Author Podcasting with David Jenyns, and Janine Bolon: SYSTEMology. The Writers Hour Creative Conversations.

David Jenyns – SYSTEMology22 min read

Janine Bolon: Hello, and welcome to The Writers Hour Creative Conversations. This is Janine Bolon. And today I’m very excited that I have David Jenyns, this lovely Australian man who has gotten up early so that he could be on the show for us. I like to refer to David as my man of the future. But he, just because we gotta love Australia for that, for that alone here in the Northern Hemisphere, but I wanted to describe a little bit about David’s entrepreneurial journey and how it began in his early 20s when he sold Australia’s most beloved sporting venue, the Melbourne Cricket Ground. And since then, his business experience has spanned from franchising retail clothing stores, to found in one of Australia’s most trusted digital agencies, Melbourne SEO services.

In 2016, he successfully systemized himself right out of business. Yes, you heard that correctly, he hired a CEO, stepped back from the daily operations of his business. And through this process, he became a systems devotee, and he founded SYSTEMology that also happens to be the title of the book that he and I will be talking about. He has several books, and we’re going to be pulling information from a lot of those. So today, his mission is to free all business owners worldwide from the daily operations of running their businesses. Now, you may be saying, “Janine, I’m an author, or I’m just trying to write a book.” Hello. The same processes that we use as business owners to step back from the day-to-day grind also work for authors who are desperately trying to get their book done and suffer from the day-to-day demands in their life. So trust me, David has stuff he can help you with, as well as help you support your time. And SYSTEMology is what he uses. So he delivers workshops, keynote addresses, hosts his own popular podcast, does take a listen to this. It’s called business processes simplified, trust me, you want to listen to what this guy has to say on those podcasts as well. So thank you for being with us today, David.

David Jenyns: Wow, what a tremendous introduction. Thank you. I’m very looking forward to the call.

Janine: Yeah, me too.

David: I think you’re right. Yeah, I mean, on that intro, you hit the nail on the head, which is, there are certain things that authors need to do, they need to have space to be able to write. And most of them, particularly, if you’re a business owner, you don’t have much free time, like you’re caught up doing data days, there’s a never-ending to-do list, and writing a book seems important. But it’s very rarely urgent. So by systemizing that, that really creates the space and systems is about creating space. So you can then work on the things that are most important, like writing a book that only you can do.

Janine: Right, and one of the things I’d like to share with people is the fact that when it comes to your book, if you’ve had any kind of a calling, or if you’ve ever had that heart tug, heartstrings get talked about, you know, I really need to write a book about this. You need to write it. And then if you don’t mind, David talked to us about the book. The authority content helped me out what was the name of that book? Yeah.

David: Well, that was my first book authority content. And when I had the digital agency, I always think about books as a perfect method for promoting and launching a business. Because it’s a great way for you to capture your thinking, crystallize it, present to the world, “Hey, here’s what we do, how we do it, what my philosophies are.” So whenever I think about any businesses, and that’s why I’ve written a couple of books, because any new business that I launch, I think, what’s the book here that can really capture my key ideas, and then something that I can give to prospects and people that I’m chatting with to kind of go wants to find out a little bit more. So the first book that I wrote, was authority content, and that was for the digital agency. And it was this idea of, how do you build up authority for you, and make your business? Obviously, the go-to experts, and businesses in that industry leader in your space.

Janine: And if you’re sitting there as an author of a fictional book, and you’re like, “I have no idea how this applies to me.” Please realize, use your name. So John Smith, or Jane Smith, LLC, you are the business you’re an author, therefore, aka business. So we’d like to talk about books as authors. But believe it or not, your book is your business. And then you’re not going to write just one. How many people have we had on The Writers Hour who said, “Yeah, I wrote the first book, I thought it was done, pop up done with that book, we’re moving on.” And yet they had to write several more after that. So talk to us a little bit if you don’t mind a bit about how did you carve out time because when you were working in that digital agency, it wasn’t like you were sitting on your rump not doing anything going, “Oh, let’s figure out what we’re going to write about, shall we?” What were you doing? I mean, how did you do that?

David: I read a few sorts of posts and watch some videos. And people are like, oh, every morning, wake up, devote an hour, find the time to write every single morning. Regardless, regardless of whether or not you feel like writing or not, and write for the waste, paper baskets, and just write as though you’re going to throw it out just to get in the motions of writing. And that might work for some people, but it just didn’t seem to work with me, I couldn’t find the space and the time. And for me, I think one thing that I learned early on is when I think about systems, it’s about finding systems that work for you. So the method that I found for the way that I write books, might work for some people, but might not work for others, but you’ll definitely get some ideas from it. So the way that I write a book is, the first thing I do is, I have a little bit of a think about, what are the messages that I want to get across almost like writing an outline. And then I end up selecting a date when I’m going to run an event. So I think this is pre-COVID, that both of my last books were done. So I think of a physical event. And I invite a group of people to that, where I’m effectively going to present the book. And I start off with that outline, I think of the different sessions as though they’re going to be chapters. And by picking a particular date, it’s that line in the sand that forces me to make sure that I’ve got the content ready to go because I know I’m going to have a roomful of people that are going to be wanting to learn more about whatever that that thing is. So this particular method probably works particularly well for nonfiction books have been, there’s probably gonna be some ideas here that you’d be able to take for fiction books. And then the event arrives and I present and I go through, I just find that easier, because, with the set date, it’s like a positive constraint that forces me to act, then we record that event. So we capture all of the videos. And then that video, we strip out the audio, that audio then gets transcribed, that transcription goes to a ghost rider. And then the Ghost Rider writes version one of the book, and then it comes back to me for my first sort of way through. So it’s a great way. I remember when I first tried to write my first book, and I was staring at a blank page. And someone told me that I need to write at least 50,000 words, and I was like, oh, how am I ever going to do that, and I just couldn’t get myself over it. But I found when I was working from the transcript, or the first version from the Ghost Rider, even though I ended up basically rewriting the whole thing anyway like I didn’t really like I went through line by line, I found it infinitely easier to work with something that was based on my material than just working from a blank page. And then you have a final couple of stages, you do a little bit of backward and forwards with the Ghost Rider. And then we take that final version, then it goes through to the editor, and then you go through that process. But that’s the way that I write books.

Janine: And it is a gold mine, it doesn’t matter if you write fiction or nonfiction, it’s a goldmine. When you learn how to talk out your book, because I’m right there with you, it is ever so much easier to edit content than to create it on the blank page. Now, some people who have world-building sort of fictional books, really like the process of starting from the blank page. But if you ever get stuck, I highly recommend that you have somebody asked you questions about your world building. And so that’s what I recommend to authors to have an event, have them talk about the world that they are building, and have a bunch of people asking them questions from a mic. And that’s how they do their events is we’re getting ready to write the next book, we’re building a world ask me some questions. And if they don’t know the answers, they go, ” Hmm, I haven’t thought about that part of it yet.” And so it works for fiction or nonfiction with that regard. So you just have to find those avid readers who are like they love interacting with authors because they want your story. So, you started off with authored content, and you make these events. You take the transcript, you work through it that way. So one of the things I’d like to know, though, is how did you come up with the system? I mean, you didn’t just think well, one day, “Hey, let’s have an event. And I’ll do it this way.” This system sounds pretty beautiful but very polished. So how did you start?

David: Definitely rough around the edges, and I initially didn’t think about it turning into a book. I actually did it reverse. I have one other book but I don’t really talk about it that much. It was more of a study guide for a particular stock market package that I was using, it’s called the meta stock programming study guide. And I wrote this manual, and the book came first in that instance, or the workbook. And it was slow and painful for me to write it. And then when I got to the end of writing that book, and it was ready, I was like, “Oh, okay, well, it’s doing quite well, in my immediate community, people who know me, but then how do I get the word out beyond that?” And that’s when I thought, “Okay, well, maybe we need to run little workshops, and we’ll run workshops based on the material.” So then I started running these little workshops, and we would record those, those videos, then we would chop up into pieces, and we’d upload to YouTube. And it was a great way as well like the audience found that particularly interesting to get a video bit of content. And that might be their first introduction. And then they would go deeper and go, “Oh, what’s he talking about? Oh, this study guy”, and then I’d buy it. So it started off that way. But then I ended up flipping your note on its head and said, I haven’t we do it the other way, we run the workshop first. And then that helps to create the book. And then we still go through the same process of repurposing those videos. And I mean, it would work just as well for Fiction as non-fiction writers as well. Like, your audience loves to see this behind the scenes and understand more about the author. And have you tell that story, or walk that through is something of particular interest to them, and it’ll deepen your relationship with them. And oftentimes, it’s something I mean, I get people to tell me, I feel like I know you when we chat, because they’ve watched a few videos, yet, we haven’t actually really spoken. And what’s happened is they’ve just watched some of the content online. So regardless of what you’re doing, using that video component is really helpful to deepen that connection with your readers.

Janine: And I know I’ve talked to some authors who are just horrified of ever getting on the video to do anything, it’s just so invasive in their mindset, they’re just like, “I can’t stand the thought of somebody videotaping me’, to which I’m like, hello, use a microphone and just record yourself just hearing your voice, right? So, there’s just a lot of fear factor that goes on. So did you have any fears when you were first writing the book about people hating it or whatever? Did you ever get stuck because of subconscious fear?

David: I think one of the things that I thought about was all of the benefits that would come from writing the book, beyond just that one thing. So if someone didn’t like the book, there’s still a lot of other benefits. There’s the positioning that comes from being an author, there’s the content that we were creating the fact that we could take that content and chop it up and turn it into little articles. And those articles could live on the blog. So in my head, I was kind of like, “Hey, writing this book, ticks 10 different boxes.” And if the book doesn’t happen to connect, I’ve still got six other or 10 other things that might still make this a worthwhile endeavor. So it’s kind of like a little mind hack for me to kind of get over this idea that all would be lost if the book wasn’t adored straight out of the gate.

Janine: Right. We all wish it was adored. But there are times when you run into those people and nothing makes them happy. And I liked the way you talk about there are so many other avenues or so many other things that I’m doing with the book that is the video, the audio breaking up it into articles and blog posts that you don’t have time to really focus on just one aspect. And that keeps you out of that dark place as I say the dark night of the soul for the author who’s sitting there going, “Oh, dear God, launch day is tomorrow. Oh!” Well, so is there any advice that you would like to give fledgling authors people who are maybe just starting on their first one, any suggestions?

David: Definitely. stress testing the material as much as you can before you actually go down to write it to actually talk to people about it, try and either present the material or like I often think of great comedians, you look a great comedian and they deliver a joke and they make it sound like it’s the first time they’ve ever said that joke, and it comes so naturally to them and everybody laughs and they’re like, “Oh, look how spontaneous they are.” The truth of the matter is they’ve said that joke 100 times before they’ve said it, that first time and that’s how they’ve perfected what is good material. What is not good material. Yes, this one connected and landed. And that’s an important piece, I think, in the writing is to make sure that you’re introducing some form of a feedback loop to figure out what’s landing and what’s not. I feel like you’re not going to write the world’s greatest book, living in a room on your own with no contact to the outside world. And you no surprise, you’re done. The exception to that rule might be someone like Stephen King, who has written God knows how many books, but he’s written so many first that he’s already got all of that feedback loop in his brain. So now he’s working from that base. But he wouldn’t necessarily have started that way, he would have had to have got feedback over the year to know, over the years to know what’s connecting and what’s not. So I feel like that’s a really important piece.

Janine: And I’d like to circle back around to something you mentioned at the very beginning of this podcast, and that was, you mentioned, I didn’t have space, and I didn’t have time to do it in a way to write your books in a way that was, forgive me for saying this normal, like the way what you were seeing the way people were educating you on how you should write a book, and you’re like, “No way that’s not going to work for me.” I’d like you to talk about you didn’t have space, what exactly do you mean by that?

David: Hmm, I think all of the best ideas for you, as an author and a business owner, happen when you’ve got time to think. But in the world that we live in right now, with the pull on people’s attention, whether it’s social media, if you’re a business owner, with the family, things that you need to attend to, there are things just pulling out your attention, left, right and center. And it’s very easy just to be full. And you can’t really create just when you’re full, there has to be some level of space there. So that’s a big thing of what I see about systems. And that’s a lot to do with my second book system. ology is this idea that you create systems to ensure that certain tasks that need to happen, there are certain recurring activities in your life and in your business, that just needs to happen for you to be a functioning person or have a functioning business, and you want to systemize all of those things. So they just happen, they happen consistently into the appropriate standard. And then what that does is that creates the space, because now a lot of that those mundane, repetitive tasks that might not necessarily fuel the creative now can happen with some consistency and potentially have other people handling them, which then gives you space to really be creative. And remember, one of my businesses was the video production business. And when we when I started that business, I didn’t know how to operate a camera, like I’m not a camera operator. And I started this business because we had a lot of people in the digital agency say, “Oh, can you make videos for us?” So we got a videographer. And I remember the very first job we went on, we spent the entire car ride and he was saying things like, “Oh, did I bring the batteries? Do we email the client to let them know not to wear checkered shirts? Because it doesn’t look very good on camera? Did I bring that extra lens?” Like he had all of these things in his head where it’s kind of like, “Oh, I need to make sure that I’m well prepared.” And we had that discussion in the car on the way there. It’s about a 45-minute ride, then I remember thinking, well, there’s got to be a better way to do this. And I helped him create a checklist. So every time he went on a shoot, he would have a pre-shoot checklist where he would make sure his batteries were charged that he would have a key all ready to go that he would have known that the client had been emailed with the right details. And about six months later, I went on another shoot with him. And the car right there was entirely different we we spent the time talking about the creative aspects of the shoot, he was saying what shots he wanted to get how we wanted to elicit the responses from the actors and the people that were involved in it. He was talking about how the storyline was going to go. And it was all of the creative stuff that he didn’t have space to focus on last time. He now because he’d done all of this pre-thinking he had that space. And that’s really stuck with me now about how systems and processes actually in create, increase increased creativity, where it’s kind of like people often think on AI systems and process reduce creativity. But the reverse is true. You systemize all of the mundane tasks to make space for the creative tasks.

Janine: And one of the things that I was going toward with your creative space, which you stated beautifully is I had to create space so that I would get out into my garden. Because when I get out into my garden, that’s when I can think because all I’m doing is pulling weeds and I’m moving dirt around and all that it’s all very physical. And so much of the work that we do, is sitting behind a computer screen or behind a screen of some kind. And so being able to get out and about is very helpful. And so I love that you mentioned the fact of what created the space was the fact that I use systems so that I could then have time to just sit and think and believe it or not, there are people like David and myself, who both create time literally where it’s just time to sit and think to be creative or to train ourselves or to read that next book, just so that we can be doing something that isn’t in the details of our current business. So any last thoughts you want to leave us with before we get ready to close out this session?

David: I think just as long as we kind of sparked that fire in someone to rethink about systems like that’s my mission. At the moment, I know, it seems a little bit funny when we’re kind of talking about the process of writing a book. But I see everything is a system, you need to find your system in your approach for the way that you write a book that works for you, that makes it easy for you to do your best work. When you think about the systems and the processes in your life and in your business, that you can then capture some of these repeated recurring tasks that must happen. That’s my mission these days is to get people really excited about systems because people like Janine and I are probably the rare breeds there are there aren’t very many people who, in the creative space that gets excited by systems for some reason, there’s this belief that you can’t be a systemized person and a systems thinker, and also be creative. And I want to make sure that people know is not mutually exclusive, you can actually be both and they can actually be very complimentary. And if you have that bent or at least relook at it on confidence, it will open up a new world of creativity for you.

Janine: And one of the things I like to share with people because I’ve been in automation and robotics for so many years is that if the system isn’t working for you, make sure that it was your own, to begin with like you’re the one that created that system, and that as you move through the different phases of your life, just like David was talking about what he did for systems in his 30s. And 20s is different from what he’s doing currently. And that’s one of the things that’s very important is as you move through phases of life, your systems have to change because you’re evolving as not only an author but as a business owner. So David, where can people go to look at the authority content, which was your first book, and then SYSTEMology, where do you recommend people go to find those books?

David: For authority content and system, what would you can hit just to Amazon, if you search either of those, like my name, David Jenyns, that’s J-E-N-Y-N-S, your semi pop up as an author. And then you can see both of those books. And then just from my latest work, which is kind of where I’m spending most of my attention these days, that links through to social media and YouTube videos and the podcast if you’d like to listen. And you want to explore a little bit more about the system’s mindset as well but or catch me on Amazon.

Janine: Right. And I know we all love Amazon, and we all love these other aspects, but I highly encourage you to visit authors’ websites, because then that’s when you get the freebie stuff that they are not allowed to share with you on Amazon. So you can go and go to Amazon if that’s where you got your free credits or whatever. But make sure you go back to David’s site because that’s where he has so much free stuff so that you can really get your head around what he means when he’s talking about systems that make your life better for you. Thank you, David, so much for sharing your passion and your mission with us today.

David: Perfect. Thanks for having us. Janine.

Janine: You betcha. And this is Janine Bolon with The Writers Hour Creative Conversations where you keep your feet firmly planted on the ground while you’re reaching for that new story that you see in the stars. See you next Friday.