Sunday, March 16, 2008

How to Get Lucky--Happy St. Patrick's Day!

1. Take risks. Calculated ones. Don’t worry so much about failure. Instead, think in terms of abundance and opportunity. Some of what you do won’t work out. So what? Something’s bound to “stick” if you keep at it. I wrote a book not knowing if it would sell. That was a risk. But if I hadn’t written the book, I wouldn’t have anything to sell, right? So it was a calculated risk I was willing to take.

2. Put yourself “out there.” If you want to get hit by lightning, go stand in an open field during a thunderstorm. Be where people who can help you can find you. For example, by going to Sleuthfest I was able to meet my agent and my editor.

3. Show up. No one is going to come to your front door and ask you to be the next bestselling author or scrapbook designer or rock star. You need to circulate. You need to be around people who are doing what you want to do. That way, when an opportunity comes, you’ll know about it.

4. Meet people and make a good impression. You never know who will be the person the Universe sent to help you. So…be open and friendly. I met Emilie Richards, USA Today bestselling author, at a book festival. I didn’t know she was a BIG name. But I’ve been taught to treat everyone with respect, so we enjoyed each other’s company and have since become friends. Only after we’d “clicked” did I discover she was a mega-author.

5. Ask yourself, “What do I have to give that is uniquely mine?” I often send people four-leaf clovers I’ve found. I make small scrapbooks for friends. I invite people to come along on a tour of the Steinway factory. Those are lovely “things” I have to offer. What do YOU have that’s unique to you?

6. Work harder than anyone else on the planet. I work seven days a week, usually at least 8 hours and often 10 or 12. I am constantly learning. I always ask myself, “What does this mean to me and how can I use what I’ve discovered?”

7. Steal with your eyes. Watch other people carefully. Don’t make the same mistakes they do, but do learn what they do right.

8. Believe in a Universe of abundance and opportunity. You can only receive if you have open hands and an open heart.

9. First be a giver. When you give to others, it comes back to you, many times over.

10. Acknowledge your hard work. Psychologists have found that when women are complimented we often say, “Oh, I was lucky.” Maybe you were, but more likely you worked hard. If you only think you were lucky, you won’t have the courage to tackle new things—the courage that comes from saying to yourself, “Yes, this is daunting but I’ve handled tough situations before and I can figure this out.” So give yourself credit. That will fuel your ability to tackle new challenges.

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Sheila Connolly said...

Beannachtaí na Féile Páraic!

Great points all. I think the last is important. As new writers (and generally shy people) we have a harmful tendency to be self-deprecating. As you say, we brush off flattering comments with, "Oh, I was just lucky." And then some other writer will step in and seize the conversational ball, and you've lost your moment.

Not that we should be overbearing jerks, but we need to acknowledge that we've achieved something special, and we want to share it.

Where are you finding all those four-leaf clovers?

Terri Thayer said...

Nice job, Joanna. As for your last comment, I'd take it further. Women are not just self-deprecating, they're down right awful to themselves. In my quilt classes, I often have to remind women to watch how they talk to themselves. I hear some mean mutterings.

A quilter will show you their fabulous piece, and when you compliment them, is quick to point out the mistakes. I often stop them and remind them to just accept the compliment. Why is that so hard?!

Joanna Campbell Slan said...


Go to our old posts--Sunday, July 1, 2007 and you'll see I'm a whiz at finding four-leaf clovers. (See! I took a compliment!) And that post will tell you, you'll see that folks followed my advice and did exactly that. Or email me off-line and I'll mail you

Joanna Campbell Slan said...


We all need to learn to take a compliment and NOT respond with a litany of our failures, right? I know I do.

In fact, my husband and I were "practicing" how to take compliments about my new book just this morning. He was very helpful. We're all so worried we'll come off bragging that we stand there speechless. Maybe that's a blog for another day, right? What do you say after someone says, "I loved your book"?

Kathryn Lilley said...

Great advice, Joanna! I've finally learned just to say "Thank you" when someone gives me a compliment--sometimes there's a funny pause after that, as if the compliment giver is expecting the usual disclaimers and self put-downs. Then we move on!

Linda O. Johnston said...

I love your attitude, Joanna! And Happy St. Pat's Day to everyone!

Camille Minichino said...

Years ago I had a small business, producing and selling items with hi-tech designs. I remember going into bookstores and asking to talk to their calendar buyers. I'd start my "pitch" with "I'm sure you already have enough calendars and this one may not be right for you ...."

I've gotten a little better.

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

I used to say a lot of this when I gave speeches, so it's really something I believe strongly. Because I know it works!

Nicole P said...

Great advice Joanna. I really enjoyed reading that!

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Hey, Nicole,

I was thinking about what a great stroke of luck it was to meet you when I wrote this!