Hey book lovers! You’re in for a treat this month, I interviewed the delightful and smart Jon Acuff. We talked about his latest book, Do Over: Rescue Monday, Reinvent Your Work, and Never Get Stuck. I’m sticking with my people as Jon is a Penguin Portfolio author too! I love creating this My Book Club event each month and highlighting an author and their work. I learn so much and I hope you do too.
Portfolio Books is the business imprint of Penguin Random House. It’s like a subdivision of the big Penguin brand, so we’re Penguin authors but we’re under the Portfolio Books imprint.
Jon’s book Do Over is about powering through the fear of doing something and changing from a day dreamer to a day doer. “Fear hates hustle. Nothing enrages fear like deciding to actually work hard. As long as your just dreaming of reinventing your career, fear will ignore you. Fear loves day dreamers and can’t stand day doers.”
Day dreaming can be a beautiful thing and it’s a big boost to creativity but day dreaming without ever implementing things because of fear and self-doubt can lead to unhappiness and stress. I love John Lennon’s quote, “Imagine all the people living life in peace. You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us, and the world will be as one.” John was a dreamer but he was also a doer as he wrote beautiful lyrics that inspired millions of people to not only have the dream but to act on it as well.
Jon breaks down the steps to start kicking butt and gives you a plan (using notecards and baby steps) to get past fear and move onto the grit. “The next time you’re about to make a difficult decision and you feel like throwing up, don’t beat yourself up.” Permission to stop day dreaming and get started granted!
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We’ve all had that job where you hated when Sunday night came around and dreaded Monday mornings. That isn’t me any more and it doesn’t have to be you if you can face the fear of change. If you need the motivation and inspiration to go beyond where you are right now and move on to the next big thing in your life, take Jon’s advice and get started on your own Do Over!
Stop waiting for good luck to magically change things. Luck is your own passion and hard work making things happen. Get your day dreams on notecards and start your own do over.
I loved this inspiring interview with Jon and I know you’ll learn a lot from him as I did.
Full transcript of our interview for My Book Club.
Hi, internet, it’s Peg Fitzpatrick with my book club. I am really excited today to bring to you Jon Acuff, author of Do Over. I totally love this book, and I fell in love with it because I saw this really cool trailer that Jon did. I’m super excited to dive right in and talk to this New York Times bestselling, six times author, and we are totally going to dispel all your career problems, and probably solve like every question you have in the next 30 minutes.
Jon: That’s a high bar, Peg. I usually like a lower bar that I can jump, like he’s written some books, some are okay, here we go.
Peg: I see Waldo, so I’m already winning. I found Waldo already.
Jon: Yeah, right? Yeah, look at that.
Peg: Isn’t that a win? Isn’t that something we all search for, Waldo?
Jon: Yeah, you start the day with a win. Yeah.
Peg: I think the little wins make up all the big wins, don’t you? Celebrating the little things?
Jon: Well, I think we fictionalize big wins, as if one single win will change everything.
We all want to be discovered, like we want to be, we want to write one blog post that goes viral, and for the rest of your life you’re … and it’s different, but that’s just not how it works.
Anybody who has long-term success will say there wasn’t this one single thing.
Peg: Exactly. I just read that on your blog a half hour ago. You said slow success leads to long success. There is no overnight button, right.
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Jon: No, I think about that. I studied journalism for four years in college, and then I’ve been writing full-time for the last 17 years, so I’ve been writing for 21 years. That’s never fun to talk about.
On the internet, we love to sell the short kind of message, where it’s like if you download my free pdf, you’ll be an instant amazing person in one hour, and I’m not trying to trick you to get your e-mail address. This is a …
Peg: At all.
Jon: Then you try it, and you go, “This is nonsense.” Yeah, I think I’m learning, the older I get the more I realize the value of things like limits, that I can’t do it all and be good at it all, and culture sometimes tells you that.
Here’s what I think of, there’s somebody I know in the media, and he was really good at writing really amazing blog posts, like changed the game in a certain area of culture, and it probably took him 40 hours a week to do it. Then he got successful, so then he got to do other stuff. What I’ve learned is the more successful you get at doing something, the more invitations you get to not do it. Now they said, “Hey, why don’t you do a podcast?” and that takes a couple hours away. They go, “Why don’t you do some documentaries?” and that takes some hours away. “Why don’t you be on TV?” and that takes some hours away.
The hubris is thinking that what took you 40 hours to create can now be created in 10 hours and be as good. It can’t, so something is going to suck.
I really, like the older I get, the more I go, there’s like three things I can be good at. There’s a lot of sexy, shiny ego things that I would love to do, but that’s why I currently don’t have a podcast. People sometimes, like, “You should have a podcast,” and there’s parts of it I would love, but I know I would write bad books if I started to add a lot of other things that prevented me from actually sitting down and writing.
Peg: I could not agree with that more. I actually work in social media, and I write, and trying to get the writing in is a challenge for me.
Peg: I write only one blog post a week, and I have my little Saturday morning time, and that is it. You won’t see two or three posts.
Jon: Yeah, I’m only doing one a week, too.
Jon: I think that’s changed. There’s some people that can do every day, or multiple times a week, but I just think you start, if you’re not careful, certain types of people water it down. For me, I’m really having a good time writing like one or two pieces a week, and I feel like they’re good pieces versus I’ve got to write 72 times a day and expect them all to be home runs. They’re not going to be.
Peg: I think sometimes not listening to advice is best, like you have to post every day. You have to post all the time on social media. I post more, I’m on social media more than most people because that’s my job, but I never tell other people they need to do that. Bloggers, they’re always saying, “Write every day.” Well, yes, you are a better writer if you write every day. That is very, very true. But writing a book, and trying to publish blog content?
Jon: Yeah. But see, to me there’s a difference between write every day and post every day. Those are two different things, and so I look at people, because there’s definitely people watching this that aren’t bloggers, aren’t writers, but yeah you can do your craft every day.
You should do your craft every day, but you don’t have to expose it to the world every day. That’s a different thing.
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I tell people, you know, for every hour you spend trying to promote what you’re doing, spend a hundred hours actually practicing what you’re doing. That’s how you build long-term success, in your career, in your dream, whatever it is.
We are such a promotional culture now, the challenge is a lot of the barriers have been removed, which is awesome. It’s easier to self-publish a book now than it’s ever been, but that doesn’t mean it’s easier to write a good book.
Jon: It’s still every bit as difficult to write a good book. I meet a lot of people that go, “I’m going to self-publish because it’s fast. I want to get it out there,” and I want to go, “Well, you still need a really good editor.” You still need to spend a long time honing that message, or it’s not going to be good. That’s the tension.
We don’t like things that take a long time, but I think good things do.
Peg: I agree. Let’s talk about, like you just mentioned, being a self-promotional culture now.
As a writer, it’s changed. The whole process has changed. Yes, you can self-publish or traditional publish, but it’s not just about writing a book any more. It’s also the pressure to be a speaker and to be a writer, and to be on social media to build your social media platform. That’s totally different than it was in the past.
I read a story about Ernest Hemingway’s life, and he said after he published his first book, “Now what do I do next?” He asked another famous author, “What do I do now?” and the guy said, “Go write another book.” That’s all there was to do.
Jon: Yeah. Yep.
Peg: Not that writing an Ernest Hemingway novel was any small feat.
Peg: I’m not trying to make that sound easy, but what are your thoughts on being a modern author? Let’s call it that, because it is much different, I think.
Jon: Yeah, I think it is different. I think the challenge is you should do the things that you feel called to do, and you are good at and want to get better at. For me, I do like speaking. It’s my second passion, though. It’s not my first. Writing’s my first, and so if I’m honest I can overfill my calendar with a lot of things to avoid the thing I’m afraid to do, which is write. That’s the tension. I can do a ton of different things and then go, oh, I would have written more if I had more time. Well, guess who controls my schedule right now? I do.
Jon: I’m in control of that, so I think that’s the challenge. I don’t think every writer should be a speaker, in the same way that when people say to me, “Should everyone write a book?” I say no. Like in the same way I shouldn’t record an album. The book is this weird thing where people are like, “Well, I wrote a paper in college, so how hard can it be? It’s just mostly this,” where like you never say that with sculpting.
Nobody goes, “You know what I’d probably be awesome at? Sculpting.” Just get a hammer and like a block of granite. “How hard can sculpting be?” You look at it and go, “It’s really hard.” I don’t think everyone should feel that pressure to be a speaker, and then the other thing I think is you just start asking why? We don’t ask why enough.
I’m going to write a blog post. This happened yesterday. I’m going to write a blog about it. We were at the American Girl doll store with my daughter. It was like 10:45 in the morning, and I was thinking, like I took a photo of them, and I was thinking I’m going to post this on Instagram, or do a blog and talk about how you balance your life if you’re traveling, like business travel versus home life, like you balance it by “Look, here I am at the American Girl doll store on a Wednesday at 10:45 a.m.,” like that’s how I balance it, but then I started to go why am I doing that? The truth is, I was doing it to make strangers think I’m a good dad. That is the heart of why I was doing that.
Peg: That’s straight up, yeah. That’s honest.
Jon: It was just manipulation. The irony is I was missing the moment of being a dad to document it for strangers to prove I’m a good dad. I was being a bad dad in order to create content telling you I’m a good dad. That’s what I’m going to write about. I think whether you’re an author, whether you’re a photographer, whether you’re a stay-at-home mom, whatever, I think asking that question of, “Hold on a second. Why am I doing this?”
When somebody goes, “You’ve got to have 500 Amazon reviews.” Why? Who says? My thing is, when I go to a book and there’s 400 five-star reviews, that means you know 400 friends. Like, congratulations. That does worse. Then people see there’s not any real reviews, and they feel like you’ve gamed the system.
Peg: Well, unless you’re … I have to say. I agree with that in a lot of cases, but Guy is really good at asking for reviews. [crosstalk 00:09:11]
Jon: I’m fine asking for reviews.
Jon: I just mean if you stockpile 500 five-star reviews, you’re telling somebody who hasn’t seen your book before, “This isn’t an honest book right now, because they haven’t had real people read it and go,” like people hated The Great Gatsby. Every book has a one-star review, so when I go to your site and I realize it’s all five-star reviews, it’s not an honest, it hasn’t honestly been read yet. My books are going to …
Peg: Yeah. Oh, and it’s all five-star, yeah. Yes. I get that. We have some ones, yeah, we have some ones, too.
Jon: I’ll ask my audience, or my tribe, I’ll say, “Hey, if you’ve read it, please take 60 seconds and write an honest review.” You never ask for a five-star, because that’s fake.
Jon: But you say, “Hey, if you’ve read it, and it inspired you, or it caused questions, or whatever, write an honest review.” It’s stuff like that where I just push back on stuff where I haven’t seen it change sales. When somebody goes, once you get to 300 reviews it changes sales, because I’ll go, well, I’m on my fifth book, and I’ve never seen that happen. I can’t track, I can’t. Maybe you have some analytics in Amazon, which is a fortress. Maybe you know the back end of Amazon, you’ve got a secret gate, but please tell me the analytics you’re using to tell me that 200 reviews equals more sales. I’d love to hear that story, and nobody can ever tell you that.
Peg: I know. Here’s a big why… what is it that sells books?
Jon: Exactly, and it’s always changing.
Peg: Yes, it is. We did all this stuff, you know, every book that you work on, Art of Social Media is the first book that I wrote, but I’ve worked on-
Jon: Which I have right here. I don’t know if everybody’s bought it yet, right here.
Peg: Yay. That’s so nice. That makes me so happy. Did Penguin send that to you?
Jon: They totally did.
Peg: Are you like a-
Jon: No, I think I grabbed this one. I was in the office. Every time I go to their office, I pillage.
Peg: I do, too. That wall.
Jon: I just walk around grabbing as many …
Peg: The wall of the book, and they’re like “We’ll send you books”?
Peg: You know what’s really funny? When I was reading your book, and you asked Adrian for advice, and you were getting book advice, I had breakfast with Adrian when I was in New York, but I didn’t even know who he was. Afterward, I was like, “Who did we have breakfast with?” He said, “Yeah, he runs Penguin.” I started thinking, what was I talking about? Okay, good, I was appropriate.
NOTE: Adrian Zackheim is the Founder, Publisher, and President of Portfolio Books. And a super guy to have breakfast with in NYC.
Jon: He’s a genius. Every time I see him, I grill him, because he’s like a super genius.
Peg: Smart. That, to me, is the sign of a super-smart person, when you know that you don’t know everything, and you’re willing to ask questions. People who don’t ask questions when they have the opportunity to learn, crazy.
Jon: Well, it’s hard, because it takes humility. There’s vulnerability in asking a question. It’s to admit you’re not perfect. It’s to admit you don’t know everything, and again we live in a culture where like Andy Warhol saying we’ll be 15 minutes famous, everybody will be famous 15 minutes, we’re in the middle of that.
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Jon: You know, I read, I was thinking about this, I read Tom Peters’ Brand You 50, in 2000, and it just hit a nerve with me, and I was like, oh, okay, branding. I get that. I get the idea of personal branding. That was because I was in advertising, but now, 15 years later, everybody’s in personal branding.
They might not use that phrase, but if you have a social media account, if you have Twitter, if you have Facebook, you’re into branding, so it creates this tension of what do I show? What don’t I show? That kind of stuff’s curious to me. When culture tells you show the best stuff, always look like you have it together, then sometimes it’s hard in real life to be with somebody who’s knowledgeable and admit you don’t have it all together. You’ve just practiced, if you’re doing social media the wrong way, how to look like you have it all together.
It’s like being impatient. Of course we’re impatient as a culture. Your phone gives you everything instantly 12 hours a day, and then you think you’re going to be patient later? You’ve practiced in your head how to be impatient for 12 hours in a row. Of course you’re going to be impatient. There’s a lot of tensions like that for me right now that I think are interesting.
Peg: Yeah, and the whole needing to be entertained all the time.
If a conversation lags for two seconds, the iPhone effect takes in, and one person looks down at their phone, and then everyone looks down at their phone.
Jon: Everybody adds permission, yeah. It’s kind of, I have friends that ran a camp for kids, and they used to hate when the kids would say what’s next? They’d have this amazing waterslide adventure, with balloons and paintball, and then like four seconds later they’d go, “What’s next? What’s next?” We sometimes as adults get into that same phase, where it’s like ooh, four seconds of silence? No, thank you. No thank you.
Peg: What do we do? Wait, I’ll check.
You know, an interesting thing is, not that I’m a Nosy Parker or anything, but if you’re in an airport or if you travel a lot, you’ll notice that everybody’s on their phone scrolling. Most people are just sitting there absentmindedly scrolling through stuff. They’re not talking. They’re not adding in to conversations or posting. Most people are just scroll, scroll, scrolling.
Jon: Yeah, it’s just the phone, the phone, the phone. Yeah.
Peg: Yeah, it’s interesting. The greatest percentage of people are lurking and watching.
Jon: Yeah, it’s, I forget the stats on it, because everybody has different stats, but it’s like watchers.
Peg: I say like 80 percent.
Jon: Yeah, and then like commenting, and actually … that’s why I’ve started to do meetups, like when Do Over came out. The longer I spent online, the more I realized face-to-face still matters. I love social media. Clearly, it’s awesome. It’s how I’ve gotten to do so many fun things, and meet so many fun people, but there’s still a magic to being in the same place.
Jon: When Do Over came out, I went around the country and did all these meetups, and they’re fun because they’re not book signings, like traditional book signing, which is usually super humbling because like four people show up. Then you stand by your book, and people come up to your table and like nah, I don’t know. Your life’s work? Nine dollars? No, thank you.
Peg: That’s so right.
Jon: You know, they’re holding and eight-dollar coffee, and you’re like aaahh.
At the meetups, I’ll share ideas for like half an hour, then I give people in the crowd a chance to stand up and say what they’re working on. Then the only rule is we all clap after they share, because there’s so few applause moments in the rest of the day. It becomes this really amazing moment of people going like, “I just lost my job after 23 years,” or “I’ve just started my first blog,” or “I …” They’re honest, because nobody had to be there. It’s a desire-based event, not a have-to-attend event. It’s just fun, and so I love both of them. Social media, awesome.
Real life, awesome. I don’t want to either at the exclusion of the other.
Peg: True. I just went to LA last week and did a workshop for actors in Hollywood, which was really cool.
Jon: Oh, that’s awesome.
Peg: Yeah, and they were the most incredible audience, because they all made eye contact every single second. Nobody was on their phone. They were all looking, listening, and like within the first two sentences they were laughing at what I said. I was like, “Oh my God, you guys are live.” I’m like, yeah, and then I was totally on. Give me a live audience that laughs.
Jon: That’s great. So you were there to teach them social media?
Jon: Oh, wow. How fun. You could do that with sports stars, like athletes. Athletes really need that.
Peg: Yeah. I think a lot of big industries like that do, too, but these are like budding Hollywood stars. They were all out there to learn, and they were the best audience. For me, they asked amazing great questions, really smart questions, things that I never thought of, like one person was saying to be careful autographing things because somebody that they knew just had identity theft from an autographed photo.
Peg: How many books have you signed, Jon?
Jon: Do Over, 10,000 I think, so yeah …
Peg: Okay, well.
Jon: Yeah, there might be another Jon Acuff, hopefully he’s taller, running around out there.
Peg: He’s taller. Maybe. I know, but it’s just that’s something I never would have thought of.
Jon: I never would have thought that either.
Peg: I’m not going to stop signing things.
Jon: Yeah, I mean if somebody goes to that like, my thing there is if they are going to go to that level, they were going to do it anyway. That’s like you can have 42 locks on your house, but if a ninja’s breaking in, like a ninja’s coming in. If they’re going to work through 42, the 43rd isn’t going to like, there’s not that’s the extra ninja lock. There’s some degree of I’m like, eh, we’ll see.
Peg: Yeah. Yeah, okay, so note cards. Let’s talk about note cards and Jon’s process for writing.
Jon: Yeah, yeah. Totally.
Peg: I love note cards. I love Sharpies, note cards, and legal pads.
Jon: Yeah, I’m old school that way.
Jon: For me, I put two activities, two note card activities in the book. My thing is that with books like Do Over, there’s two reasons I write. I believe you’re capable of more than you think, and I believe it’s going to take more work than you think. If I can get you to believe the first one, the hope, the permission to dream, that you get to do it, that it’s not too late, that you’re not too old, or you’re not too young, whatever, then I can talk to you about the second one.
The challenge is a lot of self-helpy kind of books, when there’s just a lot of garbage in the space, will tell you the first part. They’ll get you really excited, but then there’s no actual steps. Then you read the book and go it didn’t take. It worked for everybody but me. Or they do the second part, the hard work, and it’s boring, and it’s dull, and there’s no hope to kind of fuel you through it.
For me, the note cards were a chance to go let’s talk specifically about relationships. Let’s talk specifically about skills. Then let’s have a really simple exercise that helps you go, okay, what skills do I currently have? When I ask people that question, they usually go, “I don’t really have any.”
I talked to a teacher the other day, and he said, “I’ve been a teacher for 30 years. I have to start over, and I don’t have any transferable skills.” I wanted to shake him by the shoulders and go, “For three decades you’ve taught? You have a ton of skills. We just have to do the archaeological digging to figure out what they are.” That’s what the note cards are is sitting down and going “Okay, I have a lot more skills than I think. I’ve just never gone through an exercise,” or “I have a lot more connections and relationships than I think. I’ve just never gone through the exercise.”
Even something like what business owners do you know? Like a really simple way to connect with people is business owners know other business owners, especially small business owners. The activity of going, “Okay, who do I know? I know the guy from the smoothie shop, Dan, and Dan knows everybody. He’s connected to everybody, and so I’m going to put his name on a note card.”
One by one, you do something like that, and inevitably what happens every time is you get encouraged because you know more people than you thought, and you have more skills than you thought. You start to see patterns, and you start to see holes that you go, “Wow, I need to learn this skill if I’m going to be part of this industry, so I’ve got to figure that out.”
That’s why I do note cards. It just, it really simplifies it for me, and it takes what can be overwhelming, this hope or this goal, and breaks it down in small pieces.
Peg: But do you use that yourself when you’re writing a book, too? Do you start on note cards?
Jon: Oh, 100 percent. I think, let me see, I think I had … Oh, yeah, look. I’ll show you right now. This is, I didn’t plan this, so this is a little messy. Here’s, this is, I don’t know if you can see this.
Jon: This is, it said Do Over Year on the top, and these are things that I’m working on right now. Yeah, I 100 percent do it.
Peg: That’s awesome.
Jon: Because it’s helpful to me, and then I like to draw things out, like see? Yeah. Exactly.
Peg: That was my, when I was starting my blog.
Jon: And you still have it, and it’s still accessible.
Jon: Yeah, so for me that was the other thing. I did something this summer. I realized I wasn’t writing as much as I wanted to. My daughter had a reading checklist that she came home from third grade with, and she had to read 1500 minutes this summer, and she did it in two weeks. She crushed it, because it was in 15-minute chunks, and I was like, if I want to write more, or exercise more, or do yoga more, or whatever, if a third grader can do that, so can I. I came up with one, and I’ll show you the … here’s my writing one.
I had a designer make me a simple chart, and it’s called Do Summer, and like here’s a hundred boxes. If I do it all summer, that’s 25 hours of writing. What always happens is you end up doing more.
Jon: I was like, well I want to do this together. For me, that’s the beauty of social media is like, let’s do something fun together. So I started, if you go to dosummer2015.com you can get the checklist, and right now we have 10,000 people signed up …
Jon: … which equates to 15 million minutes this summer of people doing something they care about, which is 28 solid years of dreaming.
Jon: That’s, so when you go can you change the world with 15 million minutes? Yeah, you can. That’s why, and people go, “Well, do you really use it?” Yeah, I’ve already, like here’s, it’s so funny.
Here’s my one for writing. Here’s my one for reading. Here’s my one for exercise. Yeah, I try to share the things I use in my own life that work, and then hope they help other people. When they do, I kind of tweak them, and I work on them, so …
Peg: That’s awesome. To me, that’s always the best. I only write about social media stuff that I’ve done, and that I try and I really like. The biggest gratification for me is when someone tries something that I suggested or helped them learn, and then they say, “Oh my God, it worked for me, too,” and I’m like, “Yay.”
Jon: Yeah, and it’s fun when it worked in a different thing than the one you’re doing. I’ve already seen people post a full sheet of yoga, and mine wasn’t yoga, or a full sheet of working on a small business. That wasn’t mine. That’s really fun is when the thing, like it’s the mustard seed idea, like something big can come from something small. You put something out, and then, so like for me, I won’t have any way to know what people do with their 15 million minutes, but that’s amazing. Yeah, if anybody watching wants to do it, it’s just dosummer2015.com, and it’s just a free pdf.
Peg: The mustard seed quote was my Grandma’s favorite in the Bible, by the way.
Jon: Oh, yeah, yeah, and I …
Peg: She had the little necklace with the little mustard seed.
Jon: Oh, that’s awesome. I think that for me is what social media is, where you be brave and sit down and share something, and you really, if you’re honest, don’t know what’s going to happen with it. I remember getting e-mails from my first kind of blog that took off, from people in jail that were reading the posts in jail as a small group conversation piece.
Jon: There’s no way that I was in Atlanta going, “What do people on Cell Block D, outside of Portland, Oregon, need to know today?” I didn’t know that, but you share it, and then because of the connections it can go anywhere.
Peg: Yeah, it’s true. I was going to segue over to, which is a good one for what you just said, you have a quote, “Regret has a longer shelf life than fear. Face the fear of today instead of the regret forever.” You know, it is scary for people to start something new. They can go do your checklist, but do you have any, maybe you already answered that whole question.
Jon: No, I don’t think I’ve answered that. I think the things you have to understand are you are going to hear it’s too late, or you should have started earlier. You know, if you’re 42, I just saw a tweet from somebody that said, you know that’s watching, that said, I thought I’m past my prime, you know.
Peg: And …
Jon: Or if you’re 50, yeah, exactly. It’s never too late to try something new, but you know there’s a handful of kind of voices and fears you’re going to experience, so just get ready for them. I think another thing, the older I get, the more I realize I need community and I need relationship, because there are some times we’re so close to the painting we can’t even tell what it looks like, and so I need other people that will go, because even just saying, sometimes I’ll talk to people about this, and they’ll go, “I would do something, but I don’t even know what I want to do.” I think in situations like that, they’re looking for something perfect.
That’s the problem. I don’t believe in the whole find your perfect purpose, and you have one, and like the soulmate kind of version, like you’re going to fall in love with one person that might be in Argentina, and if you never get to Argentina, you’ll never know love, and that garbage.
I tell people, like, “Well ask your friends. I guarantee the people that know you, if you said to them, “Hey what do you think I’m good at, or passionate about, or interested in?” They’ll go, “This thing. You always talk about it. Every job, you always try to do this,” and you go, “Oh, that? No, that’s just something I like to do. They go “no, no, no, no; that’s your thing.” I’m a big believer in stuff like that.
Then as far as fear versus regret, yeah they’re not the same thing. Fear is intense, and it’s big, but regret is slow and long, and it just kind of haunts you. For me, there’s been a number of moments in my life where there was an easier thing to do that would cause me less fear, but it would cause me more regret, and I knew in the long term, and I’ve made the wrong decision before. I’ve had a couple of big decisions where I knew the right thing to do and didn’t do them, and I just got bitter. On the other side of that, I got angry and bitter, and it became toxic, and I eventually had to do the right thing. I wish I had done the right thing to start with, because I had all this regret.
But the challenge is that it’s easier for people to sit on the sidelines and say, “I could have really written a book if I had wanted to.” That gives you 20 percent of the feeling of writing a book, and it feels safe. Apathy comes in and goes, “don’t risk, because what if you try, and you’re not good at it,” or, “what if you try, and it’s not what you thought it would be. It’s better to lie to yourself and go ‘Oh, man, if I wasn’t so busy,’ or ‘some day,’ or ‘I really could have if I wanted to’ versus actually trying it.” Maybe it doesn’t go the way you think it’s going to go. Here’s the thing. Your first book won’t be your best book. It won’t. You’re going to get better.
Peg: That’s good, because then my next one will be even better.
Jon: Yeah, exactly. And then, like you have to know that going in. Give yourself permission to be okay at things you haven’t done before. The problem is, like when people change their lives, is that they spend ten years being an accountant. Then they go, “I’m going to try something new,” and they try that new thing for a month, and they compare it to the ten years that it took them to be good at being an accountant. They go, “See, I’m not good at this other thing. I was better at being an accountant.” We always forget, yeah, it took you a decade to get good. You’re comparing the first month of data, or the first six months, against something that took you a decade. Of course you can’t compare those two things. Give yourself some time. Give yourself some room to get better. Things like that get me fired up.
Peg: People really are afraid of change. Just the whole concept of change, doing something new, like-
Jon: I hate it.
Peg: Really? I love it. I have to tell you I love it.
Jon: That’s awesome. I wish I was like you. I’m not. I hate it. I won’t go to restaurants if I don’t know the parking situation. If my wife is like, “Let’s go to that new restaurant,” I’m like, “Whoa, whoa. Are we talking street parking? Is there a lot? Is there a valet?” It’s just because I know a handful of restaurants, and I know how to park there. We laugh at that, but it’s indicative of so many other things in my life where I just have to do them. I wish I loved change. I don’t. I hate it.
Peg: I’m totally up for change. When I was a senior in high school, I moved and went to a different high school.
Jon: Yeah, why not? Let’s, yeah, that sounds terrible to me. I wouldn’t know where to park.
Peg: I rolled in, I auditioned for the play, and I got the lead.
Jon: Oh, that’s a great high school moment.
Peg: I know, but most people would be afraid to do that.
Jon: No, I have to force myself. I do change, like I work on that, but it is with gritted teeth. Like I wrote in Do Over, there’s a whole section about grit, which is like being stubborn in the face of fear. It’s not getting rid of the fear. It’s just being stubborn, and being like no, I’m doing this anyway.
Jon: There’s a lot of things that, I don’t know, it’s fun to play confident on the internet, but [inaudible 00:28:51] I’m scared out of my mind. I can’t …
Peg: I’m totally confident, so I tone myself down.
Jon: Well, I can’t wait for bravery to show up. I’ve just got to do it anyway.
Jon: I swing between those poles of being terrified and being like I’m going to kill this. I’m going to crush this opportunity. It goes back and forth.
Peg: Yeah. I have a call. Isn’t that interesting?
Jon: I turned my phone, I read your pdf and turned my phone down. Interesting.
Peg: That’s my regular phone. I should follow my own advice.
Jon: It’s probably Guy Kawasaki calling.
Peg: It actually is. Look. Can you see that?
Jon: That’s hilarious.
Peg: I’ll have to call him back.
Jon: You’re on the internet right now. Why aren’t you watching this pod-, this like Google Hangout?
Peg: He has like radar. When I’m doing something, he’s like she’s probably doing something else, and I should probably call her and ask her something. Anyway, I should totally be respectful of your time, because we are at the 11:30 mark.
I’ve loved this conversation, Jon. I feel like you’re my new BFF. I hope that’s okay, but …
Jon: I think I’m not good at p- … like I’m supposed to really push this, so go get the book. [Do Over: Rescue Monday, Reinvent Your Work, and Never Get Stuck]
Peg: I was just going to push it again.
Jon: I’m not a good, like I’m not good at being, I’m not good at authoring as far as, like, “Well, that reminds me, Peg, that reminds me of something I wrote in here.”
Peg: You are good at authoring.
Jon: You’re supposed to be all subtle and be like, “It’s funny you say that, because on page 37,” so I hope people will check out the book.
NOTE: Hooray, hooray! Jon is reading my book.
Peg: Book high five. It’s a book high five.
Jon: Social media is confusing and ever-changing, so I love that you’re telling honest tips. I think there’s a lot of kind of shiny, empty stuff, and your book isn’t that. I love that because I think in a world of like clutter and clamoring, it’s great to have something that’s actually good.
Peg: That’s awesome. Well, the best part of book club for me is talking to authors like you, that I learn from. I’ve learned a ton from you. I love your book. I love watching what you do and seeing how you network, because everybody does things a little differently, which makes it awesome.
Jon: Okay, so last question from me.
Jon: I’m three months into the launch of Do Over.
Jon: You, as a social media person, what’s one thing you learned in the launch of your book, or one thing that on the outside, you’d go, “You know what? I think you should try blank?”
Peg: Okay. I can’t say that I’ve gone through every single launch thing you did, but when you get to that three-month part in your launch, you’re kind of like through all the amazing things it took you months and months to prepare. You got ready for the launch, you did all this stuff. That’s kind of where we are, too. We’re like, okay, now what? Honestly, I’m going to start over and redo some things that I wish I did more, like I wish I did more infographics. We did one that did really well. Infographics are amazing. You can load them on SlideShare, and then embed them everywhere, and people pin them like crazy.
Jon: Huh, that’s interesting. I hadn’t thought about that. We didn’t do any.
Peg: Okay, well, let me just tell you. You can, Penguin did ours.
Jon: Really? Well, after this Hangout, I’ll call Penguin and be like, “Hello.”
Peg: Why didn’t I get an infographic…Well, it was interesting …
Jon: That’s what every author does. They call their publisher after they see another author do it, and they go, “Hey, hey, hey, hey. I want some of that mojo.”
Peg: Why didn’t I have that? Well, actually, your book trailer is how I found you.
Jon: Oh, they did a good job with that.
Peg: Yeah. Now, did they do the whole production of that for you?
Jon: We had a, we hired an outside agency out of New York.
Peg: [inaudible 00:32:28]
Jon: I think it was called Meerkat, was their name, not to be confused with [inaudible 00:32:32] meerkat. But yeah, they did a great job. I worked on the script with them. I used to write a lot of videos in freelance, and they animated it. That team did an amazing job.
Peg: That’s how I found you, so I would do infographics, if you didn’t do an infographic.
Jon: Did not.
Peg: So awesome. I’ll share a link to our Art of Social Media infographic. I loved it, but I would do more, so for Art of the Start, here was my challenge. We had Art of Social Media in December, and then Art of the Start 2 launched in March.
Jon: Oh, yeah, yeah.
Peg: I was like, that was hard. If you think one is hard, try two.
Jon: Yeah, yeah, yeah, I’ve never done that. Then you’re also doing blogging and social media in the midst of all that. Yeah.
Peg: Don’t ever do two so close. Never, never, never. It was the worst. It was the worst. Anyway, I would do infographics.
Peg: Infographics are really popular. It’s like an easy way for people to get a bunch of tips.
Jon: Yeah, I have a … we’ve done some graphics, but never one kind of collected infographic conversation. That’s really fascinating. I’ll have to try that out.
Peg: Yeah. Then I think I would go back and do some more, like we did power tips, like I did power tip, Pinterest pins, and things like that. I think I’m going to actually re-look at some of the things I did early on, and then redo them. I saw your Post It note idea for your book. I loved that, the little, like Post It.
Jon: Oh, yeah. We’ve created like 80 of those, so we’re going to do one a week for the next …
Peg: Next hundred years.
Jon: Exactly. Those were fun, and they’re easy, so something like that with Instagram is interesting to me. But it’s always changing. I’m experimenting with Periscope right now. That’s been …
Peg: Everybody’s experimenting with Periscope right now. I toyed briefly with Periscoping this, but I’m like, it’s a Hangout, so why bother?
Jon: Yeah, yeah, yeah, they’re like, yeah, exactly.
Peg: What are you doing on Periscope?
Jon: I’ll do “Hey, at 11:00 I’ll be answering questions about writing, public speaking, dream chasing,” so I’ll definitely give people a heads up. You know Twitter, or Facebook, everything … You can miss it. What I’ve learned is when I go to a city and do a meetup, I will feel like I have tweeted it and proclaimed it a million times, and inevitably when I post the photos, somebody goes, “Oh, I wish I had known.”
Peg: I know.
Jon: That’s the tension, so with Periscope, I give people a heads up, like, “Hey, at 11:00 we’re going to be talking about this,” and I try to set the conversation with a couple of topics. Then I’ll answer questions about writing, or things that I feel like I’ve had some experience in, and then I won’t answer questions I don’t know anything about, so if somebody says, “How do you find a good illustrator for a children’s book?” I go, “No idea. I just haven’t,” because there’s a temptation when people label you as an expert to think, like, just because someone asks you something doesn’t mean you should answer it if you don’t have that information. So I try to refer people …
Peg: I agree. I never answer anything I don’t know. I am the first, if I don’t know, I say, “I don’t know.”
Jon: I don’t know.
Peg: But if I know, I share.
Jon: I’ll do that, and then with like Do Summer, I think I have it in here somewhere, I had a sheet of paper that said Do Summer 2015, and I’d hold it up and be like this is what we’re doing. Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, so that’s what I’ll do, like on, I’ll go like, “Hey, remember, here’s the URL, which you think like that’s really old school, like, it’s Sharpie on paper. How old school, but it gives people a chance to go like, “Oh, yeah, that’s the actual thing. Let me check it out.” The thing with Periscope is that it doesn’t last, and so I try not to spend a ton of time preparing for it, and make it live and kind of honest.
Jon: Then I’ve started to do a lot more Facebook videos, which I’ve really seen good traction with.
Peg: Yeah, yeah. Yeah.
Jon: Just recording them right on Facebook.
Peg: Yeah, they’re amazing. Facebook native videos are the best. It’s funny you mentioned the podcast, because my friend Jeff [See 00:36:23], who’s watching this, keeps telling me, “You should do a podcast,” and I’m always like, “Jeff. I don’t think I’m going to do a podcast.” He’s like, “C’mon.”
Jon: If I ever did one, I would do it as a season. I’m really fascinated about the idea of seasonality, where you don’t, the problem to me with social media is you go I’m starting a blog forever, like until I die. There’s no, and nothing else runs like that. Football has a season. TV shows have a season. If I did a podcast, I would do an eight-episode season where I talk to like eight people I’m curious about.”
Peg: That’s awesome.
Jon: Then I would take a hiatus, and I’d do another eight episodes because I’m not looking for one more thing to do in an average way. But I can sit down and batch it, so …
Peg: We did that for Art of Social Media book launch too. We did a power users Hangout series because it’s the same with a weekly Hangout series. I do book club monthly, because I tried to do a traditional book club, you know like a 30-day like, let’s read a book, and everybody can read the book, and we’ll talk about the book, but what I found was that people on the internet just wanted me to read the book and talk about the book, so I did that instead.
Jon: Oh, really?
Peg: Yeah, so I only do it once a month, so it’s actually …
Jon: That should be a question you ask anybody in social media. That’d be interesting, to say what was something you thought would go one way and didn’t go that way, and what did you learn?
Jon: Because I think social media is rife with that, where you have this idea of like this will do this, and then it goes like the exact opposite. You go “All right, well let’s …”
Peg: Yeah, I learned that one the first month. The first month I was like, “Okay, so did everybody read the book?” and everybody was like, “Uh, no. We didn’t read the book.” I was like, “All right, well, I read the book, and I have notes,” so it actually turned out to be author interviews instead, which I love so much more.
Jon: That’s awesome. I love that you were able to see that and respond to it. Well, this has been a blast, Peg. I love it.
Jon: It was fun to get to know you. Hooray for Penguin Portfolio authors. We need to stick together. Tell Guy I said hello.
Peg: I will. I’ll tell him.
Jon: We don’t know each other, but people with the first name Guy, in my book, are generally pretty awesome. I’m a big fan of that name and love his stuff, and so glad you guys partnered together on the book, and excited to keep reading it.
Peg: Yeah, it was super fun to talk with you. I will tune off for book club this month, and we’ll see everybody next month.
Jon: All right, see ya, Peg.
Please grab yourself a copy of Jon’s latest book, Do Over, and try out his fifteen minute challenges too! I loved this interview with Jon and I hope you did too!
Questions? Comments? Thoughts to share? Let’s hear them in the comments below! I’ll be announcing my upcoming books for My Book Club soon, make sure to follow My Book Club on Facebook or Twitter to stay in the know.
Note: the links in the article are affiliate links which means that I’ll make a few cents if you make a purchase from my link but it doesn’t add any additional cost to you. Then I can go buy more books. We all need more books, right?
Photo credit: JD Hancock via Flickr
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