Plant a hundred flowers and watch what blooms

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Yesterday, I looked at the list of things to do to get ready for my book launch on April 30 and I got a little overwhelmed.

There were articles to write, interviews to schedule, review books to send and journalists to contact.  It seemed like each time I crossed one thing off the list, twelve new things would pop up in its place.  I felt a little anxious.

Then I experienced a serendipitous sequence of events:

  • A few good friends with large reach generously offered to promote the book to their lists.  And they wanted to introduce me to other people in their network who would be interested in spreading the word
  • A couple of journalists I have been friendly with for a long time asked to write stories about the book
  • A number of clients sent emails with suggestions for marketing the book to organizations and associations

Sitting back in my chair, I had the strong realization that the words of my mentor Guy Kawasaki, stolen from Chairman Mao, were coming true:  let a hundred flowers blossom.

My interpretation of this concept is this:

  • When you get to the point of spreading the word about something you have created, good will will either exist or it won’t.  This good will is developed over thousands of tiny interactions, conversations, smiles, links and messages over many years with an extended network of people. If you have acted in a spirit of integrity and generosity with your work, you will see the results.
  • You don’t have to know the “value” of everything you are doing to grow your business as you grow it. I always chuckle when brand new business bloggers want to know the exact return on investment of spending time commenting on other blogs, and the specific sales conversion numbers that come from blogging.  Certainly, you want to have a good idea about the kinds of people and blogs you are interested in, and how they relate to the core of your business.  But you also want to just try things and connect with people just because it feels good.  There is random creativity and magic that happens by following your muse.
  • Believe in what you create.  While most people would love to see great financial success and millions of people loving their products or services, what really matters, in the end, is that you are proud of what you do.  If your book or blog post or coaching hour or code or photograph or custom scarf makes one person glow with delight, you should be proud.

Grow, flower, grow!

If you try to launch a product or service too soon after planting your seeds, you will feel like you are kneeling down and shouting at the ground, drowning it in water and begging the sprouts to emerge.  This will not only be frustrating, but frankly impossible, since businesses, like plants, have a natural and organic path to growth. So make sure to start planting your seeds (i.e. nurturing relationships and providing valuable information to your community) as soon as you start to work on your business.

Ten people

Seth Godin recently wrote an intriguing post about how ideas spread, entitled First, Ten.  He says:

This, in two words, is the secret of the new marketing.

Find ten people. Ten people who trust you/respect you/need you/listen to you…

ten people need what you have to sell, or want it. And if they love it,
you win. If they love it, they’ll each find you ten more people (or a
hundred or a thousand or, perhaps, just three). Repeat.

If they don’t love it, you need a new product. Start over.

When I read this, I heaved a big sigh of relief.  Even though I decided against a gigantic coordinated email push to drive sales on Amazon, as was popular for many years to promote books, I had flashes of doubt, thinking I needed to be working harder, bigger, faster on promotion.

Then I realized that I have my ten.  Even small groups of ten.  And they are warm, loving, enthusiastic, generous and optimistic people.  And the book will do just what it is meant to do, one small group of ten people at a time.

Enjoy the view

My plan on April 30 is to sit back, survey the horizon, and enjoy watching flowers bloom in unexpected places.

Thanks to all of you for your support throughout the years — I am eager to enjoy seeing your flowers bloom at just the right time, in just the right places.

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25 Responses to “Plant a hundred flowers and watch what blooms”

  1. Joei Villarama says:

    Hi Pam : ) I’ve been reading your website for some time now and am stuck in the prison of the corporate world. I haven’t ventured out yet and just wanted to ask you, if one does manage to break out and create a new enterprise, isn’t it just creating more cubicle nations if you start your own company? How do you make sure that the business you create won’t be a “cubicle nation?”

  2. Thanks for your post,

    I like the metaphor, that’s basically how I approach my Business Model, having several – theme specific – ‘Blogspots’, and see what grows the best.

    All the Best,
    To your Happy Inspiration,

  3. With the magic you share it feels more like your 10 is growing into tens of thousands. Congrats!

  4. Hi Pam-
    Found you through The Happiness Project. It seems that you are just what I need to hear right now and I will be helping to spread your message through my circle of ten, starting with my Mastermind group of 6…Thanks for sharing and I will be back!
    Enjoy the day! Erin

  5. Molly Gordon says:

    Lovely post. I recently decided to opt out of book marketing email blasts. As it was, I only agreed to 1-2 a year of the dozens I’m invited to join. But my audience responded to the last two with resounding silence.

    As an ezine publisher and writer myself, I have been a bit anxious about this choice. I imagine the “biggies” sitting around a spa talking about what a self-important snob I am. (And they could be right.)

    But the truth is, those campaigns have always appealed to the needy, greedy part of me that is desperate for a fix. I don’t like to come from there, and I see no good reason to trigger it in others.

    I just ordered the book for my Kindle, and I can’t wait to get it!

  6. Pam, this is exactly why I’m enjoying EfCN so much. Your emphasis on building relationships and no bullshit approach is refreshing.
    And it’s why I’m not surprised that you have such strong opportunities for your book. Because you walk the talk and folks are genuinely pleased to help.
    Well done, and thanks for writing.

  7. Today it does feel like there is more pressure for results right away, and I’m feeling that with my own new venture. Of course, that is pressure I’m putting on myself, so this was just the post I needed. Thanks for reminding me that it’s not necessarily about the destination but the journey itself.

    I will be sure to share this with friends!

  8. Ian Sanders says:

    Pam, this really hit the spot!
    I’m a great believer in the power of randomness/ serendipity in life and business. It’s a bit like how I nopw approach biz dev for my consultancy business. A couple of years back I used to panic when assignments came to end, and worry about ‘what next?’. And then if I just paused for breath I learnt that you’d start to see the results of the seeds sewn in relationships over the years. All that effort in nurturing and building relationships, those lunches and coffees, all that investment comes to fruition as you find you get referred and recomended and business enquiries land in your lap. So I didn’t need to panic. But as you say, you mustn’t be impatient. That return in investment comes after time, it won’t happen over night…

  9. Kathy Barlow says:

    Hi Pam,

    My friend Andy Pels turned me on to you and your site; you’re an inspiration. I recently escaped the cubicle after many years of captivity and I am at the beginning of my own blogging adventure. Your thoughts here help me to remain positive despite a similarly expanding to do list. Talking with my my ten friends and scattering my seeds now.


    Great to meet you Kathy!

    A friend of Andy is a friend of mine. He has been a fierce supporter of the blog and book, with hilarious comments over many years. I couldn’t blog without him.

    Good luck on your cube-free journey! 🙂


  10. Thanks for the post. I found it reassuring to stop thinking that I have to tackle the whole world and bring it right back down to the basics.

    I hope you don’t mind, but I’m going to refer and link through to this blog post from my website

    I hope you reach some new subscribers.

    Thanks again.

  11. Mark Silver says:

    Fantastic- and it’s so true. Count me among yet another group of ten for you, Pam. And believe me, it’s more than your hair. 🙂

  12. Hi Pam,
    What a great post. It is so inspiring to read about creating success through integrity. It was my inspiration for the day. Thanks for that. I have written about it on my blog:

    Wishing you nothing but successful surprises!-Tracy

  13. Pamela Slim says:

    You all are SO very sweet, thanks so much for your comments! And twelve of you have responded already, which means that my book is guaranteed to be a success. 🙂

    Heading into the weekend feeling very optimistic, and blessed.


  14. Hannah Jones says:

    I felt I was kneeling down shouting at my seedling patch this week, while completely ignoring the fact that there were strong green shoots growing around me.

    I’m off to nurture the shoots I have successfully germinated, wait patiently for more seeds to break through and decide on which variety of seeds to plant next.

    Thanks Pam


  15. John Fritz says:

    May your blossoms be plentiful, brilliant, and wonderfully aromatic! Your garden has already produced great works of beauty that have enriched us all.

    Go Pam Go!

  16. Hi Pam:

    It is so refreshing to read about your approach to success, especially in this day an age when superficiality and shameless self promotion seem to be the norm.

    There comes a time when, after pouring your heart and soul into into a big project, one has to let go and trust that everything is going to be OK.

    Enjoy watching your 100 flowers grow.

  17. Patricia says:

    It reminds me of the butterfly effect.Always there to take the opportunity to use it.Great post as usual,thanks for inspiring me

  18. Michael says:

    Wise…inspired…perfect…thank you Pam!

  19. fas says:

    Believing in what you create is very important. If you don’t believe in what you selling then how do you expect the buyer to?

  20. RobertBruce says:


    What a heartwarming post.

    From my spot across the Atlantic, I am seeing a flower (you) blossom over and over again and each time, the hue of the colours on the bloom get richer and deeper and more fragrant.

    And I think you are unique in engaging and involving us out here into helping with the creation of your biggest challenge yet.

    It was an honour to be of miniscule assistance.

    I will be rooting for you on April 30th. Any chance of live streaming your special day? We’d like to be there with you….!

  21. Nenad says:

    Brilliant post, as always. Its what I am trying to do at the moment, build relationships to help me when I finally go into launch for my next project.

  22. Pace says:

    We’re in your corner, rooting for you and spreading your awesomeness far and wide!

    Let it all blossom, baby!

  23. Julie Plevak says:

    Great post! Funny thing is that I was just telling a friend about my own “seed planting” and that now it is time to just trust the growth process!

  24. Jon Strocel says:

    After all the years of giving us such great content online, the flowers will certainly bloom with the new book, can’t wait to pick it up.

    There are many of us out there who will be one of your “10”

  25. Pam,
    What a great post. A much needed reminder that if we build relationships…people will come. Can’t wait to read your book and would love to put it on my blog as a resource for my readers. Congrats!