David Friedman is the former president of RSI, an award-winning employee benefits brokerage and consulting firm in the Philadelphia area. He is a frequent guest speaker and seminar leader on organizational culture, leadership and values. A graduate of the College of William & Mary with a degree in Philosophy, Friedman currently lives in Moorestown, NJ with his wife and 2 college-age children.
Thank you for this interview, David. Can you tell us a little about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?
I spent 27 years leading and building RSI into one of the largest independently-owned employee benefits consulting firms in the country. During that time, we won awards for just about every category of business success – from leadership to growth to quality to being a Best Place to Work. After selling the company to a large publicly-held insurance brokerage, I retired from the industry to pursue my writing and speaking interests.
I’ve always been a writer (I was editor-in-chief of our school newspaper in HS), producing shorter articles and documents throughout my career. However, I didn’t focus my efforts on writing a book until just this past year.
Can you tell us briefly what your book is about?
One of the things that makes my book, Fundamentally Different, so unique is that it’s a business book, and yet it’s not only a business book.
As a business leadership book, it’s a compelling and thought-provoking read that reveals foundational principles for building a culture of success through organizational values. Its lessons are based on my experiences and reflections as a leader of a high-performance organization. More specifically, my book teaches leaders and organizations the 8 key steps to institutionalizing their most important values, and provides lots of stories and examples to illustrate just how to do it.
But it’s not only a business book, and that’s what makes it doubly powerful and impactful. At RSI, I wrote, developed, and taught a series of 30 values and principles that I called our Fundamentals. These Fundamentals were institutionalized, and were the cornerstone of our high-performance culture.
Fundamentally Different includes an insightful, thought-provoking essay on each of the 30 Fundamentals, each filled with stories and practical examples of how they apply in our daily lives. They include such concepts as “Check the ego at the door”, “Communicate to be understood”, “Set and ask for expectations”, “Speak straight”, and “Be quick to ask and slow to judge.” Everyone who reads the book comes away with lots of “aha” moments and practical ideas that can make a meaningful difference in their lives – at work, at home, with their families, and with their friends.
Who is your intended audience? Have you been able to crossover into other audiences as well?
As I referred to in my previous answer, this is a pretty unique book because it absolutely has crossover appeal. It’s truly as valuable for the business leadership audience as it is for the “everyday” audience. In fact, one of the most frequent comments in the reviews for the book has been about its ready applicability to our daily lives, whether we’re leaders or not.
Why did you choose your particular genre?
I chose this genre because it’s what I know best. It’s the result of all of the collected wisdom I gained over a 27-year leadership career.
Do you ever experience self-doubts with your work?
Only a little. I suppose it’s like any other artist. When you produce a work of which you’re particularly proud, you believe that others will be just as excited about its quality. However, until it gets into the marketplace, you’re never really sure how good it actually is. Thankfully, the response from readers (and listeners) has only exceeded my best hopes.
Where do you write? Do you have a favorite place?
I have an office on the 2nd floor of my home, and this is where I do my writing. It’s a fairly large room with a desk and wraparound credenza. (I also have a massage chair for when I need a relaxing break!). I like my workspace to be pretty orderly, so I usually try to keep the desk surface clean and uncluttered. I do all of my writing on the computer.
What kind of research did you have to do during the writing process?
The book did not require any additional research beyond the “field research” that comprised my 27-year business leadership career. In fact, it’s one of the things that makes the book so powerful – everything I write about is based on firsthand, personal experience.
Who is your publisher and how did you get accepted by them? Did you pitch your book yourself or go through an agent?
My publisher is Infinity Publishing, Inc. They were pretty accommodating in producing my work and I pitched them myself, rather than going through an agent. Their sister company, Spoken Books Publishing, produced by audio book as well (which I narrated).
How are you promoting your book thus far?
I have many avenues through which I’m promoting my book, including:
· My virtual book tour
· Radio interviews throughout the country
· Using Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Twitter to build my online presence
· Speaking engagements
· Press releases
· E-mail marketing using Constant Contact
· Using my friends and family network
If you could give one book promotion tip to new authors, what would that be?
No matter how good your book is, it’s not going to sell if people don’t know about it. You have to use every opportunity to spread the message about your book.
What’s next for you?
Right now, I’m pretty focused on speaking and consulting engagements, and working on developing materials to supplement my book. I often do talks, seminars, and workshops teaching the concepts that are in the book. As I do these, I’m always thinking about additional materials that I can create that will help make the program I deliver more impactful for people.
Thank you for this interview, David. Can you tell us where we can find you on the web?
You can learn more about me, my work, and my writing by going to my website:
There you can find a longer biography, see the full list of the 30 Fundamentals, read reviews of the book, read my blog, find out about booking me for speaking or consulting, and see the list of where I’ll be appearing.
You can even read a sample chapter of my book there as well as listen to a chapter from the audio book (which I narrated!).