Book pre-launch: Here's a preview of my upcoming book
As we approach the release date of my book, I will be releasing bits of content about it as part of the "pre-launch" series.* Basically, it my way of letting you know what to expect from my book so that you know whether it's worth your money or not.
In the first part of the pre-launch, I'll be sharing the Introduction to my book. In future posts, you can expect to read about topics like my experience writing the book, why I decided to write one, what you need to do and know if you also want one, and much more.
Do note that any content released at the moment is subject to change. In other words, it's far from the finished product.
This book is not a love story.
This book is not an inspirational story about how you can overcome all things if you just “believe in yourself” and, as much as I do like them, it is definitely not a moving tale of a hero rising from the ashes to save the world from the forces of evil. The words in this book do not carry such weight because I am not as gifted as someone like Seth Godin, Elizabeth Gilbert, or Tony Robbins. I’m just an average, everyday person like you that chose to write this book because I want to contribute my little part in improving the world.
On that note, the purpose of this book twofold. First, it is to provide advice to and share my thoughts on community development and social impact with anyone that is about to begin a career in the nonprofit world, given that I also was in that position when I started writing this book. In addition to my general knowledge, the content of this book is based on the insights I gained and lessons I learned from my year of AmeriCorps VISTA service. Again, the hope is that these words be more relatable because they come from the perspective of a normal guy like me that is still very new to the nonprofit world.
I remember feeling terrified about starting this new career and not being able to find a resource that really resonated with someone as new to the industry as I was (and still am). Most books that I found were either not relatable enough because they were from experts who were lightyears ahead of me career-wise, or simply too ‘pie-in-the-sky’ emotional for my taste (though perhaps my research simply wasn’t good enough). As a result, I wanted to write a book that was both grounded and more relatable to the average person.
Closely connected to the first purpose of this book is the second one, which is to provide regular people that are not involved with or knowledgeable of the nonprofit sector some insights on what we nonprofit professionals deal with and think about every day. Obviously, I am not a true expert on this matter, which means that this book is merely a “beginner’s take.” Hence, I understand if you would prefer to hear from true experts instead of a relative novice like myself. Still though, you might have a sister, uncle, or neighbor that does some sort of nonprofit-related work that you never had the chance to ask him/her about. I hope that this book can be the catalyst you needed to start a conversation about the work your loved one does.
As with everything in life, however, there is an emotional reason for writing this book. I have reached the age (25) and point in my life where, after reading about all the misfortune, poverty, and inequality in the world, I can no longer ignore the difficult questions of life. What is my responsibility, as a human being, to society? What is my positive contribution to the world? I know, these are questions that make most people (including the vocal cynic within me) roll their eyes and say “Here we go again. Another one of those do-gooders that thinks that he’s special and destined to change the world. How adorable.”
It is probably for this reason that I shirked on my responsibility to confront these questions for many weeks, months, and years of my life. For lack of a better way of saying it, I foolishly believed that having these thoughts at such a young age wasn’t “cool.” I also didn’t want to be that obnoxious person that turned every conversation (or social media post) into a lecture about all the injustices happening in the world.
Inevitably though, my thoughts and questions could not be suppressed forever. I finally decided to get rid of those inhibiting beliefs and realize that I too have the responsibility to make a positive contribution to the world, no matter how small (or great?) it turns out to be. Like the heroes we cheer for in the movies that we love, I too have a responsibility to live and fight for something greater than myself, no matter how painfully melodramatic it sounds to say that and despite the fact that I’m sure that my contribution, in the grander scheme of things, will probably be tiny. Whether you want to call it social justice, philanthropy, or even a divine calling, to me it is a matter of personal honor. Hence, I suppose that this book is my (un)official ‘declaration of intent’; for the sake of my honor, I will dedicate my life to a social good greater than myself.
Ok fine, full disclosure. In addition to the quite melodramatic reasons I outlined above, I’m also writing this book for blatantly selfish reasons. Being able to put “author” on my résumé is extremely valuable personal branding and an awesome way to progress my career. So yes, dear reader, I am no better than the rest of humanity and yes, I too am a vain and prideful person. As the brilliant Trevor Noah once said, “you laugh, but it’s true.”
Three more things before I finish this overly sentimental introduction. First, I am very proud of my style of writing and it is one that I enjoy calling my own. That said, since I do recognize that it is quite unconventional and might raise a few eyebrows to those reading my content for the first time, I feel the need to issue a light-hearted warning before you begin with the main body of the book.
A specific element of my writing style is my use of quotes from every and any part of life. I use (and correctly reference!) quotes from movies, shows, books, the Bible, anime, videogames, athletes, and more. Furthermore, I take statements from both fictional and real characters alike. Honestly, as long as it is relevant to the topic that I’m writing about and adds a deeper perspective to it, I will just as gladly reference a figure as innocent as Donald Duck or one as commanding as Napoleon Bonaparte.
I say all of this to not only “warn” you but to also kindly ask you to not get too put off or, to put it informally, “weirded out” by my unconventional use of quotes. While the practice of using quotes certainly isn’t unusual, the specific people that I reference might strike you as odd. Like I said, from videogame characters to anime, it might catch you off guard a little. However, the reason that I do this is because I believe it is an effective way of getting the reader to connect with my content on a more emotional, personal, and spiritual level, similar to the way that the heart sees and feels some things that the brain could never truly understand. Some things really are a matter of the heart.
You might be wondering what that term “VISTA” means. Since I’ll be using the term quite frequently over the course of the book, I should explicitly define it. VISTA stands for Volunteers In Service To America and is part of the AmeriCorps VISTA program, which is the domestic version of the highly successful Peace Corps program. It is a national service program that aims to eliminate poverty in the United States by sending volunteers (who are paid a monthly living allowance) to help nonprofits, colleges and universities, local government offices, and other community organizations build their capacity and strengthen their programs.
VISTAs spend one-year terms at an organization though they can, subject to approval, reenroll for an additional year. Furthermore, VISTAs are limited to a maximum of five years of service. In my case, I am spending my year of VISTA service in Mansfield, Ohio at the North End Community Improvement Collaborative Inc. For more information about the VISTA program, please feel free to research it online and visit the official AmeriCorps website.
Finally, this book is divided into two parts. I’m doing this because I believe that in general, information is better digested when emotion is explicitly separated from reason. Based on my experience, discussions often become lost in very messy places when emotion and reason are mixed together, often to the point where the parties involved completely forget what they were talking about in the first place. Hence, Part I is the rational part where the topics discussed are more practical, data-heavy, and, obviously, rational. In Part II, the emotional part, I discuss the emotional aspects of social impact, community development, and nonprofit work in general.
With that preamble out of the way, let’s get started. Enjoy!
That's all for now. If that peaked your interest, then there's a good chance you'll like the rest of my book. If not, that's fine too; at least now you'll know not to spend/waste your money then.
See you, Space Cowboy.