Almost everybody says they want to write a book, but it’s easier said than done. Tramayne Monaghan CA(SA), former CFO of Tencent Africa, used lockdown to achieve his dream and 21 months later, he is proud to say that his book The Shepherd and the Beast is on the shelves of bookstores −and he’s already on to his next book. His book is about facing your demons, meeting mentors, and true leadership. Here’s more about his book and his journey to getting is published.
A hero’s journey for leaders
Briefly tell us about yourself and your journey right from writing to getting Shepherd and the Beast published and on the shelf?
The journey kicked off in high school. I have always adored reading, and a part of experiencing the power of words in writing. I have always wanted to try to hone that skill. I started with my blog and columns here (ASA)and there. But the truth is lockdown was the main driver. Once we got into lockdown, I thought to myself, I can use this time efficiently and come out in a better place or come out in worse shape. So I just started.
My goal was to sell the book to one person I did not know. It was not overly ambitious. The journey of writing was my goal, so maybe it was just a passion project.
The writing was not easy; I spoke to different people and leaders and researched how to shape my narrative. But it does become slightly scientific in framing a story, which suited my CA brain. Once I made the framework, filling it became much easier!
Of course, I sent my book to a couple of publishers in the early stages, chapters one through three, and had no luck. But once I was finished, I had a bolt out of the blue experience with another author who introduced me to Tracey McDonald Publishers. Tracey and my editor, Janine, really helped me finetune the story and ultimately get it into bookstores!
Interesting title! What is the inspiration behind it?
Over my career, I have worked in all sorts of places and met some interesting characters along the way. I started to ruminate on my own experiences and the stories of others and realised in my own leadership growth, there was this dichotomy that existed. This fluidity is required to deal with people because situational awareness is critical. The title dramatises that dichotomy and the representations of all the stories we share throughout human existence.
Tell us more about the content about the book. What will one learn from it?
The book is a narrative-based book using mythology as its core. There is a reason these lessons and tales are passed down generations. They exist to teach us something. They live to push us on a journey in some shared way. The book looks at this journey and the likely characters you may face and outlines a framework for dealing with the shepherd and the beast. But also a framework to grow within and a few rules to live as a leader.
Who did you have in mind when you wrote it?
The characters in the stories are combinations of ‘real’ people’s stories. Mainly my own, but I have managed to speak to so many people over my career and absorbed their learnings as much as possible. The characters on the pages are those characters, but all characters are born to form a semblance of reality. The book itself was dedicated to young leaders, not young in age, but young in the journey. I was not blessed with natural leadership talents, especially self-identifying as an introvert as a teen. This book was dedicated to those who struggle with the duality of leading or blurring the lines.
You speak about facing your demons; what is one that you’ve had to face?
I think my giant demon is my internal voice. It keeps me quiet in scenarios that I should speak up in. This desire to be the listener, and thinker, has amplified this demon. I state in the book that every time I stood up, I never regretted it. So my demon is finding the duality of acting ‘more beast’.
What is your favourite chapter in the book?
This is hard, but it has to be ‘the frame’. I like boxes, and structure, and I really wanted the readers to come away with something tangible for their journey. I wanted there to be mantras you could say to yourself every day. These easy to digest frameworks on leading are essential to growth.
How did you make time to write the book?
Time is a scarce resource, but prioritisation is critical. Lockdown did afford me a bit of extra time from my daily commute, but the weekends were really where I had to push myself. It was about setting clear targets and deadlines for each chapter and trying to stick to them. I probably missed more deadlines than I hit, but at least I missed them by an inch. I stayed behind when my family went on weekends away, I declined events, but I knew either this or the book would drag on for a while. It meant so much to me that the sacrifices paled in comparison. I knew I was growing just by going through these motions.
Apparently, you’re already on to your next book. Tell us about it?
It is in the inception phase right now. I did think to myself, as I wrote the last few chapters of The Shepherd and The Beast, that there is a natural progression to the framing of leaders for book two. But book two is about being better at writing and storytelling. It is about pushing myself to do the excellent work twice. In terms of content, I am hoping to unpack the different archetypes of leaders we have met and dig into a few more leadership archetypes, but with the same sense. I also want it to be more practical, as opposed to narrative.
What are your plans for 2022?
While 2020 was survival mode, 2021 was stabilisation. 2022 is a recovery year for so many people. I would like to increase the time I spend consulting corporates on leadership and digital on my search for the side hustle, and I want to keep digging away at the book.
It took me 21 months to write The Shepherd and The Beast. Can I do the next one in twenty?