Book Jeff

The Grandmother Lode

Last month marked the nine-year anniversary of finally finishing The Wisdom of Walt. After hitting “send” to my editor, I left for a walk. I still remember the strange sense of relief I had that night. On my walk, I could get hit by a bus, and no matter what, the book I had been wanting to publish for more than twenty years was done. Out of my hands.

I could finally rest.

Little did I know I was “just getting started.” The work was only beginning. I soon learned that the only thing harder than writing a book is selling a book. I spent the next year learning about marketing, exploring sales, and studying successful authors.

I was obsessed.

I remember one weekend selling books at a Christmas market on a Saturday in December, driving all night to San Francisco, and appearing at MouseCon on Sunday. I then drove all night back home to Southern California so I could be at work in time for a 9 a.m. meeting the next day.

Nothing was Going to Stop Me Now!

Slowly, word got out that I was a local Disney author/speaker and I received invitations to present to a variety of audiences. One of my favorites was a group of seniors at an assisted living home in nearby Corona. I was especially excited when I realized this was a captive audience, with limited mobility, and nostalgic Disney memories.

How convenient! I could speak, bring books, and they could buy future gifts for friends and family members. I was so excited about this prospect that I referred to them, and all other assisted living home audiences, as “the grandmother lode.”

I sold maybe five books. Max.

But nine years later, I’m still speaking to the same audience in Corona and others like it throughout Southern California. Slowly, this group of strangers became my friends. My family.

In August 2020, I returned to work after a two-month medical leave and a second brain surgery. My personal world had fallen apart and we were in the middle of a global pandemic. Imagine my surprise when I discovered my office phone was filled with get well messages from my forever friends in Corona.

When the crisis of COVID was finally over, Disneyland wasn’t my first destination. I first went to see the seniors who missed me. Cared about me. And kept calling to check on me.

My moments with “the grandmother lode” have been some of the most fulfilling of my career. Because success as a writer or speaker isn’t just about selling books or gaining recognition. True success comes by connecting with others and making a difference.

No matter how small or how senior they may be.

Here’s to many more years of speaking to audiences both old and new. Stories have a strange way of bringing strangers together. I hope you are sharing yours, too.

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