Interview with Ian Boreham

What motivated you to become an indie author?
I felt like I had something to offer. Something that could hopefully help people with their career challenges. In exploring my own career challenges I read a number of books, some of which are best sellers with multiple editions. Each time I felt like there was more to give on the challenges of finding the right career and excelling in your career. I wanted to create a book that not only dealt with the normal challenges of finding a career that fits, but also one that went under the hood of your current role and attempted to draw out learnings about what you like and don't like. I also knew from experience that part of the challenge is developing the right positive mindset and mental skills to enable happiness and excellence. I wanted to create a book that also addressed these important aspects.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I enjoy a number of aspects about writing. The learning and research involved in writing a book that will be helpful to people is something that I really enjoy. The challenge of structuring the work and coming up with useful concepts to help communicate points is also something that I enjoy. Lastly and perhaps most importantly is the desire to help people and knowing that writing is one such way of doing that.
What are you working on next?
I think you need to be realistic in your endeavours. Ultimately the reading public will decide whether I write another book. If 'Why Your Boss Can't Help You' becomes successful then I would love to write another book. I like the concept of becoming more proficient in problem solving and how this can help you in various aspects of your life. My next book is likely to be around this theme.
What is different about Why Your Boss Can't Help You
After reading the number one best seller for career advice / guidance a number of times I still felt that it didn't go far enough to help me with my career challenges. I wanted to have tools that helped me understand my current role and why it might not be the best fit for me. I also wanted to have search strategies that directly related to today's online world and the fact that more data is becoming available. I also knew from experience that career challenges aren't just about finding 'the right' job. They are also about your attitude and mental approach to work and life in general. My experience as a basketball coach had taken me down the path of developing mental skills and I wanted to incorporate this into the career challenge domain.
Is there a particular brand or style that we can associate with Ian Boreham the author?
I think first and foremost it's about 2 things. The first is helping people and the second is problem solving. I've been into problem solving and analysing problems since a child. With a Masters degree in Operational Research my background is heavily about problem solving, creating models of real world scenarios and generally analysing situations. I like to try and apply these principles to everyday problems. I think 'Why Your Boss Can't help You' is really my first attempt at this.
Have you solved all your own career challenges?
It's a little bit strange that I wrote a book about solving career challenges whilst essentially attempting to solve my own. In a way the act of writing the book is a solution for me (although whether it ever becomes a career is a different matter). It aligns well to my value of helping people and to my number one strength of analysing and solving problems. I definitely identified some concrete future career paths for myself throughout this process and I am hopeful that other people can to.
The title 'Why Your Boss Can't Help You' seems a little controversial?
When you read the book you soon realise that it's not really about people's managers at work but it's really about you taking control of your own career and life. A lot of research and literature that I read to complete the book seemed to lay people's career problems at the doors of organisations or managers. A lot of the time I felt that this was more about selling to organisations than it was about helping people with the very important problems of low satisfaction and engagement at work. Of course, everyone knows that having a great manager at work makes a big difference. But in my mind that does not mean that my career challenges should be left in that person's hands. Quite the opposite. I feel quite strongly about taking ownership of your own problems and not looking to other people to provide solutions.
Do you see Low Satisfaction and Engagement in the workplace as a serious problem? Who owns this problem?
I see it as an incredibly important challenge. You don't need to look at the research to know that this is something that impacts all aspects of people's lives. Being unhappy at work cannot be separated from outside of work - not in the long term.
When I fist started my career I used to think that this was a problem for my manager or my organisation. Surely they would do the best thing for me and make sure I am best utilised and challenged. Over time I have realised that this approach is not the optimal one. The problem lies with the individual but we need to help them find ways to help themselves. Everyone deserves a rewarding career experience where they feel engaged, approriately challenged and ultimately happy.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Writing is just a hobby at the moment. So between writing, a full time job, helping raise 2 young kids, watching as much NBA and NCAA basketball as possible I have very little spare time :) What spare time I do have is usually taken up playing with the kids (read: trying to turn them into Steph Curry and Lauren Jackson), trying to fix a misaligned pelvis (possible future book) and just generally hanging out in an Australian, neighbourly (have a BBQ and a few beers) kind of way.
What has been your experience with Smashwords and self publishing in general?
It's been a great experience. New authors (including myself) need to realise that there is literally so much content 'out there' these days that there is essentially no chance of being published in the traditional sense. Luckily a previous endeavour (creating a web application) taught me a similar lesson, so I knew that the self publishing route via Smashwords was perfect for me. What Mark Coker has set up here at Smashwords is fantastic. You can tell that this has been set up with the author in mind based on his own personal experience with getting published.
Published 2015-11-16.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.