As of Thursday, June 11th, you could buy “Working Out Loud” on Amazon. I thought I would simply feel happy. But it turned out to be a bit more complicated than that.
My first reaction was surprise. You might find that odd considering I had been working toward publishing the book for a few years. But on Wednesday, I was told it would take “3 to 5 business days.” Then on Thursday morning at 10:15, I saw this:
My pulse quickened. I didn’t know Pia Helm from Munich. She must be mistaken, I thought. So I went on Amazon, searched for “working out loud,” and there it was.
I sent out tweets and Facebook updates to let people know, and the next 2 days were filled with congratulations and good feeling from around the world.
A colleague I have never spoken with before wrote this beautiful Amazon review:
“I am using this book currently in a Working Out Loud Circle at work and I am so impressed with how simple it is to implement and how effective the techniques are. After just one WOL Circle meeting, I was already feeling more connected with my colleagues and more encouraged about my career. I believe at the end of 12 weeks, I will be well on my way to new habits to accomplish my goal. I believe I will return to this method to reach future goals, and hope to implement many of the insights in my day to day work habits as well.
Bravo! It is long overdue for someone to address the problem of work not being as fulfilling as it could be. The secret indeed lies with us, our interactions with our fellow human beings, and gratitude and kindness.”
Although I’ve been writing for a while, it’s still an extraordinary thing to feel connected with people around the world. Friends, family, colleagues, strangers - all connected by their interest in an idea. I felt like I was part of something bigger than me and it felt good.
All the nice comments from my network made me happy. Seeing a bulk order from my firm for 350 copies (one for every intern in the US) made me feel even happier. Not just because I sold books but because it felt like a symbol of institutional validation.
The day the book was available, I was invited to give a keynote speech in Sydney. And I spoke to two other companies who are interested in spreading the practice of working out loud among their employees.
I was feeling happy about the present and also about the possibilities.
Anxious? Yes. It didn’t take long for the snakes in my head to appear: What if someone gives it a 1-star review? What if they don’t think it’s good enough? What if there’s a problem with my thinking, writing, or research?
As those thoughts popped into my head, I remembered the two quotes I cited in the book.
“You can be a delicious, ripe peach and there will still be people in the world who hate peaches.” - Dita Von Teese
“It’s arrogant to assume that you’ve made something so extraordinary that everyone everywhere should embrace it.” - Seth Godin
Of course I looked at the online royalty report to see how many I sold. I won’t tell you how often I did that but it was more than once. It's clear that whether I sell 1,000 or 10,000 or even 100,000, it's still a small number compared to how many people I want to help.
In my letter from my future self that I wrote over five years ago (and is also in the book), I included that I'll have known I reached my goal when “I will have authored a book or other notable content that more than 20,000 people read.”
Now I know that books alone are not enough.
I remind myself that the book is both a culmination and a beginning. It’s an important step, and now there are other steps to take.
One of the most important next steps is a movement to form at least 1,000 Working Out Loud circles this year. In the first few days after it was announced, already people from 7 countries have pledged over 300 peer support groups. (You can see the growing list and add your own name here.)
Other steps include making it easier for people to take their own steps and make working out loud a habit. Working with companies and HR associations to include working out loud as a practice. Helping students work out loud so they have access to opportunities. Work with people who normally don’t have such access to equip and empower them to get it.
Nine months ago, when I thought the book was almost finished, I wrote that the book launch party might take three years. That sounds about right.