Open This Book: Storytelling, Thought Leadership, and Sara’s New Book

Welcome back to Branded: your comprehensive guide to creative branding.

This episode is doubling as a celebration! Drum roll please… Sara’s book is finally out!

We’ve talked about publishing books in previous episodes, but now we’re focusing on the journey and process behind Open This Book: The Art of Storytelling for Aspiring Thought Leaders. We’re covering the imposter syndrome that almost derailed it, what it means to be a thought leader, and her approach to writing without a deadline in mind.

Note from Sara: Thank you to everyone who supports our podcast and this book! If you want to order a copy, you’ll find it here:

Key takeaways:

1. The Value of Personal Stories in Branding: Sara emphasizes the importance of sharing personal stories and experiences as a means to enhance and authenticate one’s brand. Her book “Open This Book: The Art of Storytelling for Aspiring Thought Leaders” focuses on storytelling as a powerful tool for thought leaders to connect with their audience.

2. The Process and Challenges of Writing a Book: Both Sara and Larry discuss their individual journeys in writing and publishing their books. Sara shares insights about not rushing the writing process, allowing for inspiration, and the importance of authenticity over adhering strictly to deadlines. This contrasts with Larry’s approach, where he sees value in meeting deadlines to achieve publication goals.

3. Imposter Syndrome and Self-Perception: Sara talks about dealing with imposter syndrome, especially when stepping into roles that they previously viewed as beyond their reach, such as speaking at conferences or publishing a book. Both hosts discuss how their perceptions of being part of an “elite group” changed once they themselves became part of that group.

4. Niche Targeting in Publications and Podcasts: Both the book and the podcast highlight the importance of appealing to specific niches. Sara mentions that her book isn’t for everyone, but for those who are looking to improve their storytelling skills. This is paralleled in their podcasting approach, where they cater to specific listeners interested in personal and professional branding.

5. Role of Books in Credibility and Brand Building: We discuss how authoring a book can significantly boost your credibility and strengthen your brand, regardless of the scale of its deployment (big bookstore presence or self-publishing platforms like Amazon). We highlight that even if the book sells to a small audience, the very act of completing and publishing a book can enhance professional standing and influence.


Larry Roberts [00:00:09]:

What is happening, everybody? I'm Larry Roberts.

Sara Lohse [00:00:12]:

And I'm Sara Lohse. And this is Branded, your comprehensive guide to creative branding.

Larry Roberts [00:00:16]:

And on this episode of the podcast, we're gonna talk all about Sara.

Sara Lohse [00:00:21]:

Oh, God, I'm not ready. You start. You talked about me first.

Larry Roberts [00:00:29]:

No, I mean, you know everybody, Branded, we're, I don't know, 87 episodes in. Uh, actually, what is this?

Sara Lohse [00:00:36]:

Maybe 48, 49, 40 something? Yeah, just below 50.

Larry Roberts [00:00:40]:

Yeah, whatever. We're. We're hundreds of episodes in. So you know who Sara is and you know what we at branded are all about. And it's all about building personal brands, professional brands, and bringing more awareness to your content, your business, and really just everything that you do. And that is writing a book. We look at ourselves, we go, who am I to write a book? Who am I to put something on Amazon and be an Amazon number one bestseller, or be a New York Times bestseller, or just have a book that tells your story that gives you that credibility, that is really that social proof that we're looking for to reinforce that brand message. And this particular episode of the podcast is, it is all about Sara, but it's all about Sara.

Larry Roberts [00:01:43]:

And the fact that her book is on the verge of coming out and she wrote an amazing book. It has a very unique title. I'm going to let her share that, that I have the utmost respect for. I love it to death and I just think it's amazing. You know, I. Yeah, I released a book a couple months ago, but we already talked about that and I used Chad GBT to write the most of it. But Sara actually took the time to think and actually put her thoughts and her stories and her emotion and her brand on each and every page of this book. And then she put a call to action as the name of the book.

Larry Roberts [00:02:26]:

The name of her book that's coming out is called open this book. And Sara's going to share with her her insights and her inspiration and the stories behind what lettered the book and the stories that are in the book that can lead you to doing the exact same thing.

Sara Lohse [00:02:41]:

I think that about covered it. So thanks for listening. This is branded.

Larry Roberts [00:02:46]:

I'm on a tangent today I'm in presenter mode because I just came off of podcast, is doing their AI conference right now, their virtual AI conference, and I presented just a couple of hours ago. So I'm still in. I'm still on stage.

Sara Lohse [00:03:01]:

You are. You're always on stage. But no, that was the nicest intro for my book. Thank you. You are credited on the acknowledgements page for someone who is super, super supportive and helpful with me getting this book done. But I love what you said in that intro about, like, who am I to have a book? And that, I mean, there's a whole chapter in the book about that and how we all have imposter syndrome. But the concept of my book is, it's open, this book, the art of storytelling for aspiring thought leaders, and it is talking about how we tell our stories and why we tell our stories, but in the context of thought leadership. And I feel like one of the reasons we have that feeling of, like, who am I to do this? Who am I to be a quote unquote, thought leader is for.

Sara Lohse [00:03:53]:

Like, I think people seem to think that a thought leader thinks that everyone in the world needs to hear them. And that's so not true. Like, thought leadership isn't about everyone. Stop and listen to me. It's about I have something to say, and the people who do need to hear it are going to find it. Like, my audience isn't every single person. I don't think everyone's going to read my book. I don't think everyone's going to benefit from my book.

Sara Lohse [00:04:19]:

But there are a few people out there who do want to tell better stories, who do want to be able to have those connections with people from the stage or on a podcast, and those people will benefit from reading it. I don't need the whole world to read it. And I think that's kind of a misconception. It's like, just because you're sharing your thoughts, sharing your stories, you don't have this idea that everyone needs to hear it.

Larry Roberts [00:04:47]:

It's the same thing with the podcast. I mean, we talk to people all the time that are like, who's going to listen to my podcast? Or I'm only getting 50 downloads an episode? It's the same concept to your book. If you have 50 people listening to your podcast, you're influencing 50 people. If you're standing in that room, and we have that analogy that we use all the time, where if you're standing in a room of 50 people and you're telling your story, do you feel like that's a big audience? And I promise you, 99.9% of the people listening to this podcast going, oh, my God, standing in front of 50 people would be insane. I can't even imagine.

Sara Lohse [00:05:25]:

People seem to picture that audience in the context of an arena and, wow, the first rows, barely even fully. But think about it like you're sitting in your living room. If you have 50 people in your living room. There's not like, it's standing room only. People are bumping into each other. It is uncomfortably crowded.

Larry Roberts [00:05:42]:

You live in a house. Because my living room will not hold 50.

Sara Lohse [00:05:46]:

Oh, my people will be, like, on people's shoulders. It's not that big, but it actually makes me think one of, one of the clients, one of our, the podcasts that we produce is called health marketing collective, and they had a guest on, talking about social media in the context of health marketing, and he said that you don't need to reach the entire Internet or the entire world. You just have to find your people and make that little corner of the Internet a happy place for them. And I really love that quote. I think that was a really great episode that they did, but that's really true. It's not about reaching everybody. It's about reaching the people who want to hear what you have to say.

Larry Roberts [00:06:26]:

Well, and it's the same thing with your book, right? I mean, you're looking for people that want to understand the power of storytelling, and that's a very unique niche. It's a very focused niche. And you demonstrate throughout the book a variety of different ways to tell those stories, and you share some of your very unique stories as well, throughout the book. But that's what makes it so relatable, right?

Sara Lohse [00:06:50]:

Yeah. It was an interesting book to write because it's like part book, part journal, part like memoir, because it really is. I'm telling you that you need to tell your stories, and I'm telling you about the different ways to tell them and what to include and how to tell them. And if I were to just tell you that, then I'm not doing what I'm teaching. Because my whole idea is, if you want to teach the masses something, you need to do it through a story, or else you're not going to be remembered and you're not going to connect. So the whole book, almost every example, like, some of them I pull from, like, stories we've all heard or some, like, pop culture references and stuff. But for the most part, they are my stories. And some of them are silly, some of them aren't.

Sara Lohse [00:07:38]:

Like, it's not. I'm 28 years old. I haven't been through everything. As Lisa was starting to point out, poor Lisa.

Larry Roberts [00:07:49]:

Lisa f'd up. Okay, Lisa f'ed up since Lisa effed up at a conference. And Lisa's easy. She's getting it, for sure. But in all honesty, it's interesting that you just did. You kind of presented it that way. Okay. You use the word memoir, which at the same time, you said you're 28, and memoir and 28.

Larry Roberts [00:08:13]:

Those two typically don't go hand in hand because a lot of. I mean, it's difficult to conceptualize a memoir when you're 28. So tell us a little bit more. And, you know, you're very brave. I'll use the word brave to use that terminology at the age that you are to share your stories. So tell us and share with us how you empowered yourself to feel confident to use that terminology and not let a number define whether or not that terminology is applicable.

Sara Lohse [00:08:53]:

Yeah, well, I think part of it is, like, memoirs are, like, people confuse memoir and autobiography. An autobiography is about your entire life. It's start to finish. This is my life. And those are always written by old people, basically because they're telling the story of their whole life. A memoir is really just about, like, one chunk of your life. Like, let's go deep into detail about this part of your life. And so, for the book, the part of my life is my twenties, and the reason I wrote it this way was because I had one specific story that taught me everything I learned in this book.

Sara Lohse [00:09:29]:

Basically, we've all heard the story. It's the stupid tattoo story that I told to Joe Sal Sehai way back in the day, and everything kind of changed from there. But it's that story taught me what I needed to know about the importance of storytelling and how to tell stories. And if it taught me that, I figured it could teach it to everybody else. So it would almost feel unnatural for me to try to find a different way to teach it. I'm trying to do this from a place of authenticity. So why, if I learned it through this story, this experience that I had, what am I going to do instead? Just go and, like, research other ways I could have learned this and teach it that way. Like, it just didn't make sense.

Sara Lohse [00:10:17]:

So I'd rather use my experiences and let people know that it's okay to share silly stories. It's okay to share, like, emotional stories. As long as you're getting to the goal that you have, just tell it, because someone's gonna want to hear it. And the way that you tell it is gonna make you memorable, and it's gonna make you have that impact.

Larry Roberts [00:10:41]:

That's a great testament to exactly what you did to write your book. And I love that, and I think it'll inspire a lot of people that are listening right now as well. Kind of give some insight, Sara, because I mean, you took. We'll call it the scenic route, and I call it the scenic route because you wrote it from a traditional perspective. So give us a little bit of insight into that creative process. And in that writing process, how can people that are listening right now learn from you and write their own book?

Sara Lohse [00:11:10]:

Yeah, it has been a pretty long. I think it's. We're in April now. I think I started it around April last year. So it's been about a year that I've been doing this. And that's honestly, from what I've heard from other people, that's not even that long. And. But it's also not a very long book.

Sara Lohse [00:11:28]:

It's not a novel. It's just a 200 page little book that I wrote, but it started. Pages and words and stuff. It's just, you know, it is what.

Larry Roberts [00:11:42]:

It is, and when you put it on the desk, it makes a thud.

Sara Lohse [00:11:46]:

It's, you know, it has a spine, but there's words on it. It's a book.

Larry Roberts [00:11:52]:

And. Hold on, now that's. I almost cussed because I took that as a personal dig.

Sara Lohse [00:12:00]:

I didn't mean it to be.

Larry Roberts [00:12:03]:

You said, oh, it's got a spine, when I quote unquote, wrote my book, and I did write chapter three. Thank you very much. When I wrote my book, that was my goal, just to have a spine. I wanted to make sure it was thick enough to have a spine where you can see the title and my name and my little red hat logo. So having the spine was. Was absolutely critical to me. But my approach was. Yes, totally, totally.

Sara Lohse [00:12:28]:

I was not meant to be a dig, I promise. It was really because I went around to different bookstores in my area to see if, like, they would carry my book or if I could do some kind of, like, book event at their store. And every single one asks, does it have a spine? Because that is one of the criteria for actually being in a physical bookstore. Like any book, basically, if you go through the right channels, you can be on Barnes and Noble's website, because it's just a very similar process as Amazon. But to actually be in their store, one of the main criteria is it has to have a spine. So that is why I said that. I promise.

Larry Roberts [00:13:07]:

But no, you're right, because you have to have that spine there, because most of the books, you know, they're in there with the spine facing out. Some books will be highlighted with the covers facing out, but primarily, you know, they're just like in a library, all you see is the spine of the book.

Sara Lohse [00:13:21]:

So, yeah, so, yeah, that is definitely something that you need. So promise it was, it was not a personal attack.

Larry Roberts [00:13:27]:

Oh, it was a personal attack. I'm feeling.

Sara Lohse [00:13:29]:

So one of the things that I learned through the process, though, is just you cannot give yourself a deadline. That was my biggest lesson with this book, is not to give myself a deadline because I had one. It was like October, and that meant I had to have the book, like the draft on in like late August if I wanted everything done. And that did not happen.

Larry Roberts [00:13:55]:

Well, it's only, we're only in April. May, is it may? I don't know.

Sara Lohse [00:13:59]:

It's April going on May. Book release date is April 25 because it is the perfect date.

Larry Roberts [00:14:06]:

But share with me again why that's the perfect date.

Sara Lohse [00:14:09]:

Because it's not too hot, not too cold. You only need a light jacket.

Larry Roberts [00:14:13]:

Okay. All right. And that is a reference from geniality. There you go. Miss Congeniality, man.

Sara Lohse [00:14:20]:

And that's what my people will get it.

Larry Roberts [00:14:22]:

I don't, that's what kills me is it doesn't like, and I haven't looked at the actual release date of Miss congeniality, but you use that so often, and I'm like, I don't even know if you were born when that movie came out.

Sara Lohse [00:14:33]:

I think I was. I think it was early two thousands.

Larry Roberts [00:14:36]:

Was it early two thousands?

Sara Lohse [00:14:37]:

I don't know.

Larry Roberts [00:14:38]:

I don't know. But anyways, no, great movie.

Sara Lohse [00:14:40]:

But that's. It's officially Miss Congeniality day, April 25. Is it really? It is. Because of that. Just like October 3 is mean girls day.

Larry Roberts [00:14:49]:

Oh, wow. Okay. Learn something new every day.

Sara Lohse [00:14:52]:

But I did give myself that deadline, and you probably remember, I was like, here, I have a book. It's done. And then I read it back. I'm like, what am I thinking? This is not good. It wasn't. There was not enough content. There was not enough stories, not enough information. It was just, I was so desperate to be like, I need to have this out.

Sara Lohse [00:15:15]:

And then I threw that deadline away and I gave myself more months. And I was rewriting this up until literally, actually yesterday, I got the final proofread back from my publisher. And while I was going in to put in the changes, I was like, oh, wait, no, I don't like this either. I'm going to rewrite this section. So don't give yourself a deadline. Like, you just need to. I know it's going to sound lame, but, like, wait to be hit by the inspiration and just follow your own timeline, because if you try to force it. It's not going to be what you want it to be.

Larry Roberts [00:15:50]:

See, and I totally dig that and totally respect that. But on the flip side of that challenge coin, if you're not watching, I literally just flipped a challenge coin over a lot of times, too. You just have to do it and you have to put it out there. If I look at the book that I just released a couple months ago, sure, there's things I would have done differently. There's more information I would have provided, there's more personal stories I would have included, but at the same time, I wouldn't have a book out as I sit here right now. So it really just depends on your perspective and what your goals are for your book. There's no right or wrong way either way, in my personal opinion, Sara, you may differ, but I don't think that there's necessarily a wrong approach. The one thing that I think Sara and I both can agree on, whether it's our approach or whatever it may be, is the power of having a book.

Sara Lohse [00:16:50]:

Yeah, I think just having a book on anything, it just automatically puts you on another level.

Larry Roberts [00:16:59]:

Okay. Okay, hold on. Medall that back a little bit, too. Maybe not anything, because I did write a book five years ago on. On podcasting, and that book didn't do shit for me. So.

Sara Lohse [00:17:11]:

But no, don't say that. Because ever since then, what has been in your bio? Amazon best selling author.

Larry Roberts [00:17:17]:

Yeah, Amazon number one best selling author because that did.

Sara Lohse [00:17:21]:

It did something.

Larry Roberts [00:17:22]:

Okay, it did that. But you know what's so funny is, is that I developed a bit of a patronizing approach to an Amazon number one bestseller because I didn't even play the game with my latest book. I didn't even care because I realized, and I learned. I didn't realize someone taught me that it's really just a game. And anybody can be an Amazon number one bestseller with almost anything you put out a little ebook. And if you position it properly and you understand the algorithm behind it, you can take your little ebook. And I say that patronizingly, but at the same time, I've been writing ebooks like a madman, and Sara will attest to that. I've got ebooks for everything.

Larry Roberts [00:18:03]:

That's AI proof. So definitely copycat. Yes, Sara definitely inspired me to do that. But I guess you're right. You know, if I really wanted to leverage that as an Amazon number one bestseller, I definitely could. And I'm not saying there's anything wrong with that. It's. And, you know, it's funny and we're going to tell a little story here.

Larry Roberts [00:18:22]:

It's, it's so funny. When you learn something about an industry that you used to just respect, used to be in awe of, and then you learn the behind the scenes, you go, oh, man, it's, it's, it's pulling back the curtain.

Sara Lohse [00:18:36]:

And the wizard is just some weird.

Larry Roberts [00:18:38]:

Man, 100%, you know? I remember just as a wee pup in my early twenties when I was selling cars, man, I thought car sales was just it. It was the pinnacle. And I would work my backside off, and I was salesman of the month, month after month, just this 21, 22 year old pup out there outselling these old men that have been in the industry forever. And they used to make fun of me left and right. It was whatever. But as I got more involved with the industry and I started seeing the back office of the industry, I was like, hold on, now I'm. I'm making x, but they're making x times a lot. And I'm like, why am I doing all the work in there, getting all the pay? And then I realized, you know, it wasn't quite as, as glamorous as the extra.

Larry Roberts [00:19:28]:

And this is, again, this is 91, 92, 93. It was pretty glamorous back then. And it was my first quote, unquote real job where I actually had a business card. So I knew I was official. You know, I was like, oh, my God, I'm so professional. I have a business card. But once I started seeing behind the scenes, it lost its shine. Same thing with the Amazon number one bestseller thing.

Larry Roberts [00:19:49]:

Once I saw how it worked, it lost its shine. But it doesn't matter whether or not some process has a shine or some glamour appeal to it. Having a book and even having that particular title, it still does so much to reinforce your brand and give insane credibility to you, your brand and your business. So regardless of whether you play the Amazon number one bestseller game or whatever it is that you're trying to do, having a book is invaluable.

Sara Lohse [00:20:24]:

It really is. And what you're saying with, like, back in the nineties and pulling back the curtain on the industry, like, the car industry, that's even like something I feel now. Because when I was just starting out in this industry and I would go to conferences, any person standing on that stage with a mic in their hand, I'm just like, this person. Like, I need to sit down and shut up and listen because they must be, they're probably famous. I just haven't heard of them because I'm sheltered. Like, they I'm sure that they are multi millionaires. All of this fast forward, what, two years? And I'm on that stage.

Larry Roberts [00:21:02]:

You met me, and then you got to know me, and you went, holy shit, this guy's what?

Sara Lohse [00:21:06]:

Yeah, but seriously, it's like, I look at those people just like, they must be experts. Immediately have my respect. But then I'm on those stages, and I'm like, oh, wait, this wasn't that hard. Like, they just. They just applied. And not to say that anyone that's speaking these conferences isn't worth, like, all that respect and everything. Of course they are, but it makes it feel a little differently when you're one of them. Yeah, it's kind of like, I don't want.

Sara Lohse [00:21:33]:

I don't remember who said it, but it's like, I don't want to be a part of any club that would have me. It kind of lost its shine once they let me in. I don't know. Maybe that's just me.

Larry Roberts [00:21:46]:

I think that goes, man, that's opening up a whole nother avenue of conversation. We need to go back and revisit imposter syndrome again.

Sara Lohse [00:21:54]:

I think that's. I think that's chapter seven.

Larry Roberts [00:21:57]:

There you go.

Sara Lohse [00:21:58]:

There you go.

Larry Roberts [00:22:00]:

Maybe, Sara, after we do this recording, you go back and you read chapter seven.

Sara Lohse [00:22:04]:

Should I read my book?

Larry Roberts [00:22:05]:

Maybe. Maybe that might be helpful.

Sara Lohse [00:22:07]:

It's chapter four.

Larry Roberts [00:22:08]:

Chapter four. All right.

Sara Lohse [00:22:09]:

Starts on page 51.

Larry Roberts [00:22:10]:

There you go. Chapter four. Page 51. Imposter syndrome. Clubs still have value, even if Sara is a member.

Sara Lohse [00:22:22]:

It's so true, though. Like, you didn't feel the same way. Like, you didn't go to conferences and be like, wow. And then you're on the stage, and.

Larry Roberts [00:22:28]:

You'Re like, yeah, 100% I do. I mean, all day, every day, every conference I go to, uh, it's. It's very, very difficult to keep that. That shine on whatever it is that you're doing, you know, once you do it. And, I mean, we'll. We'll take it back even further. We'll go back to the karate days, and I've probably shared this before, but you get that black belt. You're thinking, man, if I'm a black belt, I'm gonna be the cat daddy, and everybody's gonna love me, and it's gonna be awesome, and I'm gonna be the pinnacle of life.

Larry Roberts [00:22:59]:

It's gonna be great. And then you get that black belt. You're like, oh, okay, this is cool. Well, when I get that second degree, black belt is gonna be the shit.

Sara Lohse [00:23:08]:

Wait, it gets blacker.

Larry Roberts [00:23:10]:

It doesn't necessarily shades. You know, we didn't get. Just get a stripe. You get an extra stripe on the belt. You know, every rank gets you an extra stripe on that belt. So, you know, you just. You keep looking for the next thing. You keep looking for the next thing.

Sara Lohse [00:23:24]:

The hedonistic treadmill.

Larry Roberts [00:23:26]:

I don't know what that means, but it sounds interesting. Google it, because I have no idea what a heatedness tread. I mean, when I think hedonism, isn't that like a conference for nudists or something? I don't know what that is.

Sara Lohse [00:23:42]:

Hedonism is the, like, the search for, like, just joy, pleasure, all of that.

Larry Roberts [00:23:49]:


Sara Lohse [00:23:49]:

And the hedonistic treadmill is like, once you get it, then you just want something else. So you're just like, constantly moving. It never stops.

Larry Roberts [00:23:56]:


Sara Lohse [00:23:56]:

Never get to a destination. It's just like, yeah, and you're doing it naked if you want.

Larry Roberts [00:24:02]:

Okay. All right. But anyways, I got way off track there anyway. That's the whole point. But again, we had some fun with this conversation. But the book is something that I think is critically important to us taking part in and writing. And Sara's done that. It's getting ready to come out on the perfect day, and Sara wrote it in what she would consider the perfect way.

Larry Roberts [00:24:27]:

And, you know, I'm just here to go through the day. So I don't know, I'm rapping now.

Sara Lohse [00:24:34]:

So something like that.

Larry Roberts [00:24:36]:

Something like that.

Sara Lohse [00:24:38]:

But yes, my book does come out. Today is the 23rd, I want to say, and my book comes out on the 25th. So this Thursday. And it will be everywhere, including Amazon, of course. Or you can find it on That just got real salesy. But hey, go buy my book with that.

Larry Roberts [00:24:57]:

I know you'll get a lot of value out of Sara's book. I know she got a lot of value out of writing the book, and I got a lot of value in watching her journey through that process. And hopefully you can buy her book, get some value out of the book, come back to us, tell us all about it. But we really appreciate you listening, and hopefully you learned a little bit of something here and we've inspired you to write your book or open mine or even open hers. That'd be great, too. So two days from now on the 21st, opened Sara's book. So with that, do us a favor. If you like this episode, hit that subscribe button so we can bring you this episode and many, many more each and every week.

Larry Roberts [00:25:34]:

And with that. I'm Larry Roberts.

Sara Lohse [00:25:36]:

And I'm Sara Lohse, and we'll talk to you next week.