How One Book Changed My Life

This is a special week for a couple of reasons. Yesterday, for the first time, I held my newly-minted book Return On Influence for the first time (What’s that? You want to see a picture? Well … OK.)  And today marks the one-year anniversary of my first book, The Tao of Twitter.

No matter what else happens in my life, “Tao” will hold a very special place in my heart.  The book has defied the embarrassingly small amount of marketing I put into it to become a global sensation that is touching thousands of lives.  I knew this book could help people but I never dreamed the profound influence it would have. Nearly every day I receive a message with some story about how the book has impacted a life.

So I think it is only fitting to commemorate the little book’s birthday by shining the light on somebody else — one of the book’s many fans, Tony Dowling. Tony is a Welsh businessman and entrepreneur. I had never heard of him before he sent this unsolicited message to me last week entitled “How One Book Changed My Life.” Here’s Tony …

There I was, minding my own business.

Raising my family, working hard and generally trying to enjoy life, when along came an amazing book, a book that has changed my life.  Not in some scarily enormous unbelievable way, but in small and elegant and permanent ways.  I read The Tao of Twitter, and things started to happen. Things that were good.

I’m 42 years old and consider myself the luckiest guy in the world. I run a commercial radio station in the UK, a pretty big and successful one. I have an amazing wife, we have been together for 20 odd years, and still feel like we did when we first met. I also have two amazing children and largely because of those two little guys I thought life couldn’t be better.

Turns out I was wrong.

I read the Tao of Twitter around three months ago and was immediately inspired. As a media owner I like to keep up with the changes in the world of marketing, advertising, and communications, so I devour books like “Tao” and regularly, but never has one struck me so deeply and so quickly.

A flash and a jolt

I had a flash of inspiration —  a genuine, physical feeling — that hit me around the part of the book that talks about “authentic helpfulness.” I decided that I was going to try to follow this path, to stop selling and be selfless … to give back to the universe.

I was going to start out in social media, build a blog, and use Tao as my guide.

I decided to blog about what I know, and freely give away all the knowledge I had. My blog is literally called “Completely Free Sales Advice.”  I put my heart into it and created a lot of content quickly — a collection of my thoughts about selling, advertising, and marketing. Readers started to appear, as if by magic.

Using techniques lifted directly from the book, I slowly built an audience for the blog and that audience started to become a community, becoming more and more involved in the discussions.

At first, many of my existing contacts came forward and asked for help. Then, they started to encourage others to join in. After only a few dozen blogs I had around 15 “clients” forming a community around “Completely Free Sales Advice.”

Over the months, word continued to spread, through Twitter of course, and Facebook too. And more and more readers are becoming active in the community — and we are all helping each other! Every one is taking part.

Perfect predictions and business benefits

What has amazed me the most, is the almost perfect predictions the book makes about the journey I have undertaken.

The people following the blog are slowly but surely melding into a genuine community — Interested only in helping each other out. Some of these people have become my good friends, people who have challenged me, and inspired me through their own authentic helpfulness.

And together, we are beginning to collaborate and create new business benefits together. Pippa Davies (a blogger, a psychologist and creativity expert) and I have formed an informal alliance to help each other improve our writing, share best practices, and realize more traffic to both of our sites.  My new social media friend has in turn introduced me to numerous contacts that have become invaluable business partners in my “proper’ job” at the radio station.  And more amazingly, she has put me in contact with professionals that will help me with caring for my beautiful autistic little boy.

And there’s Dr. Sarah Bruton, an entrepreneur running a local spa business.  She is beginning to keep a record of the measurable, positive differences we have made in revenue, genuine ROI, and other tangible benefits from the social media lessons we have learned from The Tao of Twitter.  Sarah will be my first guest poster, as she details the benefits she has gained from taking part.

The Tao, The Path

The list goes on and on. All of this goodness seemed to come out of the blue. Learning the lessons of authentic helpfulness has immediately paid me back for whatever small help I have managed to provide to anyone else.

So thank you Mark. Thank you because the Tao of Twitter is changing my life every day in small ways, and is giving me the inspiration to change it in big ways too.

And thanks to any one reading this as well, because I’m sure that at some point in the future we’ll connect and help each other, too.  Because that’s the way of things, you see.  I read about it in a book.

Tony Dowling is a dad, husband, commercial radio station Managing Director specializing in Sales, Marketing, Social Media, Blogging, Golfing and Reading (not necessarily in that order). Follow his blog at

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