Thursday, July 13, 2006

Jack & JL went up the hill...

...but Jack got there first.

Have you ever arrived at a destination or achieved something that left you wondering how you got there? If you would have told me 15 years ago that I would one day write marketing material for some of the worlds largest corporations or that for several years I'd be invited to spend an afternoon each summer on a billionaire's twelve million dollar yacht, or that I'd write a speech for Walter Mondale without telling him I was a Republican, I'd have asked you what you were smoking. Those are only a few of the stories that fall into this amazing "how did I get here" category that I've collected over the years. Today is another one of those stories.

Now that I'm 47-years-old and a few gray hairs are beginning to create that look that says mid-life is here, I've begun to appreciate some of the surprises that have come my way. However, should you find yourself thinking it was all completely random, I've got a secret I want to share. It wasn't. I used to think it was but now I've got a different perspective. There are links.

Today's posting includes one of those, "how did I get here" moments. Well, here's how it happened. You see, my previous post tells you the story of my journey into New York City awhile back and my chance meeting with a budding movie maker. Remember Sonny? I had volunteered to give her a ride into Manhattan in exchange for her map reading skills and directions that would get me on my way to upper Connecticut.

While we headed into New York City and practiced our stop-and-go driving, very much like touch-and-go that pilots practice, she told me about a project she would be directing after getting back to Minneapolis. I had promised her that I'd go see her movie when I got home and would also give consideration to her invitation to help with the upcoming assignment. Upon arriving back in the Twin Cities, I made arrangements to go see Sonny's movie at the Bell Museum and even bought her DVD after the showing.

Last week I offered more support by accepting her second invitation which was to follow my nose out to Paisley Park Studios, located in Chanhassan, MN. If you're not familiar with Paisley Park, it's the studio that our hometown superstar Prince owns. My agreement to help involved being a volunteer studio audience member for the filming of 20 or more authors who have made the New York Times Best Sellers list. I was motivated more with the opportunity to take a shortcut to reading their latest books by hearing them in person. In other words, I wanted to end that week with the claim that I'd just read twenty books by actually having the authors tell me their story personally. You know me, life is about the adventure and once and awhile finding a good chuckle.

I had registered to be an audience member for the Monday and Tuesday sessions and not really planning on much more than that. However, after my first two days I decided I was having too much fun and learning a lot about life from these world class authors. It inspired me. The filming sessions went from 10:00 A.M. to 2:00 P.M. and then 3:00 P.M. to 7:00 P.M. I returned Wednesday and enjoyed the morning sessions before taking my hour for lunch. Upon returning I had no idea what surprise awaited me. It was going to be our last session of the day that would become another of my "how did I get here" moments.

Each filming session began with practicing the introductions and applause just so the producer could make sure we were remaining a lively audience. Then, here came the introduction of someone who hadn't been on the list. "Ladies and gentlemen, help me welcome Jack Canfield." What? The guy who has sold over 80 million books? You mean the guy who has single handedly given chicken soup a whole new purpose in life? Yep. That's the one. The one and only Chicken Soup for the Soul author was about to serve me my own personal bowl.

What was his story? He was introducing his latest book, The Success Principles, which include 64 secrets to success. But, what I really got from his presentation was his story relating to how he was first published. He said he had taken his first book to well over 100 publishers and experienced one rejection after another. When he finally found a publisher that would take him, it was a failing publisher that was on their way out of business. (Shortcut to the end of the story) Although it took about a year to take off, once it did, Jack shared a 1.1 million dollar royalty check each month for twelve months in a row with his partner, Mark Victor Hanson. Needless to say, he was on his way and the publisher was obviously not going to shut their doors any time soon. Jack has gone on to hold the Guinness world book of records for the most books listed simultaneously on the New York Times Best Sellers list. Seven to be exact. He has written over thirty books to date.

The other thing that inspired me was Jack's emphasis on setting clear and definable goals if you want to see your dreams come true. He explained how he and Mark had made a goal to do at least five things a day to promote their first book, even if it meant giving five copies away. That's when I suddenly had another dream and decided to set a goal.

I couldn't wait for the session to be over and the cameras to be turned off. As soon as Jack was finished I jumped out of my third row seat in an effort to beat the other 30 audience members to the front. I came in second and stood to wait my turn. Then, I delivered the lines I had been rehearsing over and over in my head. "Jack," I said, "I just had a dream that I'm turning into a goal and I even have figured out the ten steps it takes to achieve it." He gave me a look as if I was about to really deliver some life changing dream. Of course this is me we're talking about. I had something else to say. "Jack, my dream today is to have my picture taken with you and the ten steps I needed to take to achieve this goal began back at that chair. Can I get a picture with you?" He chuckled and the rest is chalked up to my history.

As a wannabe author, I was elated to rub shoulders with a guy that I considered no different than me except he was following through much more than I do. His inspirational story has gotten me to a place where I'm going to follow through on my own dream of becoming an author. I'm not worried about the fact that I flunked 10th-grade English. I'll hire a proof reader. I just want to finish what I started and then, start a second book. By the way, I often hate clicking the "Publish Post" button on my blog because I'm always sure there's something I didn't do correctly with a comma or a quote mark.

How did I get here? I ended up with the realization that offering someone a ride to Manhattan was how I ended up with my own ride to meet Jack Canfield. It's how I ended up in the audience to someday be seen by possibly hundreds of thousands of people who may buy the DVD that was filmed last Wednesday.

Over and above how I recently met Jack Canfield is where the entire journey actually began many years ago. It's actually about meeting a guy, Doug Sailor, in the early 1990's. Why? Because Doug and the company he worked for gave me the ride I needed to get a start-up advertising agency off the ground. It's how I would later end up on Stan Hubbard's twelve million dollar yacht each summer, meet and work with Irwin Jacobs, be hired by the U of M to help them with a 1.6 billion dollar capital campaign, and get an early phone call one morning from Paul Ridgeway and Harvey Mckay when they needed someone to help come up with the idea "" in an effort to collect over 50,000 signatures from the fans.

Doug and his side-kick Matt, were my very first clients when I began in marketing and advertising. I was starting in my basement with only a computer and a dream. I had absolutely no college education relative to marketing and advertising. In fact, my son who was in Kindergarten at the time, had to show me how to put a disc in my computer. All I had was a creative mind and two guys, Doug and Matt, who believed in me and chose not to throw me from the train even though a few times I may have deserved it. I often think about the links that have connected from there to the present and how each client from that point on would forever be linked to the first guy that gave me a chance to be my creative and sometimes foolish self.

Many of the stories I draw on, as I travel the country and teach marketing and advertising workshops, have come out of the six or more years that I spent helping Doug and overall the twelve years of accumulating the clients that I met after him. If it were not for those experiences and those stories of both success and failure, I wouldn't have been hired by the Connecticut Credit Union League to deliver my day long workshop entitled, The Art of Marketing your Business and therefore not on an airplane to New York City where I'd find Sunny who ultimately got me in a position to meet a person I highly admire. And, in the end you wouldn't be reading today's story.

Thanks Matt & Doug for believing in me and thanks for the picture Jack. Now, if I can just finish my first book, maybe I'd become at least a hundredaire and afford a proof reader for my blog.

Todays thought:
Give all the rides you can and never assume you won't be receiving a ride in return. It's what gets you to the "How did I get here" moments in your life.
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