Writing Like a Doctor with Dr. Seth François

Seth François, DBA is the founder and CEO of Imaginetainment, Inc., an NPO providing mentoring and internships in the areas of music production programs, film production programs, broadcasting programs, and other programs associated with the arts. Dr. François has over 35 years management & leadership experience encompassing contract negotiation & representation, staff training, gifts & endowments, running political campaigns, security management, mail processing & delivery management, and housing development management.

Dr. François is an accomplished public speaker, author, music producer, songwriter, & lyricist. He has also published a self-help book titled, A Woman’s Handbook for a Successful Relationship, The Business of Love. Dr. François is gearing up for his talk show “The Business of Love” 105.5 Internet Radio.


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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • How to choose your dissertation committee members
  • Finding time vs. scheduling time
  • The power of , “yet” in positive self-talk
  • The importance of having dissertation buddies
  • How to make sure that your proposal has a plan
  • Dr. François reveals the most challenging part of the dissertation
  • How to decide between qualitative and quantitative methods for your dissertation
  • Dr. François talks about The Business of Love
  • Writing your dissertation as your story, not just retelling their stories
  • Getting used to the joys and responsibilities of having the first name, Dr.

In this episode…

Can your handwriting determine whether you’re a good candidate for a doctoral degree? Probably not, but Dr. Seth didn’t let that stop him…

In this episode of An Unconventional Life, Dr. Seth François takes Dr. Russell Strickland through his dissertation journey. They discuss the hows, the whys, and the whatnots of the dissertation process, touching on the most important word to use to keep all of your self-talk positive and productive, the importance of dissertation buddies, and the most critical decision: quant or qual. Dr. Seth also shares the many exciting new opportunities his doctoral degree has brought to him.

Tune in, take notes, and get your dissertation done!

Resources Mentioned in this episode

Sponsor for this episode…

This episode is brought to you by Dissertation Done, America’s #1 authority in dissertation completion for working professionals.

Founded by Dr. Russell Strickland, Dissertation Done serves people in two ways:

  1. If you’re struggling with your dissertation, getting ready to start your dissertation, or just plain wanting to get your dissertation done as soon as possible, go to www.dissertationdone.com/done and Let’s Get Your Dissertation Done
  2. If you’re busy living your Unconventional Life and have a message that you want to share, maybe you should join our Expand Your Authority Program to become a published author. Go to www.dissertationdone.com/book and let me know that you’d like to talk about Expanding Your Authority.

Visit www.dissertationdone.com to learn more about our other services and leave a message or call them at 888-80-DR-NOW (888-803-7669) to schedule your free 30 to 45-minute phone consultation.

Episode Transcript

Disclaimer: This transcript is here for your reading convenience. It was created by machines and may (a-hem) contain some errors. If you email us about these errors, the machines will undoubtedly find out. I hope they won’t get angry.


Intro [00:00:03]

Welcome to An Unconventional Life, a podcast where we share stories about the crazy one percent out there who earned their doctoral degrees and then went on to use them in crazy, cool, unique and unconventional ways. Here’s your host, astrophysicist turned teacher, author, dissertation coach and more, Dr. Russell Strickland.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:00:29]

Hi, this is Dr. Russell Strickland, host of an Unconventional Life podcast, and today I am welcoming Dr. Seth François. Dr. François has, oh, gosh, there’s a lot of things you want to talk about. He was he earned his doctoral degree, his DBA at Walden University, which is my old stomping grounds. I used to be a faculty member there. He’s currently working as a as an adjunct professor and also is a consultant for his own company, Imaginetainment, which is just super interesting. We talked a little bit about that. I can’t wait to to include you guys in that conversation. So looking forward to speaking with Dr. François . But first, I’d like to remind you guys that today’s episode has been brought to you by Dissertation Done or will be brought to you by Dissertation Done. If you are a adult doctoral student, you’re working on your dissertation. You’re about to get to your dissertation. You’re struggling through your dissertation. Once you reach out and give us a call, reach out to us at DissertationDone.com/done. We’ll set up a call to talk to you to see if you might be a good candidate for our Fast-Track Your Dissertation coaching program. Our coaching students tend to graduate a year or two sooner than their peers, so we’d love to see if that might be a good fit. And if, by any chance, you’ve already graduated, you’re an expert out there looking to expand your authority. Well, we have Expand Your Authority author program where we take you from a blank page to being a published author. What better way to build your authority and show your expertise than by being able to say not only am I a doctor, but I literally wrote the book on my area of expertise? To find out more about that, go to DissertationDone.com/book. Dr. François, hello. Thank you. Welcome.


Dr. Seth François [00:02:14]

Good morning, how are you?


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:02:15]

I am doing very well, very well today. Thank you so much. So we were talking just a little bit earlier before we went on the air today about the fact that you were a student. You earned your doctoral degree a few years ago from Walden University in the DBA program. What did you what did you think of that experience? Tell me a little bit about what that was like for you.


Dr. Seth François [00:02:40]

First of all, Walden’s excellent school, and I really feel like it’s it’s just an excellent school and it really got me into the mode of really understanding that then I didn’t know much going through the dissertation.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:03:04]

I think you should quote with those before, but I was a T.A. at the University of Chicago and one of the professors there was teaching the science class for folks who aren’t going to take science after that one. And we were talking walking back from the class to to our department. And somehow it came up that he said that an undergraduate professor’s job is to teach those undergraduate students so they graduate knowing that they know everything. And the graduate professor’s job is to teach those graduate students so they graduate, realizing they know nothing. And I thought that was a really cool way of looking at it because, yeah, when you really start to study the you know, there’s so much out there, it’s really true.


Dr. Seth François [00:03:45]

It’s the process of getting a doctorate. It’s first of all, I, I was at a fair. I was the union negotiator, and they were having some type of event and Walden just happened to be set up in a booth and and we were set up in a booth and and we kind of started wondering, what about the program and what about this and. And the young lady was very nice and she said, well, I’m going to have someone get in contact with you about it, and I really wasn’t sure if I was going to go through it.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:04:26]



Dr. Seth François [00:04:28]

I’ve followed through and I went on and I said, OK, this is something I’m going to go in and try. And little did I know that this would probably be the most challenging experience in my whole life. It takes really good concentration, it takes a lot of dedication, and you have to be open not to be right.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:04:52]

Yeah, well, the dissertation’s not about being right or wrong, it’s about getting a committee to to be happy, basically getting your committee to accept your dissertation. That’s what this is all about. So that you can do that are wrong and most committees aren’t going to accept those. But there’s a lot of things you can do that are not right or wrong. It’s just a question as to whether the committee is going to sign off on it or not.


Dr. Seth François [00:05:21]

Right. You know, one of the things that I learned when I first got there, a couple of professors and a couple of students told me, they said to cooperate, to graduate like that one.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:05:36]

I like that one.


Dr. Seth François [00:05:38]

Yeah. You really don’t want to get in arguments with your dissertation committee.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:05:44]

Yeah, that’s true.


Dr. Seth François [00:05:45]

I mean, you want to choose your battles and and you want but the first thing I would recommend anyone that’s going into a dissertation program is to really research all the committee members and see if it’s a good fit, because it is. I mean, it’s like and like in human resources, there’s a good job match and there’s a good organizational match. And you have to make sure that doing a dissertation that is both that you got that fit.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:06:16]

Right. So it’s it’s a lot of students don’t get that opportunity to really choose their committee members. But when you can definitely take advantage and the way that you choose your committee members, by the way, as you start off by deciding what is it you really want to do. A few students who are in our group, I call this the podcast is An Unconventional Life because I look at doctoral students in two major groups. The traditional doctoral student is like the twenty-something year old kid who went from high school to college to graduate school, and they want to be a research professor. And then there’s the unconventional doctoral student who is an adult and a real adult with more like a mortgage and a family and a career, all those sorts of things.


Dr. Seth François [00:06:56]



Dr. Russell Strickland [00:06:57]

And you have that going on. Generally speaking, your dissertation is not really about the research specifically. It’s more about getting you to that doctoral degree. And the goal is to graduate as soon as possible. You need to make sure you’re picking your committee with that goal in mind. Some of your committee members will think that this is just supposed to be a very long and drawn out process. And for me, that would be a disqualifying belief pattern if I was sort of interviewing committee members. I want people to think, yeah, you work on this, you get it done, we’ll get you out the door and on to bigger and better things in life.


Dr. Seth François [00:07:31]

Yeah, there are I mean, like organizations like yours is very important just for guidance. You know, just beginning your dissertation and all phases, I mean, there’s some university to have three phases, 4 phases, 5 phases, whatever the case may be, but it’s really good to really understand and have someone guide you, especially if the university doesn’t have a template that you can that you can go through it and help you decide it.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:08:08]

So that’s one of those things where Walden’s an absolute superstar. Those write templates and rubrics are awesome. Then it’s a question as to how each committee member is going to apply those things and whether students get in trouble.


Dr. Seth François [00:08:23]

Oh, yes. I mean, but it’s totally doable. But again, you have to really, truly be dedicated to it. And not only do you have to be dedicated to you to the process, your family has to be dedicated to the process. There’s a lot of people that go through it and they may not have a spouse after getting into a doctoral program.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:08:51]

It’s definitely good that you’re on the same the same page going in to take a certain amount of time. Yeah, absolutely.


Dr. Seth François [00:09:00]

And you also have to learn how to combine things. I mean, when I went to a meeting or went to a doctor’s office, I always had my laptop. And I always when I was waiting, I was doing something for my dissertation. So I was always that opportunity when someone when I took the wife to the to the store, I was in the car typing, typing away and researching and doing that. So there’s ways to get around, you know, the interaction. But also you have to have a balance and and it just can’t be all of and you have to have work/life balance.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:09:43]

And I was going to say exactly that. You do whatever works for you and that obviously worked for you. But I tend to advise our students to set aside a couple of few hours a day, maybe an hour, hour and a half the morning, hour, hour and a half in the evening. If that works for you, but make that a meeting. Time for you with yourself and that’s your dissertation time. And really, if you’re if you’re focused and you’re organized two or three hours a day, five or six days a week, we’ll get you to graduation in about a year or so, which is a breakneck pace for a lot of people. They don’t. They don’t. It takes much longer than a year to get through the dissertation usually. But it’s about that organization and compartmentalizing, making sure that when you’re working on your dissertation, that’s what you’re doing. But if you’re starting and stopping and trying to work on your dissertation, whenever you have a minute, it can get to be very, very difficult. It’s got to be scheduled time, not found time. Like my coach, my coach says. I have a coach for my business. And that’s one of the things she says is when you want to get something done, he’s got to be scheduled. You can’t just find the time or fit it in. It has to be scheduled. So that’s something that I found that works really well.


Dr. Seth François [00:10:52]

Well, you said something very important. I mean, just like you schedule a meeting and you have to schedule your dissertation work and not only to schedule it, have an idea of what you’re going to do doing that that time period, like if you going to be researching a certain thing or if you’re going to be right in this section. And the other thing that I found that was useful for me is not looking at not looking at the dissertation as a whole document. It’s really breaking it down into bite size morsels that you can consume at the time.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:11:30]

Absolutely. Yeah. Well, sometimes use that analogy with with folks, you know, how do you eat an elephant? And the answer is one bite at a time. And and what folks sometimes need help with is what is a bite, when you’re talking about elephants? You guys figure out what the bite size piece is and then which piece do I do first? Because that’s important, too. A lot of people. Look up at sort of Mt. Dissertation, it’s this big, huge thing. And you’re standing just looking straight up and slack jawed like how am I ever going to get this thing started? And it’s one step at a time, but knowing which step to take, in which direction to go is really important, too.


Dr. Seth François [00:12:09]

Right. I mean, even as simple as just trying to trying to get that problem statement locked in and locked in. Right. I mean, that that without without a good problem statement just I mean, you can’t even begin to work on on it. Yeah.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:12:26]

Well that’s one I know. So I can tell that you’re coming from Walden, when you say that, because that’s what they do. And that’s one of those things where I would encourage folks to to flip this around and and do it kind of backwards from what the way a lot of universities teach. If you first think about what you’re actually going to do for your dissertation and then worry about how you’re going to present it later, I find that to be a lot easier because one of the problems that a lot of students have is they’re out there trying to write and they’re like, what am I writing? Where you say you have writer’s block, it generally means you don’t know what you’re doing. And that’s OK for a student to not know what you’re doing as long as you say, I don’t know what I’m doing yet and I’m going to get there, that’s OK. But as early as possible, we want to have a plan for that dissertation. And the plan needs to be, you know, how am I going to get my data? What is it what’s what’s that process going to look like? There’s a lot of details to it. So it’s when I talk to students, I say it’s rea easy: Who are you going to talk to? What are you going to ask them? And, what you can do with their answers? Sounds super simple, but you’ve got to break it down. You’ve got to know how to answer each of those questions very carefully. But once you’ve done that now, all of a sudden, as you’re looking at stuff for your literature review, you know, whether it fits with your project or not, it’s very easy to throw stuff out or to know how you’re going to use something when you’re thinking about that problem statement, which, again, I know Walden likes you to do first. Well, if you know what you’re going to be doing, then the problem you’re solving is a little bit easier to articulate versus if you start with that problem that you’re solving, you don’t know if you’re going to actually be able to solve it or not. You know, the getting it done part. So I like to to do that, to flip it around, to go backwards. And it takes a couple of few weeks to do that backwards piece. But once you’ve done that, the problem statement, like I said, comes relatively easily. People can waste months trying to get their problem statement together. Oh, yeah. Not having that plan. So I think this is a more efficient way of getting it done.


Dr. Seth François [00:14:20]

Yes, I had to rework my statement several times over and over and over and over and over again.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:14:30]

And it’s like a half page. Right?


Dr. Seth François [00:14:35]

Right. Right. Yeah. And then and then, you know, you you look at it and it’s. It is all about simplifying and trying to put it down in a very simple way, a very concise way, and so that the viewers can see exactly what you’re trying to achieve and. And but it just for me, it was it was really creating the right environment to get through that and that I have and teams.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:15:12]

Tell me that, What is  the right environment? What does that mean for you? What did that mean for you?


Dr. Seth François [00:15:15]

Well, the work, the right environment is having those people that are creating that synergy from other students that are trying to achieve the same thing, that you can bounce off information and bounce off.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:15:34]

How did you do that? I think what you’re talking about here is very, very important. How did you do that?


Dr. Seth François [00:15:39]

Well, you know, it was great for me. I ended up getting with a class. And one of the first things that I did was I send out an email and I said, look, this is going to be a long process. Who would like to be in a work group? And so we had a couple of people that got together and we actually went through the whole process for the most part, until we started getting into our individual dissertation. We went through just getting through all of the requirements of the classes and and helping each other, bouncing things off on each other as far as our dissertations and things of that nature. And it worked out. It worked out really good. Now, the other part of that is having a space in your home, or even if you were me, it was Starbucks. I would go to Starbucks, get a cup of coffee and sit there for a couple hours and just work on my on my dissertation and go. And, you know, I’m not trying to give a plug to Starbucks, but, yeah, they they help me out quite a bit or having a space in your in your home just somewhere that you know, that you can get a couple of hours of uninterrupted.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:17:03]

Let’s go back to Starbucks because a lot of people do like to leave their home to get this done. Did you find that to be a productive environment or did you find that to be a distraction for you? How did that work?


Dr. Seth François [00:17:15]

For me once and I use this this term called getting in the zone. Once I get in the zone and I write those complete the first couple of sentences. I don’t care if a truck is coming to a place. I’m just, I’m zoned in. And so that that is a thing and just getting in a place where you can get into that zone so that you can focus, get that focus. And sometimes it’s just difficult, especially when you have children and you have a spouse, that that it’s really not you know, she really wants to spend time with you and really want you to do things. And it is kind of you have to remove your place from from the house just to get into the zone.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:18:11]

Just to have that that uninterrupted time. Yeah. If you have a family calendar, when I mentioned scheduling your dissertation time, that’s a good way of letting folks know, hey, Dad’s working or Mom’s working, whatever it might be. So there’s kind of a do not disturb sign on the door. That’s that’s useful for some people.


Dr. Seth François [00:18:34]

A lot of kids and spouses don’t like that.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:18:37]

Yeah, well, I mean, you have to have a conversation about it, obviously. Yes. You don’t just stick a sign up. But yeah. And when you talk about that, a lot of folks talk about that in sports, that idea of getting in the zone. I remember when I was my and my initial or first kind of time going through school, I was actually in that traditional path and doing research and everything was going to be a research professor. It turns out that my dissertation advisor died unexpectedly in a plane crash and that was going to cause me to kind of start over. And I decided I decided to walk away. And then I ended up coming back as an unconventional student later on. But I remember when I was doing research like that and working on I was in an astronomy program, so be working with computers and things like that. And I could go and sit in my office and show up at nine o’clock in the morning. And there’s no windows in the in the crappy offices that give graduate students. So I could look up at my watch and find out it was seven o’clock at night. The next time I looked at it had missed lunch, starting to miss dinner just because I was in the zone and I was doing the thing. Was there anything, any tips or techniques that you use to get in the zone so that you could concentrate like that’s the Mack truck driving through wouldn’t bother you?

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Dr. Russell W. Strickland

RUSSELL STRICKLAND, Ph.D., has been referred to as a “rocket scientist turned management consultant.” In truth, he applies an eclectic body of work from astronomy and nuclear physics to dynamic inventory management to market research to each of his student engagements.