Draft author bio

Writing a bio should be a small thing, and I should be able to do it on my own.

But I need help because for this book and this message I am concerned that how I position myself will affect how the message is received. Plus it’s hard to get this right when it’s you – yourself, your thing!

I reckon there are two approaches to writing my bio for the book:

traditional approach – lots of credential-dropping, big names and big achievements, gives tangibles (like these bios)

accessible approach – less hype-y, more refreshing straightforward tone, hoping to build confidence in the reader

But sometimes with the latter people say ‘you’re being too down / not bigging it up enough’.

So here’s an attempt at the accessible approach – what do you think?

Author biography

Will McInnes is a reasonably normal human being who – like you – has mainly made it up as he’s gone along.

After dropping out of a politics degree at The University of Liverpool, and working his way up from a role where he had to make a hundred cold calls a day, Will ended up starting a different kind of company with fellow young entrepreneur Tom Nixon.

This company wasn’t to be just about money or success. It would celebrate people, purpose and work towards a better world.

Thanks to the passionate efforts of quite a few clever people along the way NixonMcInnes is today a pioneering social business consultancy that works with large organisations that need to change their culture, structure and skills to meet the demands of business in the 21st century. The work is enjoyable and exhausting.

NixonMcInnes itself is constantly experimenting with its own radical management practices and has been recognised by WorldBlu as one of the most democratic workplaces in the world for three years running. This is also enjoyable and exhausting.

Will’s work is divided between developing the company and spreading the word of a better business world through talks, workshops and writing.

Will lives in the creative city of Brighton, UK with his wife and two energetic young sons. He is a mountain biking geek, loves camping in the great outdoors and eating far too much curry.

That’s the ‘he’s a normal human’ approach.

For context, if I go the traditional route, it will talk about the many impressive organisations NixonMcInnes works with, me being a non-exec at Wired Sussex, drop in something tenuous about doing a short course at London Business School etc. Not hard to write – in fact, here’s a few I made earlier 🙂

What do you think?

16 comments

  1. stuart

    I think that’s really good. No one likes reading ‘hot air’ so I always think a normal, honest approach is best. Also it makes you human, i.e. fallible and approachable which can only be a good thing!

  2. guy1067

    I see the dilemma of extremes you face. Why don’t you ask people you know to write one sentence about you and that can be your bio. You can always draw on LinkedIn for the rest.

  3. Rebecca McMichael

    Nice. Like it. Could also add the business facts (not hot air but genuine achievements :-p) at the bottom. Some readers may like that bit / need it to establish credibility (am thinking of book sales here dood).

  4. Lou G

    Really love the tone, and I think you could get away with slipping in a couple of big shiny credentials too without them dominating and feeling all “look at me”. Maybe something around your passion about happiness at work and how this has landed you a TedEx speaker gig?

  5. pherborn

    Willbo, you’ve always been about being human and keeping it real. So I’m guessing in your gut you know your bio has to be the human one. I also don’t think there is anything wrong/un-human with slipping in some of the companies you’ve helped- just to sprinkle a little ‘look we are also credible by association’. There you go, that’s my contribution to the wisdom of the crowd 🙂

  6. Matt Matheson

    I’m with Phil H above. Defo keep it personal and human to cut through the crap you normally read on the back of books, but I think your OK to include a couple of credentials as long as it compliments your bio, as opposed to overake it. After – this is what your target audience is used to reading/seeing.

  7. cath

    Hey Will

    A detail really, but you’ve got 2 instances of ‘enjoyable and exhausting’ – I’d recommend getting rid of one or changing it to something else. 🙂

  8. tomnixon

    Agree with the keep it real comments but deffo add in more creds stuff. also wonder if it could be bit shorter – less is more if someone’s quickly scanning it. Very flattered to have a namecheck but don’t feel you have to – it’s not like you started a biz with Steve Jobs haha 🙂

  9. divydovy

    Hi Will, you can probably guess my answer. You’re looking for a simple ‘this or that’, whereas the solutions is probably a sumptuous blend of the two. To include achievements won’t detract from your humanity and the reason to include a bio is to establish your authority to those who don’t yet know it. Now all you need to do is find the right balance and keep it short 😉

  10. Pat

    Will, seriously there are a lot of ways I / the people you know would describe you but ‘reasonably normal’ isn’t one of them…

    Your a big idea thinking, democracy loving bike riding nutter from Puerto-sladé.

    P.

  11. rah_rah (@rah_rah)

    I completely agree with Divydovy’s comment. I have some people in mind that I want to give this book to and I want them to give it a chance to speak to them, I’m not confident they will take it seriously (read it even!) without your credentials. I also think you need adapt the bit about making it up as you went along – do you mean life in general or the way you developed your business? I think this statement is at risk of undermining that you take your business decisions seriously.

  12. Lisa Riemers

    I agree with rah_rah and Pat. The first time I read this, I saw “making it up as you’re going along dropout that does social media in between eating too much curry and pottering about by bike”.

    This currently sounds like it’s selling Nixon McInnes itself, rather than the people. While you might still be incredulous that it’s gotten to where it is today, you don’t need to announce it to everyone in your biog!

    I think be a bit less humble. Take a bit more credit, put in some credentials… I like Pat’s comment about big-thinking and democracy loving… you’ve got a lot to answer for (having pretty much single-handedly shamed me into specialising in social media after meeting you at a conference a few years ago amongst other things).

  13. Victoria Richardson (@victoriajane)

    One of my favourite clippings from a professional biog is this:
    “Described by The Independent newspaper as a “grade-A geek”, by the Centre for the Study of Financial Innovation as “one of the most user-friendly of the UK’s uber-techies” and by Financial World as “mad”

    It gives credibility but also shows personality because the comment sources are picked to reflect Dave Birch’s (http://www.dgwbirch.com/bio.html)character.
    It’s a bit like Guy’s idea – but the comment sources lend weight and give people new to you an easy hook.

  14. will mcinnes

    Thank you all – all of the comments have been really really helpful.

    Vic – love Dave’s bio, but unfortunately can’t think of anyone credible who has recently described me in such favourable terms 🙂

    I’ve added more creds to the previous approach and this is what it looks like:

    Will McInnes is Managing Director of NixonMcInnes, co-organiser of XXX event [we haven’t named it yet!] and a passionate voice on 21st century business at events and institutions around the world.

    After dropping out of university and a brief stint in a conventional job Will started a different kind of company with fellow young entrepreneur Tom Nixon.

    NixonMcInnes is now a pioneering social business consultancy working with large organisations that need to change their culture, structure and skills to meet the demands of business in the 21st century. The company has been recognised by WorldBlu as one of the most democratic workplaces in the world for three years running.

    Clients have included BBC, Barclays, Channel 4, Cisco, O2, The Foreign & Commonwealth Office and WWF.

    Will lives in the creative city of Brighton, UK with his wife and two energetic young sons. He is a mountain biking geek, loves camping in the great outdoors and eating far too much curry.

    Thank you for all the help peeps 🙂

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