I am continually thankful that my hobby is my career. I appreciate how fortunate that position is.
Therefore when eager young adventurers send me emails asking “how to make a career out of this stuff”, about “finding a publisher” or “breaking in to public speaking”, I always try to send encouraging replies.
Here is an (abbreviated) exchange that caught my eye in my email archives this week:
Sent: Tuesday, October 17
Your friend XXX suggested I get in touch with you […] I have finished my expedition and my book and now am beginning the daunting task of trying to get my book noticed in the modern day saturated swamp of travel/adventure literature […]
Unfortunately none of the big guns wanted my book so I am going it alone, trying to get reviews in papers, radio etc etc and trying to get my book into bookshops. But what I thought you really could give me some tips on is the corporate speaking world. I am not worried that I would be stealing your thunder here as we are in totally different stages of our careers so I hope you wouldn’t mind giving me any tips about getting my foot in the door. Immodestly I can say with confidence that my talks are very good and well-received, so the problem I have is that of getting in contact with the right person in the right company, persuading them to take me on for their event etc. That is what I am not having much joy with. […]
… and I keep pestering the people at the RGS to let me speak there!
My website, if you have a moment, is XXX and I would really appreciate any tips. Also, would you be willing to read my book […] and make a nice comment about it that I could use on my site?!
Finally, if you ever decide to do […] or anything equally bonkers, please do let me know – I would love to do that!
Best wishes, and good luck to you with your projects,
A couple of days later – this reply:
—–Reply To Message—–
Man I wish had some magic solution for you!
I guess it is a mix of hard work, good luck, & a few prayers !
Just focus on doing your job well and the press & speaking will come- much better way of doing it than trying just to get press & speaking!
If you do the job etc well the rest will come
Follow those dreams but don’t be under any illusions- it is a rocky road and hard, …I do it because I would be useless at anything else
You might wonder what interests me about this? After all I receive an email like this every few days, and I send a reply similar to this each time.
The reason it made me smile about the request for advice when I came across it this week is because I wrote it.
I wrote it to Bear Grylls in 2006 and was both surprised and pleased that he replied, though I remember being mildly disappointed that he did not offer any magic bullet solutions to fame, fortune and having a muddy face on gigantic billboards.
Bear was right though – just focus on doing your job well and the rest will come.
Of course I am still impatient. I still want to be making more noise than I am. I still look on enviously at others in my tribe, wondering why they get all the luck. But, mostly, I remember to be phenomenally grateful for having my hobby as a career, and that -ultimately- I am not in this game to have mud-streaked billboard glory.
So thank you, Bear, a second time, for your helpful advice.