Alma Angel never considered herself a writer. In June 2020, that changed when she received an email with an opportunity of a lifetime. With the support of the Portfolio Expansion Project (PEP) led by a Georgetown business school professor, she began her journey to becoming a published author.
Writing a book wasn’t in her plans, but she took the plunge after receiving feedback from her professor. On top of her MBA studies, she worked on the book for almost ten months and finally published it last week. If this isn’t a jefa move, I don’t know what is!
In today’s Jefa Conversation, she shares with us the inspiration behind her book Skilled: Why Customer Service is More Than a First Job, and her journey to becoming a published author.
I hope you enjoy her story!
Can you tell us what your book is all about?
My book is about the social skills people develop working in customer service roles. Whether people work in retail, restaurants, or hospitality, they are interacting with people. Many times people don’t realize the valuable skills they gain while working in these types of roles, and I wanted to highlight the importance of soft skills and emotional intelligence.
How did this idea come about?
I learned about the PEP fellowship program created by Georgetown professor Eric Koester through an email, and I decided to give it a try. Initially, I wanted to do a video project about social marketing, but the professor recommended I write a book instead.
Can you tell us more about the inspiration behind the book?
During this time, I was working on my cover letter and resume. I realized most of my experience was in customer service, and I was trying to figure out how to convey my skills in a way that showed my value. Through my research, I found a lot of information on how customer service can help the company, but I wanted to explore further how it can benefit the employee. I tried to answer why anyone would like to work in these jobs and what value it would bring to their career. I always felt people didn’t take my customer experience seriously, so my goals was to show people the importance of these skills and how they can capitalize the skills for future success.
Can you tell us about your writing process during this time?
The project started in June. From June through October, I researched the topic by conducting interviews, interpreting the research, and including my own stories. During that time, I wrote a draft of 25K words. My development editor supported me by providing feedback and keeping me accountable.
What was the most challenging part of the process for you?
The writing was the most challenging part for me. I’ve never considered myself a strong writer, so getting started was difficult. I’ve written research papers before, but this was nothing like it. I not only had to write, but I also had to interpret the information, find my voice, and be descriptive and share experiences.
What has been the most rewarding part of writing this book?
Getting it done and my transformation. My editor’s feedback was helpful as she would often tell me she was impressed that I was applying the feedback. Throughout the process, my writing kept improving. I went from being able to write 700 to 2,500 words. It was a great feeling knowing I accomplished writing an entire book.
What do you want the key takeaway of your book to be?
I want people who read my book to walk away with a newfound perspective about customer service. For those currently in customer service roles, I want them to realize that customer service skills can help them personally, socially, and professionally. If someone is considering a job in customer service, I hope that they can see that they can gain valuable skills with this book.
What is the best piece advice for an aspiring author?
Finding a support system is essential. My development editor helped me build my confidence and kept me accountable throughout the process. If you want to write a book, you should find people who can hold you accountable and provide support.
Thank you Alma for sharing your inspiring story of taking a risk and just going for it! You can learn more about Alma and her book by following her on Instagram @Alma.angel.aa. (Be sure to follow because something tells me this isn’t her last book!)