Growing up, I always loved books. I think it was because my parents were given a set of beautiful, hardbound classic books that I loved to read. I loved to have people read to me when I was little, and go live through and look at the beautiful color pictures in them. Unfortunately, when we in lived Hong Kong, where I grew up, we gave the books away because I would have loved to have kept them to give my children. But I think I developed this love of books. In fact, when I was growing up, we didn't have the internet. So when we had to prepare for a school project, we had one of those great big encyclopedias that I used to get in and read and study, so I've always had an affinity with the physical book.
I loved to read it. I was the kind of kid that on vacation would always have their face in a book instead of looking at the scenery. I started dreaming of writing my own book when I was quite young. In fact, I can remember when I was about 12, reading … There's an actress who was in a lot of those Brat Pack movies. Ally Sheedy. Ally Sheedy was the youngest published author. She wrote a book called, I Was Nice to Mice when she was about 12 years old. I remember reading about her in the newspaper and thinking, wow, that's really cool. I'm in Hong Kong reading about her writing this book and this was before she became an actress, reading about this 12 year old who's published a book. I want to do something like that. That's really cool. I think I had a desire to be famous and do something that people would read about in the newspaper, even at that young age.
But I couldn't quite figure out how to write a book. There's a whole skill around that, in creating a story from beginning, middle, to end. I would very often start books, but I'd get about halfway, and I didn't quite know how to finish them. I was always good at writing, always could ace my English exams, and write lots of poetry and stuff, but nobody taught me how to write a book. I remember going over on a trip to Hong Kong once I'd retired. I've retired many times in my life. Every time I sell a business, I retire. I had retired. I was in my 40s and SARS had just hit Hong Kong. I came up with this whole concept for this novel, and I started fleshing it all out.
I made the mistake of telling my mother, who … I love her, but she can be a little bit negative. I said to her, "I've got this idea for a book," and I told her all about my plot. She said, "Yeah, I've read books like that, and they didn't sell very well. What do you know about writing a book?" It just took all my fire out. It took all my desire out of finishing the book. I don't know. I just went …, and I abandoned the project.
Then I taught myself how to trade the stock market and invest in real estate. I was doing really, really well with that, and I happened to meet a woman at a women's networking event who was a multi-published best-selling author. She said to me, "You should write a book about what you're doing. I think a lot of people would be interested in learning about all this investment stuff that you're doing." There'd be lots and lots of women who'd like to learn how to trade the stock market, and invest in real estate, and start businesses.
I was doing a lot of stuff with spreadsheets, so I went home, and I did a book outline, and I sent it over to her in a spreadsheet. She said to me, "What am I supposed to do with this thing in Excel?" She showed me. She said, "You want to do it in Word doc so that it can actually be turned into a document that can ultimately be turned into a book." She started to teach me how to get a book written from start to finish, and so I started writing a book, which was taking me months, months, and months. I just couldn't get past about three-quarters of the way through.
Now that I've helped hundreds of people to write books, I recognize what that was. It was actually fear. It was fear of being judged. I kept thinking, this has to be a really, really good book. What if I write a book and people say it's bad? They're going to judge me. I think what happens to people when they're writing books is they're putting themselves out there in a way that is very permanent. You're putting this book out in print and it's going to be out there for years, and years, decades, maybe forever, and you're worried that people are not going to think it's very good, and then that is a reflection on you. I was holding myself back and a lot, a lot of people tried to help me.
I had a lot of great people in my world like Mark Victor Hansen, Eckhart Tolle's literary agent. He was like, "Just get your book written, and we'll get you on Oprah." There were all these amazing opportunities coming up, but I couldn't get out of my own way. I was actually really self-sabotaging, and I just couldn't finish the book. I was never happy with it. I hired a ghostwriter. I wasn't happy with what he produced, but it was more about what was going on with me and my own limiting beliefs.
Finally, what ended up helping me get out of my own way was I started with writing a chapter in another bestselling book called, Secrets of Inspiring Women Exposed, which was a book series, the Secrets Exposed series. They invited me to write a chapter about what I was doing, and I started with just getting one chapter out. Then I wrote a bonus book as a giveaway with that one chapter, which I then later expanded into a full book called, How to Be Wealthy Now.
I then decided that I would like to interview 30 other people who are building multi-million dollar businesses and write a book about how each of us would make a million dollars if we were starting over. That one, because I'd made a commitment to all these other people who contributed to the book, I forced myself to get that book finished and put it out with a publisher to the world. I still remember even at three-quarters of the way through that book, panicking and thinking, god, what if people think this is a terrible book?
Then I thought, well, hang on a minute. I've made a commitment to all these other people, and they've given me their time and their expertise. I have to see this through. I'm just the interviewer in this process. If people don't like the book, then it's nothing to do with me. I think that it's when you actually finally let go of worrying about what other people think of you, that you have real freedom, and you can really get out, and start making a difference in the world.
Cydney O'Sullivan, Founder of Millionaires Training