At 3am on October 31, 2008, I wrote the final sentence of Escape from Cubicle Nation, saved the document and got ready to send it to my editor. Only I couldn’t open my email because at that very moment, the Internet connection for my entire neighborhood went down.
It was frosting on a caffeine-fueled, sleep-deprived bender of writing a book. It was the hardest thing I had ever done.
That is why they make babies so cute
My agent told me to take my time and wait for the next book. “Don’t rush it,” she said.
That was welcome news, because I could think of nothing that I wanted to do less than start a new book after pouring so much of my lifeblood into the first one.
It kind of reminded me of giving birth. Nothing prepares you for the enormity of the experience until you live through it.
But afterward, holding a tiny, perfect baby in your arms, you think “Aww, look at how cute he is! I think I want another one.”
The whisper in my ear
About eighteen months ago, I started to hear tiny whispers of ideas. They spoke faintly, when I was driving to work after dropping my kids at school, or right before I fell asleep, or in the middle of a coaching call with a client.
It felt like a force, a mystical shape inside of me. But I couldn’t see it through the fog.
It resembled the elusive creative genius chasing the poet down the hill that Elizabeth Gilbert talks about in her brilliant TED talk.
I spent months and months scribbling down ideas. I made flip charts with post it notes. I read books. I talked with friends and mentors. I tested concepts on coaching clients.
And finally, after five revisions to my book proposal, my agent sent it to my publisher.
As I was standing in line at Disneyland, my phone rang. It was my agent. We had a deal with the best business book publisher in the world, Penguin/Portfolio.
What is the new book about?
The world of work has blown up, and with it, the old framework of career development.
Our market has fallen to pieces in the recent recession, and many people are afraid that they no longer can have significant, stable and financially viable careers.
They feel this way despite the rising economy of freelance and web-based businesses, spun out of home offices, co-working spaces and coffee shops around the world.
Many lament that they “play by the rules” and still get left behind by the economy.
The truth is, the old rules worked for a linear career path. Our lives are now non-linear. We need a new way to look at the world of work that embraces our current opportunities, not laments that we don’t have those of the past.
“The future is about gigs and assets and art and an ever-shifting series of partnerships and projects. This revolution is at least as big as the last one, and the last one changed everything.” – Seth Godin
In the new world of work, the purpose of work is not just to contribute your skills to a company or industry and in exchange make enough money to take care of yourself and your family.
Rather, the purpose of work is to allow you to create and contribute a meaningful, useful, and beautiful body of work to the world and along the way, take care of your financial needs.
To do this, you need a new framework, new skills and a new approach to your entire work life.
I am writing this book for all of us — corporate employees, academics, entrepreneurs, freelancers, and non-profit professionals.
For now, the working title is Body of Work.
When is the book coming out?
The book will come out in Fall, 2013. There will be a global dance party to celebrate its release.
Do you want to help me write it?
When I wrote Escape, 150 brave people volunteered to be emailed at random times with questions. I asked for real-life examples of life in cubicles. I asked if deadly algae or mating rabbits was a better metaphor for an out-of-control inbox. As I got close to the deadline, I probably asked for coffee. I felt so supported knowing that a small group of people were actively invested in the book. And it was so fun to include some of the responses from this advisory group in the final manuscript.
If you want to participate in the Advisory Council for this book, submit your name and email below. I may email frequently one month, and not at all the next. I will read every response, but cannot promise a reply, lest I spend all my writing hours in email, and not writing the book. You can choose to reply only to questions that interest you. You can jump on or off the list at any time if it gets to be too much.
What about John Legend?
Those of you who have followed my obsession with John Legend’s story of going from Excel Cowboy to Grammy-winning musician to social activist will be happy to know I finally have a really good reason to interview him for my book. Between my connections with his college friends, former co-workers, friends in the entertainment industry and good old persistence, I think I have just the right degrees of separation to snag an interview. I will tell you as soon as it is done.
Let’s do this
I am excited about the great adventure we are about to undertake. Here is to ALL of us finding problems worth solving, work worth doing and life worth living.