By any measure, Cassandra Goodman is accomplished.
Her career over three decades has included senior leadership roles, including Global Director of Employee Experience where she was responsible for activating the organisation’s purpose ‘Longer, Healthier, Happier Lives’ for their 86,000 employees across the world.
But when she decided that it was time to codify her life’s work in a book, it felt like all that talent and experience had deserted her.
There’s a lot of intentional muddiness around writing a book that makes a messy, iterative process seem more like some kind of esoteric ritual that only a favoured few will ever be invited to participate in. And it had Cassandra believing she didn't measure up to the preconceptions of a “real writer.”
“The voice in my head kept trying to convince me that I was not qualified or experienced enough to write the book and that there was nothing new I could add.”
After what she calls “207 drafts sitting on my laptop,” Cassandra was making precious little progress for all the time and energy she was investing in the project.
“I felt strongly that I wanted to write this book and I was committed to it. But at the same time, I was thinking “this is really tricky to get the structure right, and for every element of the book to be strong.” I knew it wasn’t going to happen unless I had someone to guide me and hold me accountable, and a community I was part of.”
So she began to consider a book coach who could help her write and publish a book. But the more she looked at her options, the more concerned she grew.
“I had looked at weekend retreats and various other approaches to book writing. It seemed to me they lacked credibility. And I’d heard a lot of messaging out there – that a book is nothing more than a business card with thud factor, don’t overthink it, and that no one would read it anyway. None of that resonated with me.”
She wanted to write a book that mattered and that would grow her new business. That’s when she decided to join the Expert Author Academy.
“As soon as I spoke to Kelly, I knew she was my kind of person. It was clear she stands for quality books. She brings this combination of deep expertise, great credibility and a manner that makes it all feel possible and that we can do it together.”
Once she made the decision to join the Expert Author Academy, there was no looking back. The first few shifts for Cassandra were emotional breakthroughs - and it’s this stuff that most people underestimate.
“(I started) feeling like I had this toolkit and it had a roadmap of how I needed to think about every element of the book. And then I had the community which normalised my experience and gave me the confidence and support to keep going through all the ups and downs of the creative process. I had reassurance that everything I was struggling with was what others were struggling with and there were solutions to work through it all.”
For the book itself, a key shift for Cassandra came when she was encouraged to lean into her personal experiences, and to share those stories with her reader. As with most new authors, it felt safer to defer to other people.
“In those early drafts I gave a lot of my power away to other established authors by quoting a lot. I stopped giving my power away and built my own confidence so I didn’t feel like I had to quote other people every second paragraph.”
And it was the combination of all these things that led to Self-Fidelity, the book Cassandra published in November 2020.
“My book is my manifesto. Compared to one LinkedIn piece, or a conversation, it’s a more thorough, accurate, quality representation of what I stand for in the world. It’s like a full disclosure statement - a way to say ‘if these concepts resonate with you and you’re curious and want to co-create with me, then let’s talk.’”
Writing a book wasn’t about Cassandra’s ego or grandstanding. It was about activating change, opening doors for conversations, clarifying her message and turning readers into clients. So when the boxes of published copies arrived, there was no sitting around wondering what to do next; it was time to proactively leverage her book.
Cassandra primarily uses the book in two ways: to attract and to qualify leads.
“My book has been a tool to attract open-hearted and open-minded leaders who want to co-create. It’s also created more clarity on the sort of work I want to be doing. And because I have that credibility and am able to charge good money, it gives me the freedom and power to be discerning over who I work with and what work I say yes to.”
She also cited the unexpected ways in which the book has brought people into her orbit. She says that people have gifted her book to their networks and then those people have become clients after having received it as a gift. Another client gifts copies of Cassandra’s book at the start of her high-ticket group program as a value-add for her customers. Cassandra sees that as a slow-burn business development play that will deliver future work over the long term.
Since publishing the book, there’s been a steady stream of opportunities:
Seeing so many people reckoning with each other’s humanity at work, and living more fulfilling lives, is even more incredible than she could have imagined.
"I’ve had people say ‘I read your book and burst into tears. I always felt that we needed to be more caring in business and I always thought it’s not right that people are telling me to care less. And when I read your book, I realised that I was right.’ It’s given people the courage to stay true to themselves when the world is trying to tell them that who they are is inadequate or an inconvenience.”
Self-Fidelity is a gentle gospel of faithfulness to self, but its transformative power goes far beyond the individual. Her work is being used as the reference point for important conversations and wholesale cultural change in workplaces across Australia. Cassandra says that several organisations have ordered large quantities of her book as a way to show their people the kind of workplace they want to create, and what they stand for as leaders.
Self-Fidelity was a finalist in the Personal Development and in the Health and Wellbeing categories at the 2021 Australian Business Book Awards.
“I added the gold medal to LinkedIn and I thought ‘what a great achievement. It was a tough competition. My first book held its own against over 100 other books, many of whom had the support of publishers. Only a well-crafted book can do that and I've got to celebrate that.’”
“In one year the investment has paid itself off. And now there’ll just be upsides. There’s over 1000 copies in the world and every copy is a seed I’ve planted. I’ve sown these seeds far and wide for future business.”
And… there’s a second book on the horizon. What will this one be about? We’ll have to wait to find out.
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