Who’s in your kitchen cabinet?

Who do you rely on to tell you the truth? Perhaps you’re trying to do something you’ve never done before - or doing something you shouldn’t be doing.

Who would give you honest feedback that’s truly meant to help you?

Candor and Caring: The Golden Girls' Kitchen Cabinet

Honesty or encouragement?

This week, I was struggling with something I’m trying to do, uncertain whether I’m going in the right direction or if I should even be going at all.

Although I get a lot of feedback from people that’s useful and encouraging, some feedback is particularly difficult to give. This week I needed brutal honesty more than encouragement, and that can jeopardize many relationships.

I thought about it and made appointments with two people.

My kitchen cabinet

These calls were about more than constructive feedback on an idea. They were also about what’s good for me as a person. If what I was trying to do wasn’t right (for me or for other people), I needed someone who had the courage to tell me that. Sorry, John, you’ve got it wrong this time.

My friend referred to these kinds of people as your “kitchen cabinet,” a phrase I hadn’t come across in a long time. She heard it in an interview between Brené Brown and Oprah Winfrey. At 6m:18s in this video, Brené asked Oprah how she stays open to feedback:

Oprah: “I’ve had a kitchen cabinet since the beginning of my career. Different people have been in that kitchen cabinet over the years…a few people who I know are going to tell me the truth, even the hard truths.”

Brené: “I’ve got a cabinet for sure. They will tell me what I don’t want to hear but need to hear. And will love me through it.”

That combination is key: candor and caring.

It can feel awful to hear that my idea won’t work or isn’t well thought-out, or have someone point out I’m doing things that are inconsistent or inauthentic. It can feel like an an attack on my capability and on me as a person.

But I need to hear it, and there are five or six people in my kitchen cabinet who I rely on for different topics in my life. When I know they have my interests in mind, then I stop defending myself, I listen, and I have a chance to grow.

Who - and what - are in your cabinet?

Keith Ferrazzi wrote about these relationships in Who’s Got Your Back? The Secret to Finding the 3 People Who Will Change Your Life:

“So whether you’re running a country, a business, or a household, you can’t know everything you need to know to be successful - no one can. We need the advice and feedback of people we trust..It’s the reason presidents create ‘kitchen cabinets’.”

The people in your cabinet are often different from those you consider friends. While some might know you and your family intimately, others may have a particular expertise that’s relevant to your goals. Some may be especially wise and compassionate because of their own life experiences. They’re the kinds of people that, though you may not speak often, when you do it’s about important topics that require hard truths.

Look for those people and nurture your relationships with them. Offer them your vulnerability, and the candor and caring you receive can change your career and life.

My favorite book launch party lasted three years

Cake by "Baking Outside The Box" There’s a familiar pattern to most book launches. The book signings, the radio shows, the racing for people’s attention in the first 30 days after publication, before the world moves on to one of the other 2 million books published every year.

It’s all good. It’s just not me.

So when I read about a different kind of book launch, I thought “Maybe I could do this instead.”

Humble beginnings

In the preface to Eckhart Tolle’s first book, The Power of Now, he tells the story of how it launched. The book was published by Namaste Publishing, a start-up imprint in Vancouver, and they printed 3,000 copies. There was no marketing budget or much attention at all, so Tolle hand-delivered books to local Vancouver bookstores. He said he found this “enormously satisfying, knowing that every book I handed over had the potential of changing someone’s life.”

His other distribution channels included friends placing copies in spiritual bookstores in other cities along the west coast of the US and Canada. Some copies even made it to a shop London. During the first year, “the book found its readers almost exclusively through word of mouth.”

Word spreads

The original blurbs in the front of the book are evidence of these humble beginnings. Instead of celebrities or noted spiritualists, the quotes are from the bookstore managers who first got the book.

The Power of Now was introduced to me by a customer. I read only one page and agreed that it rang true. It is a jewel of clarity and insight. The book has become a word-of-mouth bestseller here at East West.” - Norman Snitkin, comanager, East West Bookshop, Seattle

 

“I have no hesitation in recommending Eckhart Tolle’s wonderful book. Everyone who has picked up a copy has ended up taking it home. The Power of Now sells on its own merit and by word of mouth.” - Stephen Gawtry, Manager, Watkins Books Ltd., London

Over the first two years, the book got favorable reviews in some small magazines and was picked up by a larger publisher. By that time, one reviewer called it “an underground best-seller.”

A year later, actress Meg Ryan mentioned the book to Oprah in an interview. That led to an article in one of the early editions of Oprah magazine, then more mentions and ultimately interviews. After three years, the book was translated in multiple languages and was on its way to becoming a NY Times bestseller. After eight years, Tolle wrote another book and the two books have sold a combined total of over eight million copies in North America alone. A series of webinars with Oprah in 2008 attracted more than 35 million viewers.

My talk with Oprah

While I enjoyed Tolle’s books and the rags-to-riches nature of the story, what I liked most was how he originally published his book to help other people. He had no hope of making much money with it, yet he did it anyway. And word spread.

That’s my approach with Working Out Loud. It’s meant as a gift. If people find it useful, they’ll tell a friend or pick it for their book club. Some will form a working out loud circle and put the ideas into practice. Maybe a few thousand people might buy a copy in the first year. Maybe word will spread. Maybe not.

Once in a while though, I think of what happened to The Power of Now and imagine if something similar happened to Working Out Loud. What if more people find my gift useful? It might take years but what if millions of people wind up building a better career and life? And since the royalties go to education causes around the world, what kinds of positive impact could we make with that money?

My talk with Oprah wouldn’t be about me at all. When I allow myself to daydream about it, I imagine our conversation would be like this interview with Pharrell Williams. In the middle of it, Oprah shows a video of how other people leveraged Pharrell's work to make themselves and others happier.

As they both cry, she says, “It’s being used for something that’s greater than yourself.”

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IYFKnXu623s[/embed]

My favorite book launch party lasted three years

Cake by "Baking Outside The Box" There’s a familiar pattern to most book launches. The book signings, the radio shows, the racing for people’s attention in the first 30 days after publication, before the world moves on to one of the other 2 million books published every year.

It’s all good. It’s just not me.

So when I read about a different kind of book launch, I thought “Maybe I could do this instead.”

Humble beginnings

In the preface to Eckhart Tolle’s first book, The Power of Now, he tells the story of how it launched. The book was published by Namaste Publishing, a start-up imprint in Vancouver, and they printed 3,000 copies. There was no marketing budget or much attention at all, so Tolle hand-delivered books to local Vancouver bookstores. He said he found this “enormously satisfying, knowing that every book I handed over had the potential of changing someone’s life.”

His other distribution channels included friends placing copies in spiritual bookstores in other cities along the west coast of the US and Canada. Some copies even made it to a shop London. During the first year, “the book found its readers almost exclusively through word of mouth.”

Word spreads

The original blurbs in the front of the book are evidence of these humble beginnings. Instead of celebrities or noted spiritualists, the quotes are from the bookstore managers who first got the book.

The Power of Now was introduced to me by a customer. I read only one page and agreed that it rang true. It is a jewel of clarity and insight. The book has become a word-of-mouth bestseller here at East West.” - Norman Snitkin, comanager, East West Bookshop, Seattle

 

“I have no hesitation in recommending Eckhart Tolle’s wonderful book. Everyone who has picked up a copy has ended up taking it home. The Power of Now sells on its own merit and by word of mouth.” - Stephen Gawtry, Manager, Watkins Books Ltd., London

Over the first two years, the book got favorable reviews in some small magazines and was picked up by a larger publisher. By that time, one reviewer called it “an underground best-seller.”

A year later, actress Meg Ryan mentioned the book to Oprah in an interview. That led to an article in one of the early editions of Oprah magazine, then more mentions and ultimately interviews. After three years, the book was translated in multiple languages and was on its way to becoming a NY Times bestseller. After eight years, Tolle wrote another book and the two books have sold a combined total of over eight million copies in North America alone. A series of webinars with Oprah in 2008 attracted more than 35 million viewers.

My talk with Oprah

While I enjoyed Tolle’s books and the rags-to-riches nature of the story, what I liked most was how he originally published his book to help other people. He had no hope of making much money with it, yet he did it anyway. And word spread.

That’s my approach with Working Out Loud. It’s meant as a gift. If people find it useful, they’ll tell a friend or pick it for their book club. Some will form a working out loud circle and put the ideas into practice. Maybe a few thousand people might buy a copy in the first year. Maybe word will spread. Maybe not.

Once in a while though, I think of what happened to The Power of Now and imagine if something similar happened to Working Out Loud. What if more people find my gift useful? It might take years but what if millions of people wind up building a better career and life? And since the royalties go to education causes around the world, what kinds of positive impact could we make with that money?

My talk with Oprah wouldn’t be about me at all. When I allow myself to daydream about it, I imagine our conversation would be like this interview with Pharrell Williams. In the middle of it, Oprah shows a video of how other people leveraged Pharrell's work to make themselves and others happier.

As they both cry, she says, “It’s being used for something that’s greater than yourself.”

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IYFKnXu623s[/embed]