Michael LaRocca’s Book Covers

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Make A Difference – From Being Successful to Being Significant

Make A Difference: From Being Successful to Being SignificantMotivational Press is the leading mid-tier publisher of business, leadership, health & wellness, and personal growth books internationally. On September 6 they published Make A Difference: From Being Successful to Being Significant by Ron Finklestein and Michael LaRocca. It’s an allegory about a successful businessman who wrestles with the question of “why are we here?” It can’t be just to get rich, can it?

Ron and I never discussed the order of our names. He approached me about writing this. He created the main character and I created the other guy. Ron created the nine laws, and I stole quite a few of Ron’s words, so I thought Ron’s name belonged first. Plus, he’s probably got more name recognition than I do. Brush with greatness, y’all.

The best way to explain a topic like this is through examples, and I used many of Ron’s, but I also surprised myself with how many were in my own head. Some of my observations came from what I’ve learned while editing documents about capture planning over the years, but a few predated that and came from my time as a purchasing manager. I didn’t know I had it in me.

Only Jan and I knew that, when I wrote about the Purchasing Manager who couldn’t make purchasing decisions, I was talking about one of my old jobs. Until now, since you just read it here.

The nine laws, by the way, stress enlightened self-interest, total ownership, measurable results, ideas, focus, self-discipline, persistence, the value of other people, and action.

As a novelist, I create fictional characters of great depth, get to know them, think of them as real people for a while, and then finally get inside their heads and “channel” them. In the case of Make a Difference: From Being Successful to Being Significant, I channeled Ron Finklestein, who isn’t a fictional character at all. I’ve edited several of his books over the years, and I agree with every word he wrote in The Nine Principles, so it was actually easier than a lot of the stuff I do. More satisfying, too.

I enjoyed explaining The Platinum Rule™ in my own words. Years ago, I edited a book about it that was written by Dr. Tony Alessandra, Scott Zimmerman, and Ron Finklestein. The Platinum Rule states that you should treat others as they want to be treated, and it’s been the topic of several books. But when I needed to compress it into a single chunk of dialogue, I wrote:

We all have different styles, preferences, skills, personality types. Some are more introspective, some more outgoing. Some visual, some aural, some kinesthetic. Don’t assume everybody’s like you. Hear them, know them, mesh with their styles and needs.

Helping others is what it’s all about. The most successful people are those who genuinely want to help others. Every business book I’ve gained anything from stresses this, for the very simple reason that it’s the truth about life. One reason it was so easy to stop working on The Last Titan and write Make A Difference: From Being Successful to Being Significant is because they share this theme.

Don’t try to change people. It’ll just leave them frustrated and you exhausted. Focus on having others do what they’re good at. There’s a reason we often celebrate Joe Montana throwing to Jerry Rice but never Jerry Rice throwing to Joe Montana.

(We all know that’s true. I’m just bragging because Montana-to-Rice is one of my examples.)

We fail more than we succeed. There are no mistakes. Failure is feedback. Fail forward, and grow from it. This particular law hit home for me so strongly that I just felt like sharing it here in my blog post.

I read somewhere that people can be unmotivated at work, but if you see them doing something after hours or on the weekends, they’re almost always motivated about that. I had to add that observation to our book because it dovetails nicely with one of the laws, plus it’s the story of my life.

Persistence is my cat demanding a meal. She’s also an example of focus. And success. And cats own the Internet. I wrote that. In a book about business, leadership, success, and personal development. Nice. I also got to read this part in the audiobook, which was fun.

That’s right, it’ll also be an audiobook, not just a print title. I was terrified, but when I finally got around to firing up the recorder, I enjoyed it. Ron took the odd chapters and I took the even ones, and I expect the contrast to be brilliant.

Persuasion, I explain, isn’t manipulation. Sales isn’t reaching into a bag of tricks. It’s honesty, and helping people do what they want or need to do. That’s getting to be rather common advice, but I enjoyed repeating it because that is how I built MichaelEdits.com.

This is probably not the only business book to ever rave about bicycling, golf, writing, jogging, or editing, and it’s surely not the first to ever quote Monty Python, but it’s probably the only business book to mention Devo.

In the audiobook, Ron got to read the part I wrote about the guy who’s too lazy to become a writing coach or a ghost writer. Only Ron and I knew that, in that scene, I was spoofing myself. Until now, since you just read it here.

In the audiobook, I got to talk about bicycles and about Devo. I win.

You can get a copy of Make A Difference: From Being Successful to Being Significant by Ron Finklestein and Michael LaRocca right here.

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Sandlot, a football novel by Michael LaRocca

Sandlot by Michael LaRocca

Sandlot is a novel about a guy returning to Burgaw, North Carolina, after 12 years in China and, eventually, starting his own football team. I wrote it after I returned to Burgaw, North Carolina after 12 years in Asia, most of which I spent in China. … [Continue reading]

Reflections from the Grave (a poem from 1984)

To carry a dead brain in a body that survives With my head always bent from the weight While others feed me and empty my bedpan– Give me the strength to pull the trigger.   To lie in a hospital bed with machinery Pumping my … [Continue reading]

Teach Yourself Creative Writing

Teach Yourself Creative Writing by Michael LaRocca

The first sentence in Teach Yourself Creative Writing is this one: The only way to improve your writing is to write. That's exactly correct. What I've accumulated here are lesson plans that have worked for me, for years, with hundreds of … [Continue reading]

How Red Is My Neck?

How Red Is My Neck? by Michael LaRocca

Can a serious author venture into humorous writing without destroying the last few shreds of his credibility? Let’s find out. Dog stories, cat stories, redneck stories, horse stories, Hong Kong stories, and of course the infamous hog … [Continue reading]

The Chronicles of a Lost Soul

If you've already read it, I love you. I recently unearthed the 1987 edition, which contained eight stories, poems, and essays that have never been published before now. I've added those, revised the existing material, and even wrote a new poem … [Continue reading]

Oktoberfest in China

I celebrated Oktoberfest in China. Since it seems Jan and I have become “elder statesmen” for the Western teachers, by virtue of not leaving after six months, we took the three new teachers with us. We waited at the school gates for about 10 … [Continue reading]

Why Is My Life So Boring? (my favorite bits)

Why Is My Life So Boring?

Are you shaped by nature or by nurture? It doesn’t matter, because you control neither of them. However, you can choose how to react to them. That’s how you get past fatalistic victim thinking and start living in earnest. Inertia may be (or seem) … [Continue reading]

Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read

Banned Books Week

Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. It's usually held during the last week of September. This year the dates are September 21 through September 27. Banned Books Week highlights the value of free and open access to … [Continue reading]

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