Writing a Bestselling Book in the Backseat of my Car
Do you have dreams that are still waiting to be unleashed? Are there dreams buried within your mind and heart that are longing to be rekindled? What changes are you willing to make to achieve your goals and dreams? What price will you pay? What opportunities will you "create?" How will you defy the limits?
Life isn't easy. Success is often a struggle, but those who get ahead keep trying until they achieve the results they seek. The stars will align one day, and youíll look back and wonder what happened. How did I get here? What was the breakthrough that changed everything?
Those questions have led me to share a little bit of my life story with the hope that it inspires you never to give up.
When I was fifteen years old, I landed on the idea that I would become a motivational speaker and later an author. At some point during the next few years, I came across a tape titled "Unlimited Power" by Tony Robbins. Tony talked about cutting your time in half, creating momentum, and increasing your performance by "modeling others." In other words, he encouraged listeners to "associate and learn from the best in your field." Taking his advice, that's what I did!
In 1999, I began working with the Tony Robbins organization. This was a great opportunity to learn from someone who I envisioned to be one of the greatest speakers and influencers – something that is still true today! After working with Tony for a year, however, I realized that I was living his dream and not mine. I worried that if I let too much time lapse without stepping out of my comfort zone and risking the unknown, I might get too comfortable, and that SCARED ME!
Howard Schultz, the founder of Starbucks, put it this way: "What distinguishes the talented person who makes it from the person who has even more talent but doesnít get ahead? Part of what constitutes success is timing and chance. But most of us have to create our own opportunities and be prepared to jump when we see the big one others can't see."
So, after putting in my two weeksí notice, I called my parents and asked if I could move into the basement of their home for two months while I presented my first seminar, which was titled, The Power to Shape Your Life. They said yes, so I moved in and got to work. However, those two months turned into five years spent living in my parent's basement, which was humbling, to say the least. Our predicament wasn't anything that my wife (Danielle) had imagined when she married me, but I was determined to succeed.
Toward the end of our fourth year in the basement, when I was still struggling to get momentum, Danielle said, "TJ, maybe you should go get a job!"
I responded with, "I can't until I exhaust EVERY idea I've ever had about making my dream come true."
She said, "What are you going to do?"
At that moment, I told her that I was going to write a book. A few days later, Danielle handed me a letter asking me if I was sure about this decision, but she wrote four important words at the end: "I believe in you." This was a very powerful statement on her part, given the circumstances.
Was it scary? Heck, yeah! But I held onto the idea that achieving my dream was possible. I thought, "If someone else can do it, then I can, too – as long as I don't give up!" Since not having an office and having two young sons running around the basement wouldn't provide the optimum environment for writing, I decided to take the one car we owned and drove it down to the local grocery store parking lot. There, I sat in the backseat of that old Camry and began to write. For two months straight, I drove down to that parking lot, sat in the backseat, and wrote every day.
After two months of writing, I completed a rough manuscript. My next thought was, "I need at least one endorsement of the book for credibility purposes." So, I printed twenty copies of the unedited manuscript and sent them out to select business owners, motivational speakers, celebrities, and authors, hoping that I would receive at least one trustworthy endorsement. To my surprise, within six weeks, I received nineteen endorsements back and If You Think You Can! was born.
After my darkest moment, a world of possibilities suddenly began to quickly flow toward me! Doors were opening. Speaking engagements came from all over. One day, I received a phone call from the founder of a publically traded company (at the time). I had previously asked the founder for an endorsement when, to my surprise, he called me on the phone and told me he loved the book so much that he wanted me to speak at their upcoming national convention. I quickly told him that I would be honored to do so, at which point he followed up with, "I'd like you to make your book available for purchase at the convention."
"Of course. Not a problem," I replied. I then asked, "How many people will be in attendance?"
He responded with, "15,000."
"15,000?" I thought. On the one hand, I was excited to speak to 15,000 people, but, on the other hand, I began to stress out. With the national convention only two months away and no publisher agreement finalized, I would need to self-publish the book. The challenge? I didn't have the funds to print 15,000 books, nor did I have the necessary contacts or resources for book publishing. After hanging up the phone, the first thing I did was to call my brother and ask, "Steve, can I borrow some money?"
Fortunately, he was able to lend me the money. I then went to work finding an editor, a printer, and other necessary book publishing resources and the rest is history. When opportunity and necessity collide, amazing things begin to happen.
I will forever be grateful. Without traditional advertising or a book promotion, If You Think You Can! quickly became a bestseller, selling hundreds of thousands of copies in thirty-four countries. Additionally, a month or two after the national convention, Charlie 'Tremendous' Jones called me one day to say, "TJ, I've got a company that wants the buy 25,000 copies of your book. Can I broker the deal?"
"Yes, of course!" I responded. One door opened after another. My world seemingly changed overnight. The stars had aligned.
I believe in possibilities! I believe that not being able to see the evidence in a physical form right now doesn't mean that the possibility of achieving your dream doesn't exist. Price Pritchett once said, "Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence." Imagination is a powerful thing. I believe that where there is "purpose and meaning" and a willingness to hustle without giving up, dreams do come true! Always believe in yourself and your dreams!
Note to reader: If you want higher performance and greater results in your life or organization, please contact us. Whether you need private coaching or your organization wants to empower people, strengthen leaders, or improve its culture, we are willing and able to help. Also, if you want help getting your book published, contact us.
About TJ Hoisington:
TJ Hoisington is the bestselling author of If You Think You Can!, The Secret of the Slight Edge, and Return to Robinson Island. He has authored several high-performance training programs focused on personal development, leadership, customer service, sales, and creating thriving cultures. TJ's insights and workshops have been shared with many organizations around the world. (client list) Whether he speaks to audiences of 10 or 15,000 people, his mission is the same: to provide inspiration and tools that help people and organizations unleash their greatness within.