The Book of Mistakes: Author Interview with Skip Prichard

Published on
April 9, 2018
Karina Mikhli
"Keep it simple. What you're doing either works or it doesn't and if it doesn't, try something else--and ask for feedback. This applies to the service you're selling and to the people you're managing."
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Skip Prichard, author of The Book of Mistakes, is the CEO of the global library organization OCLC, and the former CEO of the Ingram Content Group, a large global publishing distributor and service provider. He was also one of the first CEOs to start blogging before it became the thing to do and has since become a renowned author and keynote speaker.

Alongside his impressive career, Skip was also on a personal journey of growth and interviewed and studied over a thousand of the world’s most successful people, spanning all countries and all industries. He has taken what he learned from them and from his own successful career to give us an entertaining and easy to read, yet very powerful, business parable. I highly recommend it.

1. Why did you decide to write this book and why as a business parable? Had you considered other formats?

Having studied success my whole life, and interviewing over 1,000 world leaders, I know that we often learn more from the mistakes and struggles of others more than their successes.

As a CEO, I’ve noticed that the only type of motivation that works is self-motivation. With 2/3 of employees in companies not engaged, we often respond with a new employee engagement program and maybe throw in an employee picnic and even a game room. The problem is that these tactics are short-term. I wanted to write a book that would encourage introspection, self-evaluation, and allow you to reach for the dreams within.

I wrote it as a story because I wanted to engage readers on an emotional and intellectual level. Stories allow us to escape. A story is also more memorable and impactful. Stanford researcher Jennifer Aaker says that stories are remembered up to 22 times more than facts alone. Today, most of us are so busy that we have a harder time sitting down and reading a weighty book full of research. I wanted to write something that you could read in one sitting and enjoy a fictional escape but walk away with ideas that can change your future. There’s hidden power in a good story.

2. Was there another business parable that inspired you? If so, which one and what about it inspired you most?

There are many business parables that have inspired me over the years. Authors like Og Mandino, Ken Blanchard, Jon Gordon, Bob Burg, Andy Andrews, Patrick Lencioni, and many others line my bookshelves. Each one inspires me in a different way, challenging some aspect of my thinking.

3. How did you come up with the 9 mistakes? Were there others that didn’t make it into the mix? Which of the 9 mistakes did you personally find the most challenging?

The advice and wisdom in this book is from a successful and wide-ranging leadership career, from decades of studying leadership psychology, and from over 1,000 interviews with CEO’s, world leaders, sports legends, and bestselling authors. It’s designed to help you overcome the common mistakes that hold people back from becoming successful change agents and leaders. Each mistake is based on academic research.

These were the top nine mistakes and most other major mistakes seem to be related to them in some way.

Most of us will acknowledge we have made all of these mistakes at various times in our lives. The question is what mistake am I making this week, and what can I do about it.

4. How did you develop the personality quiz to go along with this book? Which success character type are you?

We developed the quiz to showcase your strength. Most people taking it think it will give them their weakness or “mistake.” Instead, it shows your area of strength because that is where success starts. You will notice yourself change over time as you learn and grow. I am the Trainer demonstrating personal accountability.

5. Of all the 9 mistakes and 3 laws, which one do you think is the most important and has the most impact? And what one thing can we do every day to ensure we don’t fall back into these mistakes?

What I have learned is that my own opinion doesn’t matter. What matters is what you think and how the mistakes and laws influence you. I have been amazed at the stories coming in about how this story impacts people. In only a month, I have had people tell me that it influenced their marriage, the start of a business, the courage to interview for a management job, and to pursue a new training program. The diversity of experiences all relates to the fact that each of us may encounter the book differently depending on where we are in our professional and personal journey.