This blog is for a book that will be out in late October, 2007 - Why Epiphanies Never Occur to Couch Potatoes.
Like Steinbeck, I set this down not some much to inform others but to remind myself. This book started as a lunch speech at the 2005 Merit Direct Business Coop, and it is (will be) a short book. What do you want – the speech was only twenty minutes!
Like me and many of the other presenters at this event, most of the attendees are regulars. Most of these people know who I am, know what my specialty is (I am a nationally recognized expert in marketing to the government), and have a feel for who I am.
So I decided to do something different at lunch. A couple years before at this same event this, I did what has become my Ten Myths of the Government Market speech, a lighthearted look at why many companies don’t do well in the government market. I wanted something in the same vein, a Letterman kind of countdown, but I did not want to talk about the government market. Not everyone who attends is interested in the government market.
I wanted to strike a more personal note, to connect at a different level.
So I started making some notes on a talk that was to become Amtower on Survival and Success, my laws, learned in the trenches, the rules that I choose to live by.
I was a little nervous when I got up to speak at that lunch, not knowing what these people who thought they knew me would think of this … sermon. I had to work from my notes as I had not memorized the speech.
Although it was only twenty minutes long, I was still tweaking it 30 minutes before lunch. I do that way too often!
A minute or so after I started talking I hit my comfort zone, and feeling comfortable, I referenced several people in the room when it was germane to the talk. I had lots of friends in that room, people I had worked with for years. And there were several of my personal advisors in that room - among them Ralph Drybrough, Don Libey, and David Powell, but this time they had no idea what I was going to talk about
During the speech I made eye contact with as many people as I could, while still knowing where I was in the script of the speech. It seemed very quiet, my tone increasing in confidence with every sentence. I was feeling very good about this talk.
And suddenly it was over and there was applause. The speech was only twenty minutes, and the 200 or so attendees seemed to like it. Or maybe they liked that it was short.
The event photographer, Mike Pierro of Vita Photo, came up to me and said it was the only lunch event he had ever shot where every eye was on the speaker and there were absolutely no side conversations, not even in whispers. I was flattered and stunned.
Several people, maybe as many as one third of those in attendance, came up to thank me over the next several hours for the speech, and many of these asked for a transcript, starting with Irv Greenberg of ATD. Irv knows me well, having been a client for several years.
Then Don Libey said, “This is a whole new level, Mark. This is your next book.”
The seed was planted. And now the book is written, but never quite done.