BLUF – If you can’t get to the point of your message, neither will your audience.
If you’re one of the 11 or so readers that follow this site, you know that I recently decided to write a book about squadron command. My book won’t be your typical PME leadership book. Instead, the book will share my unique perspective on how to successfully navigate 24 months of command, build a better squadron, and keep your relationships and family intact. Last week I made initial contact with an editor, The Story Laboratory, who will help me along the way to produce a strategy for writing. The process will be a long one, and I know I will need to enlist the right kind of help to bring my vision of writing my book to life.
One of the drills I need to work on is my sales pitch for my book. Nina Amir wrote, “…once you’ve written that pitch, you know the subject of your book. You’ve honed it to a fine point–just a few memorizable words. Once you’ve written your pitch, your book will naturally flow from it, and you’ll find that it becomes much easier to write your manuscript.” This approach is the same I use when I’m preparing to brief senior leaders or mass audiences. Commanders must spend the appropriate amount of time in streamlining their messages, using a combination of words, imagery, and delivery. In my previous article about the Power of BLUF, I wrote about the importance of summarizing the point of an e-mail in one or two sentences at the beginning of the message so the reader can be empowered to make a quick decision and move forward. The same idea applies to a sales pitch! This week’s post will show you how I worked through developing the initial sales pitch for my book. I say initial because I’m sure the final product will be improved over time, but the exercise is important for the overall project.
To start, here are key questions I answered to gather raw verbiage to work with (I actually did this on pen and paper first and then typed them out here):
- What am I trying to say?
- Leadership must be agile in style and flow like water #brucelee
- Squadron command is a journey that has unknown twists and turns, but you can prepare for them now
- Traditional advice isn’t enough. My book will provide perspective you won’t hear anywhere else
- Who am I talking to?
- Junior Captains/Flight Commanders, Majors/Director Of Operations, FGOs preparing for 1st or 2nd Sq/CC
- Interested leaders searching for alternative perspectives on leadership
- Interested in self-improvement and mentoring
- What do I want the reader to remember after reading the book?
- Stay true to yourself and grow
- Don’t fake your presence; authenticity is what teams need in their leader
- The problems you’ll encounter as a squadron commander aren’t unique, and here are my recommendations
- What is the problem? Solution?
- Successful command can be focused/defined through winning individual awards or stratifications. Instead, you should be focusing how your team has improved in working together both internally and externally
- Sacrificing your family is unacceptable. You need to set the example of the right blend, not balance, of both personal and professional sides of your life for others to emulate
- What is the benefit to reading the book?
- Hearing unfiltered, first-hand advice and accounts of a leader dealing with real problems, choices, and results
- There are lessons to be learned outside of PME and in the real world that can lead you to success
Using the answers to these five questions as “raw ingredients”, I streamlined my thoughts and cooked up a sales pitch in roughly 100 words:
Squadron command can be the most rewarding job you’ll ever have, but you must think beyond the techniques you’ve learned through professional military education. Rising company grade officers and field grade officers that have been selected for this leadership opportunity must constantly be in “student mode” to remain agile in a dynamic environment with contains multiple generations and complex issues to deal with. By staying authentic and applying your unique brand of leadership to a problem, you will define true success as a commander through increased team efficiency and morale without sacrificing your personal relationships. This book will provide unfiltered, first-hand advice from a leader who dealt with real problems, choices, and led a team to successful results.
Finally, I applied some finishing touches on even further streamlined to roughly 50 words:
Successful command requires techniques you won’t learn from professional military education. Rising leaders must be agile in a multi-generational work place to lead teams through complex issues. Authentic leadership will define true success through increased morale and team efficiency while minimizing personal sacrifices. [Title] delivers real advice for real problems to deliver real results.
This “spiral development” technique of honing your message is valuable as a leader to ensure you communicate efficiently to your audience. Don’t waste their time with lengthy explanations. Instead, get to the point at the beginning so that the remaining conversation can be focused and avoid pitfalls of confusion. The sales pitch above will be a focus point while I continue to write and create, stay tuned for more!