Author & Podcast Host Mike Malatesta: How To Grow Your Business or Brand By Writing A Book
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As a part of our series about “How You Can Grow Your Business or Brand By Writing A Book”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Mike Malatesta.
Mike is an entrepreneur who has helped start, grow, and sell two amazingly successful waste management companies; one sold for the mid-8 figures, and the other sold for the low-9 figures.
He also created and hosts the “How’d It Happen?” Podcast where Mike explores stories, lessons, and wins with some of the most fascinating and successful people in the world. After 3 years and more than 200 episodes, “How’d It Happen?” is one of the top 2.5% in the world.
His new book, “OwnerShift — How Getting Selfish Got Me Unstuck,” which was published November 30, 2021, is a philosophical memoir that reveals the secret to why so many entrepreneurs get stuck and how they can “shift” to get free once again.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share a story about what motivated you to become an expert in the particular area that you are writing about?
Getting fired and being out of work is what got me motivated initially to become an entrepreneur. In hindsight, being in that position was the perfect way for me to do it because I knew so little about how much I didn’t know. Had I known more, I might have skipped it all together! Since that time, I’ve learned — through trial, error, fortunate and misfortune — how to maximize my potential as an entrepreneur and make my future something that I design and own.
Can you share a pivotal story that shaped the course of your career?
When I was 4 years old, we lived across the street from a construction company. Some afternoons, I would sit on the curb in front of our house and watch the men bring their trucks and equipment back to the yard. I was thrilled to be surrounded by the smoke, noises and dust that accompanied them. I believe that an entrepreneurial seed was planted in me on that curb. It stayed there in a dormant stage for close to 20 years. That’s when I met my partner, Butch, who knew exactly what to do to fertilize and cultivate that seed in me. We had a lot of success — and several big failures — during our first ten years in business together. Then he passed away after being badly burned in a fire at work. When that happened, it nearly broke me. I fell into what I call the Valley of Uncertainty and was lost. I blamed the world for what happened to me and where I was. I couldn’t see a way out and was depressed about a life that would forever make me feel this way Until I realized that I was exactly where I was supposed to be because I’d designed my life to put me there. I needed to take responsibility for that. And I figured that if I was able to do that, I’d also be able to design a way to break myself out of that Valley. That acknowledgement put me on the path to getting unstuck, take back my power, achieve bigger objectives and create the future I wanted.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? Are you working on any new writing projects?
Yes. I’m focused on my blog and podcast, which is called ‘How’d it Happen?’ On the podcast, I dig in deep with every guest to get to the roots of their success. To discover not just how it happened, but why it matters. My mission is to explore the ideas and clues listeners need to inspire, activate, and maximize the greatness that’s inside each of them.
Thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. Can you please tell us a bit about your book?
My new book, Owner SHIFT — How Getting Selfish Got Me Unstuck, is a crazy raw examination of the entrepreneurial journey told with my stories but relatable to all entrepreneurs. Its purpose is to help entrepreneurs get unstuck, take back their power, and create the future’s they want and deserve.
Can you please share a specific passage or story that illustrates the main theme of your book?
“I had to get selfish. Ugh! I know, it sounds horrible. But there was no other option. I had to get selfish with my ideas, with my time, with my focus and with my attention. To know what I wanted my future to be, I had to design a structure in which I could operate selfishly.”
You are a successful author and thought leader. Which three character traits do you feel were most instrumental to your success when launching your book? Can you please share a story or example for each?
Optimism — I feel like the book can be important and valuable to so many entrepreneurs. That optimism has fueled me to write the best book I can and to get it into as many hands as I can.
Perseverance — I realize that the book won’t sell itself, not matter how good I think it is. As a first-time author, I knew that most of the heavy lifting would be on me. I welcomed that challenge and committed to putting all my effort into creating the most successful launch I could.
Gratitude — People didn’t ask me to write this book so it’s not naturally on their radars. There’s a fine line between perseverance that seems one-sided or inauthentic versus pure and respectful. I always wanted to be on the right side of that line, so I never took anyone, anyone’s time, or anyone’s help for granted. Please and thank you go a long way!
In my work, I have found that writing a book can be a great way to grow a brand. Can you share some stories or examples from your own experience about how you helped your own business or brand grow by writing a book?
I didn’t create my podcast initially with the thought of building a brand. I just wanted to explore and share important success stories. As the podcast has grown and become more noticed, my network and circle of influence have expanded considerably as well. I began to think that I could add some value to the discussions I was having and the stories I was sharing on the podcast with some of my own, and that started me on the path to create the book. What was the “before and after picture?” Before the book, and the podcast, I was a very private person with a tight but small network. I’d helped found, grow, and sell a large waste management company and was well known in the industry, but not so much outside of it. Writing the book and doing the podcast has changed me considerably. I’m much more open to sharing the important failures, successes, and the lessons I’ve learned along my journey. It’s been a little scary and amazingly liberating at the same time. What were things like before, and how did things change after the book? The book has been a game-changer. I’m excited and humbled by the attention it has received and by the impact it has had on entrepreneurs all over the world.
If a friend came to you and said “I’m considering writing a book but I’m on the fence if it is worth the effort and expense” what would you answer?
I’d say do it. I think that everyone has a great and meaningful story to share that can help, entertain, or otherwise improve many people’s lives. There are also more ways and more help out there now to make writing a book a customizable experience. For example, you can write it yourself, you can talk your way through it, or you can rely on an expert to make your story into a fantastic book. It’s never easy, but always worth it. Can you explain how writing a book in particular, and thought leadership in general, can create lucrative opportunities and help a business or brand grow? People seem to naturally trust authors. They figure that if you’ve written a book, you’ve got to know something special. That creates an immediate and substantial opportunity for most authors to create brands around their programs, courses, consulting and coaching.
What are the things that you wish you knew about promoting a book before you started?
Books don’t sell themselves, at least not for 99+% of authors. As an author, the work amplifies after the writing is done. If you’re proud of your book, and the impact it will have, you need to get out there, everywhere you can get, and make it the big deal it is. What did you learn the hard way? That I needed help to organize my thoughts and write a meaningful book. I had tried, off and on, to write a book earlier, but I just never made progress. When I finally, definitively chose to write my book, I joined a program for authors that gave me the structure, organization and gameplan that I needed to finish what I’d started. Can you share some stories about that which other aspiring writers can learn from? Once I had my gameplan in place, I just followed it. That included writing at the same time every day for an hour or until I’d written at least 250 words. That helped me break down a very large project into bite-size, manageable chunks and made me keep wanting to come back for more.
Based on your experience, which promotional elements would you recommend to an author to cover on their own and when would you recommend engaging an expert?
Start building your personal network well before your book comes out. I think that being authentic is the best way to do that, and it can / should be done by the author. Getting on podcasts is also something that can be done on your own. I’d recommend getting expert help with your social media and press inquiries for sure.
Wonderful. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your own experience and success, what are the “five things an author needs to know to successfully promote and market a book?” If you can, please share a story or example for each.
- Ask for help — The more people that are talking and sharing information and posts about your book, the better; don’t be afraid to ask for their help. They may not think about helping you otherwise.
- Keep asking — Getting people to help you is a lot like making a sale. They need to be reminded as they have more going on in their lives than your book — even if they love you and your book. Figure out a cadence that you feel is appropriate and respectful and follow it.
- Get on podcasts — One of the best ways for you to reach people who’ve never heard of you is by being on podcasts. In most cases, the only investment is your time, and that investment will be well-rewarded. There are many podcast-matching apps / websites that make this much easier than it used to be. Do it.
- Like and Comment on Others’ Work — People tend to be aware of, and care about helping, people who are helping them. For example, you can get noticed and become endeared to others you admire or want to know on social media by leaving thoughtful and relevant comments on their posts. Help people achieve their goals and they will often help you achieve yours.
- Be Patient — Promoting a book is a marathon, not a sprint. Yes, there is a lot of necessary activity up to and the week of your book’s launch, but that’s just the beginning. Most books smolder for a long time before they catch fire. Keep yours smoldering.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Thank you for these excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent. We wish you continued success with your book promotion and growing your brand.