Spotting Trends and Cultural Creatives


Thanks for your numerous calls. No, contrary to popular opinion and rumor, I have not been injured nor am I dead. Everything just happened to come together at once.

We are in the final stages of building our dream house (The Pumpkin House) here at the farm (pictures will follow in a week or so). A new publisher released our updated course International Business Made EZ and it really took off, so we have had lots of new students writing in, and various other wonderful things are happening.

Our daughter, Eleanor, has been in the midst of buying a Stagecoach (dance school) franchise in England which has taken up time, plus Merri and I are enrolled in a Ph.D. course in holistic nutrition and natural health, and we are now busy developing our own magazine business (more on this in future lessons also). We had a seminar to conduct in late July and our garden is bursting with lettuce, tomatoes, beans, peas, peppers, pumpkins, watermelon and squash), plus we are raising 11 baby geese, 8 turkeys and 20 guinea hens.

This would be no big deal except something killed one of the geese. This has left me strolling through the woods by the poultry barn with shotgun in hand. We had a pack of coyotes up here earlier, and they tried to bring down one of our horses earlier in the season. Maybe they got the goose. No one warned me about how attached you become to these gentle birds when we ordered the darn things, so there I am in the woods…with the shotgun feeling compelled to take care of these critters.

Being a realist, I know my chances of actually hurting a coyote with a shotgun are almost nil. Perhaps that is why I have not taken the rifle. They have families to feed as well. But with luck I’ll at least make enough noise so they’ll know they are not welcome here and they had better not mess with my geese!

In other words things are a bit busier that usual here. We had to do something more than just forgo early Christmas shopping to get caught up.

This was especially important as I am finishing the update of my course “Self Fulfilled-How to be a Self Publisher” and the deadline is August. Yikes! (More on this in a moment.)

Plus the blackberries are ripe, the best in the years we have been here, so black and plump. Not pick them? That would be a crime. (see http://www.garyascott.com/archives/2001/08/13/345/index.html)

I thought I’d sneak just a few days off from sending messages. “Tis the dog days of August and no one will notice,” I said. Apparently I was wrong. Merri said it took her two and a half-hours this morning sticking her finger in the dyke. “A longer break”, she said “will be counter-productive.” Perhaps she also muttered something like “do you want me to cook lunch or do your job?” Merri is a very good cook so I am baaack!

And don’t think for a minute I am not overwhelmed by your outpourings of concern. Thank you. This is a good reason enough to be alive. You are deeply appreciated.

There is one other project I’ve been focusing on. I’ve been sitting on our front porch, shaker rocking chair, summer evenings reading and rereading the book “The Cultural Creatives” by Paul Ray Ph.D and Sherry Anderson Ph.D.

Over the past year, the messages at this site have focused on looking at trends because spotting trends is the wellspring of wealth. (See http://www.garyascott.com/archives/2004/06/16/1057/)

Nothing is as important to successful investing and business as spotting good trends. “The Cultural Creatives” helps us understand one of the biggest trends that may ever see.

Because, as mentioned, I am updating my publishing course, studying the Cultural Creatives and am overwhelmingly busy, may I cheat? This week’s messages will be a series that unveils one brand new lesson from my publishing course that highlights why understanding Cultural Creatives (who by the way we call Dragonflies) is so vital to our economic success.

So here begins lesson 14 of Self-Fulfilled-How to be a Self Publisher. (You are the very first to see this new material.)

 

Lesson 14

Fiction & Cultural Creatives

Hushed whispers of silence fall like autumn leaves. Barely a rustle on faded dim light and muted walls, cool air fights in wet ringlets against the tropical heat.

Books-A-Million, just before six. A hush has descended in the mega-book store and the atmosphere feels like a quiet library save that there is no stern librarian hushing in the background. The silence is broken by the frothy hiss of a cappuccino machine instead.

This was a hot, humid summer’s day in Naples, but I was cool sitting in front of my table near the Joe Muggs coffee shop and waiting for my first book signing to begin.

The weather was steamy. The air conditioning was chugging away so where I sat was cold. Had it not been for my publishing experience, I would have been even more chilled. Book signings can be scary! Watch one some time. I did, to get a sense of the occasion.

Watching these events on TV, all glitter with long lines give the wrong impression. Get real! Unless the author is a star, (or past President, or mass murderer who was not convicted something like that) the poor author is sitting alone. People walk by avoiding his eyes. He or she is stuck for hours, trying not to look like they are hawking books and trying not to look embarrassed when no one comes. I knew! I had been in that same Joe Muggs coffee shop and witnessed such scenes. I swear at one signing I noticed that a guy dressed in faded jeans and a blue chino shirt had not one person come near. He became a great study in fingernail picking. I doubt that was the subject of his book.

This lesson looks at the fine art of how to get creamed trying to market fiction through retail bookstores. We could sum this up by just agreeing, “Do not do this”. Or we could title this lesson “Temporary Madness.” At first glance this advice would seem sound. Careful study though will show that it is not. There is a profoundly important message about publishing.

Let me digress. This lesson may seem odd, as it weaves ideas about creating fiction with thoughts on demographics. One idea (fiction) seems so ephemeral, the other (demographics) so cut and dried.

Yet there are qualities in the fiction I wrote that were affected by a huge demographic wave. And as this publishing event began to unfold I saw that this novel was so shaped and propelled by this shift that it would be accurate to say I was not the writer/publisher.

The fiction wrote me. Please remember these words. “As a publisher, there may be times when the book or report writes you!” At such times you may feel alone, bewildered, lost or doing something that makes no sense at all. But you have to continue! Just because you have to do it. Then you may need these words to know what is happening is simply part of the creative process and is okay.

This was my case as the demographic shifts we are about to study had a profound impact on our publishing business. Rather I should say life had a profound impact on me (as it did 50 million others). I became part of a new subculture. This also had a profound impact on my publishing business.

These shifts were so entangled in my novel that looking at why, as well as how I wrote it could help you as a publisher. Stick with me through what may seem weird lesson. During that period I was totally out of focus with my reader. That was okay. In the end the shift was worthwhile. You’ll see if I am right and when you do you can avoid some of the doubts, the self-searching and bewilderment.

Back to Books A Million and the book signing. I arrived early. Do this if you ever write a book or have a book signing at a bookstore. Assume that no one will know what is going on, not your publisher, not your publicity agent and certainly not the staff at the store.

Fortunately I had visited the manager just a few days earlier so I had names and knew that my books were packed away somewhere in the store. The manager was not on the premises (she did arrive later) and no one knew a thing. Yet the clock continued to tick. I wanted to get ready, but the staff did not care. They were used to hurry up and wait at book signings. Why rush to set up a table that no one would visit anyway?

I knew something the staff did not, so I dropped the manager’s name a few times, assured them that my books were there, and that I was having a book signing (see the sign on your window-guys—that’s me). I asked where they kept their tables and Merri and I set it up ourselves. Acting as if we knew what was happening, we managed to get everything assembled in time for me to grab a Latte before the crowd arrived.

And a crowd did arrive. I knew they would. I knew because I was a publisher (i.e. salesman). I knew because I had a list of readers in the Naples zip. I knew because I had been offering these readers books, reports and seminars for years. I knew because I had offered these readers a FREE workshop if they visited with me at Books A Million, 6 to 8 PM on a Friday night. I knew because I had sent thousands of these letters or more. Hey I was prepared!

We sold nearly 100 books. Ka-Ching, about $2,000 in the store’s cash register. The manager of the store was impressed. I’ll explain in a moment why I never made a penny from this. I lost about $300 for the effort.

Sometimes an author never sells a book at a signing. Yet during the launch of my novel I did dozens and was never skunked. In Canada we only had five people show up at one small store, but that was the worst on a week day afternoon. Watch out for the burbs during the week! Bad time, bad place.

Yet there were several memorables. We packed the house there in Naples and did even better in downtown Portland (Barnes & Noble), Vancouver B.C. (Chapters) and Orlando (Borders).

What is important about these signings is the way we got the readers to the signing, how each cost me an arm and a leg, but how every penny has been worth it and how I also recouped the loss. Lots of leaning here.

To begin we need to understand how this novel came about and why.

Merri and I were in Naples and we had earned a small fortune, for us at least, more than we ever expected. Millions. We had been busy doing this for years (instead of spending) and we did it from our home (few overheads) without staff (even fewer overheads), so a lot of the money that floated by, stuck. After a certain point, each extra dollar became more and more like the sixth cup of coffee in the morning. Not too exciting.

You either understand this or you don’t. A lot of that has to do with demographics. (I’ll explain in a moment.)

So Merri and I started to itch. Something had to be scratched, but we did not know where. The itch grew yet remained hidden. This resulted in a process many of our friends called “temporary insanity”.

At that time we had the perfect life. We owned a wonderful seven bedroom house in Old Naples, one of the most modern, perfect cities in the world. We had our comfortable mountain cabin in North Carolina that sat deep in the forest on a rushing creek. This was one of the most traditional areas to get away and recharge.

Plus to really get away there was a condo on a crescent beach in the Dominican Republic, where everything was different and worked outside the Western box of normalcy. We could have been called creative.

We traveled globally, getting to London several times a year. Other cities regularly visited were Paris, the Prague, Copenhagen, two or three Caribbean stops, all in the name of business, tax deductible trips. Everything was paid for and profitable. No mortgage, no losses, no debt. Our children were happy, healthy and all but one had finished their higher education. We had everything we had imagined and more…until it started…that itch.

I thought it began inside me, but see now that it really was an outside force moving both Merri and me along. We were like light bulbs thinking the light was ours.

This was first noted at the Victoria, Canada airport. We had taken nearly a month off for a deep purification-meditation session with an Indian healer at his remote home on Salt Springs Island. While there this vague itch began to focus itself. There was no big picture yet (this would take over a decade to resolve), just one tiny first step. I realized we needed to sell our house in Naples and move on. I say this was a tiny first step, but actually this was huge! Merri and I loved this house. Second, our kids had scattered to the four winds. Fran was in Costa Rica, Cinda in Portland, Ele in London and Cheri and Jake with us in Naples. When one is continually on the move and the family scattered, the grounding of home is important! Our seven bedrooms now were perfectly located in the middle of Portland, London and Costa Rica. Seven bedrooms had worked just right, one for Merri and me, one for granny and one for each of the kids.

Then there was the third problem. We had nowhere to go. What would we do? Live in a tent? I should have asked this question before I scratched my itch in Victoria at the airport. I’ll explain why in a moment, because it has a lot too do with the novel.

First the demographics. May I introduce the book the “Cultural Creatives”?

To be Continued

P.S. Merri is a darn good cook, but there is more.

She offers a course on Creative Cooking. This weeklong class takes place at the farm September 25 to 30, 2004 and teaches cooking at its finest-for longevity, weight loss, health, longevity as well as beautiful food.

Obesity and poor nutrition have become epidemic in America, but there are tasty solutions and every ancient culture had delicious ways of obtaining good nutrition, health, energy and long lives.

Merri’s articles on cooking and recipes have appeared n health magazines across the U.S. Her class teaches how to blend the best of healthy cooking of European, Caribbean, Andean, Amazonian and Indian cultures, from easy to obtain, local foods into delicious and satisfying meals.

The weekend before, Sept 17-18-19, 2004, Merri and I conduct a Wellness Weekend. Wellness Weekends offer a chance to let your stress and extra weight go based on living and learning longevity secrets that Merri and I have been searched out over many years during our journeys around the world.

Come up to the farm and learn why and how some people today are still enormously long lived without medicines, doctors, hospitals and drugs. Breathe our fresh air, drink our pure spring water and eat our fresh organic food grown right here on the farm as you learn and are immersed in secrets of health.

These secrets are distillates gleaned from months and years spent with Vaidyas and Pundits of India, Sufi masters, Chinese herbalists, Tibetan Monks and Andean Yatchaks, who specialize in one aspect of longevity and rejuvenation or another. The secrets also come from a continuing research about people who are active but aged over 100.

Then this October 8-9-10 2004. Thomas Fischer of Jyske Bank comes up to the farm to conduct an International Investing Made EZ course with me.

The U.S. dollar is fluctuating vs. other currencies. Economic events are very similar to those 30 years ago. This means we can predict (to a degree) what is ahead. We can see distortions between global stock markets and economies, which gives us a chance to cash in on international shifts. Update yourself on which countries to invest and which hot markets might lay ahead. For details go to http://www.garyascott.com/catalog/iiez.html

Then November 5-6-7, I will host my “International Business Made EZ” course for those who wish to turn their urge to travel and see the world into a business.

After being one of the first advisors to suggest global investing clear back in the 1960s, I stuck with this theme for decades. Then ten years ago fundamentals (that eventually created the book “Fire Your Boss”) began to shift where and how we should invest. New technology meant individuals no longer had to accept their current work situation. They could be in control of their own job and stream of income, so not to be subject to whims, prejudices, moods, or circumstances of a boss.

New global corporate mentality meant the good old days of job satisfaction, secure jobs, caring employers were gone. This new environment required new rules. Merri and I changed our entire financial message to help individuals follow their heart and use their creativity to start and run small global businesses from their homes.

For more details go to here.

Whether your interest is health, healthy cooking, global investing, or international business we would love to explore these opportunites this glorious autumn in the Blue Ridge.

 


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