Published on: September 18, 2014
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Hi, I'm Kevin Coupe and this is FaceTime with the Content Guy.
Last week, when I sat down to chat with Reed Farrel Coleman, the terrific novelist who has taken over the Jesse Stone series created by the late Robert B. Parker, we spent some time talking about his early career as a writer. And he used a metaphor that did not make my piece about him and his new book, "Blind Spot," last Friday, but that I thought was a pretty good business lesson. So I thought I'd share it now…
Coleman told me that when he began writing novels, he quite literally had no experience, and so he'd write himself into corners that he'd have no idea how to get out of … and sometimes would just ignore those corners and move on, because that was his skill level at the time. (Needless to say, that doesn't happen to him anymore…)
Then, he told me the story of Sarah Winchester, the widow of gun magnate William Wirt Winchester, and the Winchester House in San Jose, California.
I've never been to the Winchester House, but apparently it is quite the architectural oddity. Because after her husband's death in 1881, and her move west to San Jose a couple of years later, poor Sarah apparently decided that her house needed to be under constant construction, which it was until her death in 1922. Now, some of the stories say that a medium convinced her that it was the only way to appease the spirits of the people killed by Winchester rifles. Coleman told me that he'd read that she was convinced that she would only stay alive as long as there was construction at the house. And, if you read some internet sites, there are even more bizarre explanations than those.
But what it meant in terms of the house is that there are stairs and hallways that go nowhere, windows that look out onto other rooms, and other weird building oddities that were the result of a) not having a master plan, b) not having a strategy, and c) not really being focused.
In essence, as a homeowner, Sarah Winchester did what Reed Farrel Coleman did as a writer - she built herself into corners she could not get out of, so she just kept building, but things got worse with every passing day.
That's a great business metaphor.
There are a lot of things going on in the business world today, whether you are a retailer, manufacturer or service provider. Lots of options, lots of distractions, lots of opportunities. But you have to have a plan - you have to have a strategy, and you have to be focused. if not, you end up like a crazy homeowner or an inexperienced novelist, and these days we live in a business climate that is not very forgiving.
So thanks to Reed Farrel Coleman for that … and once again, read "Blind Spot," and then start working your way through his other books, especially the Moe Prager series. You won't be disappointed.
That's what's on my mind this Thursday morning. As always, I want to know what is on your mind.
- KC's View: