This story happened a year and a half ago and I’ve wanted to share it because it was a part of my creative journey so it feels weird to leave this big piece out. And also to share the good news that there are some really cool opportunities out there.
I’ve realised that the reason why I haven’t felt comfortable sharing it yet is because whenever I talk to people about it, I feel like we’re not seeing the story through the same glasses. Which is true of everything – our perception colours what we see all the time.
In this case, because we’re talking BIG money, it feels like the difference in perception becomes magnified by people’s beliefs around money and success.
Plus, it seems like there is a bias in our culture towards fame, and the sense that fame is something that everyone naturally wishes for and that success and fame go hand and hand. People want to believe that as long as you do your best, you are guaranteed to have fantastic opportunities come your way.? And that fame will always come to gifted people.
In my perspective, that is SO not true. It’s possible to work hard, be ridiculously gifted and never become famous. In fact, as a highly sensitive introvert my personal preference is for me to never be “bestowed” with fame.
So when people tell me “Oh I just know you’ll be famous one day!” it’s a bit hard for me to hear since even though they mean it is as compliment, that is not something I actually want.? Also it feels like it somehow diminishes what I have now, as though earning the money I need to live the life I want while doing the things I love isn’t enough.? I am a little prickly about that.
Combine all of that with how uncomfortable I get sometimes with attention and you can see why I hesitated to share this. But it feels like time now, so here goes:
I was offered the publishing contract out of the blue.
About a year and a half ago, I was approached by someone to create a program for them, similar to the courses I create, something on helping people live happier and more fulfilling lives, but geared towards a very different audience: infomercial watchers.
So, to be clear, this was not a publishing contract to have my books end up in bookstores.? This was for my program to be sold on TV and online, like Proactive, Foreman grills, and the Thighmaster.? That’s why there was so much more money involved.
This person has worked with some of the biggest names in the personal growth industry, and has made billions (yes with a B) doing it.
They were planning a new campaign and wanted someone to create a homestudy program for them to sell as a part of it, so they googled it! They found me, looked over my videos and blog posts, saw the results my students are getting and thought I would be a good candidate.
We had a phone meeting where they told me about their project and found out more about my training and what I would be able to contribute to their project.? They talked about their past projects and about why working in the personal growth industry was so important to them.? They sent me their official cv so I could do some research on them.
They asked me to submit an outline of the program I would create for them, which I did – immediately.? They liked my ideas and offered me the spot. This happened very quickly, over a week or so.
I was thrilled and overwhelmed and apprehensive all at once.
This is the classic artists’ dream come true: someone coming in and offering to do ALL of the business stuff and leave you to handle the creative end. So it was pretty amazing to have this offered to me and I certainly did feel like I was walking on air.? I mean: I was offered a multi-million dollar publishing contract!
And while they were talking big big money, it didn’t feel all “pie in the sky”.
This was someone with the experience, contacts and resources to do these kinds of projects. While they could not guarantee how successful this particular campaign would be, they had done something similar that had brought in 55 million and was planning for this one to do better and to keep making money over time.
Also, it was clear that I was getting a small percentage of the profits, but I wasn’t being asked to contribute financially to the project in any way. I was contributing by creating the program which, frankly, is an easy thing for me to do.
It was also clear that this was not going to be MY project. My name would be on my work as the creator of the program and they wanted this to be a boost for my career, and I had creative control over how I created the program but I had no say in the direction of the larger project (like the infomercials and marketing campaign and who else would be involved in it).
So I wasn’t fooling myself about what this was, I was going to play a small role in a large project. And if it went well I was going to make a lot of money.
It was not a big risk and it was an exciting opportunity, so I went ahead and agreed to create the program.
They were super supportive & encouraging.
I got to work, created the program and started testing it with some of my clients.
Meanwhile, they were working on the campaign and I got to see the inner workings of a multi million dollar marketing campaign. Definitely a far cry from how I promote my classes!
More people were being brought in. As different elements of the campaign started to come together, they let me know what kind of image I would have to portray to fit with their campaign. I was (somewhat?) flexible.
I know that we all have different aspects to our personalities, so highlighting some while minimizing others isn’t lying or anything. I’ve had jobs in the past where I had to wear suits and look professional, this didn’t seem all that different.
I got a headshot taken while wearing a plain dark suit with a white shirt.? Even though, after blissfully getting rid of all of my “office clothes” when I left my last job, this was a little painful.
But – would you put on a suit for a 20 minute photo shoot for the chance to make millions from your creative work that you really believe in?
It’s not like they ever asked me to tone down my ideas, the program I was creating was deeply helpful and 100% me. It’s that the image of the work was more polished and professional and being presented to the mass market.
But I started to feel protective about the Creative Dream Incubator.
This business is my heart, my creativity and my purpose. I love what I’m doing and I love who I’m doing it with and I don’t want this to change.
The most amazingly brave & gifted people have been consistently drawn to my work, I don’t want that to change.? I don’t want to flood the Circle with people who were all hyped-up from this ridiculously inspiring info-mercial.
And this person said “Well yes, that’s just it. In your business, you wait for them to come to you. You’re leaving it in their hands, which will never guarantee big success. I’m going into their livingrooms, finding them where they are and showing them why and how to change their lives. It’s about US going to THEM.? It’s about making a much bigger impact.”
Yes, but I only want to work with people who are brave enough to step forward on their own.? It’s a seriously different vibe.
We were just never going to agree on that, and I didn’t feel like we needed to agree.
I was (and am) very happy to create something helpful and amazing and transformative that is geared towards the mass market. In fact I love the program I created for this, and how it can really help people.
I just didn’t want to start spending all of my time working with those people. I’m too happy doing that I’m doing.
Meanwhile, my new business partner was a very generous person and wanted to help my business grow into what they considered a success. They saw their project feeding my business, and were making sure that my business could handle the influx without it being crushed.? But I didn’t want that.? I wanted to do both (keep my business was it was AND do this new project) but keep them separate. I am really happy about how quickly I learned that.
The project moved forward quickly.
This person was really happy with what I was creating, and the project was very close to their heart. After a long and successful career in the personal growth field, they felt that this one subject that we were working with is key to helping people live happier and more fulfilling lives, so they wanted to get this out there.
It always felt like that purpose of helping people who struggle was their main priority, even though they were also committed to having this project generate massive profits.
Sometimes people (me?) look at the infomercial industry and it looks like it’s all about making as much money as possible.? That was not the case, there was deeper purpose and a desire to help.
I guess I want to stress that this person is a great person, I appreciate that they offered me this opportunity and I enjoyed working with them.
They kept expanding the scope of the project and bringing more people in. I got to meet so many people and learn so much about how a really big product launch is done.
We had a conversation about me touring North America doing big seminars.
Then the project fell through.
And I’m surprised by how easy it was for me to let it go.
I haven’t made any effort to stay in touch.
I was definitely feeling conflicted. Giving up that much money seems so ridiculous. Anyone who thinks it’s easy to stay true to yourself when people are offering you millions to be who they want you to be is deluding themselves.
But it just didn’t fit with what I’ve already built, and the further we went the less I was sure I could keep my Creative Dream Incubator totally separate.
(I want to stress again, that this person’s project is not BAD or anything! It’s about helping people live happier and more fulfilling lives, which is in alignment with my work. It’s just a different approach and I feel strongly that I am here on this planet to do the work of helping people live happier and more fulfilling lives in EXACTLY the way I’m doing it right now)
And the story ends there.
Earlier this year I was thinking about this and feeling grateful for the opportunity and grateful to see inside the process of how those things work and grateful to be 100% my own boss. Grateful for my tiny kingdom and grateful to do things MY way.
So, instead of millions of dollars, what this left me with was more gratitude and appreciation for being exactly where I am. And more love for what I’ve created here.
I’m really proud of how I did explore this and stay open to the possibility of it while remaining fully grounded in my inner sense of integrity.
While following your inner compass means you can’t just jump onto every opportunity that comes your way, I don’t think being all “Oh I’ll never sell out, I’ll never consider this kind of thing” is a good idea either. You never know when a collaboration will work really well.
It’s so super cool to know that this kind of thing happens!? And it was exciting to be a part of this! Creating the program was fun and it felt amazing to be offered that kind of opportunity.
Pus, for months I was creating this thing, and experiencing how it feels to be offered a multi-million dollar publishing contract.? That feels amazing and I’m so glad this happened.