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Mind Maps in Action: eBook Publishing

We're always excited to hear how people around the world are using mind maps to help them in their work and/or personal life, and this year, we plan to share more of these stories than ever before!

Our "Mind Maps in Action" series aims to share some of the experiences and learning of mappers from around the world, and we start today with the story of Jim Lauria, who is a long-term mapper, and water technology professional based in the USA! Jim has recently published an excellent new ebook called "How to get your money back from big companies", and used mind mapping extensively in all stages of the project! Here's his story...

What is your professional background?

I am a senior executive in the water technology field with a Bachelor of Chemical Engineering degree from Manhattan College. While living in Hong Kong, I did a trains, planes and automobiles tour of China visiting breweries, refineries and water treatment plants to justify a $45 million investment in Chinese mining operations. In 2004, I provided peer review for the World Health Organization's publication on drinking water treatment, making me a Who's Who of WHO.

I just released my latest book “How to Get Your Money Back From Big Companies,” a guide to getting restitution for botched customer service and defective products. I live in California with my wife, Laurie Lauria who brings my life love, laughter and alliteration.

When and how did you first start using mind maps?

I started using Mindjet in 1999 when my fiancée Laurie (yes, that’s right, she’s now my wife Laurie Lauria) showed me an article about mind mapping software she found in an airline magazine. She had seen me hand drawing mind maps that I used to enhance my creativity for problem solving. She recognized that since I was both an engineer and a writer, a software tool that would allow me to use both my left brain and right brain would be quite beneficial.

What is the focus of the new book?

As an experienced business executive, I give the average consumer secrets on how to get your money back for botched customer service and defective products, starting with ten sure-fire tips to help you get what you deserve. I publish the actual (sometimes hilarious) complaint letters I wrote that returned thousands of dollars to me over just the last five years from a satellite TV provider, a consumer products company, a hotel chain and two airlines. I give practical suggestions on exactly how to go about this process, and as an added bonus, I include a simple fill-in-the-blank template to help you easily write your own letters.

What sparked this idea for you?

My wife was the catalyst behind the book observing how I was successful in resolving complaints with big companies and wanting me to help the underdog consumer vs. large corporations. I wanted to show how no one is powerless to get restitution for poor customer experiences.

I just finished reading Malcolm Gladwell’s latest book, David and Goliath and in it he states that “the powerful are not as powerful as they seem – nor the weak as weak.” In this regard, I hope my ideas can give the average person the confidence to act as their own consumer advocate.

Finally, as a senior executive I wanted to present business lessons for the organizations themselves: market intelligence, market research, and building a customer-oriented culture in the first place.

What role did mind mapping play in helping you with the early stages of the book, when the idea was still embryonic?

I used mind mapping in the early stages of the book to define the reasons why I wanted to publish this eBook. This clarified the objectives and how I would measure the success of the book. Mind mapping also allowed me to organize my thoughts, experiences and reference materials to write the book quickly and easily. I mapped out the various letters I had written, reviewed each letter, critiqued them and saw how I refined each subsequent letter to achieve resolution as efficiently and effectively as possible.

How did mind mapping help you in planning for the book?

I used mind mapping as a way to research the best route to market – determining publishing, distribution and retail partners. I mapped targeted marketing messages to the various communities – my “tribes” as Seth Godin would say – that might have an interest in my book. And then I identified the platforms I would use to get the word out about my book – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Mindjet (Maps For That) - and of course Biggerplate!

Finally I created a unique free giveaway by making available 10 free tips in the form of a mind map on my website www.jimlauria.com to aid the general public in recovering their hard-earned money.

I also posted the map on Biggerplate: http://www.biggerplate.com/mindmaps/cWeZ7gHJ/how-to-get-your-money-back-from-big-companies

What next?

Based on the success of this book and requests from a number of readers, I am planning on publishing my next eBook, Mapping Your Way to eBook Publishing. As part of this process, Faizel Mohidin has requested I submit an article for his Using Mind Maps magazine summarizing my experience using mind mapping to publish eBooks.

In addition I continue to use mind mapping to write on water management issues with several articles and books scheduled to be published in 2014.

We would like to thank Jim for sharing his learning and experience with us, and wish him all the best with this book, and his future plans! Would you like to share your mind mapping experience with us? Get in touch with us on Twitter!

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Barney is Community Manager at Biggerplate and shares user stories, mind mapping tips, and other news and updates from our global member community!
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