have it, so bag it.
Ellen: That’s really an interesting distinction. So…I love this…it’s kind of like the observer effect in that you’re noticing what is missing and not that you are saying ok, I’m going to bag it because I don’t have it but I’m going to expect it to come by watching for it or going after it through brainstorming with other Potentials or something like that.
Ellen: Well Marnie, what’s the one thing you want to leave our listeners with that we can do to get our next project…that project that’s been percolating…out of the idea state and off the ground faster?
Marnie: So you are saying the timing is right for it?
Ellen: The timing’s right and maybe we feel like we’ve got a lot of energy but we’re just not doing it! What can we do, what can we say to ourselves, how can we get this project finally off the launch pad?
Marnie: I say involve other people in whatever way you can. Get them to collaborate, get them to brainstorm or to hold you accountable. Somehow commit to someone else. Involve other people, make it…there’s something fun about a collaborative project. It ends up bigger, it has more of a wow factor…and it makes you want to follow through. I’m better at following through for other people than I am for me.
Ellen: I think that’s probably true for a lot of us. It also makes the marketing a little easier, doesn’t it?
Marnie: It does…it does make it easier.
Ellen: That’s a whole other conversation isn’t it…(laughs) Well, Marnie this has been neat. I look forward to having you back and interviewing you again for The Future of Ink and also I just can’t tell you how delighted I am to have you here as a contributing writer.
Marnie: Well I’m thrilled to be part of it. I always love to be interviewed by you. You always make me sound like I know something by the time I’m done (laughs.)
Ellen: I’m always thrilled to interview you too because you have a tremendous amount of expertise and I just love talking to you. Well again, this is Ellen Britt, the co-founder of The Future of Ink. Bye for now.