I wrote Happiness as a Second Language in 2010 and immediately signed with a literary agent. A big one. An agent who specializes in handling the publishing deals for people who are “brands.” He represents athletes, pop stars, Nascar drivers, politicians – all those people you don’t think of as authors, and yet, they got advances for their books with more zeroes than the annual salary of your highly literate English professor whose stunningly crafted and meticulously researched novel is still sitting in some New York publisher’s slush pile.
It was two years of non-activity before our contract expired, and when that day arrived, I decided to publish the book myself. It took another six months to get all of the pieces in place, but by that point, I had realized some things. First, Happiness is an amazing message, and it is a joy and a privilege to get to share that for a living. Since the book came out, I have had opportunities I’d honestly never considered, like speaking at conferences and working with companies on their employee and management training programs, all focused on making people happy. I also realized that the platform I’d created – teaching personal growth as if it’s a new language – had a plethora of applications other than happiness.
So even before the first book was available on Amazon, I took steps to create something everlasting — something that would help people beyond my expertise, beyond my lifetime, and beyond happiness. In the fall of 2012, I filed the trademark application for the phrase, “…as a Second Language” for all self-help, self-esteem, inspiration and personal developmentbooks, which was granted in January of 2015 following the publication of my next book, Success as a Second Language. Then, I began seeking authors to write the other books. (Although I like to think I know a lot about a lot of things, I hardly know enough to write books on all the subjects there are to cover.)
I made a list of all the potential topics – a wish list of sorts, then went about prioritizing them as to which books should come out when. I decided the next one would be Marriage as a Second Language, and began the search for just the right author.
There’s a great saying: “Man plans and God laughs.” Whether you believe in the Divine or not, the message is the same. We don’t have control, and the best response to not having control is to allow the Universe to unfold as it’s telling you it wants to. Long story short – the right writer to write Marriage never came along, or came along and didn’t want to write it, or started writing and disappeared, and so that is still a title on the wish list. For now.
I also planned for one of the first five books in the series to be Parenting as a Second Language, and started down that road with a brilliant pediatrician whose writing is going to someday inspire legions of successful parents, but whose formal style simply did not match the tone of the series.
My only rules for the Second Language authors are:
- The writing has to be entirely without judgment. Readers are coming to us because they feel they lack the skill we are teaching, so it is our job to provide gentle guidance and understanding; and
- Every exercise has to be accessible to every reader. Whether someone is living in a mansion in Beverly Hills or a one-bedroom apartment with three kids, readers have to be able to follow all of the steps we provide.
As I was starting to think maybe my plan was folly, I got an email from a dear friend sharing that his wife, Elisabeth Stitt, a woman who has experienced parenting as a married mother, as a single mother and as a step-mother, was leaving her lengthy career as a middle school teacher to focus her attention full-time on her work as a parenting coach. Um…thanks, Universe!
Elisabeth and I began working together and she exceeded even my greatest expectations with her deep wisdom and easygoing nature. As the first Second Language author who is not me, she got to be the pioneer of the series, paving the way for others, and let me tell you, Elisabeth has set the bar really, really high. So…
It is with great pleasure that I announce the publication of Parenting as a Second Language on March 5th.
Please buy it on Amazon on Day One!
Then read it. Then write a review.
This book is a work of remarkable openness, honesty and grace, and for that, I am very grateful. You will be, too.
In the meantime, other authors materialized when I never expected them to. A woman named Nancy Pia reached out to me out of the blue after reading Happiness as a Second Language, and we quickly became friends. She arranged for me to do a talk at her local YMCA in Pennsylvania and while in town, I discovered that she gave workshops on creativity in her community. She shared some of her techniques with me and a book that wasn’t even on the wish list came into being. Creativity as a Second Language will be out later this year.
This past August, I had the extreme pleasure of being a guest at a meditation retreat hosted by the America Meditating radio show, where I met two wise, beautiful, hysterically funny octogenarian authors, Bobby Fleisher and Thelma Reese, who are about to rock Aging as a Second Language, and I am getting the contracts ready for longtime recruiter and HR professional, Carol Fox (whose brilliance I have been familiar with since birth, as she happens to be my sister), to write Job Seeking as a Second Language. The next two after that are Dating and Fitness, with authors lined up in my mind, although they don’t know yet that this is why we’re having coffee.
Within two years, I predict the first ten titles will be out, with ten more in the pipeline. Plus apps, games, conferences, videos, possibly a talk show – the opportunities are endless. This is getting fun…
And Marriage is still on the horizon. By the time all of the other books come out, my own marriage will have lasted more than a decade, with some extreme ups and downs and amazing lessons learned, so maybe I’ll write that one. Or maybe the right author will appear from the ether at the exact moment I am ready.
Whatever happens, I will know it is exactly what is supposed to be happening, which makes for a very happy life.
In the meantime, watch this space for some fun announcements in the next two weeks leading up to the release of Parenting as a Second Language.
You’ll be very happy you did.
(Next week — the cover reveal!)