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How to increase your luck surface area

book review Dec 23, 2023
How to increase your luck surface area

What do we want in life? Climb the corporate ladder up to a desirable VP position with all the status symbols others a dying for? Or find more balance in life towards well-spent time with family and friends getting enough instead of too much?

“The Accidental Solopreneur” from Canadian book author Dennis Geelen is a business book dressed as a parable to show a possible way for many of us who got stuck in their career. A blueprint to realise the change our inner self is striving for despite or due to the obstacles and challenges the almighty creator gave to each of us.

Dennis worked his corporate career for two decades until an unexpected layoff suddenly stopped this only life he knew until then. Determined that there was something else than the same of the same at another place, he became a consultant and solopreneur – a word he might not have known at that deciding moment. Being asked how he made that transition, he decided to create this fictive book in addition to this earlier published business books and online courses.

The book tells the story of Alex, a Senior Manager in a fictive software company who got tasked to build a partnership with another company which would help him towards his long desired VP of Innovation title. He neglected his family as the main carer and found himself misaligned between either work or family. Reading this fictive while realistic story reminded me at my increased responsibilities turning into an international sales manager jetting 90 days per year through Europe. Each of the eight chapters ends with reflective questions to check in with the reader, not to mention the cliff hangers to read on!

Without revealing what happens towards the end, the book describes the journey from an overworked employee to the disruptive journey of becoming and entrepreneur. This way Dennis managed eloquently to take this own learning into a more universal and highly relatable approach than just telling his experience.

A couple his quotes stand out while reading. From the business oriented back of the book I have chosen the sentences “Never assume you know your customers’ challenges and why they decide to buy a product or service” and “In order to determine if there is a market for your product or service, test to see if people are willing to pay for it.”

As a committed Christian, Dennis added bible quotes as well to help like this one during the inner conflict of the protagonist: “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” Wise words.

This book is special as it combines a playbook for his readers which is presented at the end after reading the parable. Instead of revealing the blueprint at the beginning followed by the fictional story, I like his opposite approach of showing the essence only at the end after enjoying the reading. This playbook then acts like a transferrable summary, consisting of the six steps the protagonist took through the book, his transferrable lessons and a set of questions we need to ask ourselves in this process.

Professionals on the transition from an employee to an entrepreneur find a lot of elements which they can adapt for their own practice. But instead of just taking them from the back of the book, the illustration in the story provides the context required to figure out which situations relate to the current experience of the reader.

While it is difficult for most upcoming authors to publish a business book, it is even more challenging to write it in a fictive form. As Dennis mentioned in the introduction, he likes to read good a business parable and thus has been motivated to create his own. He took it as an advanced challenge over after his earlier published hot-to guidebook, “The Zero In Formula”. And that is the inspiration for writers: if you need a new challenge and you have some proof, you can transfer the experience to the next level.

Having been myself in this corporate dilemma, I can very much resonate with the fictive story and admit that Dennis created a page turner for those receptive to it. Acting along the process helps to “increase the luck surface area” – I will never forget this term Dennis coined in such a practical way.

Q&A with Dennis Geelen

1. What was the deciding moment to write this book?

After launching my management consulting practice (Zero In) in 2018, I started to post on LinkedIn. I would share content about the type of consulting I was doing (in order to create brand awareness) but I would also post about my journey as a solopreneur. I was sharing everything about what I was doing. How I was networking, attracting clients, marketing my services, etc. I was sharing mistakes, challenges, and tips for other people who are starting their own consulting business.

I started to get a lot of people asking to have calls to ‘pick my brain’ because they wanted to start their own consulting business. I was having so many calls and giving away so much advice I kept notes on everything I needed to share with someone who was starting out.

But then in 2020, when COVID hit, a lot of my consulting was put on hold due to the uncertainty of the pandemic. So, I decided to write a book called ‘The Zero In Formula’ where I shared a lot of the work I was doing with businesses and how I help them.

The book did very well and took my consulting business to a whole new level. Again, a lot of people noticed and asked to ‘pick my brain’ on how to take their consulting business to the next level with a good book behind their name.

Finally, it occurred to me that I could take all of my experience and advice around starting my own business and write a book that helps others do the same. This time, I decided to write the book (‘The Accidental Solopreneur’) in a fictional parable format to give myself another challenge.

2. How long did it take from concept to launch?

I began putting together the outline for the book in December of 2021 and the book was published in September of 2022.

3. How did you perform the research to create the practical content?

All of the practical content for the book came from my own solopreneur journey and my learnings along the way. All of the fictional content (characters, storylines, etc) came from creative sessions I had with my editor.

4. What was the biggest challenge along the process (and how did you overcome it)?

This was my first time writing a fictional business book where I had to develop characters, create tension, and learn how to get more descriptive in my writing by painting a picture for the reader with my words and learning to evoke their emotions. That was difficult, but a very fun learning process.

5. What was your own reflection along the journey?

Writing the book really caused me to go back and reflect upon a lot of the challenges and mistakes I made along my own journey. I wanted to story and the main character in the book (someone who is leaving their corporate job to bet on themselves) to be relatable. They need to have flaws, to have fears, and to have tension along their journey.

I had many sleepless nights in the early part of my solopreneur journey and felt like quitting many times. I wanted that to come through in the book so people understand it is not all fun and easy.

6. What is the outcome in having this book available?

When I launched the book, I also started officially coaching other solopreneurs and created two online courses (‘The Solopreneur Playbook’ and ‘The Author’s Playbook’) to help as many people get started as possible. The book has opened me, my courses, and my coaching up to so many new people who get introduced to me when they read the book.

7. What would you advise others about writing their book?

If you are a coach or consultant, I strongly advise you to have a good book behind your name. But be VERY clear on who your book is for and why they should read it. If that is not apparent, you will likely have a hard time getting people to buy and read it.

But if you can put out a good book, it goes a long way to increasing your credibility as a consulting or coaches and gives a new avenue for potential clients to get introduced to you and your work. I would say, a good book can even create a level of trust in you, without the reader even meeting you.

Dennis Geelen: “The Accidental Solopreneur”, Zero In Publishing 2022, ISBN 978-1-77732666-1 (Paperback) or Kindle

More about the author: www.theaccidentalsolopreneur.com


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