A big giant new thing

I have big news! I keep writing and then deleting what I'm about to tell you, so I think I'll just share the letter I sent to my email subscribers this morning.

Hello my dear friends,

I don't know how to start this letter. I've already told John (of course) and the kids and my parents and my current clients, and now it's time to tell you. I've fallen in love with one of the nations I've been helping build. They've asked; I've accepted...as of this moment, I'm (metaphorically) headed west to the land of the yetis. I hope they let me bring my hat and sword.

This whole thing has caught me completely by surprise, although hindsight is allowing me to see a few signs. I've been struggling with what Adam calls being "a lone wolf" for some time now. I actually never meant for A Small Nation to be just me. Before all of this, I had built up a small web design studio; me and a couple of folks doing strategic design and front-end development. But I wanted to do something bigger...something that would really change the way people thought about what they were creating and the kind of impact they could have on others. So I transitioned my studio and our people over to a new way of thinking and working.

I don't know if I tried to change too much too fast or if I was struck blind to reality by my idealism, but it didn't completely work. Through a series of unfortunate events (and probably poor leadership on my part), it slowly, slowly became just me over here; the lone wolf again. It was like ice melting...I hardly even noticed it was happening until I was standing in the middle of a puddle by myself.

It's been the Great Lakes of puddles, though. I've gotten to work on some amazing projects and have become besties with the founders I've been working with...breaking the news to them has been a hard hard thing. Lots of hugs and tears.

But such good things are coming! And I know you probably have questions. Let me try to anticipate a few:

So what does this mean for A Small Nation? asmallnation.com will retire and begin automatically forwarding to sarahjbray.com soon.

What will happen to The Year of the Nation? The Year of the Nation will continue for now, since it's serving as "pre-book" training wheels for me, helping me get my feet wet with putting these specific ideas in a format that is useful. The sign-up page now lives here.

Oh, so you're still writing the book? Yes, I'm still writing the book; in fact, I'm hoping that working with these guys will help challenge some of my pet beliefs and give some additional depth to this body of work. But it could be years before it's ready...and who knows? The internet may have changed things so much by then that it's no longer relevant. But I hope it's relevant. I really want to create something that has longevity...but we shall see.

What about your workshops? I am holding off on production of any workshops at the moment. The material that I've developed for the workshops is all being put toward the book.

What about group nation-building? Alas, I will no longer be holding group nation-building intensives.

Will I ever hear from you again? Yep! I'll keep sending letters when I'm inspired to send them. They'll just be from me though...not A Small Nation.

Are you going to be blogging? Yep. I haven't been particularly consistent with it in years, but here lately, I've been in a groove. I'm kind of afraid to type that though, because I don't want to jinx it. If you like, you can follow along at sarahjbray.com.

Who is &yet and why do you love them so much? Where do I START? My friend Erin first introduced me to Adam back in the fall. We decided to meet up on the phone, and I'm pretty sure the first words out of my mouth were "I have no idea what I'm doing", with the next half hour spent confessing my failures. I was in a weird mood that day, and I was not thinking of him as a possible client...we were just fellow comrades, doing creative stuff. But by the end of the call, he asked if I'd like to help out with some nation-building projects.

Soon after that, I flew out to Richland, Washington to spend some face-to-face time with the team while we started thinking up some new ideas. I walked into the room, and it was like meeting a second family. After a few days, I wanted to stay forever. When I got back, I half-jokingly asked John if he'd ever consider moving to southeastern Washington.

I can't explain it. The culture is just different than any place I've ever been. It's special. Everybody works in their strengths, on what they're passionate about. There isn't a formal hierarchy. Nobody is trying to put on a confident face or race anyone else to the top. When people don't know things, they admit it and then go figure it out. They give high fives all the time. They run around the building singing "We are the Champions". They build things they themselves love. They make the most incredible coffee (and one of their local coffee shops has THE BEST toast!)

But mostly, it's the people. There is Jenn who is selfless and honest and funny...Amy who seriously could be my brain twin...Mike who gave me the best pencils ever and is the most delightful, smile-inducing person. So many more.

We went out to lunch one day, and Mike asked me, "If you could buy anything and all your needs were taken care of, what would you buy?" And I said, "This. What you guys have here." I was sort of joking, but I guess it turns out I wasn't.

Are you still going to make stuff? Sure! Yes! No matter where I am, I will always be working on stuff that I love, that I hope you will love, too. You'll be the first to know.

Are you leaving the entrepreneurial world now? Being an entrepreneur is a state of mind. You don't ever leave it. I still believe in making the world you want to live in, and I will keep doing that.

Are you moving to Washington? Not at the moment!

What about Hello, Month? Still haven't decided that one yet. The point was to make every month better for myself (starting at my emotional rock bottom in August). The way my life has changed since then is amazing. I am not the same person I was eight months ago.

In a way, I want to finish the project...give these last four months a solid go, so that there will be a complete year available to anyone who needs it. But there is another part of me who realizes that I myself don't need it anymore...so it's hard to keep going. I don't know if it's as powerful as it was in the beginning when I was so desperately needing some perspective. We shall see.

Do you still love me? Yes.

Are there sidenotes and addendums? Yes! What would the world be without sidenotes and addendums?!

Sidenote: I'm going to change my email address soon, so be on the lookout. I'm not going to be passing it around on the whole wide internet anymore, but you'll have it since you're you.

Addendum: You are awesome. Being an entrepreneur and a founding nation-builder is awesome. Being honest with yourself about whether you want to build something by yourself or with other people is also a good thing to do. You might surprise yourself.

If you want to build something with other people but don't want to work on a team, consider partnership. Find someone you love and respect who loves and respects you and read this book together, answering all the questions like you're about to get married. (More on that soon.)

And if you're a lone wolf and you love it, go do that. Be sure to howl at the moon for me.

Love, toast, and big giant hats, Sarah

I have some news to share! It's pretty big. Instead of trying to explain it lots of times, I'm just going to share the letter that I sent to my email subscribers this morning, and hope it suffices:



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16. If you're enticing someone onto your list by giving them something free, you need to make twice as sure your list is valuable enough for them to stay on it.

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Many artists believe that too much strategic thinking diminishes the quality of the work. Though just as many marketers shrug off this fear of "too much marketing"...

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He responded with enthusiasm. Then he asked me to do a simple exercise -- to take out the metaphor and see if it still felt strong. No problem, I thought. I'm confident...this book is going to be awesome.

I got out my pen, ready to make the changes. But after the first chapter, I realized...

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