Engaging With Your Audience and Connecting With Your Readers

“The Gay Leadership Dude” and Founder of TopDog Learning Group Dr. Steve Yacovelli on How He is Able to Get His Readers Interacting With His Book On a Whole New Level

Invisible Stories Season 2 Episode 8 with Dr. Steve Yacovelli

Today’s Invisible Stories guest is Dr. Steve Yacovelli, also known as “The Gay Leadership Dude” is founder of TopDog Learning Group, a learning and development, leadership, change management, and diversity and inclusion and consulting firm. Steve is also a renowned speaker, podcaster, and author of Pride Leadership: Strategies for the LGBTQ+ Leader to be the King or Queen of Their Jungle, and the accompanying Pride Leadership Workbook. 

In today’s podcast, Steve shares insights on the writing and marketing process of his book, and how he took one idea and turned it into a massive branding strategy. Steve and I discuss:

  • Why it is so crucial to market early in your writing process, and how to bring your audience along for each step of your journey.
  • How you can use Scrivener to store ideas and develop your manuscript.
  • Why publishing timelines can take longer than some authors expect, and how PYP uses the PYP Academy to guide authors on their journey to publication.
  • Why he decided to do a companion workbook for his book.

Pride Leadership by Dr. Steve Yacovelli

As a member of the LGBTQ+ Community, did you know that you naturally have some amazing leadership skills inside you, based upon your experience, that you may not be capitalizing on? Now, it’s not to say that our straight brothers and sisters don’t have the potential to be rock star leaders, but—through many of our shared experiences being LGBTQ+ folks—we’ve had the opportunity to truly develop such skills as leveraging empathy, shaping our culture, being courageous, and being authentic. These skills are some of the most sought-after leadership competencies in the workplace today … and they’re already inside you, dear LGBTQ+ professional!
Based upon over twenty-five years’ experience in the leadership development, change management, and diversity and inclusion consulting space, Dr. Steve Yacovelli identifies the six leadership traits—being authentic, leading with courage, having empathy, effective communication, building relationships, and influencing organizational culture—that can greatly increase any LGBTQ+ Leader’s effectiveness, and ways in which you as an LGBTQ+ Leader can increase your own leadership potential through cultivating these six leadership competencies. Whether you’re a seasoned senior executive or a just-starting-out shiny new leader, Pride Leadership is your stop to hone your natural LGBTQ+ leadership awesomeness, gather a few kernels of wisdom to immediately apply in your workplace, and amp up your leadership-self to be just that much better-er. In short: you’ll be a more effective, impactful, and inclusive leader after reading this book. Oh, and you’ll have a good time learning along the way, too!

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Key Takeaways

  • [00:00:25] Steve: [00:00:25] Yeah. So I’m Doctor Steve Yacovelli, I’m owner and principal of top dog learning group. Uh, we are a learning development, change management and diversity and inclusion consulting firm, Orlando, Florida, but I have top doggers, uh, throughout North America. And I’m also known as the gay leadership dude for the different areas of building the LGBTQ plus community, especially focused around leadership and just be more awesome than they already are.
  • [00:02:51] Steve: Um, so. You know, I remember you and I talked and then I kind of came back and was kind of mulling this idea overnight or resource. I can go to the, uh, the [00:03:00] PYP Academy and kind of like, get my stuff together. And then, um, but at the exact same time, and at that point I was writing a generic leadership book just cause I’ve been in the space for 25 years and then. [00:03:11] Something happened, like in my eyes over the course of that, that conversation yeah. With you versus really starting to write the book. And that was looking around at my, at our queer brothers and sisters who were in leadership and kind of looking at them in a different way and how they are accomplishing what they needed to do through that leadership lens. [00:03:27] And that’s where the inner Carrie Bradshaw said I couldn’t help, but wonder. And I said, I couldn’t have a wonder if, um, If, if queer people have a different opportunity, different advantage to building their leadership awesomeness, and that’s kind of how the folk of the book kind of melded itself. So then once I had that idea, then you’re right.
  • [00:03:45] Steve: It was like, let’s get it done. I found myself, uh, one of my clients, um, had put a pause on a lot of the work we were doing. So I found myself having a little bit more time than I expected. So I just kind of carved that out as a way to, uh, to really go through and chunk out the book [00:04:00] and learning about things like. Scrivener, which I had no idea what that was the most amazing tool ever when it comes to writing, especially big writing like that, um, was a way to get things done. But what I didn’t know was, and so it’s no fault of your own or your teams, but the old editor process and what that would look like, and that. [00:04:18] Yeah, because I thought, Hey, I’m getting you a, I wrote a whole darn manuscript by new year’s day of 2019. Yeah. This is going to be out in like a month. It’s a no, no. Steve was the process. So that was, uh, you told me, but I didn’t listen. Uh, so that was kind of a good thing to really keep in top of mind, I guess.
  • [00:06:51] Steve: [00:06:51] No, I, what I, what I think it would be is understanding the reason why the process is, you know, for us, it was, it was an accelerated five [00:07:00] months and you’d explain it well, it’s, um, You want to put out a insanely high quality product because it’s out there.[00:07:09] Steve: People will have it in their homes and be looking at it. And yeah, sure. We will still find a couple periods and things here and there. And you’d warned me about that as well. Um, but you know, I, I think it’s understanding that the reason the process is what it is it’s because the goal is to get the highest quality product, right. Out there on Amazon and other retailers. And so I think, understand that expectation. There’s a reason why the process is there. There’s a reason why, you know, the, the cover goes through how many iterations, uh, and, you know, remember this is amalgamation of like five different designs that we came up with and, and understanding that is a Process[00:07:43] Steve: And there’s also a marketing science behind it. You know, I remember you and I having the conversation, do we do black or do we do white? What’s the color we should be doing? And you’re like, Oh, well, here’s what the science says about the color of the, of the book. And I didn’t know that. And so I think it’s, it’s understanding that those [00:08:00] conversations need to happen. [00:08:00] You can’t just throw it up there. And that’s why when people come up to me and they’re excited to, Oh, you’re an author. Tell me about it. And they’re like, Oh, I’m going to sell publish. I’m like, Good for you, but good luck with you because there’s a whole lot of stuff you just don’t know. And despite whatever books you can find me, not, not to dissuade anyone, but I, I, I have done both and I can tell you that having you and your team shepherding me was like so much better than my not so cool self publishing experience
  • [00:09:53] Steve: [00:09:53] Well, I, I think it’s, it’s, it’s understanding. What’s the reason why, you know, in this case I wanted to write pride leadership. [00:10:00] It was because I knew two things. [00:10:01] One, I wanted to create a sub brand of top dog learning group focused on the queer community. So I knew that was going to be a thing. And then to, um, I’m an educator. So I knew at some point the book would be the foundation for a whole product line on creating, learning, whatever that looks like. I had no idea. [00:10:18] So, you know, in, in my book when I build it, It was specifically written. Each chapter was to be a module. And I knew that going into it. And at the end of each chapter, there was two items that I was really adamant to make sure it was in their reflection questions for the reader on the topic that’d be covered in, in the case of my book, focus on six leadership competencies, see more swag. [00:10:37] It’s my, my mouse pad. Um, you know, these are the six competencies. I focus on in pride leadership, authenticity, courage, empathy, communication, relationships, and culture. So after each chapter say on authenticity, one chapter, there was reflection questions for the learner, as well as, Hey, you want to beef up your authenticity as a leader. Here’s five things where, so that you can go out okay. And do to kind of make that part of your DNA. And so that. [00:11:00] Immediately led to a workbook. So the workbook was kind of half written in, in the regular book anyway. And then there was, I just added some different areas for taking notes and doing other activities in addition to what’s already in the book. [00:11:12] And then those two items, those two assets are the foundation of the lions program, which is my eight week online training program associated with the book. So, you know, most of my training program was written by the book and the workbook. I just put the framework around and put it online and, and have some. [00:11:27] Uh, virtual conversations in, in the, uh, eight week experience.
  • [00:11:46] Steve: [00:11:46] No, I always knew. I mean, my doctor’s in education, so I knew I wanted to create some sort of training class. Cause you know, I reflect upon my own experience as a learner. I have tons of. Books around me that I’ve read for business and ways to [00:12:00] improve myself. But the ones that get the most traction are the ones that I really kind of chew on and do things around. [00:12:06] And so that’s the experience I wanted my readers to have was, you know, it’s, it’s one thing to read a book. It’s another thing to read a book and do stuff, and then go back and read the book more, do stuff, you know, and that’s how you help people really get to that unconscious competence when it comes to whatever you’re trying to learn.
  • [00:14:21] Steve: [00:14:21] Yeah, I, I was made sure like, um, you know, toward the end of the book, you know, after we’ve talked about the six competencies, then it’s like how you, you apply this. So there’s a whole whole concept on either being a mentor or finding a mentor. And so that actually led to a training class that I’ve created. [00:14:37] There’s, um, a conversation in my book on, uh, looking at. Providing effective feedback. That’s another, um, kind of, um, I, if I don’t think it’s a big class, I can create it as a learning topic as we call it. I’m at the top dog, which is like kind of bite sized learning nuggets. And so the more I thought about it, the more like, well, you know, if something doesn’t fit within the six competency areas, you maybe it’s, there’s a bunch of them that are able to [00:15:00] support. [00:15:00] And so what I’m doing now is finding ways to whatever we create from a learning perspective, be that. Face to face a keynote or an online module to see where it fits within the scheme of the, of the book and plugging it in that way. So it’s just keeps supporting and fueling the same story.
  • [00:17:20] Steve: So one word of advice I’d have to any author who’s out there. Um, it’s never too early to start thinking about the marketing side, not just from a strategic perspective, as we just talked about when you apply product placement and all that. But how are you going to share the story of the book? What are you going to do for a book launch? [00:17:38] Don’t make a book launch, be like, nah, it’s not a big deal. Yet is you spent so much time and energy. What are you doing to promote that? Um, what are you doing to, as you do these events, as you’re writing the book, take that selfie of you in that coffee shop or. You know, we either mask on or whatever that looks like, you know, because this is stuff that people want under the process. [00:17:58] Um, people want to be there with [00:18:00] you as you’re building it. And actually if I could go back and if I could turn back time, uh co-chair I would totally, I did some of that, but I would have done that a lot better to include people more in the journey of writing a book, um, more than I did because. That excites people that leads the presales too, you know? [00:18:18] And I think you have an awesome opportunity if you’re early in the writing process. Yeah. To document that more, even if it’s only four years and just to see the progress, I think there’s a lot of value in that.
  • [00:20:56] Steve: [00:20:56] Exactly, exactly. Um, I think another, um, two [00:21:00] piece of advice that I would also share on this side is, um, don’t. Forget, but don’t make it the focus, but don’t forget about the audiobook. [00:21:08] Um, you know, and you had great advice, Jenn, you make it the year anniversary, like that’s your target? And I thought that was, that was great advice. Cause it wasn’t overwhelming to get it out when the physical book came out, but it was always on my radar as a to do list. And you know, even during these weird times we met, um, just almost the exact day. [00:21:28] Uh, the audio book came out and it just gave like even more conversation to have about the original book, as well as this one. And now there’s two different ways to do that. That was really cool advice. So, um, for those who are listening, put that on the back burner, but don’t forget it, you know, that keep that in mind.
  • [00:29:22] Steve: [00:29:22] Um, I mean the, the big one was really starting the marketing early like that. Um, but also don’t be afraid, you know, um, whether you have, uh, Jenn doing it or in her team, or you are going out on your own as you find a team that can help you, even if it’s the help that just supports you, like, um, you know, friends family, significant other parent, guardian, whatever, um, who can be there to be like, how you doing. [00:29:48] What do you need? You keep going, keep going and be that cheerleader for you. Um, regardless of the path that you pick, Oh my gosh, you just have that person in your corner or people in your corner to keep you moving forward so that it doesn’t just [00:30:00] sit on your hard drive. And then you you’re like, you know, when you’re in academia and you do everything about your dissertation, you’re ABD, all, but dissertation don’t be an ABD when it comes to your book, get it done. [00:30:11] Find ways to carve out the time to do it, find that support system and just, you don’t be afraid to finish it.

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