The Janine Bolon Show with Rena Koesler - 99 Authors Project, Season 4, Episode 1

The 99 Authors Project – Season 4 – Episode 1 with Rená Koesler

Rená Koesler

Rená is a Business Coach, Mentor, Teacher and Adventure Enthusiast who loves to help business owners, educators and adventure enthusiasts learn the tools needed to reach their work potential.

Before she launched her business, she worked as a professor in the field of Outdoor and Environmental Education.

Rená is also the proud author of two fabulous books, Itty Bitty and Unflappable: Leadership Lessons from Climbing Mountains.

Transcript of the Show

Bryan Hyde
Welcome to the Janine Bolon show, where we share tips from around the globe. As we guide practical people with their finances using money tips, increase their incomes through side businesses, and maintain their sanity by staying in their creative zone.

Janine Bolon
Hello, Janine Bolon here and thank you so much for joining us today. I am in a fabulous mood today because I just got back from Las Vegas where I’ve had to watch my two dear friends Lavon Ditchburn and Anna Mordovia. Both of them got married while we were in Las Vegas. It was one of those trips where one morning I woke up, it was a Saturday morning. I woke up, and I had this thought of, you need to text Ana. And Ana and I hadn’t been in touch for weeks, and weeks, and I thought huh, I wonder what’s going on. So, I texted her. She’s like, oh my gosh, Janine, we’re in Vegas, Lavon and I are getting married. And I was like, what? Oh, my gosh, you know, it’s been two years that they were together. COVID happened. She was in Russia, he was in Australia, and it’s been a two year odyssey of these two moving all around the country, Germany, Mexico, and they finally made it to the United States and Las Vegas so they could get married. And I know you probably have heard so many COVID stories like that, but I just wanted to share with you that they got married. So, I wanted to say and give a shout out to Mr. And Mrs. Ditchburn. Thank you for allowing me to be your matron of honor, your best man. and your Sherpa, because I also got to hold the bags during the photo shoot. And that’s what I went for, you know, I went to be able to let them celebrate their day after two years of trying to make it happen in all kinds of manner of chaos. So, congratulations to you, Mr. And Mrs. Ditchburn, and I wanted to let you know that the Janine Bolon show was syndicated. We used to be four podcast programs. We’ve combined them in October of 2021. My team and I merged them into one program for you. Up to that point, we had been running four separate podcasts, The Three Minute Money Tip, The Thriving Solopreneur, The Writers Hour, Creative Conversations, and The Practical Mystic Show. Today, I am highlighting one of our 99 authors who have signed up to assist me at helping you. Through the course of this year, they will give you guidance and perspective on how to get your message, your story, or your memoir out into the world. So, even if you aren’t an author that wants to write a book, and maybe you’re just somebody who has something that you want to share with others, please stay tuned, these people can help you. Many of you have been told you should write a book about your life experience, well, these 99 authors that I’m interviewing over the course of this next year, were prompted to write their stories as well. And each one’s going to tell you what got them going writing, but they’re also going to share in my perspective, what selling books meant for them, what worked, what didn’t work and the things that they had wished they had known before they became published authors. So, there’s a lot you can learn from today. And today, I will be interviewing none other than Professor, Dr. Rena’ Koesler. Welcome to the show, Rena’.

Dr. Rena’ Koesler
Oh, thank you so much, Janine, I appreciate it. And I wanted to say, didn’t you ask your friends, whether they needed a maid of honor?

Janine Bolon
Right. Oh, yeah, I totally forgot about that. Yes, I I texted them, and as I was trying to arrange things, they’re like, yeah, we’d love to have you here. You want to come? They were in shock. They were in shock that somebody would drop everything. I’m like, are you kidding? I’ve been watching your odyssey for the last two years. But back to you, Doctor, Professor. I love calling her professor because she and I both were professors in college, and I’m going to read out a bit of her bio, because I know she likes to just jump right on in. But she not only was a professor, but she turned into an entrepreneur and now she’s an authorpreneur because she has multiple books. She took the favorite parts of being a professor and she created not only a coaching, but also a speaking practice. Frequently, she uses her 40 years of outdoor adventure, climbing mountains, speaking and writing about leadership, team development and personal development. She coaches clients as they move into the next life style or their next business. And what I love is she values the essence of desire. Desire gets a bad word. I mean, some people consider it a bad word, it gets a bad rap. And the thing is, what Dr. Rena’ has found out is that if people identify their desires, and then they start moving toward them, their life becomes full and vibrant. There’s an aliveness to them that they didn’t have. So, basically, she keeps people from saying I should of, I could of, I would of, and she helps them navigate toward their goals and their summits and their desire. So, thank you so much for all that you do there. Love it, professor.

Dr. Rena’ Koesler
Thank you, Janine for having me.

Janine Bolon
So, you’re not only this fabulous entrepreneur who has written a couple of books, if you don’t mind, tell us a little bit about your first book. And then tell us a little bit about that second book, because it’s so much fun, and you call it unflappable. So, if you don’t mind share with us a little bit about what drove you to write those books?

Dr. Rena’ Koesler
Well, thank you. My first book is called Itty Bitty, it’s Your Amazing Itty Bitty, it’s a very itty bitty book, but it’s titled Achieving Your Potential 15 Empowering Steps to Reach Each Summit. And my background is, I’ve climbed mountains for over 40 years, so, the books that I write, oftentimes, I use my mountain climbing experiences in reaching summits as a metaphor, to people’s goals and aspirations, and desires, and things that they want to shoot for. And it has done remarkable things in my own life, and I simply wanted to share that, in my writing related to helping people to achieve their own potential by reaching each summit. There’s one summit that you get to, you can only get to one summit, but you got to come back down that summit in order to go to the next summit. So, that was a really fun book to write, and a step by step about how to get to reaching your summit, everything from planning and preparation, determining what your summit is, why you’ve chosen that as your Summit, or your goal, your aspiration. And then also, what is it that you want to do in the future? And how do you get closer to reaching that summit?

Janine Bolon
And that’s one of the things I really enjoy about what you do. You don’t like say there’s only one thing, right, you have multiple reasons why you’re going to be climbing different peaks. And it makes a big sense to us out here in Colorado, because you have the whole trail of the fourteeners that you can run. But and then one of the things I love that you’re talking about is, but people look, don’t often look for the 11,000, or the thirteeners, or sometimes there is just an aggressive, a hike, even though it doesn’t have the claim to fame of its a fourteener. And so I really enjoyed those conversations. So, well, if you don’t mind, talk to us a little bit about every author goes through this, when you get ready to publish your book, you have a choice, you have a crossroads, if you will, do you publish under your real name? Or do you publish under a different name? So, tell us what you went through and why you made the decision you did?

Dr. Rena’ Koesler
Well, it’s interesting, it’s an interesting question. And I never, ever considered it an option other than using my own name. What I did do is, I was discerning whether to put PhD after my name. And many people said, yes, you should put your PhD after your name, because you’ve earned it, you need to be recognized someone who has gone through the process of getting their PhD and recognized for that. And both of my books, I decided not to have the PhD. In my second book I do talk about in my personal story about navigating through my PhD in the midst of climbing mountains and so forth. But for me, it wasn’t necessary, because I don’t really see, for me, this is for me only, I don’t see that it’s necessary to have a title or position because in leadership, particularly, it’s not about the title and position. It’s about who you are, and what you represent. And so, I want to be represented by my name Rena’ Koesler, and the PhD is just something that people will discover at some point if they’re diving into my background, they’ll find that out. So, but not necessary in a book.

Janine Bolon
Well, thank you so much for that because the reason I ask the question is, it seems so obvious to some people. And I’m like, no, there are many authors who struggle for weeks making this decision, because once you make it, you’re kind of done. Talk to any author who has married and had to say, huh, I’m a woman, I have the opportunity to hyphenate my name, or take my husband’s name, or my companions name. And all of a sudden, they’re kind of struggling in that moment. What do I do? So, it’s not something that is an easy decision. So, I like you guys talking about it, because it’s one of the very first ones to come to the forefront. So, tell us a little bit about what you were a professor in? What you were teaching when you were in the education or academic space? Because it isn’t what you would really call a marketing background is it?

Dr. Rena’ Koesler
Exactly. I knew nothing about being an entrepreneur or remotely about marketing. My background is in outdoor education and environmental education. So, I worked at a at a university in Virginia, where I was the director of our outdoor education program. And so I took students out on adventures, I taught academic lecture style classes as well. But I half of my schedule was taking students out in adventures, domestically and also internationally on adventure trips. And many of them were related to leadership development, and personal development kinds of experiences. So, I learned as much as the students did in those kinds of experiences. But I had no background in marketing, although, although I’ll back up and say that in order for me to advertise for these trips that I was doing for the university, I had to do some marketing. I did it personally, face to face, I did it, in flyers, I did it through email. So, in some ways, I was sort of an armchair marketer, and didn’t know until now we’re having this conversation.

Janine Bolon
Right. It’s funny they now call authors, authorpreneurs, because literally, your book becomes a business. And if you have no background in entrepreneurship, thank heavens, you had your leadership experience, because that is kind of being an entrepreneur is you are the leader, you’re the top, you’re the one making the choices, the decisions for ill or for gain. It’s happening. So, talk to us a little bit about what surprised you about the book marketing process and publishing a book? I mean, what were some of the things that you were like, wow, on the publishing and marketing a book?

Dr. Rena’ Koesler
Well, one is having my first book, I went through a publishing company, and it was an okay experience. But after that experience, I knew that I was going to be writing at least another book, and decided to try the other avenue of self- publishing. And I found that self-publishing was less stressful. And maybe because I was in the driver’s seat, rather than the publishing company being in the driver’s seat. And there’s pros to be, there’s things that you don’t have to worry about and consider, and all the detail kinds of things in getting your book out, and the cover, and they help you with all that. And that’s, that’s a nice direction to go into. But for a self-publishing, I like the freedom to sort of create my own cover, and not have to run it by anybody, as a publishing company, and I felt much more independent and free to be able to put the things and develop the book the way I wanted it to be.

Janine Bolon
Yeah, you basically, you learned from your first experience, and by the time you had book number two come out, you’re like, you know what, these, there are things I want to do with this book, and you were able to make that happen. So, I agree with you, depending upon what a authorpreneur is wanting to do, where they want to go with your business and how you want to sell your book, or what is the purpose of your book that is also key will dictate whether or not you go through a publishing firm, or you’re self-published. And like you said, I’ve heard it from both sides. I’ve heard the authors that have published over 23-24 books, and they have half and half. And they’re like, I want to do XYZ with this book, so, it’s gonna go through the publishing house. And yeah, they actually split it up that way. So, it’s, like you said, depends on where you’re going, what you’re doing, right? What mountain are you climbing today? So, tell us a little bit about what you would change if you started marketing your books today? So, go ahead and think about the experiences that you had with both of those books. And, what are some things that you would do differently if you were to start today?

Dr. Rena’ Koesler
I think that I would maybe even contact a marketing firm. Because again, I didn’t have a background in marketing, and I did it just based on people that I knew I used social media an awful lot, in marketing my book, and through emails and doing book launches and those kinds of things. But I think having done it again, and I may follow through with writing a third book, that I would connect with a marketing firm and give them the opportunity to expand my marketing venues that I were, that I was unaware of at the time that I did it on my own.

Janine Bolon
Right. Okay, and so, if you don’t mind sharing with us what worked best for you? I mean, what did you do that sold the most books for your own personal experience?

Dr. Rena’ Koesler
I think the thing in my second book, I think the thing that really kind of surprised me, is when I offered, and this is again on social media, if people were interested in purchasing my book that I would pay for the shipping and handling up through Christmas, in other words, I’m giving them a Christmas present. And my book happened to be coming out just before Christmas, maybe three weeks before Christmas. And I would say a large amount of people capitalize on that often. I was sending books out all the time, multiple books out every day, 10 books out every day. And up until Christmas, I said this offer is extended till Christmas. And people capitalize on that and I think that was really being creative, related to Christmas or a holiday or something that’s a gimmick that gets people to say, aw, I’m going to buy this book because of this, and I get a discount. And it wasn’t a great discount, but it was a discount enough for them to move them to purchase the book.

Janine Bolon
And when did you start this launch? You mentioned that you ended it at Christmas, but I didn’t catch when you started the launch.

Dr. Rena’ Koesler
Um, it was probably December 1st.

Janine Bolon
Oh, so it was a real fast one. It was like 24 days or less.

Dr. Rena’ Koesler
People capitalize on it because Christmas was ticking, getting closer.

Janine Bolon
Right. That makes sense. Okay, so a hard deadline that everybody could keep in their head. What process did you try to sell books with that was an epic failure? I asked this of all my authors just because some of the stories have been hysterical. But other ways you guys are teaching us how to save our money too.

Dr. Rena’ Koesler
I think it’s for me, when the mindset is about here’s my book bite, rather than here’s my book, you can benefit from it. And these are the reasons why. And I think when I first started my very first book, brand new and all this up, here’s my book, first time author, buy it, essentially, I mean in more words than that, but it’s, it’s not including how it’s going to benefit the reader. It was about giving the audience out there enough information about how it’s going to be helpful for them, how it’s going to benefit them, rather than just the idea of buying the books, so money comes into me.

Janine Bolon
In radio, because I’ve been in radio since 1987, we used to call it stilled radio station, WIIFM meaning what’s in it for me, right? If you can’t share with your reader, what’s in it for them, they are not going to be able to help you out. So, yeah, thank you for playing into that I haven’t been able to use that call sign in a long time. Well tell us the story that you tell about yourself that gets kind of the most laughs from your target audience.

Dr. Rena’ Koesler
Well, I don’t know if it’s the most laughs but it certainly is a memorable for audience members, and when I first, when I had my first climbing experience when I was in college, and that completely changed the trajectory of my life. And it was 1977, and I was in Wyoming with 13 other college students, and we were backpacking in the Wind River Mountains in Wyoming. And we had an opportunity to climb this mountain little over 12,000 feet. Well, I came from the Midwest, and I had never seen a mountain before, let alone climb one. But I was all in I thought I like the adventure, I liked the newness and like the learning from it. And in those days, people weren’t going to REI or any outdoor companies to get their clothing. Everybody was going to the local army surplus store, and so we all look like an army battalion. We all had green wool pants on wool shirts, that long wool long underwear, that’s a cotton blend, that beige where buttons down the front and has the flap in the back. And when I tell that story about the flap in the back, people who were in that era get it because of the old westerns and that’s how they walked around and that’s what they wore. Well, that’s how we dressed, and we hiked in these pretty heavy, leather steel shank mountaineering boots, and that’s what we climbed in. Climbed this peak of over 12,000 feet in this heavy wool, clothing and these heavy wool or these heavy steel shank boots. My first mountain ever climbed, and I had wakened the next morning after that climb, and had said to myself, this is what I want to do for the rest of my life. And so, that epic experience of going up the peak, and coming down late at night, and we didn’t get past the camp till 11:30 at night, and it was 16 degrees out, October 1, 1977, and I always remember that day when October 1st comes around, it’s a really important day because I knew, I knew, I knew this, it wasn’t so much about climbing the mountain, it’s what I gained, what came from climbing that mountain that I wanted to be able to share that energy, and that passion with other people.

Janine Bolon
Those are the stories I love. I love learning how people find their purpose, and some people will be like, well, that’s not much of a purpose I’ve had, when I’ve shared my purpose with people, they were like, well, that’s not much of a purpose. And I’m like, well, it may not be to you, but it sure does keep me busy and engaged. So, I’m thinking, I’m the person that needs to work with that, we’re going to take a little bit of a different tact, and I would love for you to share a little bit about yourself on what’s the biggest change that you’ve seen in yourself since you started marketing your books?

Dr. Rena’ Koesler
The biggest change in myself would be recognizing that, let’s see… So, I think what I mentioned before, is about advertising for the book is not about self-advertising. It’s about what it is that I want to share with the audience, and the public, about through my stories or the information that I want to share with them. It’s going to improve their life in some way, it’s going to bring ahas to them. Something they can use in their personal life in order for them to grow and reach their own summits.

Janine Bolon
That sounds pretty epic to me. So, the changes that you’ve seen in yourself is definitely one of those where you’re pivoting, you feel like yourself pivoting and shifting into a whole new perspective. That’s awesome. And from that perspective, the one that you have now, what are some of the tips that you would give authors that are currently selling their books or currently working toward publishing their own book?

Dr. Rena’ Koesler
One, and to expand a little bit more on the last question is, is I’ve not been very good at self-advertising. I’d rather sit in a corner and have somebody else talk about what I do. But I realized as an entrepreneur, that you have to be able to do that. And the focus is not on you, the person who’s written the book. The focus is on what is it that the book can do for you, do for the public, do for the audience. And that’s been a bit of a shift for me just being an entrepreneur. So, the book is not about look at me, I’m the author, I wrote a book. That essence is about what it gives to the reading audience. And then your question again?

Janine Bolon
Yeah, what five tips, or what what tips can you give? I ask each author, what tips can you give authors that are currently selling their books? What are some ideas or suggestions that didn’t come to you until after you’d been marketing for a while?

Dr. Rena’ Koesler
Well, one of the things that I learned is, and watching other people as well as having an attractive table. How do you set your table up? Do you have a nice colored tablecloth? Do you have your book standing up? How do you have it arranged? Do you have candy or something on the table that draws people to your table? And that’s something that I’ve witnessed, but also have done and recognize that that’s been really helpful. And then the kind of pen that you use when you’re signing books, what’s comfortable for you, and I’ve seen people use Sharpies, I’ve seen people use number 10 pens that look like the pilot pens and their number 10s. And I’ve used both, it depends on I think the audience for me. This last speaking engagement that I had a week ago in Virginia, I used a Sharpie, a very fine point Sharpie, and that seemed to work, and it’s darker, and it shows up a little bit more. So, that’s another tip to think about. Another tip would be organizations that align with your topic. So, for mine, because they’re outdoor related and climbing mountains, I have connected with organizations like REI, which is recreational equipment Incorporated, which is a clothing company and equipment company that many people know about nationwide, they have speaking engagements and where you can have books to be sold in the back of the room. And then libraries, for instance, oftentimes, libraries will advertise if you are going to be talking about your book or doing a presentation about your book. And I’ve done that in a couple of different libraries in the region. And that’s free to access a room, and a great way to do that as well. Bookstores, and coffee shops are really good places to sell your books as well.

Janine Bolon
So, some of you may be thinking, oh, yeah, but those are all offline, and that’s one of the things I wanted to share with you. Many of the authors that I am speaking to, are very proficient at online marketing and sales, but one of the things that’s delightful about Dr. Koesler is the fact that she is an outdoor person, so she likes to engage with people. So, COVID was a little bit challenging, you moved into zoom like everybody else. But I just wanted to share with you last night when I was on the airplane, people were celebrating because the federal mandate had been lifted on the mask policy. So, when I found out this morning, I was going to be chatting with Dr. Rena’, I was like this is so perfect. Talk about stars aligning, because now we have the option to get back out some of you faster than others. But whenever you hear this, we just wanted to let you know, there are so many ways that you can definitely market your book. So, Dr. Rena’, if you wouldn’t mind sharing with us, what is the thing that you most misunderstood about being an author or becoming an author? What was one of those big blind spots that you’re like, oh, wow, didn’t see this coming as an author?

Dr. Rena’ Koesler
Well I think for people out there, for other people, they think they have to be smart, they have to know how to write, they have to be really perfect in everything that they put in their book, and if you have those kinds of mindsets, you’ll never write a book. And I think I started that way, but I’ve been writing for a long time. As a professor we write a lot anyway, but I have kept journals since I’ve been in fifth grade. And journaling has helped me in writing and getting my thoughts out on paper anyway. So, those are things, but I think people out there when they see an author and they are admired by someone who has written a book, I think that’s great, but they also find limitations in themselves thinking they can’t do it because they don’t have those qualities. They don’t know how to write, they don’t have a story to tell… everybody has a story to tell. And I’m not any special person that becomes an author, I’m just the girl down the block, who has something that they want to share with the reading audience that I think would be helpful. And is also, in some ways cathartic for me in sharing the stories that I have about the good, the bad, and the ugly of leadership that I learned from climbing mountains.

Janine Bolon
Thanks so much for mentioning that because that is so very true. I was actually told by multiple people that I was a horrible writer, and here I am working on my book number 12, right? And so, it’s like, I was told consistently, I was a terrible writer, and thank heavens for my very first editor, who also happened to be my husband at the time. And he worked with me and got my writing up on track, and he actually was one of my biggest supporters during that period of time, I will always be grateful to Brad for what he was able to do for me during that period of time, because I went from my self-identification as being an atrocious writer to, no, I had some skill with the pen and I could do this. So, both sides, whether you were somebody who’s journaled, like Dr. Rena’ or somebody like myself, who was told that you were a horrible writer, that doesn’t matter. And so thank you for bringing that up, I love that. So, if you don’t mind, we’ve finished our 13 questions I ask every author on the 99 author project, but I’d love for you to tell us a little bit about your current project because it’s so cool.

Dr. Rena’ Koesler
Yeah, thank you. My current project, and it’s been a project of mine for some time and, for people recognizing this that we live in Colorado, and I love the outdoors. I love hiking, and I love taking people out on hikes. And I thought well, it would be really good to be able to do some masterminding, what I’ve now titled Mastermind on the Mountain, where I take small groups of people six to eight people who are leaders and entrepreneurs out on the trail for four hours on a Friday morning, once a month, where we talk about things that matter to their business and sometimes their personal life. And we mastermind up and down the trail by doing activities, we do great engaged discussions about a topic that I choose, and it’s become really rewarding for them as well as me because I see the light bulbs go off, and I call it a holistic approach to masterminding. They’re outside getting that spiritual connection, they’re exercising, that helps their overall physical well being, and they’re intellectually engaged with other people who are interested in growing their business or growing themselves. So, it’s a great project, and I love doing it. And if anybody’s from Colorado out there and want to join in, I’d love to have you.

Janine Bolon
And it’s one of those things where they make the states bigger out here on the western side of the United States, and so when I first found out about this, I was like, oh, Dr. Koesler, absolutely in, sign me up. And then I found out it was almost a six hour drive to where I was going to have to go and I was like, oh, that’s so, we’re working it out. It’s going to happen this year, don’t ask us when but definitely follow up with me and go, Janine, have you talked to Rena’, and have you been on her mountain yet? Because the answer is I need to make that happen. So, thank you so much. I appreciate your time today. Thank you so much for being a spotlighted author for us, Dr. Rena’.

Dr. Rena’ Koesler
Oh, thank you so much, Janine for having me. And thanks, everyone, for listening.

Janine Bolon
We hope it was helpful to you and this is Janine Bolon signing off with you today and all of us here at The 8 Gates, which is the company that produces the Janine Bolon show. We wish you a wonderful week and we encourage you to get your message, your story, and your knowledge out into the world. Make it a better place just like these authors are doing for the newer authors that are coming along behind them. We’ll see you again next week. And until then you keep sharing what you know with others, you keep shining that light that is you, and don’t forget to go out today and do something fun for yourself.

Bryan Hyde
Thank you for listening to the Janine Bolon show. Be sure to subscribe to our show notes by going to www.theJanineBolonshow.com, where you’ll find additional resources as well as the opportunity to sign up to receive our program in your email each week. Be sure to visit our sponsor at www.the8gates.com.

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