“You’re looking for an invitation to a party you’re already at.”
I’m asking the legendary author and speaker, Jack Canfield, (co-creator of the Chicken Soup book series) for advice, how to move my writing to another level, how to maximize my speaking and training opportunities, how to brand myself, and this is what he tells me.
But isn’t this true for all of us?
First, let me give you some background. I step away from the corporate circus in March of this year—done doing work I don’t wanna’ do. I decide to launch a professional writing and speaking career. I will emphasize PROFESSIONAL because there is a big difference between simply writing and speaking versus deciding to turn PRO at it.
The first thing I do is engage a company out of Philadelphia. They do publicity and marketing. Their program is designed to launch budding speakers and writers, make them profitable. I find them online, they seem like good people, and so I write them a check. They are partnered with Jack Canfield and when Beth and I are back in Philly I learn that as part of their extended program you can access this exclusive audience with Jack. So Beth and I accept the invitation and we travel to Canfield’s spread in an expensive neighborhood in Santa Barbara. (BTW…if you are not familiar with the area, there is no inexpensive part of Santa Barbara.)
I have read many of Jack’s 200+ books, (over 120,000,000 in print) love the guy, can’t wait to meet him personally. We arrive at his massive estate. It is located in the Hope Ranch area of SB, it’s a secluded home; a long winding driveway through a security gate takes you back. Jack is at the door to greet us and offers us coffee. He says, “Mi casa is su casa.” I’m not that bright, but what I think that means is, please don’t steal anything or spill coffee on my wife’s expensive Persian rug. Jack couldn’t be nicer. After the Danish and coffee, the small mastermind group of wannabe authors and speakers is ushered to the big couch by the guys from Philly and Jack and that’s where the fun begins.
One by one we are invited up to the “hot seat”. You get 45 minutes to address Jack, Patti, (the President of his company) and the guys from Philly. You need to tell them what help you need while you also pitch them and the group on what you’re doing. You are supposed to tell them about your book, what your hook is, explain your gig. I go third, so I get to see what the flow is. I figure out in a hurry that it’s a bit like Shark Tank minus the green room, production value and editing.
I’m Joe B., I’m not going to freeze up, but when I get in the hot seat, Jack asks me what I plan to earn over the next year with the writing, speaking and training. I stammer out a big “I dunno’” followed by a much lower figure than he obviously expected to hear. I asked a few more dumb questions that he didn’t answer. Then he asked me more about the background of The CAP Equation© training program and the book. He asked about who I’d already been training and what the results are. He sensed my tepidness and slight lack of confidence and then he said it.
“It seems to me that you’re looking for an invitation to a party you’re already at.”
Everybody had a good laugh. Jack, Patti and the boys from Philly gave me a few ideas of how I could fine-tune what I was doing, then they asked me to go and sit back down on the couch. At the next break some other very cool people in attendance told me I seemed very experienced and talented. They mentioned that the material I am teaching sounded spot on. They validated me.
And I guess, although we don’t like to admit it, that’s what we are looking for, validation.
It doesn’t matter what new thing we are trying to do or achieve. It doesn’t matter what next level we are trying to get to as a salesperson or sales manager, it’s all the same. We are all scared, we are all insecure.
I have almost finished two books. One is a novel, a fictionalized story of some very real events that impacted me when I was a very young person. The working title is Drawing Circles. The other book is The CAP Equation. It’s ALMOST finished. Jack asked me how many hours I had left on my non-fiction book. I replied, “18 – 20 hours”. His right hand person, Patti, tapped me on the shoulder and said, “That’s one day’s work, Joe.”
I know there is a reason that I am not already finished with the book and they know I know the reason. It’s called FEAR. It’s called insecurity. They know. Jack and Patti have launched 200+ books. She told me all about how hard the first Chicken Soup book was to finish and sell. They know.
Then Patti pulled me off to the side and told me that when people come to talk to the great Jack Canfield they walk into “this massive and beautiful house”, they meet the “charismatic man” and they assume the writing process, the work, is easy for him. She told me it wasn’t. She’s been by his side for years, from the beginning. It seems he’s a mess when he’s trying to create something just like me and you are. She tells him it’s okay. She said, “I’m like his husband, and he’s like my wife.”
So, I feel better. If the best selling non-fiction author of the free world is a mess at times, it’s okay that I am too.
I came to Santa Barbara for mentorship and instead, got validation. The validation I needed. It also reminded me that we need to accept and get past the fear, insecurity and resistance we ALL feel each day.
We need to know that we are all AT THE PARTY ALREADY and everyone else there feels just as awkward and out of place inside as you do. The comment from Jack, one of the most talented and successful authors and speakers of all time was like Chicken Soup for Joe B.’s new author and speaker’s soul.
You are already at the party. You have all the seeds of greatness inside of you already. You have my permission to enter and succeed. Have a great time at the party.