Author Veta T. Richardson discusses her new book, "Take Six" and how risk-taking and other habits can lead you to a truly fulfilling career
Rose Ors, CEO of ClientSmart, speaks with Veta T. Richardson, President and CEO of the Association of Corporate Counsel, about why she wrote Take Six and how employing two of the habits she recommends in the book — Take Risks and Take a Hand — helped her in becoming a successful first-time author and the book an Amazon bestseller.
Rose Ors: What led you to write the book, Veta?
Veta T. Richardson: At various points, people I have mentored have suggested that I write a book about the principles that have guided my professional life. While flattered, I was not confident my insights merited writing a book. Then you interviewed me for Curious Minds and encouraged me to write the book. As a professional writer, your opinion resonated, and for the first time, I seriously considered the idea. As if the universe was listening to us, two weeks after our conversation, I received an email from Forbes Books offering me the opportunity to write a business book. I was ready to acknowledge that I had something of value to share, and I said yes to myself and to Forbes.
Rose Ors: So, you followed one of the habits you talk about in Take Six: Take credit.
Veta T. Richardson: I did, Rose. I accepted credit for having something worthwhile to share.
Rose Ors: Another habit you recommend is to take risks. Being a first-time author is a significant risk. How did taking this risk make you feel?
Veta T. Richardson: Initially, it was extremely uncomfortable. I experienced the widely recognized fear of the blank page. I had lessons to share, but I didn’t know where to start. The thought of sitting in front of my computer screen and figuring out how to begin was intimidating. That said, it was also exhilarating to embark on something new. As I talk about in the book’s section on taking risks, stepping outside our comfort zone to try something new is energizing.
Rose Ors: What was your actual writing process?
Veta T. Richardson: I started by applying one of the habits I recommend in the book: Take a hand. I admitted I needed help in writing the book to make it the best it could be. So, Forbes introduced me to three excellent ghostwriters. After learning about each of these writers, I chose Debra Hilton who is based in Melbourne, Australia. First, it was moving to learn about Debra’s work to improve the lives of women and their families in rural Africa. Then, I was wowed that she had ghost-written seven New York Times bestsellers.
You can read Rose Ors’ description of “Take Six”, the new book by Veta T. Richardson here.
Debra and I worked remotely for six months, talking for hours every Thursday evening for me and Friday morning for her about what should be in the book, then writing and rewriting our many drafts. It was a profoundly satisfying business collaboration that has grown into a deep friendship.
Admitting you need help can be humbling, and sometimes all of us can be a little too proud. Feeling comfortable taking a hand is about knowing there is no shame in seeking and accepting help. It is also about recognizing that, in so doing, you cultivate genuine and long-lasting relationships.
Rose Ors: You took the unusual step of publicly acknowledging Debra as your ghostwriter by asking her to write the foreword to Take Six. Why did you do that?
Veta T. Richardson: Part of “taking credit” is acknowledging the contributions of others. Having Debra write the foreword was my way of crediting and thanking her for our collaboration.
Rose Ors: In so doing, you also reinforced the message in the book about the benefits of “taking a hand.”
Veta T. Richardson: I hope so. It’s an invaluable habit, especially when extended both ways.
Rose Ors: What has been the reaction to your book?
Veta T. Richardson: The response has been overwhelmingly positive. I was especially moved by a note I received from one of the first law school students to receive a scholarship from a program I helped start in 2005 when I was President of the Minority Corporate Counsel Association. This student is now the general counsel of a company in Boston and the mother of two lovely daughters. In her note, she shared how the advice in my book was the advice she still needed to hear and heed. She then credited my influence as a factor in her getting her to where she is today. Reading her note moved me to tears. It felt so gratifying.