A Better Way to Read Business Books: Laura Valvasori

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Most business books are dull.

I read the first 25 pages before a book loses its appeal. The writing is dense, the topic doesn't warrant a book, or I quickly get the point.

Laura Valvasori has developed a new and interesting way for people to get more value from business books. 

She recently launched the Business Book Collective, a virtual community that combines a Mastermind group and a book club. 

Each month, you read a book and share your thoughts and take-aways with like-minded people. 

It's a brilliant concept because you're held accountable to finish the book and you benefit from the collective wisdom of the community.

Laura literally stumbled upon the idea a few months ago. But unlike many ideas that come and go, she embraced it and launched in January.

By Mark Evans and welcome to marketspart the PODCAST, the delivers inside from marketers and entrepreneurs in thetrenches in twenty five minutes, or once I'm fascinated by how it burners devoteideas for businesses. Sometimes it's an obvious problem. Sometimes it's a ditchthat needs to be sprack. Sometimes it's inspiration, like Richard Granson,decided to launch a virgin airline after a mister connecting flake tovisit a young lady, the Virgin Islands on today's Podcast, I'm talking toLaura Balbastre who, depending on how you look at things, tumbled upon a newand exciting business idea or was stuck by inspiration. Welcome to marketingspark Laura. Thank you mark is so nice to be here. So I don't usually do this. I don't askmy guest to provide some background on what they do, because in many cases Ijust want to get to the conversation and have me deliver the good insight,the good stuff that will educate my audience, but because we're talkingabout a new business idea, I want to make sure that there's some context toour conversation. Perhaps you can tell me the back story of you. What you do, how you make money, how your businessgoing and then we can transition into this new and exciting idea that youstumble upon a few months ago. So my background is in professional servicesmarketing. I spent the first twenty years of my career working for lawfirms and accounting firms and marketing roles, and actually next weekis eight years since I decided to leave the corporate world. I was working foran accounting firm and I was working with private companies and I was doingmarketing targeted at private companies, and I was meeting a lot of businessowners that were when I told them I was doing marketing, they would say, ohwell, we kind of do some marketing and it became very clear that they didn'treally have a big picture plan and they often had a very junior person or noperson doing marketing in any kind of strategic way. So I left with theintention to help private companies and businesses create big picture marketingplans and then figure out had to move that into action, and I've been doingthat for the last eight years and more recently, I've been transitioning todoing more coaching and working with smaller business owners as well andfinding that really gratifying and that there's a lot of people that have greatideas in business and they have great things to bring to the market, but theyjust don't have the marketing or business background and with a LittleBit of coaching and guidance that they can be really successful. So that'swhere I've been focusing more recently as well, so as a self employedentrepreneur also focused on marking- and I know the ups and downs andrunning to business and the fact that you've been in business for eight yearsis a major accomplishment. It's hard out there, it's a twenty four seventype of endeavor and being able to run your own business and be the master ormistress of your own domain is a major accomplishment. So so congratulationson that. What we've seen of the last...

...year is that digital marketing is red,hot everybody seems to be busy consultants full time, employees parttime, employees freelancers, you must be busy. I mean your business must beintense these days, yeah it was at the beginning of thepandemic. I think a lot of businesses panicked, and there was a few projectsthat I was about to start that were frozen and that's understandable, but I thinkthat people then started realizing that marketing is more important than everright now and that they needed help. So, yes, I've been very busy. I have somelonger term clients that I work with an anon going basis and then I work with do consulting with different,consulting and coaching with different businesses, and I have not been lookingfor things to do during the pandemic. That's for sure, okay! So, given thatcontact, given the fact that your digital marketer we alsen be busy, yourbusiness is good. It's all tickety boom right what happened. So, let's start on thisentrepreneur journey you're. Just doing your thing: It's over the holidays,your! I guess you were cleaning up your office at some point in time and thisyou got aspired by a new idea. Maybe you can walk us through what was thatjourney? What was the new idea, and then we can talk about how the idea hasspawn from an idea into something that you think has huge potential like manypeople during the pandemic, I've been doing a lot of reflection and thinkingabout where I want to take my business where I want to spend my time and I wascleaning out my office as you said, and I came across a number of businessbooks that I had purchased and some of them I'd read and some of them I hadn'teven read, and I thought I really have to get to these in the new year. I lovereading, I'm an avid reader, but I either hadn't quite got to those booksor I'd read them, but I hadn't really put any of the ideas into practice. SoI I had that in my mind, and I was out for a walk- and I was thinking aboutthe year head and what I wanted to create more of in my life, and I wantedto create more brain storming and connecting with great people and bringthis love of reading. I, and all of that was kind of going through my head,and I had this idea and I thought well what if I created a book club that wasfocused on reading business books, but in the context of actually applying thelearnings so applying more of a master minding approach. How could I combine atraditional book club and a Master Mind which I'm a part of and had have hadgreat value from into something something new and different, and sothat sparked the idea that I sort of kept to myself for a couple of weeks inmy head, as I was bulling it over and sort of thinking, you know kind ofgetting excited about it and using the imagination piece and like what couldit look like and how would it work and asking myself all those questionsbefore I shared it with a few people and got some really good feedback atthe beginning of January, a book club...

...or a Master Mine at a time when wecan't get together those things thrive in person where you can read eachother's body language, you can feel people's personalities in the room. Youcan interact really easily. Was the timing right or did you think that itwas a great idea, but the timing was off. I actually thought the timing wasideal, because I feel more now than ever. People need connection. I knowthat there's a lot of talk about. You know people being fatigued with zoomand that type of thing, but the reality is as a small business owner. If you'retrying to figure this all out on your own, it can feel very isolating andlonely and to say motivated it's difficult to stay motivated, sometimesespecially in this environment. So I actually felt like the time was exactlyright to do it. If I could figure out how to do it in a way that would beengaging and help people get to know each other and a format that wouldbring in some accountability but also use that master minding approach to getpeople into action. I love the idea that you mentionedaccountability, so I have a confession to make. I read a lot of business booksor more accurately. I start a lot of business books and I get about twentytwenty five pages in and I get bored and a couple o things happen. One is Iget the point they've made their argument about. I believe this shouldhappen and the story loses its. I guess novelty and the other thing is you getinto a business book and you sort of Ben for the Long Hall andyou're not motivated, and you don't have anybody sort of patting on theback or somebody to discuss it with and and then you kind of lose your yourkind of interest fades, even though it's a good book and I think what YourBusiness, which is called the business book collective, does, is finds a newway for people to really embrace and get value out of book. Is that kind ofthe Philosophical Foundation absolutely and when I started it, Ithought that the accountability peace as far as accountability to do thereading. To finish the book wasn't was one of the real value propositions. Butwhat I've quickly realized is it's the community that's formed that issupporting each other. You know there was. There was one member that was. Wewere reading the book building a story brand and there was a concept in thebook that she didn't quite grasp as to how it would apply to her business, andso she shared that in the face book groups. We have a face book group,that's really active and she shared that and asked for feedback, and shegot a number of answers and she said to me after she said you know when I cameacross that concept. If I'd been reading this book on my own, I probablywould have just got frustrated and put the book down and thought. Oh, it's notfor me, but because I now worked through that with the help of the otherpeople. I've continued reading and I've actually applied this in my businessand it's amazing. So it's the accountability, but it's the it's thecommunity in the way that you're supporting each other, because it's allpeople from different backgrounds,...

...different levels of experience,different industries, so people have experience to share because of whatthey've done in their own business. That is helping other people, move pastturtles and actually implement things that they're. Thinking of so, let's take a step back and explainhow the business book collective works. How do you pick the books? How dopeople join? How do you get together get into the mechanics of how thisgreat idea actually turned into reality? Sure so I launched it in January withthe intention to start for February, and I picked the first two books, so weread clockwork and building a story brand which are two foundation of booksthat I think are great for small business owners. So I chose the firsttwo books and then beyond that we are crowd sourcing. The reading list, soall of the members contribute ideas and then we vote three months at a time. Sothat's how we pick a reading list so f. The book we're reading now for April isa tonic habits and then the way that it works is so we have the reading happensover one month and I divide the reading out over the first three weeks of themonth. So every Sunday you get an email that is a reading prompt. That givesyou guidance on what to cover for that week and what to be reading and givesyou some ideas of some activities that you can apply or some extra resources.So that goes on on Sunday. So you're set to read during the week and then onFriday afternoons you get a collective wisdom, email that asks you to submitthe answers to four questions. What are your key takeaways? What can you apply in Your Business?What questions would you have for the collective and are there any resourcesyou could share with the group? So those come back to me and I use thoseto guide conversations in the face book group that is very active and peopleengage, and so I spark some conversations and then people alsoengage in the group throughout the month and then on the last well, it's been the last Thursday ofthe month, but I'm just introducing a second group on Wednesdays. We do aninety minute call together and the ninety minute call the first thirtyminutes is a general discussion where we talk about some of the Keektakeaways from the book, and then we split out into break it rooms twice andthe break out rooms. We use a specific master minding formula for thosesessions that are happening where one member presents their challenge oftheir idea and then the other three members give their feedback. So it's atwenty minute session, it's very structured on purpose so that we canget the maximum brainstorming to happen. And then we come back together as agroup and we do a Sharbat. Do the second group share back and then wewrap up. So it's a pretty intense ninety minutes and the group is soengaged and everyone is dis, contributing a lot and they'regetting so much out of those little master, mind groups, because they'regetting practical ways that they can...

...help themselves help implement some ofthe ideas in the book. Once you came up with the idea and youdeveloped the framework for this program. How do you get started like?How did you get the word out? How did you convince somebody that I've gotthis new idea, you're going to have to read a book every single month, you'regoing to have to get to you're, going to have homework, to do and you'regoing to have to talk about it for ninety minutes? That's a big ask for alot of people who have a hard time reading business books period. Wheredid you start? Did you go on face book? Did you talk to your friends? Did youhit up link in? Where does the initial track ye happen so along a lot ofdifferent things, so I started by sitting down on my desk on. I think itwas the fourth of January and I'm like what is this thing like? How does thisthing in my imagination become something so I started by creating asales page that outlined what I thought the value would be and how it works. IM just to kind of get it into a form that I could communicate it to someone,and then I started going to my social network, so I announced it. I think onthe seventh of January with an intention to start on the firstof February, so it was a pretty big goal and then I just started gettingreally active through my social media channels. I started reaching out one toone through people. I thought would be a good fit through my link did network. I I was just all over pace talking toanyone who would listen to the idea and, to my delight I had a number of peoplethat were really excited right out of the gates. They saw the value in thepotential and they signed on, so that was thebeginning of how how it worked. So that's that's been how it's kind ofgrown, and then members have brought other members in and it's just kind ofstarting to grow organically, to the point where I'm adding a second group.How big is your first group and then how big do you want the second group tobe so? I have twenty two members in the first group and I've decided to cap itat twenty four members, because I've realized that there is a sense of intimacy. That's developing within thatgroup, as far as the level of trust and comfort of sharing on the calls- and Iwant to keep it to a size that we can continue to nurturethat so I'm going to cap the group that meets on Thursday evening the lastThursday of the month and I'm going to add a second group with another twentyfour spots and I'm going to have both of those groups in the face book group.So they'll get the commun the benefit of the larger community through theface book interactions with the calls will be in those two smaller groupsright so what's interesting to me is that you are just three months into this new,exciting business idea and you're already running into the question ofscale and how you grow this thing and that's when we started talking aboutdoing the podcast. That was one thing that really got me interested becauseit's one thing to have n an idea, and...

...we all have business ideas. It'sanother thing to launch it and hopefully get an audience. Then youactually get people who, like the idea and you get a little B businesstraction but you're actually hitting the accelerator and you're going. Youknow I'm going to take this is such a good idea, I'm going to take it to thenext levels. Why don't you give us some details into? What are you thinking ormaybe it's to early? I don't know, but it sounds like you. I realize you're onto something here yeah I have. I realized that I'm on tosomething- and I realized that it is such a valuable resource for people tobe a member of, but that I will only be able to grow it on my own to a certainscale. So I'm actually thinking about as the next level is certifying facilitators, because I realize that what I've created there'sbeen a lot of work to be fair, that's gone into creating the whole back endof the system to make what I explained work, there's a lot of set up andpieces of the puzzle that make it run smoothly and Prandente people. So what I'm realizing is that I'vecreated a business model that an an operating system. That would besomething that another coach or consultant could actually add on totheir business. So it could be something that they could start theirown chapter of the business book collective using my guidance andoperating model and license that through me. So I'm just in early daysof starting to think about that. But I do see that that would be one way thatI might grow it in a way that can help more people. I just I really. I knowthat there's so many small business owners that need help and support, andif I can do that through the help of other facilitators as well, and that'ssomething that I'm interested in pursuing I'm interested in the entrepenmind set because it's easy to start a little business on the side and it'sfun and you make some money and that's one thing. But there are entrepreneursthat once they land upon a good idea, they go all in on it not to say you'regoing to go all in on this idea. But it's the store owner who opens onestore and its super popular and before you know he got a second store in athird store and on one hand you say that person is being super aggressiveand very ambitious. In the other hand, you have to acknowledge the fact thatthey see an opportunity they they want to capitalize it on it as much as theycan, so they just go for it. I'm wondering, from your perspective, yourinterest in taking this thing to the next level so quickly. Is that a mindset thing? Does it scare you at all to move so quickly or is it just seem likea natural move? It actually is a kind of a new way of approaching things. Forme to be honest, so my previous I'd say my previous way ofdoing things would have been even in the launching of it initially wouldhave had. I would have had to have mapped out every single detail andknown the answer to every single thing, but I've been doing a lot of mind setwork over the past year and my approach...

...is changed so that I feel like I hadthis inspired idea. This inspired idea. That came to me for a reason and that I have nothing to lose in trying to bringit to market and see if it has legs number one, and knowing that I willfigure out the pieces as I need to figure out the pieces that I don't haveto have there's a level of vision you have to have as an arm tropen, butthere's also a level of faith and trust that you have to have that the ideawill grow and evolve as it's meant to so I've really approached itdifferently than I would have in the past. So I probably wouldn't have movedinto this idea of scaling so quickly in the past, but it's a really a shiftthat I've had in the last year. I'm doing a lot of minds at work. Do youthink that, having to spend a lot of time at home, being introspective andhaving time to think about things has been a key part of that process? Yeah? I think it has. I think that youknow just before the pandemic happened. I was at a point where I was reallystressed in my business. I had a lot of projects going on and I often joke withmy kids that I may have accidentally manifested the pandemic because I wassaying like I just need the world to stop for a minute, so I can can get myhead on straight about where I'm trying to take my business and what I'mfocusing on and some of that self reflected time. So, yes, I got morethan I probably asked for, but but yeah it has been a reallyintrospective time for me and I'm really grateful for that couple: Coolquestions about business books from the business books that you've read overthe years and as you now get into the business of having selected books andhaving over walking people through books, what makes for a good businessbook because a lot of them are a lot of them strike me as being something thatcould be probably about fifty pages or twenty five pages. From your experience,what is a good business book like what makes a book read so well that youactuallyread the whole thing, I think, there's a there's, maybe two kind ofclasses of business books. If you will one, I think, is the ones that reallytry to make. You shift your thinking in some way. So if they, if they catch you,so opposite to what the way that you're operating right now, I think that thatcatches, your attention and for me the other, is ones that are really actreally actionable and practical in the way that you can see how you can applythese concepts, your business, if you know if the book is so general and so theoretical, then it's difficult to forme to get engaged in the book and feel like it's worth my time but books likethe ones that we've read the two books. I've always recommend our clock. Workhad a designer business that runs itself and building a story brand.Those are two great one operational and one marketing that are very, verypractical in nature, and they have tools and things that you can apply toyour business and make a difference...

...very quickly. Final question: In terms of other thanthose two books is there another book that you would say that this is amustered like for me. I guess the most recent book was shoe dog by Phil Night,the story of Nike that was a that was a business book that I love. But whatabout yourself anything come to mind, I'm just looking up and laughing,because marketing spark is on my shelf up there. That's my book by by the way, your book, I just trying to think I'mjust getting into reading business made simple by Donald Miller. That is a goodone. I you've caught me off guard. I can't think of one right now, but Iknow that like building story brand is a book that I recommend over and overto people because of the practical nature. So if you're looking for onelook, that's my pin final final question is: where can people learnmore about you and the business book collective sure? So my business website is good togrow marketing or you can also learn about the business book collective atBusiness Book Collection. Awesome. Well, thank you for the timeand thank you for the insight and congratulations on the new idea andcontinue success. I, if there's any way that people can get more value out ofbusiness books, I'm all for it. Well, thanks for listening to another episodeof marketing spark, if you enjoyed the conversation, leave a review andsubscribe by, I tunes spot ify or favorite PODCAST AP for show not oftoday's conversation and information bout. Laura is a marketing spark dotcoast. Last blog, if you'd like to learn more about how I help TB SASScompanies as a fractional, Co g adviser and coach send an email to mark. I Ahavin dancer. I Talking.

In-Stream Audio Search

NEW

Search across all episodes within this podcast

Episodes (69)