Becky Sheetz-Runkle – Sun Tzu for Women

What is your most recent book? Tell us a bit about it.

Sun Tzu for Women: The Art of War for Winning in Business is the businesswoman’s guide to success, based on the masterpiece of military strategy, The Art of War. Many men know this classic well and are using it to be more effective leaders and implementers. Women, however, have a great deal to learn from Sun Tzu because, largely, women haven’t read Sun Tzu. There’s awesome potential for today’s current and aspiring leaders to bring Sun Tzu’s lessons to life in practical and actionable ways—without sacrificing the uniquely feminine aspects of their leadership styles.

Tell us something about yourself.

I live in Northern Virginia outside of Washington, D.C. I’m a strategic marketer and public relations consultant, but more than that, I’m a writer. Identifying as a writer was probably the first thing I learned about myself. I’m also an avid martial artist, which was another driving force behind Sun Tzu for Women.

What inspired you to write this book?

I found myself consistently applying what I had learned in my 20 years in martial arts to business challenges. It’s very difficult to distill that down, but I very much wanted to share these lessons with others. A fan of Sun Tzu, I saw that positioning his wisdom for a female audience in business was a clear market opportunity. I wanted to demonstrate how female business leaders like Carly Fiorina, Meg Whitman, Marsha Serlin, Indra Nooyi and others have applied Sun Tzu in their careers, perhaps without even knowing it.

How did you choose the title?

This is part of a series of books on Sun Tzu from my publisher, Adams, Media. They selected the title, so that was one less thing for me to worry about!

How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?

I began writing as a correspondent for small town weeklies in rural Pennsylvania when I was 15. My mom had to drive me to interviews, school board meetings, local government meetings and the like. I was always good at writing, which works out well because I really like it. It would be a shame to like it so much and not be very good at it.

Then from there my career took me in the direction of public relations firms and ad agencies, and ultimately to co-found Q2 Marketing. I was able to succeed in all of these capacities because of my strong writing and communications skills.

Do you have any writing rituals?

I do my best work early. I mean early, way before the emails start flowing in and other distractions start. From that point, the most difficult challenge is making the time to write for my own projects, including my next book.

Did you learn anything from writing and publishing this book? What?

I’ve learned a lot about the art of book marketing. I’m a marketer by trade, so it’s a natural fit, but marketing books is a whole different animal. The bad news in terms of marketing in this category is that there are a ton of business books coming out all the time. The good news is that so few business book authors do much to market their books, it’s a bit easier to stand out from the crowd.

If you were doing it all over again, what would you do differently?

I have learned a lot about the business of publishing and the marketing side that I will apply to my next publishing contract.

What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Why?

I really like Jeff Shaara’s historical American fiction. History is my favorite genre. I like Vonnegut when I’m in the mood for, well, whatever mood you have to be in to read Vonnegut. I just finished On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society, a riveting psychology book by Dave Grossman. The books that captivate me the most are those about the human condition. I’m less interested in escape than I am in immersion.

Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?

All I can say as of right now is that there is more Sun Tzu on the horizon. I also hope to one day write some fiction. But the priority currently is to do credit to Sun Tzu because there’s more to say on this topic, and to continue in my day-to-day communications and marketing consulting.

What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?

Three words: Market your book.

Who is the perfect reader for your book?

Sun Tzu for Women is really of greatest benefit to readers who are willing to challenge how they see themselves, their circumstances and their business. It’s for women—and men too, including a number from whom I’ve received very positive feedback—who are willing to define and develop the mentality and inner tenacity that will elevate them to the pinnacle of their potential. No matter where they are in their career, Sun Tzu for Women is about the journey from who you they are to who they can become. In this respect, it’s for corporate CEOs, managers, entrepreneurs, women stuck in career stagnation, young women on their career journey—and everyone in between.

Victory begins well before the battle is fought. Sun Tzu for Women is for those who are willing to cultivate within themselves the spirit of self belief required to carry out the tactics of The Art of War. Sun Tzu for Women will help them do that.

What are the major lessons of Sun Tzu for Women?

The book was written to impart Sun Tzu’s wisdom within a modern context of challenges businesswomen face. One important aspect of the book is the idea of knowing ourselves, our opponents (or partners) and our environment. For each of us to succeed, we must understand our weaknesses, which is straight from Sun Tzu. We must also identify our relative strengths, see them as advantages, and learn to fully utilize them. This analysis of common weaknesses and strengths will enable readers to make the changes necessary to achieve their absolute best.

Women in business tend to share many common obstacles:

* Seeking to avoid conflict
* Uncertainly about which battles to fight and when to fight them
* Desire to stay in their comfort zone and keep the peace
* Experiencing confusion about being true to themselves or adopting traits characteristic of male leadership models
* Not asking for what they want
* Allowing timidity to prevent them from achieving big
* Fearing how boldness will be perceived by others
* Being prone to distraction from outside the office

At the other end of the spectrum are common success attributes many women share, such as:

* Intuition
* Sensitivity
* Collaboration and team building
* Communication
* Emotional intelligence
* Lack of ego in motivation
* Passion
* Independence

The book explores the devastating consequences fear can have on careers, the importance of authenticity and the dangers of limited self-belief, and a great deal more. It’s for women who struggle with common career challenges, as well as less common personal battles.

Where can readers learn more about you and your book?

My website and blog is www.suntzuforwomen.com. I hired the extremely talented, creative and pragmatic Gonzo Designs (www.gonzoblog.nl/about) to create a great, functional, content-focused and cost-effective website. I’d recommend this approach to other authors.

They can like my Sun Tzu for Women Facebook page and stay abreast of relevant news and happenings at http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Sun-Tzu-for-Women/133854169993317.

They can follow me on Twitter @beckysheetz.

The book can be purchased from my website or online from Amazon