Working on “stuff that matters”


“It’s not about how much money you make but to work on stuff that matters," according to Tim O’Reilly, founder of O'Reilly Media.

At the recent Tools of Change conference, Tim O’Reilly mentioned during his keynote that writers tend to be motivated to work on “stuff that matters.” Through SAS Press, hundreds of authors have offered their time and talents to develop books that help SAS customers use their software more effectively. What motivates SAS Press authors to write a book? Some want to share their expertise. Some want to help fellow users answer questions quickly. Some want to be sure to be invited to the SAS Authors’ dinner every year. What’s universal among SAS authors is that, like you, they simply want to work on stuff that matters.

Radical Action for Radical Times
Jonathan Hornby with book Radical Action for Radical Times

Have you taken a look at the book, Radical Action for Radical Times? This is an example of how SAS author, Jonathan Hornby, took to heart the idea of working on “stuff that matters.” In 2008, Jonathan, then Director of Worldwide Marketing for Performance Management at SAS, was dismayed to hear the news of the collapse of Lehman Brothers. As the story unfolded, he became increasingly concerned about how companies would respond to the turmoil in the financial markets. He’d seen situations like this before, albeit on a smaller scale. The typical reaction would be to pull back and lay off staff. And, in the coming weeks, that’s what began to happen. Jonathan was concerned that thousands of jobs would be lost.

Jonathan wanted companies to see that there were other options. He brought together his industry experience and contacts with his understanding of Performance Management and Scorecarding to start his own campaign of sorts--Radical Action for Radical Times. His campaign would include a series of webinars with thought leaders from a variety of areas, speaking engagements, a book, and a website to keep the conversations going.

With the help of the International Speakers Bureau, Jonathan organized a panel of thought leaders who could speak to various aspects of the financial crisis--Joel Barker, Gabor George Burt, Tor Dahl, Kevin Freiberg, Gary Hoover, Geoffrey Moore, Martha Rogers, Carl Schramm, Mark Thompson, and Peter Turney.

Within two months, Jonathan had developed a series of webinars and interviewed the participants at length. The videos were made available through the SAS website. Jonathan created his blog around the topic. Three months later, he delivered the draft manuscript of the book. Although Jonathan had considered publishing the book through the Wiley and SAS Business Series, Wiley couldn’t guarantee the shortened timeline that Jonathan needed. So, we published the book through SAS Press. Within two months of receiving the final manuscript, editors and production finalized the book, printed it, and had it on the shelf.

Given that their objective was to help save companies and jobs, Jonathan and his contributors didn’t want to profit from the publication of the book. Instead, they wanted to use this book as an opportunity to give back. They decided to donate their royalties to charity.

Agreeing on the charity was easy. After consulting with Ann Goodnight and her daughter, Susan Ellis, both of whom are very involved in philanthropic activities, Jonathan and his contributors selected St. Baldrick’s Foundation, an organization whose mission is to identify and fund the most promising cancer research that can have the greatest impact for children with cancer.

Since the book was published, SAS Publications has sent an annual check to St. Baldrick’s Foundation. The feedback that Jonathan and the contributors have received has ranged from surprise to great respect. They all agree that donating the royalties was the right thing to do, especially in the face of the financial struggles being faced by so many.

The main objective for Jonathan and the contributors was to try to help companies find their way out of the financial crisis. To do that, they set aside their own interests and put their time toward doing work that mattered.

So, how about you? Are you ready to get to work on “stuff that matters” and write a book for your fellow SAS users? Contact SAS Press Acquisitions Editor, Shelley Sessoms. She’ll get you started!


About Author

Julie Platt


  1. What an great message! In a time where so many people feel that nothing is more important than profits, it's nice to see people put people first.

    • Jonathan Hornby on

      Thanks Susie ... and Julie. Writing the book was a great experience. So pleased it could help others. Interactions post publication have been great. Now working on a followup - same idea as before - royalties to charity/ goal to help others improve outcomes. Am exploring the topic of innovation in greater depth with 4 additional thought leaders. Slower schedule for this one - aiming for something in 2014.

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