Matthew Turner is a British author who wrote his latest book, ‘Beyond the Pale’ on the back of interviewing hundreds of successful entrepreneurs, authors, investors, and thought-leaders. As well as writing his own books, Matthew ghostwrites both articles and books for other successful entrepreneurs and thought-leaders, in-between spending time with his two children.
Listen to this informative Publish. Promote. Profit. episode with Matthew Turner about using fiction to teach important business lessons.
Here are some of the beneficial topics covered on this week’s show:
- Why you need to know what specific questions to ask to get specific answers.
- How digging deep, going further, leaves a greater impact than scratching the surface.
- Why it’s important to do something because you love it as opposed to doing it solely to make money.
- How the connection-first mindset helps nurture your network to promote success.
- How fiction and fables can be used to relay real-life lessons.
Connect with Matthew:
Guest Contact Info:
Hey, welcome, everybody. Rob Kosberg here. I have a great guest for you today for our Publish. Promote. Profit. Podcast. Matthew Turner is a British author who wrote his latest book that he has, Beyond the Pale. He’s written that on the back of interviewing hundreds of successful entrepreneurs, authors, investors, and thought leaders, as well as writing his own books. Matthew ghostwrites articles, books for other successful entrepreneurs and thought leaders in between spending time with his two children, so perhaps not as often as he would like to. Matt, good to have you on the podcast. I look forward to chatting today, my friend.
Real honor, and a pleasure to be here, Rob. Thank you for having me.
Very exciting to hold in your hand the fruits of your labor. I know it’s going to launch soon, so congratulations for that. Tell us a little bit about the book and tell us about the foundation, where this came from, where the idea was, and we talked obviously just a few moments before, but this joining of the non-fiction and fiction. I’d love to engage on that a little bit.
Yeah, of course. Well, here it is in all its glory, Beyond the Pale. I just said before we started recording, it’s crazy to think how this has been a journey now for the last four years. It was the previous book before that I wrote called, The Successful Mistake, which was another four years in the making. Even though they’re very separate books, for me, it seems like a very continuous journey that has just taken me over the last eight or nine years. Just saying that, it’s insane. I can’t believe how quickly time has flown. This is my fifth book that I’ve written under my own name. Three novels, a non-fiction book, The Successful Mistake, which I just mentioned, and then this is a fable, a business fable, which kind of combines the two together. I’ve always had this desire, probably for six or seven years now, that one day I would write a book which brought my two passions of fiction and non-fiction together. I got into writing and I just fell in love with creating stories, so fiction is deeply rooted into my passion for writing. It’s where my brain just naturally goes. I struggle to just share facts and figures and anything in too much of a dry way. I like to share stories. I like to use that imagination, but I also love non-fiction. I love the elements that it brings. It teaches you things, and I particularly love interviewing other people. I interviewed 160 odd of them for The Successful Mistake. I think it’s a fantastic way to learn how other people do something. It’s very impactful on you personally, and if you get the story right and share it, it can be really impacting on other people. I’ve had this giant love of fiction and nonfiction, but I’ve always felt like they were two separate entities, but I felt like one day there would be a book, a project, something that would bring the two together, and I’m happy to say it eventually led to, Beyond the Pale. I mentioned to you just before we started recording, I think having a fable like this is quite important because usually a novel does a very good job of entertaining and allowing you to escape. We often turn to novels to disconnect from the world a little bit, disconnect from our work, but they don’t usually do a great job of educating and/or enlightening. Non-fiction usually does a fantastic job of educating and/or enlightening. They usually fall short in the escapism areas and the entertainment areas. I know you get sonnet non-fiction books, which are quite entertaining, but too many of them are too dry. For me, a fable is just a beautiful blend. It brings in escapism and entertainment as well as education and/or enlightenment. It just allows you to learn in a less forced way. It allows you to, I suppose, lose yourself in the story and naturally relate the characters, and the situation, and the hero’s journey to you and your journey and your situation. One of the books which had a huge influence on me when coming up with the idea of this was, The Alchemist, which is a beautiful fable. It’s very much a life affirming, spiritual awakening. It just forces you, whether you like it or not, to just reflect on life, like capital letters, exclamation mark at the end, like bang, what does life mean to you. I thought I could write a book which is less of a spiritual awakening, and more of a business awakening to really force the reader to question what they are doing in business, why they have built their business, why they are on the journey they are on. Are they too caught up in the hustle? Are they too caught up in another version of success that doesn’t mean anything to you, but society’s version of it, their parent’s version or just the continuous influence we get from others because we scroll through social media, and we lose sight of our vision? My hope is that, Beyond the Pale, stops people in their tracks, as well as entertaining them and allowing them to escape and disconnect. Also, I hope it enlightens them and just encourages them to ask, “What am I doing all this for? Have I lost sight of what I’ve built, what I’m building, where I’m going?” I think that’s applicable across all generations, especially for today’s millennials, slightly older, slightly younger, who’s very much caught up in the online world. We have online businesses. Even if we’re brick and mortar, we have online businesses. I don’t consider myself as specifically an entrepreneur. I consider myself a writer, but to be a writer in today’s world, you are an entrepreneur. Even if you don’t have a huge scalable business, you’re probably still involved in this online world, constantly consuming information, comparing yourself to others, connecting with thought leaders, and influencers. It’s a book I’m very proud of. It’s going to be the first of three. It’s a trilogy, and I’m excited to see how Ferdinand’s character develops over the next couple of years.
I love it. Well, congratulations. You’ve said a couple things that have spurred my interest. You’ve written this book, it’s a fable, but you’ve written this book on the back of hundreds of interviews that you’ve done with entrepreneurs. I wonder if you could tell me a little bit about your interview style, whether for the previous book or for this one, are you asking the same questions over and over? Are you looking for something specific? Talk to me about how you compiled your data, if you will.
Well, it’s been a journey. I think back to when I did my early interviews for, The Successful Mistake. Like I said, it’s like eight, nine years ago now. It was not great, let’s just say. I learned through trial and error. In the beginning, I think it was poor because I did ask the same questions. I was too regimented on questions, and I turned track, and my approach now in general to interviewing, whether it’s doing something for a program and interviewing people, or if it’s something for a book, whether it’s going to be recorded or it’s just for me, I tend to just create a structure. The interview will involve certain themes and topics. For, The Successful Mistake, for instance, I would always start the interviews in a similar manner. The premise of the book was to learn about the entrepreneur’s big mistake or failure, and then what they learned on the back of it; how they developed that into success and how the life they lead today was built on the back of that. I didn’t have questions per se, but like topics. It would be like, “Okay, well, what was the mistake? Take me back. Tell the story.”
Yeah, you needed to know their biggest blunder, so you got to at least know that.
That was kind of like topic one, and then I would just let them speak, and the follow-up questions would just become reactive based on it, rather than trying to force a particular journey and particular prompts. That’s probably the word. It’s just creating prompts to try and just nudge them in the right direction. Then the next big one would be, “Okay, so now we’re at the end of that journey. What does life look like now? How does it compare?” It was a very simple structure when interviewing, and I took a similar process into, Beyond the Pale. I only interviewed 10 people for, Beyond the Pale. Like I say, it’s a novel. It features a fictional character, Ferdinand, and he is an owner of a fictional business, but I interviewed about 10 people who have personally inspired me and my journey in recent years. They were kind enough to share some stories and advice as if speaking to Ferdinand, and then allow me to bring their actual character into the book. It’s a fictional story, but yeah, it’s very much set in the real world, that teaches these real-world entrepreneurs like Jordan Harbinger, Sol Orwell, Shilpi Gupta, and Kamal Ravikant, people who have had a big influence on my journey. For that one, it was different because every single interview would focus on a particular topic. When I spoke to AJ Leon, for instance, I really wanted to just dive into how he left the corporate world and became this nomadic entrepreneur because that was going to be the segue for Ferdinand, leaving the business, Silicon Valley world and just going out there and finding himself. Again, I didn’t have questions per se, but I just thought, “What do I want to get out of this? What are the key prompts that I want to give AJ,” and then just let the conversation unravel. Every single person I interviewed for Beyond the Pale, there was a topic.
One topic was mindset. One was based around the relationship between mind, body and spirit. One was based around our trust with others. Another one was more of trusting ourselves, like how to love ourselves. Each person has an overarching theme and within that I would create three or four prompts, but the rest of it, it was just letting it unravel. I would record it and then on the back of it, go through, make notes, write stuff down and just start to try and think, “Okay, well, what can I bring into the chapter in this really natural way?” Sometimes there were direct quotes. Sometimes I would alter them a little bit. Sometimes I was just taking the inspiration of the conversation to build out that particular scene. With the Successful Mistake, it was obviously different because they were like mini case studies rather than this natural narrative going through. I would re-listen to the audios, make notes, pick out those key highlights and think, “Okay, well, what’s applicable?” What quotes can I bring in? More importantly, how can I take the inspiration of the interview, the inspiration of the conversation, and bring that to life in a way which is hopefully going to make the reader lean forward a little bit and go, ‘Okay, I want to know what happens next.’”
Yeah. Well, look, I love your commitment to your craft because number one, to do hundreds of interviews for your previous book is no small matter. Number two, it sounds like you interviewed some amazing people, which leads me to my own curiosity. How did you get on with Naval Ravikant as an example, or how did you have these interviews with some of the people that you named?
Kamala Ravikant was an interesting one. He wrote a book. It was probably five or six years ago. I first came across Kamal just from following James Altucher. James Altucher is someone who I’ve always admired, and I’ve got a lot of value from reading his books over the years. I had the pleasure to connect with him a few times here and there, and I read Kamal’s book on the back of it being recommended from him, and I did nothing with it. It was just on my bookshelf for like two years. Sometimes I would just get a book because it’s like, “Okay, that sounds good,” and then you forget about it. Well, I turned to it one day, and it’s called, Live your Truth. It’s so sharp. It’s not a novel. It’s not non-fiction. It’s kind of like a series of journaling type prompts and little mini essays, but it was just beautiful, beautifully written, very enlightening, and I was just hooked. I’ve read, Live your Truth probably about five times. It’s a small book. It’s only about 60 pages. It’s beautiful, and I’ve read Kamal’s other book since. Funnily enough, even though I already had the idea of Beyond the Pale before I even came across Kamal, he wrote a fable of his own shortly after, and again, beautiful book called, Rebirth. I managed to, through my friend Sol Orwell hooked me up with Kamal, and I’d also touched base a little bit with Kamal because he was one of those people where he’s got such an incredible book. I just reached out. I was like, “Thank you. This helped so much.” After a lot of wrangling, I managed to get Kamal on the phone, and it was a very eye-opening interview. He’s a rather quirky individual. He’s very blunt with his words. He certainly kept me on my toes as an interviewer. He’s much further down the road than I am anyway, but he’s a writer. He’s just got a beautiful, natural way with words and straightaway he just kind of had me on the back foot, but it was good. It’s funny, it’s mentioned in the book. One of the first questions I asked, he was like, “Bad question. Ask me a different question. It’s a broad question.” I was like, “Okay.” He’s like, “That’s the problem with people. They ask broad questions and expect to get specific answers. You need to ask specific questions.” He’s like, “Ask a different question.” I did, and it put me on the back foot, but I’ve referenced this idea of asking broad questions in the hope of getting specific answers so often. I think it’s a fantastic way to just look at life. We are venturing out into the world, just asking these broad questions every single day. Just throwing spaghetti at the wall, hoping something will stick, hoping that if we just consume all this content, watch all these videos, listen to all these podcasts, that the answer will find us. The trick is to learn what question you need to ask and then go out there and ask it. Then you get the answer. If there was one way of me summing up Beyond the Pale and what I hope it gives to the reader, it’s at the end, I hope it encourages them to figure out what questions they need to ask. It’s so funny because it was just this rather abrupt interview that was wonderful in so many ways, but unlike anything I could have predicted. It was about 11:30 at night, my end. I had about a six-month-old daughter, so I was just tired and at the time I was just shook up, “How do I get through this interview? I feel like I’m doing it all wrong,” but it turned out to be a wonderful interview. I got some great nuggets of wisdom. This little off the cuff remark, that probably meant nothing to him, and he’s probably totally forgot about, has had a fundamental impact on not just the book, but my life as a whole. This thing of, “Am I asking a specific question right now,” and the answer usually is no. Yeah, Kamal’s one of my favorites. Every single person who appears in Beyond the Pale has had an impact on my life in some way. I know some better than others, but they’re great people and very inspiring.
I love it. You brought up what my next question was because I was thinking, “Okay, you’ve interviewed so many people. Undoubtedly, three or four stand out for the lessons that interview taught you. You just shared a huge one, obviously. Give me one or two others that the interview stood out for one reason or another, and you took away a real gold nugget.
AJ Leon is another one. I interviewed him for, The Successful Mistake. Someone else who I came across rather serendipitously on the back of another interview I did for, The Successful Mistake and just on the off chance reached out to him. It was just one of those interviews. It was probably about seven years ago now, and it just lit me up. It was just one of those pivotal moments in my own career. He an inspiring guy. If anyone hasn’t come across his work, check him out. What he does with Misfit, Inc. is just great. He’s nomadic. He’s just passionate, and he’s just a good human being who focuses on going a mile deep. That was the big lesson I took from him. This idea of stop scratching the surface, go a mile deep. When I interviewed him for Beyond the Pale, it wasn’t like I was expecting that to come out of the interview. I’ve met AJ in person a few times. I went down to Stratford-upon-Avon, where he spends some of the year, and we were just having probably like a three or four-hour interview over coffee and beers. At one point he just said, “I don’t understand how people build businesses these days and have thousands, millions, sometimes even billions of users. I cannot fathom it. I cannot fathom owning a business where you’re serving that many people. You’re only ever going to be able to scratch the surface with them. Me, I would rather just work with a few and go a mile deep.” Again, it was another little tidbit, which he probably just totally forgot about, but it stuck with me. I was like, “Yes, that’s the same for me.” I am a less is more kind of person and too often in my life I’ve spread myself too thin, said yes in too many different ways, tried to be everything to everyone.” As a writer, as a consultant, as a coach, whatever it may be, and it just left me scratching the surface. From that day on, I’ve taken a step back and thought, “How can I go a mile deep and have a true impact? Not just on my own sake and wellbeing, but on those I serve, at home, family, but customers too, readers, every canal. That’s it. He’s a mile-deep kind of guy. It was a huge lesson I took. He’s just a beautiful person, and I’ve had the pleasure of featuring him in both my books now, and he actually wrote the foreword as well for, The Successful Mistake. Yeah, he’s had a big impact. One other person who I didn’t interview for, The Successful Mistake, I came across him after the fact, was Sol Orwell, and he features in pretty much the last chapter of Beyond the Pale. He comes in at the end, and he was one of the first people I interviewed for Beyond the Pale. This was way back in 2018, I think. It’s a few years ago now. During the conversation, this is why I say don’t stick with questions because this came on the back of an off the hook, follow-up question. It wasn’t one of the things which I expected to come out of it. One of the things which I was asking Sol is he was coming off the back of his successful cookie events. It’s so funny because if you don’t know Sol Orwell, he’s the guy behind Examine.com, which is all about nutrition and diet. He’s built this cult following for being the chocolate chip cookie guy. He went through the journey of how he started off just doing these little random events, and then they grew, and they grew, and they grew, and he was saying, “Oh yeah, I’m doing one soon, but it’s probably going to be my last one.” I kind of asked the question, “Why do you not be tempted to turn it into a brand?” He was like, “That’s the problem with so many entrepreneurs. They’re always trying to monetize things.” Sometimes you should just do something for the sake of doing it, do something because you love it, do something because it has an impact. It doesn’t always have to have this monetary goal.” Obviously if it’s your business, and you don’t have anything you need to, but you get to a point where you have enough, and you build your side hustle to try and make money whereas in actual fact, maybe that side hustle should just be this passion project where there’s no expectation, no pressure, and you can just have fun. So often we have fun with something, and then we try to make it into this real thing, and we stop having fun because it becomes this responsibility. Again, that made it into the book because it was the exact kind of question Ferdinand would ask. He’s this typical entrepreneur always trying to monetize ideas, always trying to make more money, always trying to go into the next thing. Again, never taking a step asking why, what is the value here? What is the point? Someone like Sol comes along and says, “You don’t need to monetize everything. If I tried to monetize this cookie event, it would become a responsibility. It would become a job. It would longer be as fun. The way it is, there’s no expectation. I can just do it if I want, but I don’t have to. I can bring it back in the future and keep it small. I’ll give everything to charity or just never do it ever again. It’s all fine because it’s just this little passion project.” Again, that was something which opened my eyes personally, not just for the book, but yeah, we’re allowed to just have fun as people. Sometimes we get to a level where we have enough and that gives us the freedom and the time to do something fun, and it may become something big. If we want it to become big, we can’t, but we don’t have to. Just having that choice to take ownership of your life was eye-opening for me. Another little serendipitous off the cuff comment that he probably does not remember but sticks with me.
Yeah. No, I love it, man. I love it. I think it’s one of the reasons that I love books so much and really try to convey to people. You’ve gone the extra step, which is far more difficult to have actual conversations with thought leaders. That’s much more difficult, but you can pick up a thought leader’s book and, in essence, have a conversation with that thought leader. If you just get one amazing golden nugget from it, it could really change the way you think about life. Thank you for sharing that. Let’s change gears for just a moment and wrap things up. I always like to know. You’ve written a number of books that are making an impact on hopefully thousands, hundreds of thousands of people. How have your books led to more of whatever it is you’re looking for? More authority, more connections, financial freedom, et cetera. How have your books helped the author, Matt Turner?
Well, it’s crazy to think that I’m still very much in the process of making my writing and my books a full-time thing. I’m not there. It’s a dream. It’s what I’m aspiring to be, but honestly, writing The Successful Mistake, I can basically attribute every single penny I’ve earned over the last five or six years to The Successful Mistake. The Successful Mistake really forced to me to have a connection-first mindset because I was having to do all this outreach. To get 160 odd people to be in the book, I must have reached out to a thousand, maybe even 1,500 people over a three or four-year period. I was building a network, and I was grabbing these conversations. I remember the first time I had a bit of a pre-sell campaign for The Successful Mistake. I was too spammy. I was too sales centric. I got called out on it a few times when bringing these people in. In some cases, I’d not spoken to for a couple of years. It was one of those ego hidden moments in me where I was like, “I’ve gone through all this time and energy to reach out to these people, managed to get them on a call, speak to them, interview them, and now I’m just trying to sell to them.” That just changed the game for me, and I basically spent a few days just building a big spreadsheet, and eventually I put everything into Contractually, which is like a CRM system, to basically set reminders and put different people into different buckets, to set reminders of contacting everyone in my network every few months. These days, a lot of the outreach is done by my assistant. I did it for a long time, but it’s my assistant now. Then, when they reply, I take over the conversation, but a huge part of my life now is just built around continuing to build the network where possible. Continuously at least once a year, doing a bit of an evaluation on that network and being like, “Okay, who goes in what bucket? When was the last time? Have we dropped off? Have we moved on, and we’re not quite aligned anymore,” which is absolutely fine, but just having a very focal point of like, “Okay, this should be part of my every day, to be nurturing.” I’ve been doing this probably for five or six years now, having a nurturing connection-first mindset and bit by bit over time, it has led to opportunity, opportunity, opportunity, opportunity. Sometimes working directly with said connection. There’s some people now who I work with, who I first connected with probably seven or eight years ago involved in, a Successful Mistake, and just kept the conversation going and in time it led into a ghostwriting gig; either books, articles, email streams, whatever it may be. A lot of the times it’s, I speak to them, and I’ll just reach out to them, and I’ll tell them what I’m going up to, and then they’ll introduce me to someone else, and they become part of my network. Then they introduce me to someone else, and they become part of my network, who then introduces me to someone else, and it’s like this fourth person then who I end up working with. Just about every person I’ve worked with over the last few years can be attributed to someone who’s featured in The Successful Mistake, either directly working with them and these four, five removals of a friend of a friend of a friend. If it wasn’t for that, I don’t think I’d be ghostwriting. It was just this natural, organic process where I just would have more conversations and when I would talk about what I’m good at or what I want to be doing they’d introduce me to someone who needed an article writing and that led to more articles and that led to guides and reports and entire nurture email sequences, and then eventually a book. It can all be just attributed to this connection first mentality. Right now, I’m very much in launch mode, and I’m recording daily videos. I’m just, again, tapping into the network. I’m trying to ask, but ask in a very humane way, and ask in a very nurturing way, “How can I help you too?” I’d gifted copies of a book and mailed them out to everyone, which I’ve made sure to be saving up in recent years, so I could do this the right way, because I wanted to treat the network right. I didn’t always do that. Now that I come asking from around launch, most people aren’t going to be going, “Oh, not you again,” because most people over the last two, three, four years have been getting an email from me every few months, just asking how things are, and we’ve just had conversations. You’re just checking in, and it’s amazing what opportunities arise from there. If you take the time to nurture your network, you don’t usually have to do much asking when you need help. They’re more than happy to give you and then share you with someone else and introduce you to the next. I truly believe that I will go from strength to strength in terms of authority and thought leadership and all that kind of stuff in the coming years. I certainly aspire to get to the point where the money I earn is based purely off my books, my programs, with maybe just a little bit of client work here and there but if I get to that, when I get to that point, it will still be attributed to that network. Just being connection first. Yeah, if you have that philosophy, I truly believe good things happen.
Awesome. Matt, that’s a great way to end. That is great advice. Where can we send people to, whether it’s to buy, Beyond the Pale, or just to connect with you in general? What’s the best place to do that?
The best place is to go to BeyondBook.co. That’s BeyondBook.co. Once you get there, you’ll be met by the picture of the mountains here at the top of the thing that is front and center. On there, you can download a free sample of the book to get a feel of whether Beyond the pale is right for you. It links to the book on Amazon and other stores, and it also links to Instagram, Facebook, and all that good stuff where you can connect with me and please, ask questions, reach out, connect, let’s have a conversation.
Brother, great to converse with you. Iove your style. I love the way you respect your network. Thanks for being on the podcast today.
Thank you for having me. It’s a real pleasure, Rob. Cheers.