“Pub date” is shorthand for publication date—the day when a new book is out. Here are a few thoughts I starting writing on a short break from a five-week process of full-time preparations. I’m now flying to New York City … preparing for launch! On Tuesday we’ll debut the book.
The taxi comes to my house at 6:15am. I’m on a journey… and this time I’m not jetting out to central Africa or a tiny island in the Pacific. I’m headed instead to Kennedy airport in New York, and after I’ve been there for a couple days, I’ll be going to a different city every day.
It’s taken a while for this departure day to arrive, and I don’t mean the ten years of travel (although that should count for something) or the three years of research that went into writing the book (that too). I mean the five weeks before pub date, before all the fanfare starts and we enter another new phase.
This is how it goes.
I have a whiteboard in my office where I write the daily countdown to pub date. It started at 42 days out, and every day I cross another off the list.
When I traveled to Abu Dhabi for a few days of soft adventure last month, I wanted to take the board with me. I ended up leaving it at home, but I still did the work.
The lesson of The $100 Startup launch, now two years old, remains constant: the things you do now will affect the options available to you later.
I try to keep this lesson in mind as I work toward the goal.
So I develop a new ritual. Every morning, I get up at 6am. No snooze alarm allowed… and I am the king of snooze alarms! But not now. There’s no time to snooze before a book comes out.
Before I do anything else, I work on things to prepare for the launch. I talk to my friends and do several interviews a day. Some of these interviews are big and influential—Marie Forleo wanted to talk to me again!—and others are small. But I’ve always operated on a theory of “do whatever you possibly can.” And besides, you never know what will happen with something down the road. Maybe the small thing will become the big thing.
Most days I run three miles in the park. Not super challenging, of course, but the ritual of it at 6:30am every morning provides a great start to the day.
I take a shower, make coffee, and keep working, doing calls with my publisher and writing various guest pieces for publication next week.
Eventually I go to lunch and take a short break. I read the New Yorker with my Thai noodles or rice bowl, but my notebook of tasks is never far away. In the mid-afternoon, it’s back to work on another interview or sending the pre-order addresses off or some other task that relates to the goal.
I have spreadsheets taped up all around my office. There are post-it notes on the walls and the floor. Always a next step! Always something more to be done.
Here’s a secret. Everyone thinks that you have to do everything in a certain order. They think that if you get the order wrong, even if you work hard, you’re screwed.
But this isn’t true!
Or at least, it doesn’t have to be. If you’re not sure what to do next, just do something. If you aren’t sure what the best next step is, just take any step you can see.
If you don’t, you’ll remain stuck waiting for a magical answer that doesn’t exist. And that’s how you lose, not because you did something in an improper order.
They also think that success is bestowed upon you somehow—by the blog fairy, Oprah, a cabal of literary gatekeepers, or some other mysterious group. Who knows? Maybe sometimes it is. Nice work if you can get it.
If you can’t, you have another option: work your ass off. Hard work is a scientifically proven path to success.
If you put your heart and soul into something, you can achieve great things. If the items on your to-do-list number less than 100, you’re missing something.
It’s a lot like a quest, actually—to debut a big project, there’s lots of behind-the-scenes work that no one notices. There are many steps along the way. The final outcome isn’t as important as the effort required to get there.
And now it’s time for it to begin. Almost.
Question: How do you feel about beginning something new?
Friend and readers! I hope to see you on the road or at least from afar. I’m super excited about this project, and I hope you’ll join me for the journey in some fashion.
If you’re reading this before Tuesday, you can still pre-order from Amazon or your local bookseller. After that, well, you can order.