Monday, December 4, 2023

FALL BACK TO READING SERIES – Featuring Kim Scaravelli

This year, as the seasons change and we enjoy fall, I’ve launched my FALL BACK TO READING SERIES. The series will feature two dozen leadership and marketing experts, who will share their inspiration in both fiction and nonfiction, and hopefully, provide the impetus to read more. To quote New York Times Bestselling author Kristin Harmel, “If you give a person a book, you give him the world.” For today’s post, I’d like to introduce Kim Scaravelli.

Kim Scaravelli is the author of Making Words Work: A Practical Guide to Writing Powerful Content and creator of the popular newsletter, Writing and Other Stuff. As CEO of Trust Communications, she has 20-plus years of experience helping high-profile organizations across North America and Europe establish trust and build authority online. She is also a mom, writer, and helicopter parent of multiple fur babies.

QUESTION: Which three business books have made the biggest impact on your career?
KIM SCARAVELLI: I have a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Education, but teaching jobs were hard to come by so I wrote a somewhat creative resume and pushed my way into a job as a Sales Rep for Dun & Bradstreet.

I had NO idea what I was doing, so while I was on the road, I started listening to the audio version of Zig Ziglar’s Secrets of Closing the Sale: For Anyone Who Must Get Others to Say Yes!

Zig was upbeat and funny, and while he had lots of tips on how to close a deal, it was his holistic view of success that resonated most strongly with me. One of his most famous quotes is: You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.

This sentiment has guided me throughout my career. FYI: I was the top grossing Dun & Bradstreet Sales Rep in Canada during my brief tenure – and I left to start my first business.

In 2018, I was in high gear, both professionally and personally. My company, Trust Communications, had a roster of high-profile clients, and I was in the deep end of parenting, with a tween in the house, a teen in university, and a young adult navigating the early stages of her own career. Then my husband - still in his early 50s - had a massive heart attack.

The good news is that hubby is alive and well. But surviving that crisis, and making the necessary lifestyle adaptations, was a THING! Juggling everything (the way I always had) wouldn’t work anymore. There were simply too many balls in the air.

Technically, Thick Nhat Hanh’s You Are Here: Discovering the Magic of the Present Moment isn’t a business book. He’s a Buddhist monk and his general topic is mindfulness. His book talked about letting go of the habit of running all the time and taking little pauses to relax and re-center. At that moment in my life, his wisdom was exactly what I needed.

To succeed during – and after – a crisis, you need more than just endurance. You need to learn how to find small moments of joy amid the chaos. This book helped me develop that skill – and I credit it with the level of happiness I now enjoy.

James Clear’s Atomic Habits came out in 2019. In the wake of my husband’s health crisis, I was trying to work less without losing professional momentum. This book emphasized the value of small, manageable changes. It was practical and helped me focus on positive habits that would serve me long-term, rather than quick fixes and abrupt changes of direction.  

Atomic Habits empowered me to ditch activities and routines that were no longer serving me well. As James says: Life is a series of seasons, and what works in one season may not work in the next.

Flash forward: I earn significantly more money now than I did during my “high gear” years, despite working less hours. I’ve written a book, which was a life goal. And I spend more time with family and friends than ever before.

SHARE THIS: You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want. ~@TheZigZiglar via @KimScaravelli #DebbieLaskeysBlog

SHARE THIS: Life is a series of seasons, and what works in one season may not work in the next. ~@JamesClear via @KimScaravelli #DebbieLaskeysBlog

QUESTION: Who is your favorite author, and why?
KIM SCARAVELLI: OMG. I have SO many. Margaret Atwood is obviously brilliant. Maya Angelou could wrap words around your heart like no other. And Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird is my favourite book of all time.

But if I must name a favourite author, it’s Anne Tyler. Firstly, I love how prolific she has been over the long-haul. She has more than two dozen novels to her credit, plus short stories, and countless literary critiques.

I love the way she SEES women. Her female characters are always written with such love and attention to detail. They never exist simply to propel the plot forward.

But most of all, I love her conciseness! Ann Tyler never uses a paragraph where a simple sentence might suffice. And that’s a hard trick to master, especially once you become an established author – and editors become a bit more reluctant to reign in your word count.  

Her most famous novel is arguably The Accidental Tourist. But my personal fav is Earthly Possessions, which is about a woman living a rather boring life, who begins a grand adventure when she’s taken hostage during a bank robbery.

QUESTION: What book did you read in high school or college that, to this day, you still remember vividly, and why?
KIM SCARAVELLI: In grade 11, I had to read Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse. It’s a very popular book, so obviously lots of people appreciate it, but it wasn’t my cuppa tea. It bored me. So, when it came time to write my book report, I wrote an honest review of why I didn’t feel attached to the characters.

The teacher gave me a C+. This was shocking because I excelled in English. In the comments, he said that the report was well-written but I “didn’t understand” the beauty of the book.

I was punished for not saying what he wanted me to say. That book, and the reaction I got from that book report, stuck with me. The experience taught me three valuable lessons:

[1] Never assume you will like something just because others do.
[2] Always be aware of what’s at stake when you’re thinking of saying, or doing, something that may be unpopular. (If you can’t accept a C grade, don’t disagree!)
[3] Don’t let a bit of negativity bring you down. Move on. (I’ve read a lot of books since then, written a lot of book reports, and gotten a lot of A grades!)

QUESTION: Do you intersperse fiction with your business reading? If yes, what was the last work of fiction that you read, and what caught your attention about it?
KIM SCARAVELLI: I recently read The Maid, by Nita Prose. Honestly, it was an impulse buy. The bright red cover caught my attention. And I’m so glad it did!

The protagonist is a young woman named Molly, who is on the autism spectrum. She gets embroiled in a murder mystery at the hotel where she works. The plot is tightly written and holds your attention, but it’s Molly who makes this book shine. This is such a beautifully written story of her coping with the death of her grandmother and building relationships with the people around her. It’s heartwarming and funny and pulls you in from the very first page. Highly recommended!

QUESTION: If you created a nonprofit organization to promote reading to children and young adults, what would you name it, and why?

This name is upbeat and energetic, and it feels like a call-to-action. In fact, it would fit nicely on Call-To-Action buttons, which is a lovely marketing plus.

My gratitude to Kim for participating in this year’s fall back to reading series and for sharing her inspiring recommendations!

Image Credit: Martin Martz via Unsplash.

Connect with Kim at these links:

Check out Kim's previous appearance here on my blog:

Social Media: Prioritize QUALITY Over QUANTITY (March 2022)

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