Renee Brown Small – Book Journeys Author Interview Transcript – March 15, 2018

Book Journeys Author Interview – March 15, 2018

 

Pleasance Silicki with Renee Brown, author of Magnetic Hiring: Your Company’s Secret Weapon to Attracting Top Cyber Security Talent.

 

“There’s never the right time, there’s always going to be something.”-Renee Brown

 

(Static)

 

Pleasance:

So, let’s see. Hello? Renee, are you there?

 

Renee:

Yes, I am! Hi, Pleasance!

 

Pleasance:

Oh, great! Hi! Okay, great. So, we’re connected.

 

Renee:

Yes!

 

Pleasance:

I just went through – great! Well, welcome. I’m one of the authors from the Author Incubator and my book is called Delight, it came out two years ago, and I’m gonna tell our listeners a little bit about you, as you love to have your conversations, talking about the writing process, what it felt like to be the … – the author’s role, and to become a published author. So, let me read a little bit about your history, so our listeners can learn more about you.

 

Renee:

Excellent.

 

Pleasance:

So, Renee Brown Small works as a cyber security expert, with professional experience that goes back to 2001. With this wealth of experience, companies have counted on Renee to improve their recruitment and training processes where cyber security is concerned. Her book says it all, and it’s ideal for anyone in Human Resources looking to better their hiring game. So, welcome, Renee!

 

Renee:

Thank you, Pleasance! I’m so excited to be here, speaking with you today, about the writing process and my book, and what an awesome experience it was to get this book out of my head and onto paper.

 

Pleasance:

And it’s been about a year now? Your book came out in May, 2017?

 

Renee:

Yes. It has been about a year.

 

Pleasance:

Okay.

 

Renee:

Exactly.

 

Pleasance:

Okay. All right. So, let’s begin. Let’s start pre-Author Incubator, pre-meeting Angela, let’s talk a little bit about where you were and what … led to the desire to write a new book.

 

Renee:

Sure. I was – I already had a – a cyber security recruitment and retention company and was frustrated, at times, when I would talk to my clients – I was giving them different advice because cyber security recruiting is quite challenging, it’s super hot market, it’s … – I describe it in the book like bringing in – trying to hire a rock star, in a way. They are the rock stars of information technology right now. So, I would get into these frustrating conversations with some of my – some of my clients, and I said to myself, “I need to write this stuff down. I need to write a book about this.” And so, that’s what led me to writing this particular book about this topic, because I wanted to help – I saw so many challenges that my clients were having, and so many challenges that I would hear from candidates, on the candidates’ side, and then, I would hear clients struggling on their side, so I definitely wanted to put together all my secrets and tips about how my company goes about bringing in this type of talent. And that’s what made me wanna – wanna write the book!

 

Pleasance:

Okay. So, then – so, what was … the next stage? … were you …, “Okay, I’ll just do it myself.” What was that process … like?

 

Renee:

Right. So, years ago, I had tried to write a book by myself, and it – it –

 

Pleasance:

How’d that go?

 

Renee:

Ha, right! There’s no book. There’s no – there – there’s not that book, but there’s this book. So, years ago, I tried to write a book on my own, and I struggled for a multitude of reasons. One of the – the main reasons why is, I didn’t know – … I – I knew my topic from a broad perspective, I didn’t know how to narrow it down, and I didn’t quite understand – I said, “Yes! I can write about this topic,” but how do I get a book completed? How do I get a book out of this? And so, that was a struggle for me, and that happened years ago, maybe … almost ten years ago. I met and – it’s … interesting, because I met – I was – I was doing career coaching – it’s always been recruiting career coaching related topics, and I met a lady who was at one of the major publishing houses, and … very long story short, I had provided her with information … what the book would be about. And it got into the hands of this publisher, of this major publishing house, and they actually liked it a lot. They liked what the book was going to be about. However, they ended up turning it down because they had multiple authors that were already writing similar topics that were … already in the pipeline. And then, that book went, …, so, I said, “Okay, well – oh, well.” ….

 

Pleasance:

Was it on HR? …. Okay.

 

Renee:

It was on HR, it was on … – yes. It was on – it was on career coaching, caree – how to get a job, at the time, it was the – the recession, so, actually, yeah, it was around ten years ago. 2008-ish, and people were struggling to get a job during a recession, and it was focused on … how to get a job during this time, when all these companies are laying people off. So – so, yeah, it never happened. And then – so, I tried to do it myself, and I would – I – I started to write, and then I … wondered how would the editing process go, am I writing correctly, who’s gonna read this – … all these different topics, all these different things were popping into my head, so it never got completed until I met Angela.

 

Pleasance:

Okay. So, then – and then, what happened? So, tan-tan-taaan! You meet the woman who’s gonna change your life and help you get this book out into the world.

 

Renee:

Exactly. Exactly. So –

 

Pleasance:

So, how did that happen, or where did you meet her and how did that process go?

 

Renee:

Right. So, when I realized, at the end of 2016, that I did want to write a book and I did not want to go through the process that I went through in 2008, that landed me nowhere, I did a … search, found Angela and then another lady that was … had a similar product to Angela, and listened to both of their strategy sessions and went with Angela, because … I had confidence that going through Angela’s process was going to get me the result that I wanted, and it absolutely did. Turning – learning how to – actually, one of the … – what made it easy, her process, was, for me – I’m the type of person who needs … homework, … a checklist. Okay, do A, B, C and D, and then it’s done, …? So – almost like a recipe, and I loved her process that … it was – everything was spelled out, she gave examples as to why we were doing what we were doing as we’re going through the process, she was there to answer questions, to give advice, and she made the process so, so seamless. It was … – almost … the book growed itself, … it got to a point where, when I figured out who I was gonna focus on, who I was targeting, who was the target market for the book, and when that was all laid out, it was just so simple to write this book. And one of the thi – … I was eight months pregnant, I was – no, sorry, that was … six or seven months pregnant when I started, and pretty much almost got delivering the baby at – as the book was being – as I was handing in my manuscript, and I was able to do that with – I know, it was nuts. But I was able to do that, with … baby – two other little ones that were under five years old, running a business, everything, because her process was so simple. And that’s what really made a difference.

 

Pleasance:

And I think that … – we’re talking about the program and we’re talking about … figure out what’s best for us is that – in my experience, and then, in talking with all these authors, there’s always a million reasons … why not to do …? … around the – “It’s not the right time, it’s not the right time, it’s not the right time.” And I just feel … because of the process, … – because of the way she sets it up and the way that you … go through the homework and the accountability with the cohort, she made it so easy to make the time. … she made it really easy and clear, just like what you’re saying, to – here’s the assignment and here’s – what’s today, and really breaking it down into the bite-sized pieces, because I think that people think about writing a book and they get to the end of the book and they think of – it’s … the big elephant. And one of the things I really learned was around how to break it down and look at it into chunks, and that business skill and life skill – being able to practice that within the cohort and with Angela, and now, it’s something I practice in my own business and my life all the time, …? Did you – do you find that, as well?

 

Renee:

Right. Absolutely. I think that, when you say, “It’s never the right time,” … I am the poster child for, “Are you nuts to be writing a book at this time?” … six and a half months pregnant, with Baby Number Three, two children that are under five and everything else going on in my life, … a husband, a business that I was …, a business that’s moving, all of these various things, and you’re absolutely right. Because it was bite-sized, because it was … “Okay,” …, you – “Complete this homework, submit it!” … and then you move forward, and so, because it was so bite-sized, … the book, it got to a point where you do the homework, and at the end of it, you have a book! Because you did all the front end stuff to get to where you need to be, and then it almost – it’s like it writes itself, because you know what you’re writing about, you know what your topic is about, you know, every single step of the way, what to do next. So, yes, I wholeheartedly agree that, because it was so easy, that’s why it … got completed. It’s the only way for me – there’s no way I could sit down and say, “Okay, I’m gonna write a book,” with three children in a high-risk pregnancy. … so –

 

Pleasance:

Well – and I think that – … the thing that I always – when I’m sharing about my experience of how I broke my foot, … probably – let’s say – we started in January, our book published in April, so, in February, March, I broke my foot during the process. And so, I was … housebound, and in this – a lot of pain and … going through all of this, … one step at a time, still, right? Just like your pregnancy and you’re running your business, … – my point is, life is always happening and we’re still able to make it, and I don’t know about you, but … I’m not – … I am a superwoman, just in terms of … strength and power and … I love life, but I’m no different than anybody else, … I still have ups and downs and kids and bills and a husband and a dog and … – and that’s another piece, is – is feeling empowered by the process and sharing that with others, that … we are no different. … we’re just like you, we have the same kind of … responsibilities and day-to-day tasks and we still were able to move through the process, which, I think – … I know myself, hearing people talk like that, talk about, “Oh! They have real life things that happen,” it’s not … all of a sudden, three months cleared up … and nothing happened, right?

 

Renee:

Right. Right.

 

Pleasance:

Oh! I just got to sit around all day and write, …, that just … didn’t – was – did not happen, so I love all the real life stuff … we did, and … – the same with those calls. I don’t know what your cohort was like, but I would start … crazily cleaning out a junk drawer, or … sweeping something or cleaning my clothes, and I’d be … “You guys, I’m not writing! I’m just … cleaning stuff,” … and Angela or someone else would be … “Don’t worry, that’s part of the process. That’s normal, that’s normal, you’re not avoiding the work. This is part of the work,” …? Did you have any experiences like that, with … weird thing – quirky things that you did, during the writing process, or writer’s block or anything about the actual process?

 

Renee:

You know what? I was in the middle of – and I kno – I don’t know if it was – it was the book or the baby or what, but I was nesting, so …? Expecting, so I’m … three months, I had done not a whole lot, because I had two little boys, I still have two –

 

Pleasance:

Right!

 

Renee:

– … beautiful children. I have two boys under five who have balls and balls of energy, and – yes! I was definitely doing a bunch of other things, always, and … to your point, wife, … – it could not stop! So, I have a si – I have a five-year-old and a two year old. Life was not stopping! It was not stopping. So – and I’m no superwoman, either! I was just … –

 

Pleasance:

It’s like we are, figure –

 

Renee:

Right! Right. I was just trying to figure it all ou – I was – I – I knew that this has to be done, and one of the things I think I said to Angela, when I initially was on her – … before I signed up to be in the cohort, I said something …, “Will this be done before I have this baby? … I’m six months pregnant, … pregnant … – “Will this be done?” was one of the questions, and she said, “Yes! It will be done.” And lo and behold, actually, the – the pregnancy got pushed up. … getting information in, because it was high-risk and they were …, “Okay, we have to take the baby … a couple of weeks early,” and so, when the due date was – no, the end of April, it got pushed up to March 31st. And so, … I had to pull it all together to get that in and do the editing process … with the baby, and so, lok – very – very long story short, it was – yeah, there’s no way that life – I could just sit in a cabin for three months and write a book, … that wasn’t happening at all.  And through the process – yeah, yeah. But working with her process, … it just made it so easy, … easy. Even now, I’m working on a second book, and it’s so simple! It’s …, “Okay, …, and you do this, A, B, C, D, done.” That’s it, so –

 

Pleasance:

Right. Right. And I think – and that – and that … – it sounds like it’s a real contrast from the first book that you wrote, where they were just really broad and not show what to do, and the topic, and even though it was – it sounds like people really liked it on the publishing side, the whole … idea of making it more simple and also publishing – are you self-publishing this next book as well, or are you doing it – … how are you publishing it?

 

Renee:

Yes. Self-publishing it, again.

 

Pleasance:

Yeah. And being able to stay focused on it and not have a lot of other … cooks in the kitchen on it. It’s probably super helpful as well.

 

Renee:

Yes. yes, it is! … I was – the focus, one of the things that Angela talked about, as you know, is writing a love letter to one person. And I think that that totally helps a person stay focused, … if I was talking to – I’m talking to my best friend about at club – I’m talking to my ideal reader about why. I’m speaking directly to them, so I’m not all over the place, I’m not in my head, I’m not a PowerPoint presentation, I’m not – … you’re talking to one person. And it really – that solidified the simplicity of it for me and helped me focus. … if I was telling this to my – … my best buddy, my recruiting, my colleagues, … all these types of people, if I was sitting down with one person and I thought of one person that I was actually talking to, which happened to be a client at the time, and she’s an individual and I said, “If I was gonna sit here and talk to her, what would I say? What would I tell her? How would I explain it?” And it made it so, so easy. And so, that piece, in and of itself, is something that – that helps so much, that one nugget, of talking to and imagining that your – your – your – your book is a love letter to one person. And other people obviously were interested in it, and that’s what – what was fascinating, actually, in my space is – I was talking to a recruiter, a … HR, and HR professionals and – and a recruiter, and the actual cyber security folks got very interested in this. And so, they could – became this additional – … I wrote about them, but it was really – … it was … interesting, how they became very interested in the book. And the book ended up being one of the top cyber security books of all time, and is – it is – it’s reading … – I think it’s a reading – required reading in … one of the universities, so … it ended up being fantastic. Yeah, yeah.

 

Pleasance:

Amazing! Amazing.

 

Renee:

Very cool.

 

Pleasance:

Okay. So, we tried a book before, it didn’t work – didn’t – totally follow through with it, then we met Angela, went through the process, became an incubated author, so, it sounds like there’s a lot of great things that came out of publishing your book and having your book. Anything else that you wanna share with us about being on the other side of being a published author?

 

Renee:

So many things. There – there have been so many things that … have come out of having this book that it’s – it’s unbelievable. So, on the other side of becoming a published author, I think one of the – one of the major things is that – my business is a recruitment company that tends to be – there – there are tons and tons of recruiters and recruitment companies out there, especially recru – well, not as much recruitment and retention, but recruitment, a lot. So, I definitely stand out from the crowd, and my company stands out from the crowd, by being a published author. I believe it totally helped me, because … recently, I was asked to become a contributing editor and a … – I think they call it an executive contributing editor for a trade publication in my field. So, that came from the heels of having the published book, and they reached out to me and asked me if I could write one article, and it turned into, now, I think four or five articles, so I’m now … a – a regular contributing editor in that space, which also is great for my niche and adds more credibility to what my company is doing, so … we – we definitely are looked at as thought leaders. I was asked to be – … it was so phenomenal. I was asked by Monster, so … I think most people know monster.com, the website. So, they asked me to participate in one of the panels that they were hosting recently – at the end of last year, and that came from me being a published author and them saying that I was the expert in this …, when it came to cyber security and talent. So, that was pretty phenomenal, and then, I also won a Stevie award recently, and I know that being a published author was an additional bonus in my application.

 

Pleasance:

Awesome.

 

Renee:

So, if I think about some o – all the – … the various things in that – … that doesn’t have anything to do with the day-to-day client interactions and knowing that I have a book and just the – the level of credibility that comes with being a published author.

 

Pleasance:

Yeah. So cool. So, let’s say someone is listening, and they’re …, “I’m thinking about it, but I don’t have enough time,” and “Who am I to – who am I to write a book and have all that success,” … you just listed off so many amazing, wonderful accomplishments from being a published author. What are your best tips or strategies for that person who’s thinking about it and is just making – … telling themselves a bunch of stories about life, not them?

 

Renee:

Right. I would say, you absolutely should join the Author Incubator. Honestly, while working with Angela and her team, your book will get done, period. It just will. And when you say, “Who am I?” I’d thought about that, too, there’s tons of people in my industry, who am I to be the expert in this space, who am I to put this information out there, and I think many of … – of us authors have that in the back of our mind, but if you just move forward and get it done and – and one of Angela’s quotes is, “Keep writing forward.” So, she’ll have you – she’ll have you move forward, and you will end up with a book, period. All of us, in less than three months or so, had a finished manuscript. Less – less than ten weeks, I believe? I think, months? Eight – eight to ten – between eight to ten weeks. We all have a finished manuscript, so I would highly recommend bringing Angela’s – joining Author In – Incubator, working with Angela and her team. As I have shared before, I’m a wife, a mom, I’m with – … almost nine months pregnant. …, so there’s never the right time, there’s always gonna be something, so it’s – if you wanna get it done and you wanna put your message out there into the world, you definitely want to connect with Angela, connect with her team and – and write that book and get it done!

 

Pleasance:

Awesome. Okay, so, tell us a little bit about where people can find you and what kind of work you’re doing now, so that anyone who’s listen – interested and listening is, …, “Ooh, I need to work with Renee,” “I need to read that book,” “I need to hear what she’s doing.” Tell us a little bit about where they can find you.

 

Renee:

Absolutely. So, the website is magnetichiring.com, which is the same title of the book, Magnetic Hiring, and it is – and what we’re working on right now is, we’re helping cyber security leaders come up with innovative ways to bring talent in. Right now, there is a huge talent gap in the cyber security space, with at least one million open positions worldwide, and it’s expected to get to three million open positions in the next two years. So, we are helping leaders – so, … on the one hand, if you’re interested in finding a job, cyber security is the place to – to go. Well, what we’re doing is helping leader – leaders come up with innova – innovative ways to bring in cyber security talent. So, yeah! That’s the reason I’m working on the second book! Working on that second book, so – excited.

 

Pleasance:

Awesome. Awesome! Thank you so much for the work that you’re doing in the world and really putting yourself out there, putting your expertise. I think, again – did – did the third baby turn out to be a boy? Do you have three boys? Or two boys and a girl?

 

Renee:

A girl. No, I got a girl. Yay! ….

 

Pleasance:

You got your girl! So – so, I know your hands are full, with those kiddos and to hear you still out there, writing books and doing the work that you’re doing and really getting your message out, it’s such an inspiration, so thank you so much for all that you’re doing and keep it up! Can’t wait to hear about more books and more adventures!

 

Renee:

Excellent. Thank you so much, Pleasance, it was a pleasure.

 

Pleasance:

Thanks, Renee! Have a great afternoon.

 

Renee:

You, too. Take care.

 

Pleasance:

‘Bye.

 

Renee:

‘Bye-bye.