Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Career Encouragement from a Teenage Millionaire

The keynote speaker at the NRWA conference was Cameron Johnson, whose recent fame derives from having been runner-up on Oprah's Big Give. But at age 23, he's already been a self-made millionaire for almost a decade.

Cute as a button and in command of the room, Cameron enthralled and amazed us with the story of his entrepreneurial ventures--from being the first eBay reseller of Beanie Babies to making $15,000 a day from his Internet business while still in high school. Cameron's business instincts have been unerring.

So imagine the dissonance I perceived when he said his latest venture was to write a book. During the Q&A session, I had to ask:

"I work in book publishing and I know it's not a very profitable business model," I began.

"Oh, it's terrible!" he interjected.

"So what was your motivation to write a book?" I asked.
He went on to elaborate on the grim statistics of the publishing business to the audience full of secretly aspiring authors. Then he said that the reason he wrote it was to tell his story, in response to many requests. He said he has an awesome agent in La Jolla who got him a bidding war like the ones we read about in Publishers Lunch, and presumably a big advance. So he was one of the lucky few, and You Call the Shots has been a successful venture.
The key takeaway from Cameron's riveting presentation was this:
"Put yourself out there. If you don't ask for it, you're never going to get it."
I intend to keep this thought in the forefront of my mind going forward.

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