From Business Book to Training Program (Part 1)

“When we least expect it, life sets us a challenge to test our courage and willingness to change; at such a moment, there is no point in pretending that nothing has happened or in saying that we are not yet ready. The challenge will not wait. Life does not look back. A week is more than enough time for us to decide whether or not to accept our destiny.”

— Paulo Coelho, The Devil and Miss Prym

Five years ago, I embraced a challenge that changed my professional life.

I received a PowerPoint deck that our friend Andréa had presented to a Professional Women’s association in Brazil. She shared stories and case studies that were at the heart of her book: Valor Feminino (Published in Portuguese — translates to “Female Value”).

The deck was filled with interesting insights and detailed facts; but, it took me a few views to understand what the presentation was about.

My initial assignment was to redesign the presentation, so that she could deliver it in other venues. I had been doing a lot of this kind of work, taking an “okay” presentation and making it look better. This project required a different approach — This presentation wanted to be a training program.

Structuring the presentation like a course would support the publication of the book, empower the author and give actionable life lessons to the audience.

Listening to understand is not easy. It’s a skill that requires curiosity, concentration and self control. It’s difficult to turn off the part of your brain that wants to interrupt, add your two cents or make a proposal.

Listening leads to good work, by reducing the time and energy that is wasted in correcting misunderstandings, especially when they are revealed late in a project and require big changes.

We made listening and exploring Andréa’s needs for her program a team effort. We knew we had to align our results to her goals.

We used verbal probes to align our efforts to:

  • Her Objective: Share powerful tools for Brazilian women to succeed in business
  • Her Audience: Brazilian women

This meant boiling the message, the case studies and the stories to specific skills that she could teach and that they could make a part of their lives.

We will publish part two of “Turning your Business Book into a Training Program” Wednesday, May 20.

Originally published at

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