Mike Figliuolo and Victor Prince have a lot in common. Mike’s a West Point graduate who served as an Army officer. Victor did some government service, too. After the Army, Mike worked for McKinsey. Victor worked at Bain. They were colleagues at Capital One. Mike is the Managing Director of thoughtLEADERS, where Victor does some training.
In 2011, Jossey-Bass published Mike’s book, One Piece of Paper: The Simple Approach to Powerful, Personal Leadership. It was a great book. No kidding, go check the reviews on Amazon. Readers liked the concrete examples, practical advice, and straightforward language. So when Victor came up with an idea for a book, it was natural for him to run it by Mike.
Both men heard from clients and class members that they were under a lot of pressure for results. They needed a way to sort out leadership challenges and then meet them. Victor’s idea was to write the book around a matrix that simplified the leadership process. He outlined his idea for Mike and asked if Mike thought that it “had legs.” Mike did.
The men had a long conversation about the potential book project. Here’s how Mike describes it.
“I explained it to him that the way that you get published, where you get an agent and you get a publisher, and the way the editing process works, and the marketing process. So I think we were on the phone for about an hour and a half where I gave him a full download of my experience with the publishing process from my first book.
And at the end of that call he said, ‘Hey, there’s a lot to think about here that I had no idea about, thanks for the input.'”
A couple of days later, Victor called with a proposition. Mike, he noted, already understood the process and he already had an agent and the thoughtLEADERS blog made a great promotion platform. Plus they both saw things the same way. So, Victor wondered, would Mike be interested in writing the book as co-author?
That made sense, so they hammered out a co-author agreement. Mike says that was easy because they agreed on all the important things. Next, they approached the agent who sold Mike’s first book and presented the idea. Once the book was sold, they got down to the work of writing.
Mike and Victor worked out a system that would work even though they live hundreds of miles apart. Here’s Mike’s description of how they got the book done.
“When we originally put the manuscript together it had four sections, and we said, well Michael will do sections one and four, Victor will do sections two and three.
And we created four separate documents in the Dropbox, which is a wonderful collaboration tool. I would work on section one while Victor would work on section two and then the next day we would edit each other’s work and mark it up and track changes in Microsoft Word. And then we would accept the changes or we would discuss them if we didn’t agree with them necessarily. And then we just continued writing.”
The result was Lead Inside the Box: How Smart Leaders Guide Their Teams to Exceptional Results. Career Press is the publisher.
Now for a really interesting tidbit, but I’ll let Mike share it.
“While Victor and I have a lot of shared history, and we were contemporaries at Capital One and we were consultants and everything, we had never met in person until after we had finished the manuscript.”
That, my friends is a look at co-authoring in the Digital Age.