In 2004, I went to my first Book Expo, the yearly convention for booksellers. The event still serves as the milestone in the calendar where publishers launch their new titles for the upcoming fall and holiday seasons (these days less than what it was then).
I’d only been working with 800-CEO-READ for a couple months at that point and I was lucky. That year BEA was held in Chicago, only 90 minutes from our headquarters in Milwaukee. The proximity gave me an opportunity to get a close-up of the industry.
It was special for other reasons too. 800-CEO-READ was a part of the Harry W. Schwartz bookshops and that year David Schwartz, owner and son of the founder, was honored as Bookseller of the Year. David was very ill at that point and couldn’t make the trip. The company chartered a bus for employees, giving the opportunity for many to attend the convention for the first time. The group accepted the award on his behalf. David passed away a few days later.
Most of the day in Chicago, I followed my client (and soon to be boss) Jack Covert from meeting to meeting. He was booked in 30 minute segments from 9am to 5pm each day of the show – 20 minutes to talk and 10 minutes to walk.
In our race between two publisher meetings that day, we turned a corner and we both heard “Jack!” We stopped. Jack and the gentleman shook hands. “Todd, let me introduce you to Ray Bard.”
That introduction changed my life.
In the years since, neither Ray or I can point to what got our friendship started. Ray spoke at the 800-CEO-READ author event in one year. He gave Jack and I sound advice on publishing The 100 Best. When I started attending SXSW Interactive in Austin, we’d have lunch. Eventually I added a few days to that yearly trip to give us time to talk books, publishing and whatever else came up.
We’ve helped each other on projects almost as long as we’ve known each other. A time or two, we joked about finding a way to work together on a more consistent basis. That talk got more real last year when I left IT Revolution. For me, I was excited by the opportunity but cautious about anything that could affect our 15 year friendship.
In this month’s note I wanted to share two pieces of news.
First, I have joined Bard Press as Deputy Publisher. Ray and I plan to keep the same approach to the business—publishing one book a year, focusing on helping authors bring their best work to the widest audience of readers possible. In 2020, Bard Press will celebrate its 25th year and our plan is to keep publishing for another twenty-five years.
The second piece of news is about our first collaboration together.
On June 3rd, Bard Press will be publishing The Gift of Struggle: Life Changing Lessons About Leading by Bobby Herrera. Bobby shares the leadership lessons he learned from his life growing up in a migrant farming family, serving in the U.S. Army and building a successful career in business. Bobby co-founded Populus Group in 2002 around the core idea that everyone deserves an opportunity to succeed.
Ray and I believe this book serves that same mission by showing, as Bobby says, “struggle is the most honest and revealing measure of progress towards the leader you desire to be.”
The book is available now for preorder in print and ebook. The audiobook, narrated by Bobby. will publish the week of June 3rd.
If you would like to find out more about The Gift of Struggle, there is a three chapter excerpt you can download here.
P.S. I will be in New York City from May 27th to June 1st for BookExpo 2019. If you are going to be at the show, stop by the Bard Press booth. If we should meet up, drop me a note.