In this interview, we talk to Dr. Bob Frey, author of the book, Successful Proposal Strategies On-the-Go!. We discuss the motivation behind writing the book, the target audience, the most useful aspects of the book, the challenges of writing the book, and advice for other engineers who are considering writing a book.
Dr. Bob Frey, founder of Successful Proposal Strategies, LLC, has an impressive track record of helping his clients secure over $8.39 billion in funded Federal Government contracts. He has worked on support services contracts for Defense, Civilian, and Intelligence Community agencies, including three billion-dollar winning proposals for NASA and the Department of Energy. With 36 years of experience, Dr. Bob has been a valuable contributor to 22 winning NASA proposals across multiple centers. He has also conducted training seminars for thousands of entrepreneurs, small and large business proposal staff, and government civil servants. Dr. Bob’s expertise extends to technical areas such as information technology, engineering, scientific support services, and telecommunications. He is well-versed in industry best practices and holds certifications in project management. The reach of his work is evident through library holdings in 66 countries and provinces worldwide.
1. What was your main motivation behind writing your book?
My primary motivation in writing Successful Proposal Strategies On-the-Go! was to document what I have learned professionally during the past 12 years. Through much of that time, I supported more than 105 unique customers, ranging from small and mid-tier businesses to Fortune 50 multinational corporations. Those engagements provided me with a wide spectrum of insights and lessons learned that became the focus of many of the vignettes in my new book. In addition, I wanted to reinforce the importance of “Strengths” rather than “win themes” and “discriminators” in proposals to the U.S. Federal Government. This is a topic that companies of all types and sizes will be well-served to build into their collective thinking.
2. Who is the main target audience for your book and what will they appreciate the most about the book?
My new book will bring value to executive leadership, business developers, capture managers, and proposal developers and managers, along with technical and programmatic subject matter experts/proposal content providers and knowledge managers. The type of company that serves as the model for the discussion across the 20 chapters is a support services organization.
3. What do you see your book being most useful for?
One of the major messages of my new book is that effective leadership, supportive organizational dynamics, and mature interpersonal and emotional skills are critical to long-term proposal success. Embedded in the pages are multiple specific, real-world examples of what the U.S. Federal Government, international businesses, and grant-making organizations deem to be important. Proposals must focus on what your organization will bring to your customer or prospective customer in terms about which that customer cares and will evaluate.
4. How did you find the writing of the book? Do you have a specific process or are you quite methodical in your writing approach?
For this particular book, I found that writing the content in short-story format coupled with applicable photographs that I have taken over time was an extremely effective and efficient process. I drew many of the vignettes from actual and recent professional experiences of mine that offer insights into how to plan, manage, write, illustrate, review, and win proposals.
5. What challenges did you face when writing the book and how did you overcome them?
In 2022, I had developed a Book Plan for Successful Proposal Strategies On-the-Go! I found that as I created content, I had to shift, re-align, and re-sequence topics during the writing process. Ideas did not emerge in specific chapter structure. Fundamentally, my focus was on ensuring that the book had an internal logic flow that aligned with real-world business.
6. What advice would you give to other professionals who are considering writing a book?
Read, a lot. Write, even more. And know your particular topic areas to such a degree that you can convey them in straightforward English. One of my doctoral advisors began her discussion with me during my defence of my dissertation with the following statement—we don’t want to hear about your study by referencing the academic literature and that data that you collected. Rather, tell us about your project in terms that your grandmother would understand. And this was without any advanced notice. More than 4 hours later, I successfully defended my dissertation. The process taught me to distill my major messages into accessible and consumable nuggets.
7. What are you working on next?
My next project is the 2.0 version of Successful Proposal Strategies On-the-Go! I already have four new topics developed into narrative. The Federal Government marketspace is evolving constantly, as is the broad spectrum of technologies with which I work. Regulations and directives change, and new terminology enters the lexicon of practitioners. Refreshed books are essential to stay on the leading edge.
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