An open letter to Dan Pink

I dropped this note to Daniel Pink ( We met during the week and well, I got a little starstruck. Here Dan is with our new book – Humane, Resourced – it was pretty much thrust into his hands so he did very well to smile.

Just prior to this I had asked to move in with him. It was inappropriate and a slightly knee jerk reaction to meeting one of my favourite authors. It was  quite a busy room in which to ask such a personal question.

If you read the letter you’ll get a good sense of what we were trying to achieve with the book and what we actually did achieve with the book.

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Hi Dan,

First of all, having spoken to my wife I’m afraid I’m going to have to retract the offer to move in with you. As supportive of my dreams as my wife is, she still believes, thankfully, that I have a role to play in my daughter’s upbringing. And I am a rubbish cook. I can’t pitch, I’m bad at sales, I apologise for what lies beneath.

The short bit

I appreciate you taking the time to be forced into posing with our book on Thursday. As all proceeds go to charity and its success is reflecting positively on all 50 contributors, it has really made a difference.

I’m going to send you a tweet (from @dds180) – if you would retweet it that would be brilliant – as we have no PR machine, the book is completely self published and success relies on advocates like Peter Cheese and the CIPD and the kindness of strangers.

You can stop reading here or keep going to find out what we’ve done with the book. I’d love you to keep going, because I know you love real life examples of doing things differently.
With no PR machine sitting behind us and a budget of $15 we became, for a brief time the 7th best selling Business book on Kindle in the UK, pushing down more established business books from the likes of Gladwell, Goleman, Sandberg and well… you as well. Sorry about that last part.

We remain the bestselling HR book in the UK and this week – when it has been available free on Amazon – the book has been #2 in the US HR charts too.In short, last week 50 people became able to claim they were bestselling international authors. The first genuine effort to make a book was a tweet on 14th July. We’ve done it quickly.

The (optional) longer bit

A few months ago I wanted to write a book but didn’t have time. I looked at HR blogging on social media and noticed a whole group of people who had great things to say but were time poor.

So I fired out a tweet asking if people would like to contribute to a book of blogs. 48 hours later I had 30 potential contributors from across the globe – US, Canada, New Zealand, Oz, Ireland…

We ended up with 60 asking to join – and 50 of those ended up contributing – no money exchanged hands, only enthusiasm.Of the final authors I have met only about a third. There are another third who I interact with only through social media (I’ve only been tweeting and blogging for 6 months). The final third I wouldn’t know if I passed in the street, but I like them.

The guidance given to contributing authors was this

  • Write less than a book, more than a paragraph
  • Nothing offensive
  • Write about what you are passionate about

We used a site called to coordinate the writing (like a community wordpress) and Peter Cheese graciously agreed to write the foreword. The book cover has been designed by one of the contributors (@simonheath1), the charities that money goes to were chosen by contributors, the title was chosen by contributors and the the final version was checked by contributors. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing but I learnt how powerful it is to not want to let a community of people down.

A loose community of people with a shared goal got things done faster than most companies can, and without any dedicated resource (although with lots of dedication). The nicest review I have had so far is from a final year HR student, who says the the book helped him understand HR and business better than any of his required reading.

I’d love to add the story to your memory bank, maybe you’ll draw on it one day, maybe not – but I think it’s cool enough to be in there. I remember the anecdotes you used to illustrate the principles of Drive when I first saw you speak several years ago, and my modest ambition in life now seems to be to become an anecdote.

I’m going to tweet you this as well and if you’d share it that would be great. The book is available to buy through Amazon, I know you are time poor, but it’s episodic nature makes it quite good for gaining random (and useful) thoughts. There is even a chapter in there on #goodsales that would be right up your street….Feel free to leave a review – US link – UK link

Thanks for whatever and any time you gave this. It’s appreciated by 50+ people who are all keen to keep hacking away at business until it gets better.


Anyway – within a few hours…this happened. All is well in the world

Humane, Resourced – early reflections

Last Wednesday we launched a book.

It was a far from perfect book – I really appreciate the time of the awesome people at Pressbooks who sent me an email full of flaws in the formatting for me to update. Their software was brilliantly useful in helping us create the book before exporting to Amazon.

But it was a book full of good things and you should really buy it  and then leave a review. We’ll be doing a second one so honest reviews – as well as generous reviews that author’s tend to attempt to solicit – are equally welcome.

My goal throughout this process was to get people into a book, it never really crossed my mind that we might sell any, it just seemed nice that people could say ‘I was in a book’. That seemed a worthwhile use of my energy.

On Thursday morning someone sent me a screengrab of the book in the ‘bestselling business books list’ in the UK Kindle store. It was number 8.

Then a couple of minutes later someone sent me a link to the HR books section on Amazon (all books, not just Kindle). It was number 1.

Here is some of the odd stuff that happened last week – for a book with no formal backing, no PR plan and created in 4 months.

Peak positions:

  • #29 Organisational change (US)
  • #32 HR (US)
  • #1 HR (UK)
  • #7 Business (UK)
  • #2 Business management and leadership – only outsold by the new Gladwell book
  • #81 nonfiction (UK)

Books that we were sitting above in the charts at some point during the week:

  • Outliers by Gladwell
  • Thinking Fast and Slow by Kahneman
  • Women, Work, and the Will to Lead By Sheryl Sandberg (COO Facebook)
  • To Sell Is Human AND Drive By Dan Pink
  • 5 Dysfunctions Of A Team – Patrick Lencioni
  • Karen Brady’s biography

We also moved Who Moved My Cheese?. Things have quietened down a bit now (although we remain the #1 bestselling HR book)

I’m still not quite sure how this happened. I feel slightly like I have a moral responsibility for plugging the book as so many people contributed for free – so my twitter feed is currently full of ‘buy this book’ spam.

I apologise for that and if more people could share that would be wonderful. The CIPD have agreed to us doing some promotion at the conference next week, which is very generous of them and unexpected.

But if we don’t sell any more – and we simply peak at a top ten selling business book and the bestselling HR book in the UK – well I guess that is ok. Best Sellers The most popular items in Human Resources - Google Chrome 02112013 092921.bmp

Humane, Resourced – out on Kindle

I’ve just had a bizarre experience where Twitter has once again managed to beat other technology to the punch. At about 6pm someone tweeted me a picture of Humane, Resourced available in the Amazon Kindle store. It was another hour before I got an email from Amazon to say it was available in the store – and it is available here…

A quick recap and then a call to arms

The recap

1. Over 50 authors contributed – if you were one then congratulations, thank you and it couldn’t have happened without you. People also checked the text, created a cover and promoted the book – thank you, it couldn’t have happened without you

2. All proceeds go to charity. The book will be available for free next week, but if you can spare a couple of pounds (or a few dollars) then please know your money is going to a good cause. And you are only paying about 4p per chapter

3. There will be some errors – I’ll correct them, if I can, in future revisions

A call to arms

  1. Share it – share it and then please share it again. On LinkedIn, Google +, MySpace, Twitter, Facebook and word of mouth. People have given their time and effort for free so let’s make the most of that.
  2. Share it at different times in different ways and not just this week – talk at conferences, networking events and family parties – something brilliant has happened here
  3. If you have connections that might want to review it for a publication etc then put them in contact with me – likewise if they want to talk to me about the story behind it I’ll do that
  4. Encourage people to post reviews – let’s get it properly backed on Amazon
  5. Enjoy it. There is something of real substance and ambition here and some exceptional content.



BoB cover

Humane, Resourced – almost there #bookofblogs


So, today I spent most of the day cutting and pasting and swearing and exporting and grumbling and drinking tea. It looks like we are one step away from publishing a book – an incredible achievement when you consider the original ‘anybody fancy doing this?’ blog post only went out in mid July

I have just sent the review copy off to People Management – that is quick.

Over 50 authors – that is big. BoB cover

Simon Heath, who designed the cover, spent a chunk of the day at my house, sipping tea and solving problems. We have one problem left which is that when I move the book from Pressbooks (where we designed it) to Kindle it opens in the middle of the index. This isn’t the end of the world, but it is far from ideal.

I hope a couple of service calls I’ve put in will resolve the issue and the next button I get to press on Amazon says ‘SAVE AND PUBLISH’. 

I’d extend thanks to lots of people – several are mentioned in the book – but Peter Cheese, CEO of the CIPD spent his Sunday writing me a foreword. That is a classy and supportive thing to do.

So what can you do to help if you are an author or want to support the project?

  1. Tweet and Linkedin when we launch – Google + if you can and certainly Facebook
  2. Remember it is all for charity
  3. Consider updating your LinkedIn profile with the book cover or something imaginative
  4. Talk to people – you’ve been part of an amazing community journey, share that. We have inspiring content but we also have an amazing story
  5. Enjoy it – if you weren’t before you are now a published author

I’ll let you know more when I’ve stopped breaking things.


New: Collective decisions – the Book of Blogs

Things you need to know – new things are here… read on….don’t think you’ve seen it all before. There are some decisions to be made and you need to be aware of them – even if you don’t want to have a say. If you haven’t seen any of the blogs regarding this before I’d suggest you start here PART A – General update The deadline is still 16th August for submissions. If you can get them in earlier that would be great – as you can see from the list below the book if filling up nicely and with a great range of topics being written about (with genuine insight and flair). Thanks to everyone who has contributed so far. If you are waiting on a reply from me for anything then please nudge me via Twitter and I’ll get back to you. I remain delighted that this is a genuinely international project and would like to thank Steve Browne and Broc Edwards for their support in the last week. We still lack a title. If you have any suggestions please leave them in the comments.  Simon Heath suggested ‘Practical Magic: Smoke, mirrors and human capital’ or ‘Human Realists: The future face of HR’. My suggestions have been nowhere near as good. Tim Scott has now suggested ‘Otherwise engaged’ – I think ‘Alternatively Engaged’ might also work. Select your favourite option to vote PART B – The money thing got a bit trickier, but not too tricky As anyone following this project knows we have been working on the assumption that Amazon will allow the book to be sold on Kindle for the grand price of free. Having investigated further (thanks to Simon Jones and Broc Edwards for the steer) Amazon will only publish under the following conditions

  • It is exclusively available to Amazon for 90 days (this shouldn’t be a problem)
  • We set a price of at least 99c (a price greater than 0c is a problem if you don’t want to make money)
  • We receive 70% of the sale price (I’m walking you through this slowly, 70% of 99c is still more than ‘no money’)
  • We can only set the price to free for 5 days in every 90 (meaning 85 days out of 90 it isn’t free, thanks for sticking with me)

Since, as per the initial scope,  I really don’t want to make any money on this my suggestion is we proceed as follows 1. We continue to publish on Amazon 2. We charge the lowest possible price (bizarrely Amazon can raise it if it wants and we don’t control it, but that will be the starting point) 3. We make the book free for five days at the earliest possible opportunity 4. Any author who contributes can have an electronic version sent to them to upload to their Kindle (if they don’t want to brave the store) can have one 5. All proceeds go to charity If you have suggestions for charities please leave them in the comments. I will then either run a survey to select a charity or if we don’t have many suggestions we’ll divide the money between them. It won’t be much money, but it will be something towards a good cause. If you don’t want to progress with the book on these grounds I completely understand, let me know and I’ll remove any content you have entered Suggested charities so far: OCD Action, Mind, Brook Part C – update on bloggers, content and a refreshed FAQ

  1. @simonheath1 – Simon Heath – submitted: A Sense of Proportion (as well as contributing an entry, the incomparable Simon Heath, will also be creating the cover illustration)
  2. @Projectlibero – Jon Bartlett
  3. @TimScottHR – Tim Scott submitted: There’s no such thing as ‘best practice’
  4. @HR_Gem – Gemma Reucroft submitted: A little more conversation
  5. @OD_optimist – Meg Peppin submitted:Trust me, I’m in HR
  6. @dougshaw1 – Doug Shaw – submitted: In Fear of Fear 
  7. @LadyLoki – Niki Rosenbaum
  8. @ruchikaabrol – Ruchika
  9. @Malcolmlouth – Malcolm Louth
  10. @StephenTovey13 – Stephen Tovey submitted: Watch the children play
  11. @paperclipgirl – Louisa de Lange
  12. @Jawaddell – Julie Waddell submitted: Succession planning: Corporate snakes and ladders
  13. @HRManNZ – Richard Westney – submitted: Collaboration is the new Competitive Advantage
  14. @sterling_amanda – Amanda Sterling submitted: What can HR learn from Lean manufacturing?
  15. @Jsarahwatshr – Jane Watson
  16. @KateGL – Kate Griffiths-Lambeth submitted: People are strange
  17. @KingfisherCoach – Ian Pettigrew submitted: Finding ‘friends’ you don’t like!
  18. @conmossy – Conor Moss
  19. @dds180 – me
  20. @bphilp – Bob Philpin submitted: Hiring our way out of the UK Leadership Crisis with Big Data
  21. @fourgroups – Four Groups – submitted: A Physics of People
  22. @sukhpabial – Sukh Pabial – submitted: What is hope?
  23. @verawoodhead – Vera Woodhead – submitted: No need to act like a Man. Women in leadership
  24. @myhr_nz    – Jason Ennor submitted: Building a slide at work: A true HR competency?
  25. @BenMorton2 – Ben Morton –submitted: Leadership in a VUCA world
  26. @IanandMJ -Ian Davidson –submitted: Why thinking in averages is below average thinking
  27. @ariadneassoc – Simon Jones
  28. @octopusHR – David Richter submitted: The Innovator’s Dilemma – Would you do any different? 
  29. @MrAirmiles – Jose Franca
  30. @MorrisElise – Elise Morris
  31. @sineadcarville – Sinead Carville
  32. @engagingemma – Emma Lloyd submitted: It is decision time ~ Round 1 ~ Heart vs Brain?
  33. @kat_hounsell – Kat Hounsell submitted: A Human Instinct
  34. @fuchsia_blue – Julie Drybrough
  35. @pontecarloblue – Amanda Arrowsmith submitted: Let’s be more Avengers than Minions
  36. @wendyaspland – Wendy Aspland submitted: if the workplace were a motorway
  37. @HRswitchon – Nicola Barber submitted: Bubble Busters
  38. @mervyndinnen – Mervyn Dinnen
  39. @damiana_HR – Damiana Casile
  40. @EmilydouglasHC – Emily Douglas
  41. @MeghanMBiro – Meghan Biro
  42. @DwaneLay – Dwane Lay
  43. @PamelaRoss – Pamela Ross
  44. @Nicky_T – Nicky Texeira
  45. @Lembitopik – Lembit Öpik  submitted: HR challenges on the USS Enterprise
  46. @LetSdeG – Leticia S. de Garzón submitted: Everyone needs a bad boss
  47. @zoemounsey – Zoe Mounsey
  48. @Susanpopoola – Susan Popoola
  49. @academyofrock -Peter Cook submitted: Punk Rock HR -A Manifesto for Simplicity, Brevity and Authenticity in HR
  50. @mindstrongltd – Tracey Davidson submitted: RIP Unproductive, Boring Meetings – How to Breath Life Back into Your Meetings 
  51. @brocedwards – Broc Edwards
  52. @sbrownehr – Steve Browne submitted: Release your inner Dali!
  53. @workessence – Neil Usher submitted: Barefoot in the heart: Part 3
  54. @injiduducu – Inji Duducu submitted: The Simple Key to High Performance Organisations
  55. @Honeydew_health – Honeydew Health submitted: The Absence Acid Test
  56. @AnneTynan – Anne Tynan submitted:Disabled HR Professionals = An Enabled Human Resources Profession

FAQ (it stands for Faked Anticipated Questions) Why did you decide to do this?  I had the idea on a whim when I was thinking about crowdsourcing and in particular this list of HR social influencers It seemed like a nice community project and, as I enjoy the content shared on HR blogs so much, I thought it might be nice to collate it. I then shot out an impulsive tweet and things took off from there. So, what is your motivation? My motivation is very much about giving people an open space to create as individuals, whilst at the same point creating something as a group. I’m unlikely to get a job from this (if you’d like to hire me have a look at  ) but  I currently have some space in my days I thought it would be fun to build something. The book will be priced at free *update 30/07 -when it isn’t available as free it will be priced as cheaply as possible – and all proceeds will go to charity*, so this isn’t a stealth commercial project. It is a community project, plain and simple. I like ideas, I have the time to invest in helping and motivating people to share theirs. If you agree to take part then please understand that this is the ethos and don’t ask be complicated questions about who owns the rights etc. I simply don’t know and am probably disinclined to make things more complicated, if you are worried about this then just don’t take part. If you can think of it as a giant collection of guest blogs then you are in the right place. What are the entry criteria? Anyone can contribute – it can be their first blog or their hundredth. It can be new or their favourite old blog. It just needs to make sense standing alone. I’m sort of hoping that we do get to showcase some new bloggers and that the experience helps them go on to create more, that would make the project worthwhile in itself. There is no quality control – if someone has taken the trouble to write it then I will take the time to publish it. I haven’t approached anyone directly as I wanted people who were involved in the project and didn’t want to place any pressure on people to contribute. Please don’t attempt to sell a product – that is the only thing that won’t be acceptable. What are the timescales? A month from today for the content (!) should be enough for the length of writing required. So by 16/08 please have your content submitted or uploaded (see below). If you are able to do it earlier then please do, as there is only one of me so having 30 arrive on deadline day will doubtless cause issues. *cough, cough* but you don’t know anything about publishing do you?  No, I don’t, good spot. I do, however, love new technology and I’m also able to use Google. The combination of these things has led me to PressBook which is like a communal WordPress tool that will allow people to upload their own content and then for me to publish the content as an eBook to make available on Amazon etc. So we are all uploading our own material? It would be really helpful if once you have written it you could upload it yourself. If you write it in WordPress it brings everything over quite painlessly.Send me your email, I’ll send you a log in and then you can just paste your material in as a new chapter *update 22/07 – apparently this is quite painless*. Click on text and then new chapter… If this seems like the scariest process in the world then there is a two step process i) attempt it yourself, you only get to live this life once and being in fear of useful things isn’t very useful ii) send me your content directly – I don’t want anyone to suffer undue emotional distress in what should be a pleasant process How will the book be structured? I’m undecided. I might attempt to collate similar entries together or deliberately leave them apart. Who knows? It’s fun embracing an open approach. What if everyone writes on the same topics?  I don’t think they will, but if they do then we will still have a book – just on a narrow range of topics. My experience is that people have their own style which means at the very least people will offer different angles on topics. Is there anything I can’t do? Please don’t link to any material that we don’t have rights for.  I like putting video and pictures in my blogs, if you are doing so then please make sure you aren’t breaking the law when you are doing so. What will it be called? I haven’t a clue. I’m accepting suggestions. In fact if you send me suggestions I’ll run a poll and we can choose together. That is how collaborative this can be. Can I contact you with questions? Yes, I’m weak on Geography, but I’m pretty strong in most other areas. You can vote more than once below…