Adventures in Reinventing Work: Tales of Pioneers from Around the World – The Story Behind the Book

By Betsy Sheppard for Enlivening Edge Magazine

Read to the end to get your 15% discount for March 3-4 2022 Teal Around the World Festival

The first Teal Around the World (TATW) virtual conference took place in June 2020. The event generated tremendous excitement and inspiration around new ways of working that generate profit while also creating a future that empowers and uplifts everyone. In the months following the conference, the organizers looked for ways to sustain this positive energy and to reach more people beyond the event.

“We created a virtual conference in six weeks”, they thought, “so why not a book”?

After some debate about the best way to proceed related to the March 2021 event, the organizers settled on a pre- and post-conference book production effort, rather than a printable booklet created during the conference.

The writing nook

In the fall of 2020, the idea of a book based on the TATW 2021 event began to take shape. The goal of the book would be to capture insights from the conference in one easy-to-read collection of personal stories. Recognizing the need for helpers to make this happen, Natasha Naderi, a TATW co-founder, set out to recruit volunteer writers for this new team now known as The Writing Nook.

Scheduling a meeting across time zones in Asia, Europe and North America is never easy, but the group managed to connect for the first time on January 14th, 2021. With a co-creation mindset in place, the team used the visual collaboration tool MURAL to quickly gather initial ideas on the vision, the theme, and the design. This book could:

  • Be a practical guide and handbook for organizations to ignite inspiration.
  • Create a sense of hope for new ways of being and organizing.
  • Influence people to think about business in a positive and uplifting way.
  • Provide people a new framework from which to operate

“Change happens on the periphery ─ through these untold stories we can begin to envision the future”, read one of the virtual sticky notes.

A clear theme began to emerge. This book would not just repeat the well-known success stories already available on bestseller lists. It would introduce people to unknown pioneers who chose to fix the unfixable and pave new pathways toward sustainable success, with no easy models to follow.

Using a Hero’s Journey structure, the stories could capture why these pioneers were called to this task of reimagining work, what were the challenges and obstacles along the way, and of course the positive outcomes and impact that made it all worthwhile.

The writing process

In addition to Natasha Naderi, the Writing Nook team evolved to include eight more story writers and one editor, all volunteers. They planned to write 14-15 stories about specific storytellers speaking at the March 2021 TATW conference.

The first step would be for the writers to interview the storytellers, then listen to their presentation at the conference, and write up the story for the editor to review.

“This should be easy,” they thought. “We’ll wrap this project up and publish our book in late Spring.”

Then, reality set in. Taking a one-hour presentation, a 30-minute interview, hundreds of pieces of information, and then boiling it down to 1500 words is not an easy task. Especially if you are trying to make it interesting enough for someone to want to read. “And oh, by the way, writing is not our paid profession,” realized the volunteers. “What do we know about crafting a good story?”

The team plowed ahead, bit by bit making progress while trying to keep up with their regular work responsibilities.

Getting to the finish line

As Spring turned to Summer, the story writing continued. Members of the writing team paired up to help each other improve their draft versions. The subtleties and nuances of story writing are hard enough in your native language, and when, for many of the writers and storytellers, English is your second or even third language, it can be very challenging. The writers also had to share their draft stories with the storytellers for their review and input.

The job of managing the workflow and figuring out the self-publishing process fell to Natasha along with the editor Alia Aurami, from Enlivening Edge, and writer Betsy Sheppard. “There was a lot to learn about actually publishing a book and we knew that we needed to keep pushing forward step by step. One of the biggest challenges was version control. With so many writers and shared folders to manage, it is a horrible feeling when you realize that some edits have been lost,” muses Betsy.

By the time September rolled around, the story writing was almost done but the book production process was still to be defined. “Which self-publishing platform are we going to use? “Will it be a print book, an e-book or both?” “How do we format the book for publishing? And one big issue, “Who will own the book and where will the money go”?

Fortunately, another co-founder of TATW, Philip Atkinson, stepped forward to help the team with the legal and financial issues. A new legal entity based in Switzerland, Teal Around the World GmBh, was created to own the book, with the profits going to a Purpose Fund to support greater access to the TATW conference and also to the work of Bees for Development in Ethiopia.

The final leg of the journey included adding an introduction, a closing chapter, and of course an eye-catching cover design. Thanks to volunteer designer Tanveer Ahmad the book has a fabulous international, Teal-themed cover.

The end product 

December arrived with the goal of a published book before Christmas. Alia and Betsy slogged through the painstaking step of technical editing and uploading to the publishing platform. All text formatting needed to be consistent and precise for proper display in e-book format. “Who knew how frustrating that last step could be?” thought Alia and Betsy.

Six “final submissions” to the publisher’s website later,  on December 17, 2021, Adventures in Reinventing Work appeared in the first retail outlets, meeting our goal of being available for Christmas gifting. With some additional hoops to jump through, Amazon Kindle was added to the retailer list in 2022.

As is often the case, what seems simple at first can turn out to be harder and take much longer than you think. The Writing Nook team is proud of their collective persistence and hard work to realize the vision of an inspiring and fun-to-read collection of personal Tales of Pioneers from Around the World on the journey toward “Teal”.

Special thanks to the contributing authors for their time, talents, and commitment to this project: Jorim Holtey-Weber, Langdon Miller, Sarah Toogood, Zlatina Tsvetkova, Svetoslava Stoyanova, Cecilia Yeung, and Cherry Zhu. Truly this book is a stunning example of Teal co-creativity by many people and organizations. We are strongly intending a print version, and who knows when?

Pick up the e-book at multiple retailers including Amazon and Apple as well as library outlets OverDrive, Bibliotheca, and Borrow Box. Read more about it here.

Meanwhile, the inspiring pioneer 2022 storytellers and keynoters await you, at the upcoming Teal Around the World Festival on March 3-4.

Register with your 15% discount at https://www.tealaroundtheworld.com/

Use this promo code at the top of the registration page: TATWDISCOUNT015

Betsy Sheppard is the Founder of EAS Ventures, an organization devoted to cultivating human potential.

She is the creator of an innovative App that supports structured, guided reflective practice in the direction of becoming fully human.

Her areas of expertise include systems analysis, process and organization design, developmental psychology, and experiential learning.

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