Here I am, on the road again. Here I am, up on the stage. Here I go, playing the star again. Here I go, turn the page -Bob Seger
"Don't Give Up. Don't ever give up." -Jim Valvano
Seth Godin, who has helped thousands of entrepreneurs be productive, says that business people never realize that with a little bit of push, they can move past a seeming dead end and reach business success. I hope that is true in my case. In January, 2008, I released my second book, Son of a Son of a Gambler: Winners, Losers and What to Do When You Win the Lottery. Although it was critically acclaimed, it didn't sell nearly as well as my first book, The Unbridled World of Ernie Fletcher, which had come out in 2006.
The Fletcher book came out in October and had large crowds at the book signings. The Gambler book came out in January and it snowed every time we had an event. The Fletcher book came out as the economy was booming. Gambler came out as the economy was collapsing.
I knew when the economy was turning, better than Ben Bernanke knew (who has never seemed to know where the economy is going, anyway). People would brave the elements to come to events, but would not buy anything. I could see in their eyes that they wanted a book but couldn't afford it. I stopped marketing the book -- a big mistake.
I started working on a third book about why people blow "Big Money." That book will be out later this year. Along with writing my weekly column, I started contributing to Huffington Post in September of 2008. That gave me a large, worldwide audience. When I joined Huffington, both of my books started selling again. Especially the Gambler book. It sold moderately well and stayed in stores. Then fate came into play. In the form of a dead lottery winner.
In 2006, Abraham Shakespeare won $16.9 million in the Florida lottery.
This year, they found his body buried five foot deep and under concrete. A new-found "friend and adviser" has been charged with his murder.
After his death, I did a number of interviews about the trouble many lottery winners have holding onto their money. It's a topic covered extensively in the Gambler book. One Sunday, I found myself quoted in hundreds of major newspapers and on television stations around the world. Suddenly, the Gambler book got hot. Now we are launching an "encore" book tour. As the son of a son of a gambler, it's time for me to "double down" and do the kind of full-blown book tour that we should have done two years ago. Early indications are that the book tour will be a big success The ups and downs of Son of a Son of a Gambler taught me a lot about life and a lot about myself. It's ironic that I quit on a book where my father was a central character. Dad and former North Carolina State coach and ESPN announcer, Jim Valvano, were roughly the same age and diagnosed with cancer at roughly the same time. Dad avidly followed Valvano's courageous fight against cancer. Jimmy V was his hero. On the day of dad's funeral, Jimmy V was given the inaugural Arthur Ashe Courage and Humanitarian Award. (I've included a link to it, below.) In one of the most inspiring talks I have ever heard, Valvano told us, "Don't give up, don't ever give up."
It took a while for Jimmy V's message to hit, but I'm glad it did. When I decided to have a "double down" book tour, I compared it to Bob Seger's song "Turn the Page." It was a regional hit before Seger became a worldwide star. When Seger hit it big with "Night Moves," "Turn the Page" found a new audience. Just like I think Son of a Son of a Gambler will find a new audience. The big lesson is one that any business, or person, needs to learn. Don't give up when the initial feedback is negative. I almost did. I'm glad I kept referencing the book and telling the tale of wayward lottery winners. Now it is getting noticed. I'm hoping that doubling down turns out to a winning hand for Son of a Son of a Gambler.