For Make Yourself Clear, I had a very obvious co-author — Reshan Richards — but we both readily acknowledge that the book weaves together the voices of many other thinkers, writers, teachers, and businesspeople. For us, that’s part of the reason to write a book: to shine a light on (the good work of) others.
The first person you meet when you open MYC is Jason Wingard, Dean of, and Professor at, the School of Professional Studies at Columbia University. He wrote our Foreword — lucky for us for reasons that are about to be abundantly obvious. (Other writing from Wingard. And more.)
In his Foreword, Wingard widens our frame by talking about the value of “learning capacity” for companies. Ever the teacher, though, he returns often to the individual, and specifically, the individual’s capacity for growth.
Helping customers learn builds brand loyalty; at the same time, it contributes to their lives, providing them with new insights.
Building a culture of learning at a company drives corporate results, sure, but the process can also expand employees’ skills and prepare them to advance in their careers. Employees contribute to mission; the challenge of meeting mission contributes to employees. Wingard’s virtuous cycle.
You’ll glean all of that and more when you read Wingard’s Foreword. What you won’t glean is the extent to which his Foreword helped us to complete our actual book.
It arrived — pitch perfect — after we had submitted our final draft to our publisher. We thought we were finished and may have even opened some champagne. But then our editor asked us to trim 40 pages from the manuscript. We didn’t even know where to start as the bubbles went flat.
Then my wife turned to me and said: “You know, I read that Foreword. It’s really good. You should use it to focus your revision. Cut anything that doesn’t fit within its frame.” And that’s what we did. An annoyance, properly framed, became a blessing.
So the Foreword is good for you, the reader. But make no mistake — it was also good for us, the writers. It helped us to make Make Yourself Clear as clear as possible.