I Only Went And Wrote A Bloody Book!
Michael Caine Did Not Say That.
A famous line in movie history and a brilliant film. It’s always been a constant reminder to me that the best laid plans often aren’t. I learned a long time ago never to assume anything was done — until it was done. And even then I don’t take any chances.
Look a year ahead of you and it seems like you’ve got a lot of time. 12 months later you think what the hell happened — where did it go? Life eventually teaches us to take it ‘one day at a time.’ That way I get to live each day like it’s my last. I get to manage my own expectations and never apologise or criticise as others figure out theirs. ‘You can only do you’ as my daughter constantly reminds me.
And then one fateful day all my chickens came home to roost. All those ‘one-days-at-a-time’ challenged me to a duel.
All At Sea
I had met a publisher, on a boat out at sea. He told me that I had a book in me. Yep, that’s the most overused line to inspire a would be author but it came at a good time for me. I do have a lot of stories and they are what made me who I am — when you come right down to it it’s what makes each one us.
Naturally occurring diamonds are quite ordinary at first glance, their true beauty (as jewels) only emerges through the cutting and polishing process. A brutal and painful process!
And so it was — this story. A diamond in the rough.
I started out in an East End Of London street market. Went into the Ad Industry, loved it, understood it, challenged them to change it, watched impatiently as they didn’t — and eventually outgrew it.
Luckily for me some visionary, mavericks (other diamonds in the rough), agreed with me that it needed disrupting. And now, a year on from my departure, the entire industry, alongside many others, are in conflict with themselves — battling blindly through a sequence of upheavals and reinventions.
The Rough Diamond*
Writing the book was in lots of ways cathartic. It follows the path of my pain and my joy — it demonstrates that we all have two choices. Whatever happens — learn from it and exploit it or let it overwhelm you and diminish your light.
The creation of the book itself proved the point. A microcosm of my entire life. It was an experience I’ve learned so much from — more pain and more joy. In so many ways it mirrored everything I’ve ever done.
* The title of the book comes from the future talent programme — we set up many years ago, to find the diverse thinkers — often the outcasts — to delight in their diverse lives and equip them for a more meaningful future.
So, to cut a long story short!
Chapter One — So You Want To Write A Book?
Thrown in at the deep end is an understatement. I’m not a writer. Being told that I should write about 4–5000 words a chapter as I was staring at 15 empty chapters (with little more than a working headline) was not the best moment of my life. In fact I combusted — spontaneously.
I knew I had to find a way around. I was never going to write it down so I spoke it into my phone. And bit by bit the thing emerged. It was painful — it was my third child.
Chapter Two — A Trial. And Error.
As it is with all children, they cause you immense pain but then they start to inspire you. After nine months a body of work began to emerge. The polishing and cutting had been a labour of love and taken its toll. But there it was.
Unlike, the more traditional publishers this was far more of a collective effort. It wasn’t always clear how things would work. Like life there was a lot of trial and error. And because I’m not a writer — there was a lot of error.
Several different methods were tried to edit the thing. There was many an attempt to design covers. There was a series of different promotional approaches — each started and shifted and eventually it was done. The printer was told to go ahead.
Chapter Three — It Was A Difficult Child
There were two launches, one in Los Angeles and another shortly after in London. The lessons came thicker and faster. The world we live in is now almost completely digital — everyone in business will tell you that. And that means your mistakes show up way quicker than ever before. But so do the successes.
We buy on line, we have conversations online, we try to trust the process that we believe exists on line (we find out they don’t)— and we assume everything will happen perfectly. And when it doesn’t go to plan all we can do is learn, blow the bloody doors off and move on.
ARC — Don’t Ask
For some reason, now lost to humankind, the Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) which was most definitely Not For Sale — became an abbreviation I will carry with me for the rest of my days. But it also became the product that was available — and distributed on Amazon. In spite of that it reached Number I Bestseller status — maybe that’s the lesson of being a mischievous child.
Chapter Four — It Was ‘Bloody’ Alright
And would I do it all again? Hell Yeah!
- I was relentless. During the days never I stopped believing it could be done. At night I doubted anyone would ever read it. I never imagined it would be a number one bestseller.
- I learned that my stories were valued by others and that my publisher was right — I do have some great stories that deserve to be told. I know many other folk who do too.
- I’m privileged to have a team around me. My family and now my three businesses — the people who rally around — a team that kick’s ass and also want to get stuff done.
- I’ve proven to myself that never saying no, always believing there’s a way — is the way. That by inspiring others and staying truthful, you really can make anything happen — if you want it badly enough.
- There are people you meet who are not your tribe. When you know that, you can’t fail to let them know. It’s OK. You can’t please all of the people. One of my very best friends (on the film above) tells it like it is — I definitely don’t drink the ‘Kool Aid.’
- I made some big decisions in how I wanted this book to get out into the world. It wasn’t the traditional way to produce a book. We all learned on the journey. We knew what we wanted it to say. We always knew it was to be the basis of bigger things. We broke a few eggs. We will break a few more. I know what I want and I will always put complete trust in others, until proven that I can’t anymore.
- Above all, and in spite of everything in its way, I managed to get from empty pages to fulfilment of an ambition I didn’t know I had. I did it by doing what I do best — putting my heart and mind into it, knowing my strengths, leveraging the best resources I can find, inspiring everyone of them and being honest about myself and those who I love.