I came back to Los Angeles this week from a long trip to New York and Europe with Dennis. We were able to stay with family in nearby Rowayton, Connecticut, for which I was extremely grateful, but it was a tiring commute from there to New York City every morning and with cold and rain and snow, we were also fighting the elements. In Europe, we were again able to stay with family most of the time, which made the trip doable for us. In New York, we attended a wonderful International Toy Fair.
In Europe, we were working with our new licensee to put the final touches on the Bloomers Island line, including a stunning, wood Mr. Banyan display for the VeggiePOPS! While in the Netherlands and Belgium, we also did a lot of driving in one of their coldest winters in decades, the result of a freak Siberian cold front. After three days of not leaving the apartment due to sub-zero temperatures and gale force winds, I started going stir crazy and insisted we walk into the nearest town, Haarlem. After making it five blocks, we had to stop for hot coffee and toasted croissants and that was as far as we made it.
The good news is, our licensees in North America and Europe are on track. It looks like Australia is next. South America is limping along, but I have great faith in my licensee there. Certainly, his enthusiasm is unparalleled. My first book is out and doing well. And meetings with studios interested in the Bloomers Island show and game are moving right along. Other potential licensees are finally knocking on the door. Wow, what an arduous journey. What an exciting journey!
What is shocking to me, is that Bloomers Island is my fourth company and I thought I knew a whole lot about business. I had run four companies! I had a good education. I started in banking. I was in a Startup Founders Group. I could raise money. I had advisors. I hired a brand strategy company. I hired a digital marketing firm. I ran projections, over and over. I know my way around a business plan better than most. I did everything right.
And I did everything wrong.
As Eric Ries says in the Lean Startup, “What we need to do is not come up with more good ideas. We need to go and test as many of those good ideas as possible.”
Or as I like to say, “There are no good ideas, there is only good execution."
The problem with my execution was that I was trying to do 100 different things at once: a school gardening program, an online game, gardening products, toys, books, television show, clothing, hair and skin care products, healthy food, an amusement park, housewares, card game, board game, garden journal app, curriculum, and wait, there’s more!
I was distracted and unfocused and felt like I wasn’t executing anything well. I spent money where I shouldn’t have spent it. I couldn’t develop a good business model. I couldn’t decide or choose what was the most important thing for me to work on. There were so many things to accomplish on a day-to-day basis, that I struggled with even the most basic prioritizing.
I went to an event that a friend of mine hosted. He is a legacy coach (I highly recommend and HERE is his website). I had written a legacy statement before, but what I liked about his methodology is that he helped us choose our legacy and then develop a road map to achieve it. When I chose my legacy, all of a sudden, it became crystal clear as to what my priorities should be. And it was not just about prioritizing but focusing the greater part of my day on them, coming up with and following a road map with lists and dates and commitments. And here’s the magic, when I started focusing, everything I wanted started falling into place for me.
Back to our return from Europe. As we rode the escalator down to the baggage claim at 1:00 a.m., desperately needing some water, trying to rally for one last push of energy needed to gather up all our oversized, overweight, and over numbered suitcases and boxes and somehow drag them upstairs to area “C” where hopefully an Uber wouldn’t take too long to pick us up, we walked past a closed Starbucks. On the side of the outside wall hung a small sign which read: “The Tireless Pursuit of All Things Coffee.”
Talk about priorities. Talk about a road map. Talk about a legacy. This one statement encapsulated all at once: commitment, focus, hard work and legacy. It wasn’t just pursuit, it was tireless pursuit. It wasn’t coffee and tea and bread and cakes and cookies and sandwiches, – although Starbucks hawks all those things – but, it starts and ends with coffee. I pictured Herman Melville’s first mate character, “Starbuck” (the brand’s namesake), standing on the Pequod, salty waves crashing around him, holding a sturdy mug of steaming coffee. Coffee.
What about me? What am I in tireless pursuit of? I am in tireless pursuit of creating entertaining, fun and clever stories to inspire and educate kids to live a healthier lifestyle. I am about all things stories. My first priority in this pursuit, the first stop on my roadmap, is to make sure my books are widespread and widely read. My wish for my legacy is to be the A.A. Milne of my generation.
In furtherance of this goal, I am going to do a tour across the country. I have never driven across the country before and I am lucky enough to have my marketing guru and partner in life go with me. We have definitive plans with gaps in between. I am going to do television, radio and press interviews, school visits, library visits, and book store signings. I’m calling it “The 10,001 Book Tour” because I want to sell 10,000 books on this trip and 10,001 sounded better than 10,000.
The first stop on our trip is Denver and we can be flexible after that. Bouncing between California and Denver and New York makes me feel like Sal Paradise in Jack Kerouac’s seminal novel, “On the Road.” We’re starting tomorrow (fingers crossed). If you want me to stop at your school, library, or book store let me know. If you want to do an interview, please contact me. Our schedule is flexible, our intention is to accommodate. I would love to meet you on the tour and sign your book. If we don’t get to meet this time, email me at email@example.com, and I will be happy to send your little reader a special message via the Snail Mailman.
Now I have a road map, figuratively and literally.
You can follow our progress on my website: cynthiawylie.com or on the bloomersisland.com website as well as the Bloomers Island Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts. (All /bloomersisland). I will be posting dates and cities as soon as I have them.
It’s never too early or too late to decide on your legacy. What do you want yours to be?