Writing That Book

Riches to Rags

Mad Gringo Book?

Taking the time to look through archived emails is a fascinating process. Your mind sees little trends pop up here and there and in my case there is an unhealthy relationship with Amazon and a two groups of questions I get peppered with. One group revolves around starting a business and the other group is related to starting a sales team. This weighed on me for months and now it’s time to do something about it.

I’m writing a couple of books.

The first one will address my life in startups. Specifically, my life with Mad Gringo. It’s tentatively titled, “From Riches to Rags, The Mad Gringo Story. Lessons learned from running a global micro-brand. In this note, I’ll run you  through the process I’m going through in getting this book out of my head and into the hands of aspiring entrepreneurs tucked away in their cushy corporate jobs. 

The first thing I did was talk to people that have written or are writing books. A simple “how are you approaching this?” is all it took to get this out. The consensus: it starts with an outline. Well, it starts with an audience, moves into why they would need the book, how I can help them, and then into the outlining of the book.

The Mad Gringo book outline came to me easily because, as my lovely bride pointed out, I’ve been thinking about it for 8 years. The audience are the legions of corporate middle managers that dream of life outside of their cubicle walls. I met many of them during my stints on the “inside”. The after 5 talk at “conference room J” brought out a lot of great ideas for businesses but no action plan for getting them off the ground. This book is for those co-workers. It’s an instruction manual based on what I wanted to do, what I did, and what they can take away from those wins and losses. Advice that can be applied today.

That brings in the outline phase. I broke the book up into 3 main sections. The Dream, The Reality and The Lessons Learned. Added to that will be a prologue and a Conclusion section to tie up loose ends.

Then came the chapter headings and the reason for reading: edutainment. If you knew the Mad Gringo in its prime, it was a Jimmy Buffett fueled foray into the fantasy of listening to your inner Mad Gringo and staying on vacation forever. We sponsored bartenders and bikini models and all sorts of sticker plastering at resorts. That led me to use the plot of spending a long night out with our sponsored bartender. As he serves me the drinks it moves me to another story and another chapter. The outline ends up looking like this:

Intro – the anti self-help story. I came from a high place, had an idea, worked hard, lost most of it, survived, you can too!

Part 1 – the dream

drink recipe 1 – easy tasting cerveza
How I made the decision to quit a steady job to jump into an industry I knew little about
– a snapshot into bank life
– the benefit of being out of your element
– a process for making a risk assessment
– what you need to make it work
– what I decided
– if I had to do it all again
– bank balance

drink recipe 2 – complicated fabulous
What I did to raise money from Angel Investors
– networking and networking
– my unique situation
– learning that I wasn’t unique
– building a business plan
– understanding the terms
– what I decided
– if I had to do it all again
– bank balance

Part 2 – the reality

drink recipe 3 – hard to drink
How I started, how quickly the plan was challenged by reality
– the first 90 days
– dealing with the “noise”
– blind squirrels and nuts
– the problem with shiny objects
– when you know you’re off track
– outside help
– my money’s greener
– be brief, be blunt, be gone
– just enough to keep going
– what I did
– if I had to do it all again
– bank balance

drink recipe 4 – with a mixer
What I learned as the dream changed
– throwing good money after bad
– getting people bought in
– retail, wholesale and buying
– the guess – changing direction
– cash is king
– cap tables and dilution
– raising more and more money
– what I did
– If I did it again
– bank balance

Part 3 – lessons learned

drink recipe 5 – straight up
Practical advice on Marketing Online, Ecommerce, and Social Media
– things change, but they stay the same
– guess at a baseline
– figure out how to track it
– try and try again
– look for other justifications
– be narrow if it starts to work
– what I did
– what I’d do now
– bank balance

drink recipe 6 – coffee and chicken fried steak
Branding on a budget
– something that worked – branding
– what branding looks like
– graphic design
– get tired of it
– ad infinitum
– getting the WOM
– aggressively stalking customers
– why it worked
– what happened
– what I’d do now
– bank balance

Part 4 – moving on

greasy diner breakfast and detox
How I navigated an exit – Giving Yourself Permission to Fail
– get the F out
– taking care of investors
– burning ships and bridges
– looking yourself in the eye
– narrowing the focus
– going nuts
– learning to deal
– what I did
– what I’d do next time
– bank balance

hit the gym and do it again
Ultimately, it ends with a rant encouraging others to follow in my footsteps.
– you have to do this
– I suck but I’m a riot at parties
– what the kids saw
– what the spouse saw
– what the dog saw
– extended family and parents
– first world problems
– bank balance

Each chapter will end with my bank balance as it drains from not very much to less than that. The first chapters will be posted here in the coming weeks. I am through parts 1 and 2 and heading into parts 3 and 4. Some archive retrieval, layout and heavy editing are needed to pull it all together, but it should be done in the next 90 days. I may run a Kickstarter campaign to take it from a self published mess on CreateSpace to a polished semi-precious stone on CreateSpace. More to come there.

The hardest part has been making the time to write. As I tell clients, it’s a process, not an event.

Good stuff.


About the Author: Greg Chambers is Chambers Pivot Industries. Get more business development ideas from Greg on Twitter.