Getting Happy... when you wish you were dead
Day 80 – Tuesday, 29 Jan
Last week, after the Wednesday evening bible study, Ben Fields and I spent some time talking about the Getting Happy… book project. It caught his interest, and we arranged to meet this evening at the Pancake House.
“Hi, gentlemen. Can I get you something to drink?”
Ben gestured for me to go first. “May I have hot tea, please?”
“Okay. And for you?”
The waitress bustled off to get our drinks.
“So tell me more about this project you’re working on.”
“I’m happy to,” I answered as I pulled a small sheaf of papers from my laptop bag. “I also typed up an executive summary, and the plan as it is now.”
I handed the papers over to Ben, and continued explaining.
“This is a piece of a larger project I was working on when things went south between Maria and me. The idea is to start with a single book, see how it’s received, and then proceed with a series if the response is good.
“The series title is Getting Happy…, and the first book in the series is Getting Happy… when you wish you were dead. It’s based on my life experience, and the fact that I’m still here. What I want to do is show people it is possible to survive. That there’s hope, or a light at the end of the tunnel; even though you might not see it because there are some bends in the tunnel ahead of you.”
“Okay. And what do you want from me?”
“Well, if you can help with the project, that’s great, but mostly I’d like to have your feedback.
“You see, I’ve been working on this without anyone to talk to, so I could use an objective opinion. I’d like you to tell me whether it looks reasonable, it looks not so good, or maybe I’m in desperate need of medication.”
We both laughed, and Ben agreed to share his opinion.
Our drinks arrived, and we ordered food. It was late in the evening, but we both asked for breakfast items. I had the pancake sandwich; two pancakes with a ham steak between them, top with two scrambled eggs. Ben went simpler with eggs, bacon, home fries and toast.
Ben was an older fellow with a lot of experience in business. He went straight to the heart of the matter.
“Tell me what the business is. I like the idea of the book, but that’s just the beginning. What the business behind the book.”
“There’s obviously the speaking and media interviews that go with a successful book, but the real business is in helping young adults start their own businesses.
“Most businesses can be started with a small amount of capital. With my experience in Rotary, my thought is to develop a capital fund that loans money to young adults. The amounts are small; anywhere from a few hundred to three or four thousand. And we team up with local service clubs and business owners.
“The service clubs are support networks for the fledgling business owners, and local business owners help to mentor. I’d like to work at duplicating what the Amish have done.
“Did you know their numbers are almost the exact opposite, when it comes to business success, of everyone else? In the U.S. and Canada, less than five percent of businesses survive past the first five years. In Amish communities, less than five percent of businesses fail. I want to help communities do the same thing for themselves.”
Our food arrived, and Ben looked at the papers I’d handed him.
“Hmmm… Let’s take some time to eat, and let me read this through.”
It only took about twenty minutes for us to eat our meals, and for Ben to read through the plan. Those twenty minutes felt much, much longer.
“I like it.
“I could see the potential by the time I was finished the executive summary. The rest fills in detail, and shows a real business case for what you’re doing.
“You’ve done a lot of good work here.”
“Thank you. That means a lot.”
“You have good material here, and you’ve already published several books. This is something I’m interested in supporting.”
“Wow. That’s cool. Thank you, Ben.”
We talked a while longer about what was needed to get the book published, what Kickstarter is and how it works, and what Ben expected in terms of oversight for the project. Then he asked me about going to the bible study the next day.
"Are you coming to the bible study tomorrow evening?"
I answered as we were standing and putting on our coats. "I'd like to but the van to First Christian leaves at five thirty, and that's my only way to get there. Plus I still have to think about whether Maria is going to be there or not."
"Don't worry about a ride. I'll gladly take you out there after the study. As for Maria, she wasn't there last week, and she hasn't been attending the study lately. Besides, I'm inviting you to be there. I think it's good for you, and for the group."
"Thank you, Ben. I appreciate that. And as long as I have a ride out to First Christian, I can go to the study."
Ben shook my hand and said, "Good. Then we'll see you tomorrow night."
"Yes, sir" I said cheerfully.
When I left the restaurant I was practically walking on air. Having another successful business owner praise what I’ve done reassured me that I was on the right track. My self-esteem had taken a heavy beating over the last three years, so it’s good to know I’m not completely nuts or off my rocker.