Writing a Book is Good for Business: A Conversation with Sally Gelardin

By Sue Aiken

Career Convergence's First of a "Conversation with an Author!" Series.





Writing a book is good for business. A conversation with Sally Gelardin, author and editor of Starting and Growing a Business in the New Economy: Successful Career Entrepreneurs Share Stories and Strategies, offers the details that every would-be author needs to hear. My own experience (over 25 years in private practice) has made me aware of addressing how counselors can build practices to have multiple sources of income rather than waiting for clients to pay.


Overview of the Book

Sally Gelardin and sixteen other career professionals share their stories on what worked for them in creating a successful business in the career consulting field. The story subjects cover topics such as identifying entrepreneurial skills, creating a business mission and vision, setting up support systems and developing a long range strategy. It even includes a chapter on having an exit plan. A wide range of noted professionals in the career development field make credible arguments for gaining the tools necessary for creating a financially successful business in today's work world. Also included are exercises developed by the authors for use in self assessment of skills, interests and needs, worksheets for getting started, clarifying purpose and mission and developing an action plan.

My interview with Sally focuses on how writing a book can shape and grow a career consulting business.

Why did you take on this project?

Association Affiliation is Vital. Twelve years ago, when I was pursuing a Masters degree in counseling, NCDA held its annual conference in San Francisco. Mark Pope, who went on to become president of CCDA, NCDA and ACA, was the instructor of my career class at the University of San Francisco. He strongly advised students to volunteer at the conference. I proposed Cafe Vitae, a job search and career tips service, and recruited my fellow students to help monitor the service. From that moment on, I took an active role in the California Career Development Association (CCDA), then in NCDA.

Mentors are Invaluable. A few years later, I went on to earn a doctorate in International and Multicultural Education. Alma Flor Ada, my advisor, a world-renowned multicultural literature author, rekindled my love of writing, which led to the publication of my first book, "The Mother-Daughter Relationship: Activities for Promoting Lifework Success."

Inner Motivation Reveals Passion. I volunteered to serve on NCDA's Publication Committee. The NCDA Board instructed the Publication Committee to develop a series of monographs on timely career topics. Having embarked on the entrepreneurial route several times throughout the past 40 years of my adult working life, I was aware of private practitioners' need for support and guidance as they grow their businesses. My primary inner motivation to author the entrepreneur monograph was passion to create something that had never been done before and that could benefit both entrepreneurs and their career advisors

What do you hope will be the outcomes?

I hope that "Starting and Growing a Business in the New Economy" and the "entrepreneur kits" that I subsequently developed, will serve as valuable resources for career advisors and their clients to design and develop their businesses.

How is this book expanding your business?

Authors usually do not earn an independent income from sales of their book. I expanded the monograph's target distribution (counselors and career practitioners) to include entrepreneurs in general, to increase sales. I pursued four tracks:

a. I developed Entrepreneur Kits, which contain books, CDs, DVDs, card sorts, formal and informal assessment tools, and other products designed by the contributors to the monograph and other leading career professionals. These products have been carefully chosen for their quality and value.

b. I set up an Entrepreneur eCommunity . Realizing that entrepreneurs need more support than just reading a book on starting and growing a business, I invited the 16 contributors to the monograph to host blogs on the topics that they discussed in the book.

c. Since I have been an active community businesswoman in Northern California for several years, I was asked by the director of the Redwood Center Small Business Development Center to serve on her advisory board. The Center was launching an online distribution of business books and products and I was asked to set up a counselor site on the website. This website will be a prototype for other SBA centers around the country. This online resource center will include both the NCDA entrepreneur monograph and the Entrepreneur Kits, as well as other entrepreneur products that I recommend. It will be launched this spring.

d. To market the monograph and kits, I am setting up speaking engagements and workshop trainings around the country, inviting contributors to the monograph and kits to present with me. You can view my upcoming presentations and workshops on my blog (click on "presentations", under Main Skills).

Describe how this project has impacted you professionally.

I have become a better businesswoman. Having started out in my twenties as an educator (public school teacher, textbook editor, coordinator of publications for a state department of education and a federal agency), it wasn't until I was in my mid-thirties that I launched my first business, an internationally based fashion boutique for men and women. For 25 years, I have developed business skills - marketing, sales training, administration, purchasing, and "number crunching" to make sure the business was profitable. In addition to my design, problem solving, writing, and presentation skills, I have developed organizational and financial management skills.

What do you believe are the key "take aways" from this book for the readers?

The monograph is unique. Some of the contributors offer concrete business and marketing strategies, while others write in a more stream-of-conscious way, inviting readers to practice imaging and reflecting skills to build their business. The exercises developed by the contributors appeal to a variety of cognitive and multi-sensory learning styles. The monograph is written with passion and conviction by enthusiastic career entrepreneurs--professional counselors and coaches who run their own successful businesses.


Sue Aiken, M.A. has worked in the profession of career counseling in a variety of capacities over a period of 25 years. Square One Career Services in Oakland, CA, offered specialized career services for lawyers in career and life transitions for many years. In addition, Sue contracted with EAPs to provide career services to city and government employees on the west coast. For thirteen years, Sue was Chair of the Graduate Program in Career Development in the School of Management at John F. Kennedy University in Pleasant Hill, CA. Sue now resides on the CentralCoastof Californiaproviding career coaching services through the Career Development Allianceserving government employees. Sue continues to teach in the distance learning component of the Kennedy program and is a certified Distance Career Counselor. Sue was recognized by NCDA as Practitioner of the Year in 2003. She can be reached at saiken001@charter.net


"Starting and Growing a Business in the New Economy" is available in the NCDA online Career Resource Store . Sally Gelardin's new website offers the Enterpreneurial Kits at http://www.entrepreneurkits.com/ .

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