Typical scene: An eager business consultant has finally decided to make the commitment and write their business book. They hope the book will be represented by a top agent, sold to a major publisher, and will make them wildly famous and successful.
The consultant leans closer to me to tell me a little secret. "I already know what I want my book to be like. I want to write like this." They reach into their briefcase or portfolio and start to pull out a book. I already know what's coming. It's going to be a book by Jeffrey Fox.
Because it seems everybody wants to write like Jeffrey Fox.
The problem is, as I often explain to a prospective author, only Jeffrey Fox can write like Jeffrey Fox. It's not a gimmick, or a style you can pick up, or a secret that once I tell you how it's done, you can do it too.
The real secret about Jeffrey Fox is that no one thinks like Jeffrey Fox.
I know this because I worked with him on his first book, How to Become CEO that was a bestseller for Hyperion. When Jeff sent me the complete manuscript it is was way less than a hundred pages. CEO was made up of short pieces, all right to the point about what it takes to succeed in business.
I could have told him we needed to flesh it out, or tell more stories. Maybe he should prove why everything he said was really so. But I refrained. I told him my gut was we should leave it alone -- it would either be a huge bestseller or not get published at all. In my proposal I framed Jeff as the new Machiavelli, explaining to the princes of the 21st century how the business world really worked.
Jeffrey Fox's twelfth book comes out this week -- How To Be A Fierce Competitor, What Winning Companies and Great Managers Do In Tough Times. The title is kind of funny, since for Fox, we're always in tough times. You can never let up, never sit back on your haunches, never get comfortable with success. A smarter, better, more aggressive competitor always lurks around the corner. It was true in How to Become CEO, true in How To Become a Rainmaker, and true in these Tough Times.
The new book is comprised of 60 Chapters. You could read it in a sitting, or more likely, a flight from New York to Chicago. And as with every Jeff Fox book and every Jeff Fox page, you might wish it was printed on only one side of each page, so you could take the entire book apart and paste the pages all over your office and even your bathroom. This is stuff you want to remember and use and share with your colleagues every day, because there is no way you can follow Fox's advice and not succeed in business and in life.
Now for those who aspire to write like Jeffrey Fox, I lied about there are no secrets. In fact, I'm going to share a few Jeffrey Fox How To Write secrets direct from the horse's mouth: Keep it simple. If you can find an extra word, kill it. Tell the truth. If you don't know what the truth is, don't write. Accept nothing from common wisdom without giving it the piñata test. Repeat 60 times. Publish.