I decided to plunge into the most risky vulnerable venture of my career. Why?
We’ll get to that soon. But first, the backstory.
Not long ago, the title of this post would have sounded like an extreme crisis (or just a click-bait heading). Now it’s just normal reality for entrepreneurs around the world in the Corona era.
Actually, my situation is far from extreme:
Thank G-d my family has been blessed with health, built-in babysitters and a big backyard.
Also, we’re managing financially BH,
In fact, Corona has created an extraordinary economic reality for me, thanks to 3 things:
- The Israeli government gave me two months of small business grants that covered a chunk of the monthly salary I take from my business
- The bank offered to defer our mortgage repayments – about 25% of our monthly budget
- Since we no longer go anywhere, do anything nor buy anything – our family’s overall spending is at a historic low
For the first time in my married life, I am not under tremendous unrelenting pressure to earn parnasa.
Just to give you an idea of what I mean by “unrelenting”…
When I had my most recent baby, I went back to work in my web development business after a postpartum break of just 9 days. An accounting glitch meant that I didn’t get my maternity leave payout until 18 months later, so there was no choice.
I have worked through all my maternity leaves, as most entrepreneurs tend to do. It’s not the most glamorous aspect of being a small business owner.
Though I take Jewish holidays off and a vacation in the summer, I can’t say I’ve ever had an extended “break” in adult life.
Then came Corona.
The clients stopped calling. The bills stopped mounting up. And yet, miraculously we still had an income.
It’s like someone pressed “pause” on the high-speed car-chase scene that constitutes my economic screenplay.
Yet I’m aware that this is temporary. The grants and loan deferrals will end in June, and life (and household expenses) are already moving back towards normal. (That’s a good thing, right?)
But meanwhile, if Hashem and the government have seen fit to grant me this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, I would like to thank them by using it to do something meaningful, something I’ve wanted to do for ages but it was impossible due to financial pressure.
Something really BIG.
Something that will change the world.
OK, maybe not that fantastical.
But maybe something that will reach a lot of people and have a positive impact.
The Novel Coronavirus
That’s what they call it. I couldn’t fail to notice that word “novel” in there.
Because I have been working on a novel for almost 2 years – in my spare time (AKA the middle of the night). And when Coronavirus crashed into humanity, I suddenly found more time to write it.
This is not your average Jewish novel. It’s a collaboration with Rabbi Daniel Yaakov Travis, who had an idea to explore Torah approaches to living a happy life even under extremely challenging circumstances, through a full-length, suspenseful, entertaining, knock-your-socks-off novel.
So I have spent almost two years writing this big idea into reality.
The result is called Yedidya:
Meet Yedidya Steinhart: a typical yeshiva bachur, or at least he would like to be. He’s left behind a tough childhood in New York and is determined to make it at an elite Jerusalem yeshiva.
But then two unexpected events turn his world upside down: first, he is visited by an apparent nevuah ketanah, a “small prophecy” as described in the Talmud; second, he is falsely accused of a serious crime, with devastating consequences.
Yedidya’s quest for redemption brings unlikely friends, mentors, and adventures, as well as illuminating discoveries about happiness and faith through the ups and downs of real life.
As of erev Pesach, Yedidya was about 70% done. My beta readers were reporting that they had to walk around barefoot because their socks were knocked so far off (since they hadn’t left the house in weeks, who needs socks anyway?)
And then on Pesach, it hit me…If there ever was a time when my fellow Jews are thirsting for “Torah approaches to living a happy life even under extremely challenging circumstances” – it is the Corona era.
Rabbi Travis also sensed this and kept calling me, asking me how soon we can get our novel out. The problem is that the final draft wasn’t finished (at least another 100 hours of writing to go) and even if it was done, it takes f-o-r-e-v-e-r to complete the book publishing process.
So, one night of chol hamo’ed, the entrepreneur in me came up with a crazy idea…
We’re Inventing a New Publishing Platform
Our book, Yedidya, is being published independently, starting next week IYH, as a serialized novel. Installments will be sent via email and whatsapp to paying subscribers.
We’re basically jumping off the deep end with a business model that’s never been done before.
Why on earth would I do such a risky thing at this mature, sensible juncture in my business career?
I won’t lie. I have experienced some serious anxiety around this question. But some wise people have guided me forward (our shul rabbi notably told me it’s a yetzer hara not to do it) and certain barefoot beta readers have been extremely encouraging.
My decision to go ahead ultimately boils down to 3 things:
- I believe that this book is something really special and IYH a lot of people are going to love it and be inspired by it
- I believe that the time for this book and this publishing model is NOW
- Even though I may be wrong about the above 2 beliefs, I’m OK with that. Weirdly, joyously OK with the prospect of taking a giant risk and all that might entail: success, failure, hard work, sleepless nights, etc.
Watch me Dive off the Deep End
I am not only writing this book and managing it’s production, but also building the sales platform and executing the marketing plan. This is a huge, huge, HUGE undertaking.
Only Hashem knows where it will lead.
Thankfully, I am blessed with an incredible team of editors, designers, consultants and an uber-efficient project manager. Not to mention, I get the privilege of working with Rabbi Travis, who is exactly the sort of steadfast visionary you want in your corner when attempting something
Want to find out what happens to me on this daring adventure? Keep reading this blog
Want to get a sneak peak at Yedidya? Start reading free now