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JJ Barnes The Table Read

Written by JJ Barnes


I interviewed recruitment specialist Steve Guest about his career, his motivation, and what inspired him to write his new book, A Personal Brand Story.

Tell me a bit about who you are.

I was born and bred in the West Midlands, am degree educated, a qualified MCIPS (Member of the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply) buyer, married to Emma (20 years together this year!) and we have two beautiful boys, Ethan and Hugo.

Steve Guest, author of A Personal Brand Story, interview on The Table Read
Steve Guest, author of A Personal Brand Story

I’ve spent the last 15 years as a recruitment specialist, opening and building new regions, brands and businesses in the UK whilst actively specialising in recruiting commercial permanent placements within the construction sector.

It’s always my goal to champion the underdog – those quieter, unassuming people who often don’t believe in their capabilities. I love mentoring recruitment consultants into becoming top performing individuals in their specialist field and helping them to achieve their targets, ambitions and goals.

I founded the 12-Week Recruitment Mastery Programme, which offers a platform and forum for recruiters to discuss pain points, successes, as well as add value as a united force.

The past few years have seen me develop a reputation for retaining regional billing records for some of the biggest and well-known brands within the recruitment industry, and this has led me to become a recognised public event and keynote speaker. I also present ‘The Guestlist Podcast with Steve Guest’, which is listed in the global top 80 business podcasts, and founded and host ‘The Guestlist’ YouTube channel.

My first book, “Top Biller – The Life of a Recruiter”, was published in November 2019 and it has sold in 45 countries and remains the highest reviewed recruitment book globally on Amazon.

In August this year, I published my second book “A Personal Brand Story – Top Biller to Global Mentor”.

When did you first WANT to write a book?

Back in 2016, some three years before I wrote my first book, I was spending time with highly motivated, influential, wealthy individuals, all of whom elevated my thinking to new levels. All had written or were writing books.

The idea of writing a booked grew after I read “The Key Person of Influence” by international entrepreneur Daniel Priestley. When I met and spent some time with Daniel in London, we talked about building assets that continue to promote anywhere, particularly online (allowing ease of access for anyone, globally) and ensure that you become the ‘key person’ in your market – THE individual who everyone turns to in their hour of need.

When did you take a step to start writing?

I realised there was a gap in the market for recruitment books. When I started to do my research, the few recruitment books that were available were more textbook than story, but I wanted to innovate and create an easy-to-read recruitment book that documented my journey – the quiet, unassuming consultant who proved the doubters wrong. I wanted to write a story that would empower, motivate and inspire potential recruiters that they could do the same, regardless of what they are told. I wanted the book to become my ‘business card’ so I could become a bigger influence in my market.

How long did it take you to complete your first book from the first idea to release?

In total, 18 months, but that included a five-month break in-between as the ‘day job’ picked up and I lost the habit of writing content daily. It wasn’t until I committed and made myself accountable to a specific date to get over the line that I finished the draft.

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How long did it take you to complete your latest book from the first idea to release?

I initially wanted to get my second book, A Personal Brand Story, pushed through the process much faster than my first and started writing August 2020. I had aimed to get it published before the Christmas that year, but I quickly realized I was putting far too much pressure on myself. Nevertheless, the second book took 12 months from concept to being published.

Focusing on your latest release. What made you want to write A Personal Brand Story?

Social media marketing and personal branding is becoming more important and I know so many people who I mentor, coach and work with that struggle with these aspects. During the UK’s first lockdown in 2020, I spent almost 70 hours on Zoom calls, mentoring people in 28 countries. I made the offer of providing one-to-one advice when parts of the recruitment sector almost ground to a halt due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

During the calls, I discovered recruiters the world over felt fear and said their careers were at a dangerous precipice because they were furloughed, had lost their jobs or had no income because they were commission only.

I wrote this book in the hope that it would enable people who are starting out in their careers, or are at a crossroads and are considering how to start their own business, how to develop a personal brand and how to differentiate from their competitors.

From a selfish perspective, I also wanted to continue the ‘author’ journey and add further stories to the collection.

A Personal Brand Story by Steve Guest, on The Table Read
A Personal Brand Story by Steve Guest

What were your biggest challenges with writing A Personal Brand Story?

Ensuring this book added as much value as Top Biller. With Top Biller – The Life of a Recruiter, the bar of success and value have been set so high. I needed A Personal Brand Story to be at a similar level. Hopefully this will be achieved. Time will tell.

What was your research process for A Personal Brand Story?

My research comes from my mentoring and coaching , understanding on a global scale the pain points and what people go through or avoid, which have an effect on their potential success. I draw from my experience and look at what’s holding them back, what can be achieved if they simply had methods, strategies or a simple confidence boost. I want both of my books to show the world that you can achieve things even if you don’t fit the mould.

How did you plan the structure of A Personal Brand Story?

I decided to break the topics of content down in specific areas and work on them for a week or so to create the framework. I then considered the content and questions that I am asked on a daily, weekly basis – this formed the structure of each chapter.

I then worked with my editor to ensure it read as it should, leaving the reader without any doubt as to what each sentence or statement says.

The book and each chapter have their own introduction and conclusion or summary, which means I could tie up the ends to make the book flow throughout.

Did you get support with editing, and how much editing did A Personal Brand Story need?

Yes. I have a sarcastic, very dry sense of humour that can quite often get lost in text. I also write as I think – I am very structured in that I am process and procedure driven, which does not always make the most engaging copy, so adding in elements of humour (making sure it is well written) makes for a far better read. I worked through every sentence with my editor to ensure they read well and the points are understood. For me, having an editor involved is integral to success.

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What is the first piece of writing advice you would give to anyone inspired to write a book?

Just get writing, get the content down – there is always time to rewrite, reword and finesse. The hardest part of writing a book is starting and then staying consistent.

A fantastic approach that worked for me was to have a question / problem or scenario that I would write about each morning. I would know the question / problem or scenario the night before, get into the office an hour early and simply write my answers down, trying to use relevant stories that associate with the answer to offer context. This ensured I was consistent, structured and focused – but it also meant I was creating value in the content as I was answering people’s issues or questions.

Can you give me a hint about any further books you’re planning to write?

The plan is to write a book every 12 months, with an overall aim of getting to five books. I tend to focus on what’s relevant at the time and what demands are put in front of me. I want to add as much value as possible and hopefully answer as many pain points through each book’s content as possible.

I think the next book will be more ‘journal’ about a 12-month process or how I hit an astronomical sales target.

Writers Work - Get Paid to Write

And, finally, are your proud of your accomplishment? Was it worth the effort?

Yes, I am extremely proud. Before I wrote my first book, I was in a seminar of about 80 and the speaker asked how many people had written a book. About 8 hands went up, which surprised me, and the speaker then said: “Keep your hands up if you’ve sold more than 50 copies.” Every hand went down. 50 copies! That didn’t seem like much at all – so, for me, the minimum target was set.

When I published Top Biller 12 months later, I sold 6,000 copies and am still over the moon by the results. But most importantly, it’s the private messages of thanks I get from people telling me I have changed their life for the better or that I have given them confidence, empowered or motivated them in someway that has allowed them to advance. This is what makes it worth every effort.

Pop all your book, website and social media links here so the readers can find you:


Top Biller – The Life of a Recruiter https://www.amazon.co.uk/Top-Biller-Recruiter-Steve-Guest/dp/1916245900

A Personal Brand Story https://www.amazon.co.uk/Personal-Brand-Story-Biller-Global/dp/1916245927


LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/steveguest1/

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/steveguest

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/steve.guest.520


Apple https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/the-guest-list-with-steve-guest/id1558824907

Spotify https://open.spotify.com/show/2YLPIqrtc0AElN2p1x2rbz

YouTube https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCbFyY4BtxUFb4aYDFsO4x_

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