A few days back, I asked folks “What can I do for you, professionally speaking.” And got some interesting responses, both here and on Facebook. After kicking it around myself, for a few days, I wrote this to a friend this evening:
My gifts are storytelling and writing — two aspects of the same gift, actually. I have always said, “I want to go to interesting places, do interesting things, and then tell people about them.” In fact, I’ve always considered an event “unfinished” until I’ve told the story, and sometimes that helps me get through tough stuff: by asking myself, “How will I tell this story?” Anyway, recently I’ve added a new desire: to not just tell people a story, but invite them into it. In other words, I want to take people to interesting places to do interesting things.
I’ve written hiking books, a camping book, and a book about eating. This means I have expertise and some notoriety (the breakfast book has done pretty well, the hiking book is the best-seller in town). I have led trips as a volunteer and have a good connection in Italy. I am good at radio, TV and public speaking, and I used to do a podcast. Put all these skills together, and what it looks like is taking the “fame” of my books, and turning it into a personal brand, by blogging, writing, publishing books, doing audio and video podcasts (hike of the week, breakfast of the week, etc.) and generally building a Paul Audience out of the current hiking and breakfast audiences. Sell the Paul Audience more books and then trips: domestic hiking trips, European food and hiking trips, and start leading trips for my current employer, Embark, to Africa and Asia. Turn all of these stories into more writing, more books, more audience, then take them on trips, as well. Eventually earn all my money from the things I love the most: hiking, traveling, writing and eating.
The other aspect here is recovery. Part of my storytelling gift is telling the story of recovery and discussing spiritual things, which there is more and more interest in. How I mix that into the above, I don’t know, but the basic feeling I have is just throw it all out there. I haven’t been hiding it on my website anymore, and who knows? Maybe there’s a market for spirit-based (or just sober) tours to Europe, etc. “Tour Italy, hiking and eating, with other non-drinkers!” I saw a thing for sober cruises the other day.
Synchronicity abounds in many of these areas, like running into an old friend at the gym this evening, being reminded that he runs a local tour company, and being told that his hiking leaders moved out of town. Hmm. Or asking a guy for advice on running local trips, then getting a job with him. Or describing an idea I had for a tree book to a barista, and saying I needed a photographer, then the only other person in the place says he is (A) an arborist and (B) a professional photographer — and his boss is an old friend!
Yep, I think that’s about it. How to pay rent in August, I’m not so sure. But at least now I have a general direction.