By Denise M. Michaels
“Work harder! You can sleep when you’re dead!!”
Those were the words of a 30-something entrepreneur I saw at a small business seminar last year. I sighed and continued the swirling, curving doodle in my notebook. The good-looking African American speaker partially-rapped through his presentation, making him entertaining as well. Clearly he was on a mission pursuing seminar fame and money.
When I bought my first business in 1983 he was probably a todder, running around his parents’ house in diapers. While I was going door-to-door to all the businesses in town with flyers, talking with owners and becoming active in the Chamber of Commerce he was playing with Tonka trucks.
Over the years I’ve worked for others but I’ve mostly been an entrepreneur. I’d rather be Captain of a nice sailboat than the Cruise Director on a massive ship. The guy on the platform was on a quest to buy his first Bentley. I’ve decided my priorities are different. I’ll get a full night of sleep as often as I can.
Here’s the experience that convinced me the desire for more and bigger doesn’t always lead to happiness.
In November 1999 I went to work for a mega-bestselling author and seminar leader. He was on TV for almost two decades when we connected and his books shot to the top of the New York Times bestseller list. I trained members of his entrepreneurial program in marketing, spoke at his events and more. My audiences grew bigger and people started whispering heady thing like, “Denise you’re brilliant. You’ll be bigger than him.”
Those words motivated me and I got stars in my eyes. I didn’t seek the stage but saw it as a way to achieve the star power that sells books. My dream was to write. I loved writing and majored in both Journalism and Marketing. During my tenure working with him I got the idea for my book. Once it came out I’d be an author and writer, I figured.
Once it was released I stepped away from his big organization. It was time to chart my own course. I had the book and my brand in place, but I discovered being a book author, seminar leader and coach means constantly promoting. Though I sold thousands of copies in the first 30 days, I kept pushing for years. I enjoy marketing and selling, but not constantly. No matter how hard I worked there were always dozens of things to do. I wanted to write more but I was busy making new connections, doing radio interviews, networking, speaking on platforms, conducting my own workshop and webinars, filling those workshops and webinars with attendees, writing copy for sales letters and more.
People were counting on me to become bigger than my former boss. Most of my time was spent endlessly promoting like the guy on that platform. Isn’t growing your brand and your business the American entrepreneurial dream? It felt like it wasn’t okay to say, “Hey, I’m enough.”
I thought it was what I wanted because so many people encouraged me. I saw the recognition and influence brings you more followers, attendees, clients, etc. I didn’t want or need “fame.” But if it was part of the game, well okay. Keep in mind book authors and seminar leaders never gain Hollywood-style fame, hounded by paparazzi. They can walk down a street without crazy fans screaming and pulling at their clothes. But when they’re around followers like at a conference where they’re speaking, they must be “on” 100 percent of the time.
After a conversation with a friend who’s a brilliant business strategist I finally decided I didn’t want to be a CEO. I wanted to write. I didn’t want to manage employees and deal with the headaches of running a growing team. I didn’t even care about getting the credit anymore. I just wanted to get paid for writing.
Finally, I said, “Enough!” I decided to make a massive shift and help people become book authors. It took off.
Many pieces fell in place on the road to becoming a leading ghostwriter of how-to and personal growth books. My writing skills led to referrals in an arena where confidentiality is essential. I can’t talk about the books I’ve written. The first four ghostwritten books I did fell in my lap easily. The next three came easily, too. I’m not a big corporation. I’m not interested in helping other writers. I can only write a few books a year.
There was little need to speak on big platforms anymore. If asked I’ll accept. I say yes to internet radio appearances, too. But I don’t seek either of them out. In a way my world has become a lot smaller. A sign on the wall near my desk reads, “This is my happy place.”
Here’s what’s different: I often have enough projects going to skip marketing for months. The majority of my time is focused on writing.
All that work promoting my book a decade ago brought a level of influence as an author and speaker. When I began making the shift, I felt helping people with books was a huge step backward into obscurity. I was afraid of being perceived as giving up. However, by being more authentically me, I was happier than ever. Within six months I was doing just as well financially.
It’s possible what you’re doing is absolutely ideal for you and you’re happy. It’s also possible what you’re doing, while exciting at first is no longer your passion or your purpose. You’ve been there, done that and got the T-shirt.
Examine what matters to you now and what lights you up. Has it changed from what it was several years ago? If you’ve accomplished some of your big, hairy, audacious goals – maybe it’s time to lean in a new direction adding on to what you’ve already done. You never totally leave the experience you’ve gained. You simply builds as you embark on your next venture in life. It’s okay to be you. It’s okay to say, “I’m enough just as I am.”
Denise M. Michaels is a ghostwriter and book coach. She helps CEOs, entrepreneurs, therapists, speakers and aspiring authors become recognizable and influential. Using the leverage a book provides you can become the go-to expert in your niche. Contact her by clicking here now.