Never Ever Give Up
- Posted by Jeff Carter
- on October 31st, 2012
Thanks to a friend at US Trust, I was able to meet author James Bradley. If you don’t know who he is, his first book is called Flags of Our Fathers. I had seen the movie, but never read the book. It’s fascinating. I am almost finished with it.
The story Bradley tells in Flags of Our Fathers is heartwarming, sad, gut wrenching, repulsive, heroic and empathetic all at the same time. It’s the story of his father and the flag raising on Iwo Jima.
James Bradley’s story of how he came to be a best selling writer is a microcosm of what it is to be an entrepreneur. It’s the Lean Start Up and Do More Faster rolled into one. After meeting him, I was inspired myself.
He grew up in Appleton, Wisconsin in a large Catholic family. He went to Notre Dame, and in 1994 after his father passed away, he started his journey. He wasn’t a young man when he started the journey to acquaint himself with his father’s past. He was a successful businessman. A marketer. International firm. He didn’t go on the journey for the money.
A box of momentos and a little knowledge that his father was a part of the most famous picture taken in the history of mankind started him on his path. As he walked down it, his vision changed, he pivoted. He began a book. Once he wrote the book, he took it to publishers.
He cold called them. There were really only 30 publishers in the entire world that would have the desire to publish his book. Mr. Bradley thought it was a certain New York Times best seller. How could it not be? It was the story of the boys that raised the flag on Iwo Jima, the most famous picture of all time.
Every time he pitched the book, he was turned down. He was a failure. His family was empathetic. ”Oh, you know some people in Appleton might buy it.”
After being turned down 27 times, a publisher bit. They agreed to publish the book. Lo and behold, it was a New York Times best seller. His dream was realized. He was a famous author that broke new ground telling a story that at the same time was extremely personal for him, but was a part of the larger collective memory of America.
Bradley talks about his journey, the challenges, the successes and the failures with great transparency. It’s the mark of a true entrepreneur. Ironically, after his first book was wildly successful and was made into a movie, the publisher that picked it up turned down his second attempt at a book. ”Lightning in a bottle”, they said. One time luck.
His second book, Flyboys: A True Story of Courage was published by someone else. Guess what? It was a New York Times best seller! His third book, The Imperial Cruise also hit the best seller list. Maybe there is something to this Bradley guy! He is writing a fourth book, and I would bet that it will sell pretty well too.
Now that he is established, it’s easier for him. Ironically, that’s the way it is with entrepreneurs that are starting their second or third business. It’s always easier to get that meeting, raise capital, get noticed. They have a track record of success.
But what’s really interesting to me is the way Bradley speaks about his first journey. It wasn’t about fame, the money or anything like that. It was simply about being a conduit to telling a great story. Creating massive amounts of value for people. The money came because he created value, not because he desired it. Confronted with failure time and time again, he used grit and determination to overcome it.
That’s an important point when thinking about running a business. Listen to the market. Create value for it. Grit your teeth and be determined. Figure out why you are failing and change. The money part will follow if you are successful.
I think this little video sums up what Bradley went through,and thinks about life. It’s a great way to be. There are thousands of stories like this in the world. You can be a story like this too. Never give up.
The information in this blog post represents my own opinions and does not contain a recommendation for any particular security or investment. I or my affiliates may hold positions or other interests in securities mentioned in the Blog, please see my Disclaimer page for my full disclaimer.
Jeffrey Carter is an angel investor and independent trader. He specializes in turning concepts into profits. He co-founded Hyde Park Angels one of the most active angel groups in the United States in April of 2007. He previously served on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange Board of Directors. He has done market commentary for (More...)
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