Power washing and the Book business

Posted by jlubans on June 06, 2018

Caption: Worth a million views?

Power washing gone viral? Aye, hard to believe but the news has it that watching someone power wash is all the rage on social media.
A million people have watched a man cleaning mildewed lawn chairs!
Viewers say, “There aren’t many things in life that you can start and finish and get that feeling of accomplishment.”
Strangely, the viral video reminded me of a conversation with an acquisitions editor about compiling a book of essays from this blog.
The book would explore freedom at work, the democratic workplace, teams and team building and more.
The book editor - who was kind enough to speak with me - said the blog displayed good writing but it was highly unlikely her firm would publish my book.
You see, she told me, only practical books are selling.
From that disappointing conversation I took away that my proposed book was not a practical one.
Alas, it would be as abstract as freedom and as nebulous as an invisible leader.
So, abstract writing is unlike power washing where the results are manifest – deep dirt vs. dirt gone. And, with someone else doing the hard part – the work.
The viewer does not have to think; and after all a really practical book is like a road map; the offered advice rarely ends with more questions than answers.
There’s little need to think through a problem – the author’s done it for you.
For example, in my business, a seminar on how to fill out a performance appraisal form was far more popular than a seminar on “Why performance appraisal?”
The latter is corporate sabotage and impractical! Many assume – with no evidence - that performance evaluation is universally good. Just show me how to do it.
Why don’t we YouTube performance appraisals. Like power washing videos, that might be almost as good as being there.
The case for the impractical book.
Maybe, with social media taking so much of our time, there’s too much emphasis on the entertaining or the “practical” and too little on engaging in ideas and asking questions, like those moments of insight when one puts the book down to consider for herself the relevant meaning of another’s writing or is inspired by an author to try something different?
Buy a peck of Aesopic impracticality“Fables for Leaders” at Amazon. Or, be thrifty and get your library to order a copy!

© Copyright John Lubans 2018

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