Interview with Michael Sansolo, Co-Author of The Big Picture

Countless studies and years of work with some of the world’s most innovative companies have given Michael Sansolo a unique and diverse view of the changing nature of trends impacting shoppers, employees, competition, economics, supply chains and management. A long-time senior vice president of the Food Marketing Institute and now a consultant, speaker and author, Sansolo has traveled the globe working with companies on adjusting to new market conditions.

Sansolo recently co-authored The Big Picture: Essential Business Lessons from the Movies, a book that identifies creative lessons in leadership, marketing and workplace dynamics gleaned from movies as varied as The Godfather and Young Frankenstein. Topics in the book include: ethics, brand building, crisis management, outside-the-box thinking, diversity and more. He is also a contributing author to Shopper Marketing, a collaborative book produced by writers from around the world that examines the dynamics of shopper choices. Sansolo also writes a weekly column on wide-ranging business trends for, a daily blog with nearly 28,000 readers.

Sansolo is a frequent speaker and moderator at conferences and company meetings in the United States and around the globe, addressing crowds from 20 to 5,000; from college students to CEOs of Fortune 100 organizations. He conducts strategic planning retreats for companies and has designed conferences for a number of trade associations, including the widely acclaimed FMI Future Connect leadership conference.

Welcome to The Writer's Life, Michael. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?

Answer: Right out of college I found work on a local daily newspaper, which even 30 years later I look back on as my favorite job. The pay was lousy and the hours were worse, but the chance to write so much and get decent editing and direction helped me grow as a writer.

Although newspapers are long in my past, the lessons have never been lost. I approach all projects with a reporter’s eyes, asking questions, listening for answers and looking for what’s new. My career working with the food industry has allowed me to travel the world, see how people shop, cook and eat in far away places and meet marvelous people. But those reporter skills are always with me and always serve me well.

Can you please tell us about your book and why you wrote it?

Answer: Individuals and businesses who can best tell their story or narratives have a huge advantage in the world of business. My co-author, Kevin Coupe, and I believe that story telling is an important art, but one that many people cannot easily handle.

The goal of the book is to help everyone find stories that can explain what they do, what they aspire to do and what they hope to encourage those around them to do. Good movies tell wonderful stories and they are an easy medium for folks to use.

The book offers 50-plus short chapters, highlighting the essential (and sometimes unexpected) lessons from popular movies. We think these stories can provide anyone in business or the workforce with easy metaphors to make a complex point that will help them build sales, profits, career opportunities and success.

Plus, it can help you find the words for important moral lessons that too often are ignored or unmentioned in business. That includes finding your passion, learning to listen to opposing views and, of course, finding the wisdom and courage to do the right thing.

We think people will find these to be important lessons talked about in an easy and approachable manner.

What were some of the biggest challenges you faced writing it?

Answer: Obviously we had to re-watch a lot of movies and we had to make sure we were always stretched beyond the obvious. For example, many people know the movie A League of Their Own and think the chapter is about the most famous line: “There’s no crying in baseball.” Instead, we went in a different direction with that movie and many others.

Beyond that, a book requires an incredible sense of collaboration, especially when two people share the task. Kevin and I had to make certain we were maintaining similar standards of insight, story telling and creativity. We talked constantly and worked hard to make sure a reader will not notice whose words they are actually reading at that moment. (Plus we had light-hearted battles over who got to write about specific movies we both loved.)

In addition, the coordination with the editor and publisher is essential. We were on the same page with them about 50% of the time, but business requires that you quickly fix the other 50% and make decisions without ego that benefit the overall project.

Writing a book requires far more effort and focus than I think most people believe. The quality and energy can never lag. The story telling, even in a book of short chapters like this, must be consistently strong.

Do you have a press kit and what do you include in it? Does this press kit appear online and, if so, can you provide a link to where we can see it?

Answer: We have an incredible amount of information through our publisher. Please check Because Kevin and I do lots of public speaking and media work you can also find articles about us, interviews and more.

Have you either spoken to groups of people about your book or appeared on radio or TV? What are your upcoming plans for doing so?

Answer: Kevin and I have both been on the public speaking circuit for years, although our topics in the past have been all business. Now, we talk about the lessons of the books. We are constantly booked for events ranging in size from 20 people to thousands, from college students to company CEOS. You can find loads of information about us on our personal websites: or

We both have extensive experience in radio and television.

Do you have an agent and, if so, would you mind sharing who he/is is? If not, have you ever had an agent or do you even feel it’s necessary to have one?

Answer: While many speakers’ bureaus work with us, our book representation is done mostly with Brigantine Media and the Cadence Group.

We’re both baseball fans so we’re certainly open to talking with Scott Boras about A-Rod type money!

Did you, your agent or publisher prepare a media blitz before the book came out and would you like to tell us about it?

Answer: We’ve tried to approach this on every front. Our publisher, working with the Cadence Group, has been working the world of publishing blogs and media to get Kevin and me exposure. In fact, that’s how we found your website and we’re delighted to have this opportunity.

Kevin and I are also working with local media or any other contacts we have to get attention for the book. It’s humbling in this experience, but you have to be willing (and able) to get out and sell your book. Even Sarah Palin and Dan Brown have to do book tours. They just get to do it in first class style.

In our case, we’re working the phones and the web as best as possible.

Do you plan subsequent books?

Answer: Having done one we both have a sense of what it takes and honestly, I’d be delighted to travel this route again. The first was such a learning experience and while I love the book I think I can work better and more effectively on subsequent efforts.

I’m hoping time and the market will allow me to write many additional books.

Thank you for your interview, Michael. Would you like to tell my readers where they can find you on the web and how everyone can buy your book?

Answer: Thanks for this opportunity. You can find the book at or, of course, on Amazon.
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