231: Writing for Love and Profit with Carter Phipps and Ellen Daly
Ellen Daly is a New York Times bestselling collaborative author, having written books with relationship expert Esther Perel, Whole Foods CEO John Mackey, and many others. Carter Phipps is the co-author of the Wall Street Journal bestseller Conscious Leadership, author of Evolutionaries, and co-founder of the Institute for Cultural Evolution.
In this episode you will discover:
- How to grow a business that has impact and purpose in the ways that feel right for you
- The importance of relationships in creating the business of your dreams, and how to cultivate them both for their own sake as well as in service of your bigger vision
- What makes for an amazing business model, and how to know when you’ve got one
To help you create the impact-driven business you desire, we created the Grow Smooth course. It's the first self-paced course to help you master your inner game of leadership so you can make consistent progress towards your business goals. Learn more at besuperabound.com/grow.
Watch the video of the conversation below:
Steve Haase 0:00
Carter Phillips, Ellen Daly, We are so delighted to have you here on the podcast. And welcome. I would like to begin with maybe just give people some background. On how you came to be professional authors, collaborators, thinkers. Like, how does one go from everyday person to New York Times Best Selling collaborative writer?
Ellen Daly 0:39
I'll say that you know we have a business that we work in together but the collaborative side of it is mostly me. Carter occasionally jumps in but so I'll tell you my path because the the New York Times bestselling is mine so I'll tell you that and then Carter can chime in with his side but it was a bit of an accidental road for me. I'm an English major and also English. I started out working as an editor in magazines. I worked on a bunch of like business and financial magazines out of college and then came over to this country and worked on a spiritual and cultural magazine called What Is Enlightenment, which is where I met Carter, he was the Executive Editor. And again, I was an editor so I was gone with wielding a red pen and probably scaring everyone in the office. And but I also part of my job was taking transcribed interviews and we did interviews with spiritual leaders and philosophers and scientists, all kinds of people. And we'd have these you know, three hour four hour audios that had to get transcribed and then turn it into something that could be printed. So I started doing a lot of that work. And inevitably, you're doing more than editing at that point. You kind of have to rewrite things and make them work as a written piece and certainly all the people who we did that for I loved how they looked at the end of it and were very happy with it and and I enjoyed that work and then one day I was asked to edit a book and I took the job flew out to meet the client who turned out to be Horst Rachael Barker, the founder of Aveda cosmetics. Wonderful man, sadly no longer with us. But I spent a week with him and ended up rewriting his book, not just editing it and he was really happy with the results. The book was called minding your business came out many, many years ago. And so I think that was the moment I realized that this was a thing. This was something I could do and it was something I enjoyed and it was a way to use my skills. I've never really considered myself a writer. I was more of an editor at that point. But I started to discover I could move into writing in this collaborative way. And I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed the ideas I got to encounter and meeting him and working with him. So that sort of one thing led to another and I just took on more books and slowly found my way into the industry. There's a lot more to that story which we might want to touch on but but essentially that's how I got my start. And it's and for a long time it was just word of mouth, through the networks that we built through the magazine we worked on, then through friends and then slowly through former clients and now I have an agent as well but even he came to me through that network. So yeah,
Steve Haase 3:40
so you you didn't have any idea or did you know that collaborative writing could be a thing or have an intuition that it might be your thing, like, it sounds like it kind of came to you through just being in the space in the work? Yeah, I
Ellen Daly 3:57
think you know, it was a thing in our work at the magazine, and I'd certainly done that type of work, but I didn't realize it was a thing more broadly, I didn't really know how many books are ghostwritten. You know, and I tend to use the word collaboration rather than ghost writing, but a lot of what I do would be called ghost writing, and certainly I use that term as well. ghost writing doesn't mean you go away and write somebody's book for them without them ever getting involved. It's always a collaboration in some way or another. So I prefer that term. I'm also never completely anonymous. But yeah, I didn't I did not realize that it was a career that I could pursue or something that could actually be a great way to make a living and build a life and have a business like I do today. So that was a bit of a surprise.
Carter Phipps 4:41
I'll add that, you know, when we were first starting to build the business and and you know, it was really important you could see Ellen, you know, I I think to build a business like this, you know, you have to have youth to be talented and Ellen's talented, I hope I'm a little bit talented. But you could see like, the business kept opening up and and the way we approached it and particularly the way on approach it was you know, a tremendous amount of tension, an intention to grow this business you know, and to to build it and to pursue it in a there's a lot of different ways you can pursue it and she you know, she pursued it wanting to work with very high level people and high touch relationships. And we worked we worked on that and we worked through that. And, and you you saw the importance of building a networks you really saw that getting connected to people of course you have to be able to do the work and you have to be able to complete the work and people have to feel good about the work and after one of the recommend their friends, you know, but But I definitely felt like you know, Elon had a network we have a network together. I had a network and and through work that I do and other ways as well. We kept just building the email people have books they want to write and we kept building those relationships and those relationships turn into more relationships and, and little by little the business continued to expand and so that you know, it made me appreciate, you know, I think there are other ways to build a business but when you would like you say when you start in a wing and a prayer, you don't have a big institution that's gonna give you clients you don't have we didn't come through New York publishing, you're not gonna No one's gonna give you clients that way. You have to scrap and one of the ways you scrap to find work and to find and to grow the business and the directions you want to grow is is to serve people so well they recommend you and and to build those relationships and have very rich network of relationships. You just can't emphasize that much enough. And I think that was just critical to to what we were, what to the success we've had.
Erin Aquin 11:49
I think that's, you know, beautiful it's a big theme. But you know, we're, we're all about and I would be really interested to hear from both of you. How you have done this thing because I think a lot of people will say like, it's all about relationships, it's all about relationships. But if you're an extrovert that could come to you very naturally, Ellen, I know you've identified some times that you're more of an introvert and yet you've been able to build really incredible relationships. You both have you both have kind of like a different way of doing it. So I'd be really curious for people maybe to start if you tend to think of yourself more as an introvert How can you get started in building those beautiful relationships with business connections?
Ellen Daly 12:41
Well, I mean, I'll start with a funny story just because I really am more of an introvert and I think I've grown my competence a lot over the years. Carter kind of laughs these days and says you're great at all that and I still feel like an introvert though, but back in the day I when I just started in this business, I thought okay, I need to network so I went to the main book industry conference. They be a Book Expo America, that's held every year in New York and it's this huge trade show with all the publishers and agents and authors signing books and lots of free books. That's the best thing about it. And I went down there like I've got to network and I had some business cards and I was like, you know, put on a suit. And I was so terrified of speaking to strangers that I literally walked around this tradeshow for three days and didn't speak to anybody. I just got a lot of free books. That was my failed attempt at networking. But what I started to learn after that, it's just I think, especially if you're an introvert but I think for anyone really the way to build a network is really through close connections and through really being more targeted. This was a completely untargeted attempt and so even the next year when I went back to that trade show, I went with a friend of mine who's incredibly extroverted. Just she's, I would think of her as a super connector. You know, I don't know if you know that term, but she is somebody who is who is really just incredibly good at talking to anybody and connects with people easily and, and I went with her and she took me around the whole trade show and I met all kinds of people and we got into parties and you know, that was a great hack. But beyond that, I think there were really two things that for me were critical. In building the network one and to some extent, this was very fortunate circumstances was that through the work we did on the magazine, we had access to some quite high level individuals. So we had people who were not just like other people like me, but actual potential clients in our network. That we had weights to connect with. And a lot of my early clients came that way. They were people who knew my work on the magazine, knew the magazine by reputation, and therefore were interested in working with me on their books. And so that was you know, targeting high level individuals going to places where those people gather is another thing like, you know, finding ways to be invited to conferences. You know, sometimes Carter would get invited to conferences and I would go along with him and he was invited as an author and a thought leader, I tagged along as his wife but ended up getting clients you know, finding those ways in and that was really important. And then also, one thing I really have learned to do is to cultivate these super connector types in my network, and that's something that I've done a lot over the years is to find the people who are naturally attracting interesting circles of people, high level folks, and be very upfront with them. Tell them I'm looking to connect with these people I'm looking for clients, I paid referral feeds for years to people like that. I would give them a percentage of my work in exchange for really cultivating those relationships for me and inviting me to things and I got a lot of work that way. I don't do that so much these days just because I don't need to now I have an agent who kind of fills that role but I still get a lot of clients through that network. And yeah, so I think identifying the super connectors in your field is a really critical one. You can really just cultivate one relationship and it can lead to dozens of others. So good.
Carter Phipps 16:09
Yeah, there's there's, you know, I think we've been blessed with having a good network. I mean, I think, you know, I, you know, Elon and I, to some extent and to meet me maybe to some extent as well I through the work of the magazine, through the I was part of a spiritual community that you're, you know, that we shared and I think we had a rich network of friends from that community. The people I interviewed on the magazine and people I got connected to well, you know, it was it was a good it was a great network of people. I wrote a book that was connected to the integral philosophy movement, which was its own large network of people and a lot of people in that I was part of this group called the evolutionary leaders for a while, which is a kind of part and that part of another group association called the transformational leadership council. You know, I had a chance to connect with a lot of people in a lot of different networks, overlapping networks. And then we were in San Francisco for a while, where we had friends who were kind of super connectors and we used to go to a lot of parties and we got connected with a whole nother kind of layer of culture there. And and, and then I found that the nonprofit think tank that also introduced me to another layer can I marry it? That's a good technique, everybody. Feel like that a lot. But but but I just there's so many overlapping networks that I have and every one of those network they're interesting people so it wasn't like I was just going into those networks looking for work or looking for work for Ellen or anything like that, but it just you know, those networks, you know, continued to provide all kinds of work as well as all kinds of other things. You know, it wasn't a we again, those networks have been rich in our lives much even more than rich in our business, but they certainly are part of the business as well, you know,
Steve Haase 17:57
yeah. So it sounds like having kind of a harmony between relationships that are just purely fulfilling, stimulating mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, and also being open and sometimes even clear and direct about your desire to offer professional services and to be part of somebody's work life or even like Elon I'd love to hear like what a pitch would sound like when you when you were kind of being intentional with someone that you wanted, you know, introductions or to work with them, for instance.
Ellen Daly 18:38
I mean, in the specific case where I got most of my work, this person was a close friend, and just somebody that I really knew was a super connector. So I'd have been in her social circle anyway. And I think she probably would have introduced me to a lot of clients anyway, but in that area of my life, I was very conscious that she was doing such a service for me that I didn't have anyone else fulfilling. I didn't have an agent at that point. So in that case, you know, we talked about it and I just, I think I offered I actually don't remember, but I think I offered it so I'd be happy to pay a referral fee. And I do think that just encouraged her to really go that extra mile. I think she would have often done it anyway, that was sometimes you know, the thing about books is so many people want to write a book. You know, we used to joke that if I didn't have enough clients, we just need to go to a party. And when people would introduce themselves I'd say Hi, I'm Ellen, I help people write books and then they you always have a bunch of people will say I have a book I want to write I know someone who wants to write a book, you know, you come home with a bunch of business cards. They don't always lead anywhere but but that there are a lot of people out there who think they want to write a book, but if my friend had ended up in those conversations, I think she would have done it anyway. But there were times when she went that extra mile and really made the introduction for me, like really encourage somebody to talk to me and some of those ended up being some of my highest profile clients. So it was well worth it to incentivize that and just to have that feel like a business relationship as well. But I think you know, a lot of our relationships really do overlap between personal and business. We don't keep a big divide there. Some people start out as personal friends and end up being really great business connections as well. And some of our clients end up being really good friends and then we have one client who we have become very good friends with we often vacation with this client we often spend time in that he's a super connector and creates different gatherings that we become part of and other workers come to us through those gatherings. But we're also being invited as friends at this point, but we continue to do work with him. So those are we don't keep a hard line between business and personal relationships. And that's sometimes that can be tricky, but most of the time it served us really well.
Carter Phipps 20:45
You one of the things I mentioned here out this may not be a direct response to what you're saying. But one of the one of the you know there's a lot of lessons we feel like we learned over time and I don't know how applicable they always are out beyond the nature of our of our business in our life. But but one of the lessons it's a lesson you have to remind yourself, it's like, you know, these are many of the projects we work on and that particularly Elon works on more than I do, but we both occasionally work on our long term projects, their high touch projects, their significant projects. They mean a lot for the client. They're big decisions. They don't they're not just okay, we're going to work for a few weeks and we're done. These are big, big decisions and, and sometimes you get very excited about a person or an individual or potential and and and they won't fall through. I'm sorry, it falls through and it's hard but what we what we realize is we keep we have to remind ourselves you know it's a two way street. You know, you try the one that you want to work with someone you think we want to work with someone but they need to want to work with you. And if they don't want to work with you, it probably wouldn't be a good relationship relationship. Anyway. And then sometimes that's a hard thing to remember that if it doesn't work out, it's probably a really good thing because unless they want to work with you, it's probably not going to be the best collaboration you know, because that you know, it takes two to tango. That's part of what makes a great really a great a great collaborative relationship. And I there's a great example where Ellen have a client in the city in San Francisco and this this, you know, seemed like it could be a really cool book and very interesting person who's you know, semi famous, and I remember you went to meet her in the city hall and you were so excited. You're very excited. About celebrity she that was a celebrity chef. Yeah, exactly. And it just an Ellen's in the food and just like oh, no, the stars are lining up.
Erin Aquin 22:39
She's an amazing chef herself.
Ellen Daly 22:43
Only this lady was the was a pro.
Carter Phipps 22:45
And I remember like the stars were lining up and then it just completely fell through. She didn't choose Ellen. And she didn't decide. And I remember that we it was like one night we were sitting there I think another project felt I think it was like two projects that we were going to happen fell through. And we were both like Jesus, we were both sitting there you know you try to kind of remind yourself that this isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it's very hard. And it was like we didn't have a lot of work and then that night, another potential project came in literally that night. That a not a project that we would you know through another source and was surprising. And in that project lead to Ellen getting connected to the agents she works with now in New York, which has been this incredible amount of work that's been in some ways one of the most important Least Recently relationships we've had and like with if if she would have taken that job and that we that we wanted that might not have happened and so it's like life is unpredictable and sometimes you have to remember you know that the relationships that are gonna be the most productive are the ones where both parties especially in a job like this, you know that that we're both parties really opt in.
Erin Aquin 23:59
Yeah, I hope everyone who is in sales of any kind will rewind and listen to that again, because it's absolutely true. Because the times where we where we, we push for something and then now we're stuck with that person. We're stuck with that client. And for you and maybe a two or three year project at some, some points. Sure. So, you know, Steve, and I always talk about how we really feel like business is a spiritual practice. And it is I mean, I think there's probably a lot of parallels and what you are all saying it's, it's so beautiful when you can trust that if a relationship is not supposed to be or it's hard or something falls through, it's probably exactly what is needed for the next beautiful thing to come in. I think even if even if that's not true, it's not a universal truth. That thought has actually really helped our business as well and put a lot of peace around the projects. We really wanted. That didn't didn't go anywhere. Thank you.
Ellen Daly 25:16
Yeah, I think it's really true and and sometimes the sort of the silver lining as it were doesn't reveal itself right away. I mean, when I think about the job that came instead of that one, the job itself was I enjoyed it. But it wasn't like a very high profile book. And ironically, it actually came from a person I'd met at a party at the house of that person I mentioned before so when I didn't know at all, I didn't even remember that I'd met her and she reminded me but but it was the next step. It was the fact that that through working on that project it was exciting enough to publishers into agents that I was able to go meet with a whole bunch of different agents with the client and one of those agents when we ended up choosing as Curtis it ended up being my agent and it's just been an incredible relationship that that has endured through now many many projects and probably been our biggest source of clients ever since. And so it's Yeah, you don't see the Silver Linings right away and I think sometimes like you said, If you push too hard, then you're stuck with the result you know, and and it might work out but it might not I definitely had somewhere. I kind of was a little bit more maybe concerned about not having work or feeling like no I need to I need to get this client at this moment and have lived to regret it. So yeah.
Steve Haase 26:31
Okay, so we as you mentioned Carter, we all met in a spiritual community. One of the principles of our work is the importance of vision, and the kind of belief in what you're here on earth to do and what your what difference your work and your business can make in the world. I want to hear from you guys, the role of vision or kind of trust in something beyond yourself, like how is business a spiritual practice for you in whatever way that might be true? I'll let you take that one first. Well,
Carter Phipps 27:10
I mean, I think for me, obviously, I've sort of lived much of my life if not really my whole adult life with a kind of a spiritual vision. And that hasn't been static since I was 22. It's gone through different phases and different approaches and different and different pursuits. But I think, you know, I've always had that, that that feeling that you know, I wanted to participate in, you know, I think initially in my the evolution of my own consciousness, and then over time, the evolution of consciousness as a as a larger project and then and then over time, that kind of morphed into the evolution of culture and helping the how, you know, our culture evolve and I I have a nonprofit I founded called the Institute for cultural evolution. So it's very on brand. And, and that's, you know, now there's a number of ways to approach that and there's a number of ways to to pursue that. But that's always been, you know, kind of essential to my life and I've always wanted to kind of build a life that supports that and doesn't feel too far. You know, too far like I go down the road that's too disconnected from from that now. For me, there are many other things as well and like for us, for Elon and I, you know, build the cars you have to kind of match that with your own talents and your own particular passions at any given time in your life. And I'm a generalist, I'm fascinated by lots of things. You know, this isn't while I broadly hold this as a spiritual idea. It's not doesn't have to just be about spirituality I talking about the evolution of culture in all kinds of ways and all kinds of directions. If you listened to my podcast, I cover all kinds of topics and all kinds of other areas, but also part of to me having that kind of, you know, having that a life that supports that vision. And so I can I can participate in that vision is also having a life that's, that's economically successful. Have you having a rich life in all the dimensions of what that means, you know, and so I think Ellen and I have been have really set you know, since we've really been together or at least very close to it. We've, we've kind of talked about that and thought about that and how can we build a life that is, you know, we're I have a nonprofit but I haven't spent just spent the last 10 years doing my, you know, working on that nonprofit, you know, for, you know, eking out a little meager income. I want to have a life that's rich enough to support a lot of our passions and projects including my own purpose, you know, my own higher my own higher purpose. So that's important to me. And I think that as we developed our life that's been one of the one of the main things we want to do I want to I want to have a kind of economic success that supports all of those, all of those aspects and so that we can, we can do the things we want to do and we can give to the things we want to give and I can and I have the time and space and energy and mindspace to to to also you know, write and things that I'm particularly passionate about and participate in the projects I'm particularly passionate about that may or may not be directly associated with the business sometimes they can't be and sometimes they're not. And and also then to help build this institution and I found that as well. So so that's kind of that's kind of my answer, I think for Ellen will be slightly different, but I'll let her
Ellen Daly 30:48
yeah, um, I guess I at this stage of my life, I feel a bit less vision driven. And I don't say that as a negative thing. I think I'm a little bit more and I kind of go with the flow stage of my life. I like Carter, I feel like a lot of what drives me in the business is a desire to live a very abundant life in all ways. And the business is an amazing engine for that. And I think I spent, you know, a lot of my early adult life, very dedicated to spiritual pursuits and to mission driven pursuits that were not economically supportive. And so there's something been it's actually been very liberating to really pursue building this business in a way that can create an abundant life in all those ways. And that can support the work cart is doing the work that I might want to do at some point, but I don't really do a lot of work outside of the business at this point. You know, I That's mostly what I do. I mean, I will say, I feel like I'm blessed with having clients who have incredible missions. And so I do feel like in a broader sense, part of my mission is to bring those voices forward. I am not someone who feels like I have a huge amount of say myself in writing. Carter is very different in that sense. I just, I don't feel called to write my own material. I just that's not not what I'm here to do. I may have callings to express myself in other ways, like cooking, I was gonna say, but in terms of writing, I have a skill set that I love that I really enjoy using and I found that it can be very valuable for helping all kinds of people bring their visions into the world, and I don't see that as a sort of a subsuming of my mission for the sake of there is it's really feels like part of my mission to do that. So, a lot of my clients, you know, they're, they just they have they have amazing things to bring to the world. And I really feel very honored to be able to participate in that.
Erin Aquin 32:45
We were looking at your website, and just how many people said that their book would never have existed without you?
Ellen Daly 32:52
Yeah, they got you that's very common.
Erin Aquin 32:57
Yeah, we kind of know why because it's hard.
Carter Phipps 33:00
It is hard and expensive, easy to write books.
Ellen Daly 33:04
I think it's it's a helpful thing to separate the having something to say and the being able to say it in writing, because writing is a skill. It's a very difficult thing to do, and it's a difficult thing to do well, and what's interesting is that you know, we have all these myths in our culture about you know, writer's block and the challenge of writing and you get these books written about resistance and how writers need to go on this journey through and there's a truth to that, but I think a lot of that is aimed at people. What is really speaking to is the challenge of taking something inside you that you have to express and getting it onto the page in a way that communicates and if you separate those two things, you actually remove a lot of the challenge on both sides, like my clients feel freed up to express what they have to express without feeling like they have to turn it into beautiful prose. And so it gets their vision out more. I get to do the turning it into beautiful prose without that kind of inner struggle of resting it out of my soul. So actually, I never struggled with writer's block. I might struggle with procrastination or just the challenge of doing it right or structuring a book or all kinds of things I struggle with but but classic writer's block I never struggle with because I'm not trying to put my own ideas on the page. So I think it's a really interesting thing when you separate out those two pieces in there. Some people are, they really are called to write their own material like Carter and so he struggles with writer's block, and he goes through those torturous experiences and writes his own stuff in a way that's really powerful. And there are definitely a lot of people for whom that's the path. But there are many more people with things to say, than there are people who are able to say it in writing. So I think you know, having these two things separated out of it. It's a really, it just makes sense. For most people, and especially for people like the people we work with who a lot of them are doing really important things out in the world. They don't have a year to go like banging their head against a blank page. You know, they said that would be a waste of their time and their contributions. So yeah,
Steve Haase 35:05
I think you just perfectly summed up what makes for a great business model, where there's lots of people who want to do something and don't have the skill to you know, complete the thing. Yeah, I think that's really cool. The How do you make time to do big things? Like how do you take out the time because everyone's like, Oh, I'd love to write a book. I just don't have the time. So as people who write books, what do you do to make the time
Ellen Daly 35:36
well, for ghostwritten books I make the time because it's my business. So that being said, I'm often writing more than one at once, so it still can be challenging. And at times, we need to create special like, we'll take time to do a writing retreat, or we'll try to carve out time for focus work that might not be so easy to do on a day to day but for me, it's my it's the main part of my business. So it's a little easier. I think, Carter can speak to the challenge of carving out time for big projects that are more personal and more mission driven, I think. Yeah, I
Carter Phipps 36:11
think you know, it's funny we were we were reflecting on our work before this call. One of the things we were kind of laughing about is that people sort of imagine you know, they hear our work and they imagine that basically from like, eight to five or whatever we're writing, you know, that's what we do every day and five days a week, we're just we're writing and the funny thing is, you know, it's like this kind of work is, obviously you have to be able to write and you need to be able to write neatly make time for that. But but you could, we could fill up every day, just doing work for our business for all kinds of things and never, never, never do any creative writing. It's like, it's like there's so much to do and, and and the relationship with clients is a huge part of it, man, like, like the creative process. What's the way to write this book? How do we write it like what how do we get it out of their head and onto the paper? Is, is there's there's many ways to do that and what's the best way and they don't always know what the best way is? You always know what the best way is. And so developing that relationship that's going to be the best creative for you for them is, is being flexible in that way, trying to it all these things. They take a lot of flexibility. They take a lot of discussion, they take a lot of planning, they take a lot of thinking through and then be able to pivot when it doesn't quite work out like that, you know, being able to say Okay, now let's do it this way. Well, let's try that way. And I think that's been one of our skills, skill sets and one of Elon skill sets for sure is being able to do that and that that's a lot. But yeah, it's sometimes you need to sit down you need to create time. And we find that often like having having Sprint's or having periods where you you know, there's something about this type of creative work, at least for me, and I think to some extent Pharrell and maybe, maybe less so. You know, there is something if you can get some momentum with something that your head is really in especially a project that's, that requires a lot of immersion and creative immersion, you know, allowing some time it doesn't mean you have to do nothing else that you know, but, but allowing like a period of time so you can really focus you can really get into the project and then allowing that to continue for five days or six days or seven days, you know, can be you can find what works for you. But allowing and, and it doesn't mean that everything has to get done in that period. It's just it'll there's a there's a if you can get a big creative push, then you can spend the next few weeks doing other stuff and you can build on that in all kinds of ways. But especially when you're trying to get you know, a big you know, allow yourself get a big chunk of creative work out. That can provide a basis that you can then build on for a while. But doing sprints like that little writing retreats for us, we can find we get an unusual amount done. And so I think if you track the amount of time we actually write it's surprisingly small compared to all the time we work on in business, but nevertheless it needs to be good and productive and creative.
Ellen Daly 39:17
Yeah. That's really great. And I would just add, like, one of the like, as I said, I always work on multiple books at once and I like that sometimes I need a break from one thing and it's nice to be able to go distract myself with another productive thing rather than just go like, you know, clean out my garage. When I want to procrastinate on one project. But at the same time, it's sometimes it's hard to control how those projects overlap. And I think one of the things that I've really learned is there's a tremendous amount gets lost switching from one project to another at critical moments. Sometimes you can do it fine if you're just moving into the admin staff or planning stuff. But when you're in and when you have momentum on one project, as Carter was saying, you you've built up this incredible amount of potential productivity that when you've got to that point where you're you have momentum, and if you then have to like put that down and go do something else for three days. You so much is lost. It's not just the time is that it's all that momentum gets lost, and then you have to get into the other project. And it's I find that's one of the big challenges is to not allow too much of that kind of loss. And it's sometimes very hard to control that but but when you have momentum it's so precious with a creative project.
Erin Aquin 40:31
Oh, good. I also whenever whenever we get to chat with another couple who works together I'm also always curious because we get so many questions about you know, how the, the marriage and the partnership work with the business. And I'm just curious, we do have a lot of couples that work together and listen to the show. How have you managed to find harmony in the projects where you are working together and then you know you're maybe not trying to take it with you on date night?
Ellen Daly 41:06
We certainly try if there is a date that
Erin Aquin 41:10
I hear you.
Ellen Daly 41:12
I mean, we were collaborators before we were a couple. So I always like to say that our budding romance survived my red pen, wielded without much humility over his poor, you know, little first drafts of his articles that I think it's quite a miracle that we somehow managed to fall in love despite all of that. But so we we've always worked together and these days we you know, we we don't work on all of our projects together, but we we help each other with everything in the sense that we are each other's first sounding board and so I guess we've never not had that part of our lives. So I don't know that we can speak to it from a perspective of
Carter Phipps 42:03
meaning that's true. We built our life that we built our life that way. So it's not like we had to like figure it out a certain way. I think that helps.
Steve Haase 42:11
So what's the secret though? What how does it How does it survive the red pen Carter?
Erin Aquin 42:16
How did it arrive there?
Carter Phipps 42:20
See ya Ellen got nicer and I got more humble too. I think I I've approached him i I'll take I when I was in those days, I think I was a little more a little more honoree about my own writing, whereas now I'm like, you can change it however you want. Great. I'm usually I think she does a great job.
Ellen Daly 42:39
You have complementary skill sets. I think that helps when we're working on something together. kartha is very creative and very good at like, getting that thing out and putting it on the paper but he does it in a pretty rough form. I'm a very good editor and polisher and structure structure list, I guess. So our skill sets are very complimentary. I mean, it doesn't mean it's always easy. And certainly when we're working on something that's like, that we're both very invested in it can be you know, can be tricky. A lot of the times it's more though if I'm working on a client book and card is coming in to advise me then that's that's much simpler than when it's like his rating or something that's more
Carter Phipps 43:18
I do think there's something about like knowing your skill sets and knowing what you're good at and what you're not like, well, she said like what Ellen's first drafts are like they're like 90% My first drafts are like 60% You know, it's like, some people will look at my first drafts and just say I can't there's no way I can help you. So I'm very appreciative of the hurt that what she can do and the way she edits and the way she can, she can take a 60 or 65% done draft and then turn it into a 95% done draft in no time at all. She's incredible talents like that. I don't have I can't do that with her work. I don't have that skill set. But I think I have a skill set where I can you know I can provide I can be an advisor to work and help her think through stuff and help her be creative and help her think through the client relationships and help her think through the even the creative work at levels you know that's very much in my skill set. And I think I can do that with her and really help so I think some of this is like is being clear about what skill sets work and where they overlap and where they how they can complement each other and not trying to bang things that don't work against each other. You know, so
Steve Haase 44:24
in our relationship, if there's ever an organizational you know, thing to be done. I will defer to Erin 100% of the time.
Carter Phipps 44:33
You know people have different kinds of intelligence is I think one of the great you know, skills of life is understanding back it's like really, but like deeply appreciating that you know, and like Elon has an incredible I always say she has incredible logistical intelligence. It doesn't mean I you know, I think one of the challenges you get married is like, there's a tendency to turn over things that the other person is good at completely to the point where you just got that part of your brain. If you ever actually have to do it. It's like you've forgotten how to do it. 10 years ago, yeah, it's like, but there are certain logistical things where i i Long ago, trust that Ellen's got the best. Not only that, she good at it, but she she likes to do certain certain things. And then there's other things that I like to do. I'm more. So I think understanding that and is is always helpful for a relationship, though, it's probably good to just not entirely forget how to do certain things.
Ellen Daly 45:25
Yeah, I think also, you know, our working relationship has gone through different phases. So in the beginning, I was cardus copy editor. Then I started the business and worked on that. And then Carter wrote his first book and so then we worked on that together very creatively. From the beginning. I didn't do the writing, but I did a lot of editing a lot of the visioning work as well on that book, and we did we did that project together. I moved into doing the business while he was still working on the magazine. And we work more separately for a while. And then when he stopped working on the magazine for a while he was sort of in transition, figuring out what he was doing. And then at a certain point, a client came along who wanted us both to work on his book because he knew Carter's writing and, and so we ended up both doing that. And so that was when Carter really started to work. In the ghost writing business with me. And he's dipped in on specific projects where we've actually done the ghostwriting part together. And he's also done a few clients of his own. And now we've reached a point where you know, and then he wrote his second book, and I was a sort of, I manage that process and did a lot of editing again. But now we're actually at a point, you know, almost 20 years into our marriage and as long into our working relationship, where we're trying this year, one of our goals this year is to actually separate our work a little bit more to move Carter out of the ghostwriting business because that's not really his calling. It's a skill set he can utilize and we always say, you know, if you want to make money as a writer, it's much better to write for other people. So if there's like, if he isn't doing something else that's important, and we need to make some money. It makes sense that he gets pulled into the ghostwriting business, but it's not really his calling. So our goal this year when we finished the project we're currently working on is to move him out of the ghostwriting business give him more time to focus on his nonprofit and his own writing. And for me to continue that ghostwriting and of course we'll always be each other's sounding boards but I also this year have started to work with a coach so that I have another sounding board for the business because we felt like that would be a healthy thing. And it's very new for me. I've been doing it just you know, a couple of months but I do think that that's also a valuable thing. Sorry, but
Steve Haase 47:37
Carter Phipps 47:42
know, it's great. It's a great way, even the way you describe that. I think that is like having the flexibility to like oh, is this working still for us? What's what's not, you know, we've had moments like, Okay, this isn't working now. Whatever we've been doing last two years needs a shift again, you know, and I just think that is good, or at one point it was like no, Ellen had a couple of clients that she wouldn't be right for her. And it was like, you know, I can do that. That's where I'm really interested in that subject. That's the perfect thing for me to do really and I can really contribute, you know, here and be part of the business and then another point it's not as different and I just think like and then how is our working relationship and then this like, just last year we thought it will be good for her to have a have a coach that could supplement I'll see I always try to contribute but have an outside voice that can can help and, and so like the goat I do think as you're saying there there is something I mean we're in each other's space 24/7 And really in all kinds of ways and we probably will continue to be like that. But like always being willing to not just get lost in whatever the grooves are of that particular month or a year or two or three years to be willing to kind of say okay, is this working? Is this the right way? You know, it's like, like for example, we are we are we have like, we work together and we're here all day, but we also have very different hobbies, you know, we do different things. I've got this, you know, she's got that, you know, so there are ways in which we have our own lives and have our own things. We're not always together. We're not always doing the same thing. We work together but a lot of some of our other lives, our passions are separate. So you know, it's, it didn't have to be like that, you know, I didn't have to be particular way. But I think you have to be ready to if it's not working to like to open to question it and to see what's the next phase and, and again, there's not some perfect situation that you get into and that's just it, you just put it on automatic for 10 years, you know, it's like again, it's like we all go through the evolution of our relationships. So it's like being willing to to reconstruct them as needed to make it work, you know?
Ellen Daly 49:46
Yeah, I will also say we have no children, which is a treasure. It was a very, very conscious and intentional thing, but I want to acknowledge that that makes a lot of this a lot easier for us to be flexible in the ways we work and to, you know, to collaborate together in different ways and also to change it when needed. That's a piece of art that we don't have to deal with. I know a lot of couples who work together also have a family together like you guys, we just
Erin Aquin 50:18
put our kids to work they just weren't
Steve Haase 50:23
kidding, right but it's really important thing that is apparent out there. Right like but to not blame the kids. Sure. Yeah. Seriously the a lot of people are just like, well, the kids come on, come on. There's always a way right even if it certainly you can have more flexibility if you don't, but even if you do, there's there's always a way So yeah, that's our approach to it. It's like that.
Ellen Daly 50:49
One of the things we appreciate because we don't have children is that we are able to you know, one of the positive things about working together is sometimes we get to share the perks of that job. I work with these very high level individuals who often want us to travel or to go spend time with them where they live, or go and do a writing retreat somewhere, you know, and and oftentimes we get to tag along with each other on those and that can be a very nice thing it eases that travel otherwise the travel can be a real burden. I always find when I'm traveling alone more I get tired of it. But being able to do those parts of the job together really helps. And when you're in somebody else's space, you're working with them to have both of us there, you know, and we've been able to go to all kinds of fun places over the years. That's that's a real a real perk of the job I think and getting to share that even even to the extent that when I worked with the one of the Home Depot founders who now earns the Atlanta Falcons and got to go to his football stadium and you know all the VIP treatment which means nothing to me. I got to say Carter loved to see his college team play in the stadium and sit in the owner suite. Yeah, things like that are really nice. That is part of the job.
Carter Phipps 52:01
But one of my passions that Ellen does not share is college football. she tolerates it and and so we got to participate. We got to she got to contribute to that passion, which was fantastic.
Steve Haase 52:16
Thank you to so much. Where should people go to learn more about working with you reading your books, your nonprofit? Where can where can we send people?
Ellen Daly 52:27
Well on my on the collaborative writing side, my website is co creative writing.com And that is where all the books I've ever worked on are listed there and they're not they don't have any that are like secretive and people can learn a bit more they're about working with me or working with us although hopefully not Carter if we succeed in getting him out of the business and work with
Erin Aquin 52:50
Carter and Ellen sorry, everybody. So no.
Ellen Daly 52:55
We so that's that's my side and Carter has a few other places to send people as well.
Carter Phipps 53:01
Yeah, I you know, you can see some of my books I've worked on on the on Ellen's website. But you can also get to mine which is Carter fips.com. Where you can see my two books I've written are certainly up there. My podcast is up there and some of my own writings is up that is up there and you can also see the link up there to the nonprofit that co founded which is called the Institute for cultural evolution and that you can find at culturalevolution.org. So, but it's all on my website. You can see.
Erin Aquin 53:30
We'll have links for all of us in the show notes for those of you listening. Thank you both so much for spending this time with us and sharing all of your wisdom. So much fun.
Carter Phipps 53:42
Thanks so much. Lots of fun, and good luck with you all I'm I look forward to seeing your you all have so much wisdom about this issue to this subject matter. I feel like we're sort of tracking right along on a lot of the same areas. So I'm curious to see what what you come up with.