Know When To Fold ‘Em: Recognizing The End Of The Road For Your Business

By October 22, 2015 October 29th, 2017 Podcast, With Guests
Know When To Fold 'Em: Recognizing The End Of The Road For Your Business

Geoff Livingston Does A LOT

We met Geoff several years ago at a talk he gave and have been fans ever since. But it’s hard to introduce him because he is so multitalented. He ran a PR blog, a branding and marketing agency, is a professional photographer, wrote a business book and two novels (with another in the works to round out his trilogy) and currently has plans to do undisclosed things that he has yet to reveal.

Today we talk to him about two topics: the first is his experience publishing (and his transition from business to fiction, traditional publishing to self publishing) and the second is the sunsetting of his marketing agency (in contrast to pivoting, which we discussed with Chris Curran last week.)

Geoff Can’t “Not” Create

If Geoff’s experiences sound diverse, he has a pretty simple explanation. “I can’t not create,” he told us. Whether it’s a book or a photo (or undisclosed things… argh!) he sort of gives new meaning to the word creativity.

He talks about his first book stemming from a manuscript he started over 20 years ago (persistence pays off, kids!) and the process he went through to complete it. Part of that included distributing advance reading copies to a few people (I had the pleasure of being one of them) and getting their feedback.

One of the critiques I passed along was that the colloquialisms, meant for a medieval timeframe, sounded a little too modern. Other readers called his writing “too literary.” Geoff had to parse through all that and take the good with the bad, incorporate the changes that made sense and keep going.

Much like most of us, he occasionally got stuck in perfectionism. All of us who create know what it feels like to constantly want to tweak and fix and perfect. But Geoff got that book done and a second one, too. He confesses that reading his first novel isn’t much fun – he looks back and doesn’t like it. But he’s learned and grown along the way and is proud of what he accomplished in the second.

It just goes to prove that you may not be perfect but you’re always going to improve. So don’t get stuck – just create!

Geoff’s Advice To Aspiring Authors

We asked Geoff what he took away from his experience that he can share with authors who are thinking about publishing. And he says definitively that it’s important to make sure your characters resonate with the audience. You need to make an emotional connection with readers who are so often pulled in a million content directions with plenty of options for entertainment. So you’d better make sure your story and people resonate.

Turns out it’s not always the brilliance of the writing, the poetry of the language or even the spelling and grammar. If your story resonates, readers will stick around.

Pivot Or Sunset?

Last week we talked about the necessity of making major changes in your business in order to survive. But Geoff took another path, and that was closing his business down entirely.

Recently we learned that he was shutting down his marketing agency Tenacity5. Through a series of unfortunate events they lost some significant contracts that put a serious dent in their revenue. To make matters worse, it happened while Geoff was in Africa on a photojournalism shoot with limited access to internet. By the time he got home, he knew it was over. Without enough business in their pipeline and their major contracts gone, Geoff no longer had the heart to try to turn the business around.

But there was more to it than financials. The work had not been as fulfilling as he wanted it to be. He called it “tactical” and it wasn’t interesting or challenging enough. So without the revenue, and without the emotional investment, Geoff quietly closed the doors.

If that sounds a bit sad, don’t worry. Geoff has tenacity! He is already making money through his photography and has more plans (that he wont’ tell us!)

We asked Geoff how it affected him personally, especially when he learned the news from abroad. “It sucked. It just sucked,” he said. And that about sums it up.

Your Action Item

From Geoff: Read a book by Steve McClatchy called Decide. It’s about time management but moreover it’s about spending time on the tasks that will bring you results. If you want to create a positive outcome in your world, you’ve got to make selective use of your time and put the irons in the fire that will make those things happen. Nobody else is going to make them happen for you!

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