Years back I read a book titled One Word That Will Change Your Life by Jon Gordon. The concept was that rather than focusing on a list of goals and accomplishments to work on for self improvement, you should try focusing on one word. I liked the idea so much, that in my first year as an author, I broke Mr. Gordon’s rule and instead focused on two words for my first year selling my book.
I chose my two words for 2022 back in March, they are patience and gratitude. Both have helped me tremendously. Here’s how…
Patience. That’s a difficult word for me. I’ve spent years working in fast food where everything needs to happen fast! Results are tracked by seconds and we are always looking at how to make things faster and more efficient. But when I started selling books and building my brand, results move so much slower. Like planting a tree from a seed, I’ve realized it’s not going to grow overnight. Every day there’s growth. Sometimes the growth is underground, and I don’t see it. Sometimes there’s little sprouts that pop out, and those are celebrated. There were many times on this journey where I didn’t get the results I wanted. There were many events that I went to where I didn’t sell as many books as I would have liked to, but I’m confident that this is all a part of the process and I’m on the path God has for me. I have faith that even when I don’t see the full picture of what’s happening with Super Penguin, positive things are happening. Every day we are taking steps. Sometimes we are taking steps forward, sometimes the strides are long, sometimes the steps are backwards and sometimes the steps are the tiniest shuffle forward. I’ve learned this year that ALL the steps are valuable in the growth of Super Penguin and me.
Gratitude. I am so happy with how this year has gone. At most of the conventions, when you add up the cost for the table, hotel, gas, and our meals, we spent more than we made and lost money. I didn’t count, but if I had to guess 60% of the people that walked by our table didn’t make eye contact with us, 25% gave a smile or head nod and kept walking, another 10% stopped by and talked to us (some read a little bit of the book and said nice things) but didn’t buy a book, 3% shared that they didn’t want to buy a book right now but would be back soon (most didn’t return), and maybe 2% bought a book. My opening statement in this paragraph was NOT sarcasm, I’m being sincere when I say how happy I am simply because this year I chose to focus on the positive, and focus on that last 15% that was interested to some degree in Super Penguin. I am so thankful for that 15% because they have energized me to keep going. Like I told you in a previous blog post, it’s tough for me sometimes to talk about a my idea of a “crime fighting penguin wearing a cape” and not feel like a doofus. But when someone is genuinely excited about Super Penguin, it’s an indescribable feeling of joy. My imposter syndrome has faded away, it’s still there, but it’s gone from crippling to manageable.
With the risk of sounding arrogant, being an author feels pretty darn cool. This year, I got to autograph things. I’ve collected autographs for a long time, and signing my own name to something that added a perceived value to it was always something I fantasized about doing some day, and now I get to do that! Last week, during some personal reflection, I had the realization that when I was in the sixth grade we read Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer and in 2022, sixth graders are reading Rob Witzel’s Super Penguin. Now, before you put me in my place, I am well aware that Twain is a literary icon who has penned an extensive catalogue of classics and I’m… Rob, BUT it’s still pretty darn cool that we both made books that sixth graders in Danville, Illinois are reading. Another cool thing that happened this year, is that I was recognized by strangers this year. There were about three times where someone I had never met, sought out Super Penguin because of an ad or an appearance I made at a previous convention. Last week, at Raptor Con, a little girl rushed to our table and exclaimed, “Oh my gosh, it’s Super Penguin! I saw you in Bloomington!” and then she rushed to her parents to tell them we were here! I am so thankful for all these cool moments that I got to experience.
I feel like by focusing on gratitude this year, I’ve realized how much I’ve been blessed. I’m thankful for my job. Even though sometimes my writing time gets hijacked by a work emergency, I also have the flexibility to schedule around conventions and the salary that allows me to lose money at my “side hustle” and still be financially stable. I’m thankful for every single message I’ve received about Super Penguin. If you sent me a text, email, Facebook comment or anything else about you or your kids reading Super Penguin, I want you to know that it’s burned in my brain and my heart, and I won’t forget it. Your messages have encouraged me more than you’ll ever know! I’m thankful for all the opportunities I’ve had to spread Super Penguin‘s story because certain people wanted to highlight me and Super Penguin as part of what they do. The following people and organizations have bought books, had me on their show/podcast, offered me speaking engagements and/or highlighted Super Penguin in other ways, opening doors and building my audience. Thank you to Danville District 118, Tommy B’s Big Show on D102 & Neuhoff Media, Vermilion Advantage, Set Apart Henry County, Danville Children’s Dyslexia Center, Danville Public Library, Danville Noon Rotary, Fred Kroner at the Mahomet Daily and I’m Game podcast, Logan Lee at No One Asked Us podcast, Greg Taylor and Stephanie Spangler at Direct Line radio show/podcast, Laura Williams at Community Connection radio show/podcast and Sarah Hedrick at The Nerd Life Network Youtube channel.
I’m grateful for every single person who purchased a book this year! Over 1000 books were sold! I’m still blown away by that figure, and can’t wait to see what Year 2 brings! But before I wrap up, I have to say “thank you” one more time to the people who without their help, Super Penguin wouldn’t exist. To my mom, dad and sister, thank you for all the encouragement you give and support you provide. I love you all and am so thankful I was placed in this crazy group we call family. To Cindy, thank you for reading through pages and pages of misspelled words, incorrectly placed punctuation and incoherent ramblings to make me not look like a dingus when people read the book (and thank you for the future help on SP2). Thank you Gardner for being my wingman on all the trips across the midwest, being someone I can brainstorm new ideas with (and for not sharing the crazy ones) and for the physical labor of lugging boxes of books and 5 foot penguins in and out of conventions. Thank you for every fist bump that you offer when we sell a book. When I’m bummed about a slow day of sales, or getting denied to a convention, you’re always positive and encouraging when I need it the most. Thank you Halley for the encouragement and most of all for the patience you have with me. Thank you for taking care of the house and our boy while I’m out doing all the things that I love to do. I know it’s not easy putting up with me, but you always do and always make me feel loved. And thank you Parker for inspiring me, I know you can’t read this now, but someday you will. You inspire me to be the best writer, creator, book seller and dreamer that I can be so that I’m a good example for you to follow any and all of your dreams.
I’ve put a lot of thought for what my word will be in 2023. Patience and Gratitude aren’t going anywhere, and will still be a very important part of next year. But in 2023, I am going to focus on Execution. I have lots of ideas that pour out of my brain all the time, but frequently those ideas die very quickly. This year, my focus is on that happening less. Some of the things I want to execute include finishing book two, creating an audio book for Super Penguin 1 & 2, getting in the routine of (minimally) bi-weekly blog posts, expanding the Super Penguin brand with some memorabilia, and more social media presence including the use of TikTok. I hope you’ll follow along on this journey!
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