Writing a Memoir

BY MICHAEL LEVIN, CEO, BUSINESSGHOST.COM

If only they knew.

Who are “they”?

They’re the people who decide who gets seats on major corporate boards.

Who gets to deliver top dollar keynotes at exclusive gatherings (usually in desirable locations).

Who gets chosen as the next CEO of that established enterprise, cool startup, or prominent nonprofit.

If only they knew… you.

The problem today is that most people present themselves in soundbites—on their LinkedIn profiles, or on their “about us” pages on their websites.

But how exactly do you summarize decades of work experience, a deep knowledge base, community service, and everything else that goes into being you… in 25 words or less?

The short answer is that it’s simply impossible, and that’s where memoirs come in.

 

A memoir is the chance to tell your story in full, on your own terms, with complete control over what stays in and what goes out, to the audience or audiences that would be highly influential for you to influence.

Everybody else has a business card, but you have a book that tells the story of your life.

Most people don’t even think about memoirs because there may be certain professional or personal situations that they would not want to discuss in print.

Why on Earth does it have to go into the book, though?

 

That’s the beauty of writing—and independently publishing—your memoir. It only contains what you want it to contain, and nothing else.

The unfortunate reality about today’s Internet-driven world is that people don’t take a lot of time to do their homework when they’re trying to decide whom to hire or whom to choose for an important role.

Everything is shorthanded, which means that luck plays far too important a role in determining who gets ahead.

Which of these two sentences offers more resonance?:

“Let me send you a link to my LinkedIn profile.”

Or, “Let me send you my book.”

 

Thought you’d agree.

A memoir can be arranged in chronological order—this is how I grew up, this is what I had to overcome on my way to the top, these are the challenges I faced in business, this is how I overcame those challenges, and this is where I end the day.

Or a memoir can be arranged around business lessons you’ve learned, so that the reader recognizes the basic pattern—you solve problems better than anyone else.

Or you can find a theme around which to organize your life story.

Whatever method you choose, your memoir becomes the ultimate leave behind, the thing that allows your experience, reputation, and journey to stand out from the pack.

There’s a certain amount of irony in the fact that fewer and fewer people read books today. If you do, you are one of the dwindling minority, sad to say. But at the same time, respect for authors has never been greater, simply because in some ways people feel guilty that they are no longer reading as many books.

“I should be reading books,” they say. “But this person actually wrote one. Impressive.”

Let’s reverse the positions for a moment. Let’s say that you were tasked with choosing the next keynote speaker, CEO, board member, or another equally prestigious role. On your desk is a stack of CDs, printouts from websites (in achingly small 8.5, no doubt), a bunch of those ubiquitous LinkedIn profiles… and one book.

Which of all these candidates automatically possesses the highest level of gravitas?

You might not even get to read every single resume, but don’t you think you’re going to dip into the book?

You didn’t work at your career for decades to have your life story squeezed into a handful of sentences. That’s because your life… really is a story. And it deserves to be told in full.

There’s nothing like a memoir to draw full attention to your hard-won life experience and work experience.

If you’re sick and tired of being at the bottom of the pile, when it comes to consideration for your next role, isn’t it time that you had a memoir that told your story exactly the way you wanted it told, for the audience that can take your career to the next level, and the next level after that?

Memoirs get results. Where’s yours?