Think it, Plan it, Do it Now! A Q&A with author Anthony Francis

18th February 2019

Recently our Head of Content Sam Chambers caught up with Animas graduate and author of Think it, Plan it, Do it Now! Anthony Francis to talk about his new book, where the idea to write it came from, and how he managed it in 10 weeks. Anthony also touches on his Animas journey, how he came to coaching from a long career in project management and offers some advice for anyone that also wants to write their first book but isn’t sure where to start…

Sam: Hi Anthony, thanks for taking the time to talk with me. So firstly, when did you study with Animas, and how did the book idea start rolling?

Anthony: I started studying with Animas in November 2017, finished my modules in April 2018, and qualified by the May of that year. After qualification, I had some coaching clients, and was getting some momentum. The book idea came after a visit I made to The Business Show at the Excel. I met a colleague who is a book publisher, and who actually I’d last seen about 8 years previously. We got chatting, I asked how he was doing, and he said since we’d last met he’d published between himself and others around 100 books. He asked me “how is your book coming along?” and I sort of looked at him and thought, okay so you’ve done nearly 100 books with different people, and I haven’t done any…

It dawned on me that I’d wasted 8 years talking about something but not actually doing it. So that’s when I thought I’m going to work with him to make this thing a reality. We sat down, I had the title of the book already which was Think it, Plan it, Do it Now! (TIPIDIN) based on the programme that I was already running. We looked at what the sub-chapters would be, then I said right I’m going to commit myself across the next 10 weeks to doing a chapter per week.

And well, it went exactly to plan! I’d put together a spreadsheet that outlined what I was going to do each week, the sub-chapter headings, my timescale and I actually finished it in exactly 10 weeks in terms of the writing. Then I had to get it edited before the launch on 8th January, and it’s already been in the book charts on Amazon!

S: I saw that, that’s amazing! So how did the launch go?

A: Well the launch was great, I was a little nervous as obviously I’ve never done a book launch before, so I had no idea what I was doing, but I was talking to my daughter about it and she said “dad it’s your book launch, what do you want to do with it?” And so I put together a bit of a programme, something that would be of value to people.

I had two guest speakers attend. The first was a client of mine, who is actually quoted on the back of the book, Michael Roberts, the vegan body plan coach. The other was Lawrence Wilson who has a franchise called Business Doctors. I marketed it all on Eventbrite, put it out there to various communities, like Animas, friends and family etc. and just ran with it.

I used Diabetes UK new head office as the venue, which is interesting in itself as I actually selected that building for them when I project managed their relocation from Camden to Aldgate East where they are now, so it was a very surreal moment to be back there, launching my new book, standing in the very spot I stood in for my leaving talk a few months prior when I left to go and do my coaching course.

S: And this time around it marked the beginning of something as opposed to the end. So what was your background before you came to coaching and your current business?

A: My background is in project management, I spent 19 years with a company called orange business services, during which time I had a number of senior roles in project management. I was also a technical trainer for in my early days, in charge of EMEA which was Europe, Middle East and Africa. I’d written courses and training programmes that were taught all around these locations. I’d done all of that prior to coaching, so I’ve had an extensive career in the project management arena, and as a result I knew a lot about planning and organisation, and how to execute projects.

Reflecting now, it’s no surprise that the title of the book is Think it, Plan it, Do it Now! Because for me that’s the mindset, there’s no point just talking about it, the book title isn’t Think it Plan it Do it Later, it’s do it now! I’ve continued my career path around planning and execution, but just in a different space. In my coaching I’m very much about the “okay here we are now, we’ve got something to do, how do we manage it, how do we find out what the issues are, put in place an appropriate plan, what are the timescales etc. And how do we go about executing it?”

S: How did you come to the coaching from project management? When did that moment come and how has that ‘plan it’ mindset helped with your coaching?

A: Initially when I finished with Diabetes UK I thought ‘I know all about project management I’ll just go and do more of that and be a consultant’ but I wasn’t really happy going and doing that same sort of thing again because it’s what I’d been doing for almost two decades. I wanted to try and incorporate that skill set that I had, with an aspect of learning, and help people find a deeper understanding around why they sometimes don’t meet their goals. Even though I’d done coaching and mentoring for various organisations for many years in senior roles, I felt that I needed to have something a little more grounded, that not just gave me a qualification, but allowed me to understand what coaching really was, as opposed to training, as opposed to mentoring, counselling etc.

I wanted something that would give me that insight, and what I realised in terms of how I then wanted to put the coaching programme together after Animas, was that I wanted to have a number of steps that I could take people through. And that’s how I came up with my 5 ‘C’s concept.

The first one being, what’s your clarity in what you want to do, what’s the big why? Once I’d identified that initial first step in terms of my Cs, the next stage was really around how courageous they were to then be able to take action, because you need to have that in you in order to follow through with something. I thought okay how does this play through in terms of a process, and I came up with the Clarity, Courage, Commitment, Consistency and then Confidence. And so within those 5 ‘C’ areas, I suddenly realised that I had something that would make sense with the ‘think it plan it do it’ journey.

S: And so how did you arrive at the idea that you wanted to write a book?

 

A: Funnily enough, when I was getting my business cards done, Think it, plan it, do it, now! was the strap line that I put on them. And when I was making the order, they tried to up sell me various merchandised products, one of which was a journal that they’d added the strap line to, and I thought that it looked pretty good, and was pretty appropriate for a journal too.

So it was Vistaprint who gave me the idea for the journals! From there I got it on a mug, and I was like wait a second, and it dawned on me that the title was a book. So I thought how would it work? Then I came up with the whole 5 Cs concept, and the ‘do it now, or regret it later’ stuff came to the fore.

S: Now before we talk more about the book, I just want to glance back and talk about your time with Animas. I’d be interested to know when you came to the idea of coaching and wanted that qualification etc. Was it straight to Animas, or did you look at a few schools?

 

A: That’s a good one because I did contact a couple of companies, I went to a one day event with The Coaching Academy, Full Circle was another company I also looked at. But when I went to the Animas open day with Nick, I remember leaving at the end of the session and I felt it was really personable. He presented in such a transparent way about his journey, and what Animas as a community is about, and what he wanted the business to be for for those that joined it, and it really made me feel that it was the place I’d feel most at home, in terms of what my aspirations were, and the type of organisation I wanted to be part of.

I had a conversation with a lady who was also attending the open day, and I remember saying to her “I’m gonna go ahead with this” and we decided to keep in touch and see how things go. Fast forward a little and she actually ended up becoming one of my practice clients, and went on to refer me to someone that has now done 18 sessions with me. Even now her and I are in touch. She came to my book launch actually.

S: Yes I hear this a lot amongst the community actually, not just that people enjoyed the course and the trainers, and the experience of learning with Animas, but that the community and support post-qualification is so beneficial too. And so I’m wondering how helpful you found that community as part of your journey?

A: Well as well as having that lady attend the launch, I also had other people who were in my group when I did the Diploma, that came to the book launch which is lovely. When I was studying we had a Whatsapp group and we still communicate in it, in fact Christmas time we had a meal together in London, so that community has still remained. In fact one of the ladies and I coach each other every other week to make sure we are staying on track, so we have built that relationship too.

Coaching is about collaboration, and so if you go in there with the mindset that you want to give and help and not just take, you get a lot of value. I think if you go into the space without an agenda, and participate with an open mind, be present and actively listening, you really will benefit from the trainers, the programme and the people that you meet along the way.

S: Who is TIPIDIN for?

A: The strap line on the book says “for anyone that wants to make change happen” and really that’s it. The book is really for people that want to go from ordinary to extraordinary, and want to actually take action to do it!

For me, the book is aimed at those individuals that have got an idea or a goal, and now want to put that into practice with a manageable plan of action, based on realistic timelines.

S: In the process of writing the book, what was one thing that you’d say you found really challenging, and one thing that you really enjoyed about the process?

A: What I enjoyed about writing the book was that I think it really enables you to identify exactly what your whole philosophy is, and then you are really able to determine ‘what’s my programme?’ Now when I meet someone new, either from a coaching perspective, or at a networking event, I have a very distinct way of introducing myself or saying what I do, because I’ve now flushed it all out in writing the book. So for me, that was one of the things that I really took away from it.

The challenge of course, in anything like writing a book, is being committed to actually doing it all the way through. Because we can start, and have all the right intentions initially, but when the mood leaves you and you suddenly don’t feel as motivated anymore, you’ve still got to take the action, and that’s why I set myself the strict 10 week deadline. I knew that if I was committed to doing a chapter a week that would give me the focus, and allow me to not be distracted by anything else.

Even now when I look at the bookshelf or go on Amazon I just think “wow, did that actually happen?” because it went so quick! It is surreal, I’ve had friends who have sent me a picture of their copy of the book, or someone has sent a picture saying they’ve just placed the order, and it’s like wow that is all a bit odd, but in a great way! Even my granddaughter the other day said “granddad is that your book?” and I was like “yes it is actually” and again it hits home that you actually did it.

S: My final question for you is what advice would you give to anyone that also wants to write a book but perhaps has no idea where to start?

A: I think the key thing here is: if you’ve got a goal to write a book, it has to be something that you really want to do. That really is so important.

Secondly, put in place a couple of key pointers that will help you, so define what the chapters and sub chapters are so you know what the book is about, don’t just start writing. If you’ve got a title initially that will give you a great heads up as to the book’s subject.

I’d say have your title, then define what the chapters are that you want to cover, and what the contents are for each chapter. Put together a brainstorm, and outline the key points so that when you start writing the book you don’t get stuck thinking what you’re going to write next as you’ve already got some headings that you’ve identified with the main chapter, so as you finish one piece it leads onto the other. Then give yourself a timeline. Say to yourself I’ve given myself X amount of time, and work backwards. What does that mean for each chapter? Then just make sure you hit that amount of words or chapters for your self-serving timeline.

Also, an important point to note when you set this timeframe is if you have other stuff going on, factor that in and be realistic with yourself so that it doesn’t become a chore when you go back to it.

The minute it becomes a chore, you’ll get distracted, because all of a sudden your momentum isn’t there, the commitment goes and it becomes a draft that you’ll put away and won’t return to. You might say you will but you won’t!

Finally, when you hit that first chapter, that first milestone, tell your friends, tell your partner, give yourself a pat on the back, just don’t keep it a secret. The momentum that you get from people saying “well done, can’t wait for the second chapter” will give you an extra boost. We sometimes need that pat on the back!

S: Thank you so much for your time Anthony and good luck with both the book and your coaching!

 

 

If you want to grab yourself a copy of the book, or have any questions for Anthony regarding Think it, Plan it, Do it Now! or his coaching, you can visit his website here.

Categories: Coaching careers  

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