On April 10th, I started the GOAT Book Club (exactly 5 months ago)
The goal was very simple – get authors to have conversations with people from all over the world.
It was around the last week of March 2020 and lockdown was about to start.
I just lost the biggest project of my life and had to shift back to my hometown before they closed the state-borders.
Apart from a few freelance video-projects, I didn’t have much work. I wanted to finish my personal website project as I didn’t have time to work on it before.
This is when I read Austin Kleon’s newsletter about him joining “Quarantine Book Club” as a guest on 31st March.
I went to their website and found a free code.
You know what happened next, I booked tickets for all events for the next whole week (around 5-7 events)
Went on zoom calls with authors like Douglas Rushkoff, Alberto Cairo, Om Malik, and on 31st March at 2.30 AM Austin Kleon’s call.
I remember asking questions to every single author’s call I went to (Thanks to Mike Monteiro & Erika Hall, Host of QBC)
This was the question I asked Douglas Rushkoff 👇
What issue do you think an 18yr old will face in 2035?— Prado 📚 “The Story Guy” (@pradologue) August 19, 2020
I also asked Om Malik, “If you are 20-years-old today, would you still start a blog or go for something with videos?
His answer was videos.
I love Austin Kleon’s books and I love his work on austinkleon.com.
I joined the call and I saw there were around 400 people in the same call. I was nervous If I’ll get an opportunity to ask him questions and I started typing right after the call started.
I was the second person called out and I said this is it.
I cleared my voice, took a sip of water, and the first thing I did was to appreciate him for everything he has done for me and I went to the question directly. I asked him two questions and one of the questions was
What advice would you give to a 21 year old right now?
His answer was simple – Be Kind.
I loved the feeling of being able to have a conversation with one of my favourite authors.
Since lockdown started this was probably the best week as I was able to have conversations with so many authors.
The only issue: Call timing.
The timing of calls was either 11.30 PM or 2.30 AM
I loved these calls and I ended up completely effing my sleep cycle.
That’s when it hit me, “Why don’t I start something like this on this side of the world?”
I started researching more about Book Clubs, Hosting, Zoom pricing, Website set-up, Payments etcetera.
Soon I realized I need to pivot the entire model to Indian based (Indian timing, Indian payment setup)
Even though we had over 16 International authors out of 22, the timing of the call was around 8.30 PM in India.
I could figure everything out but I always had this one doubt in my mind. ONE FEAR.
HOW WILL I GET AUTHORS?
I knew a couple of Entrepreneurs and as I was attending Quarantine Book Club every day, Mike & Erika knew me. Apart from them, there was no one.
This is when I started using Twitter again.
I followed the authors who came on QBC and If they had DMs open, I used to send them a SugarCube (Thank-You note) with maybe a question or something that I can start a conversation.
Look at the date, 2nd April 2020. Around 5 days before I actually started working on GBC.
Alberto Cairo later joined GOAT Book Club and we had a wonderful conversation.
On 4th April I was just brainstorming the idea.
I had to figure out the Name, Logo, Website hosting, Golden circle, Ticketing platform, Scheduling events, Social media handle’s availability etc…
On 6th April, I decided to go for it.
How did I come up with the name?
I wanted a name that everyone could relate to and I wanted a short name with less than 2 syllables. Like Nike, Apple, Google, Uber, Puma, etc.
One of the first names I came up with was Tea Book Club.
I even had a tagline for this one – “Drink Tea and Chill with Authors”
I scraped off the idea because 1. Not everyone drinks tea, 2. Authors are giving their valuable time and I wanted the quality of the book club to be really good.
Eventually, I started searching for words that resonate with young people, great minds, and which are 2 syllables.
I stumbled upon words like Lit book club, Woke book club, etc.
And then I found the word GOAT in block letters.
That was my ah huh moment.
GREATEST OF ALL TIME.
It was a done deal – Domain was available, social media handles were available, man this was perfect.
7th April 2020
I set up a website on wix.com and got a free domain name for just $5/year (₹350/year).
Started figuring out the logo, golden circle, tagline, pricing, etc.
Meanwhile, I texted every author I had a conversation with through Quarantine Book Club.
I called up an entrepreneur I knew from Bangalore, He said he’d love to join.
Done, One speaker in.
I invited Mike, Erika, Alberto Cairo, Jeff Gothelf, and a few more.
These four international authors accepted my request and I was super happy.
How did I do it?
I got in touch with Mike and told him the idea of doing something like this on this side of the world, he loved the idea and that’s when I asked him would you like to join us as our first guest?
He answered YES right away.
I DMed Erika next and I told her that Mike is joining we’d love to have you too? She said yes
Baam, that’s three.
Was in touch with both Cairo & Jeff, told them both Mike and Erika are joining, would love to have you guys?
They said YES.
I couldn’t believe myself. 4 International authors just accepted my request of being a guest of the book club I didn’t even start yet.
around 6 events were sorted and now I told myself “I can’t back out.”
Three all-nighters and pulled off everything and launched GOAT Book Club on 9th April 9.30 PM.
But the official launch was 10th April 2020 because that’s when our first event was I also had around 30 tickets sold.
With over 2 coffees in the same night, I slept at 7.30 AM and woke up 2 had lunch, and passed out again.
I didn’t have time to market the event and the worst part I lined up events every next day.
6 events in 6 days.
On the day of the launch, I had one more coffee at 5.30 PM and went to work.
Posted the event posters everywhere and started researching about Mike as I’ll be the one asking most of the questions.
I thought one hour before the event was enough to gather enough questions and I was wrong about it.
I was constantly disturbed with 100’s of messages and notifications about what is this project, pricing, who’s joining, so many questions and so little time to reply.
I was underprepared, sleep-deprived, had one more coffee before the event, and was excited and nervous at the same time.
I told myself “This is it.”
Mike Monteiro joined me on the call around 10 minutes before the event and we had a little chit chat and he told me two things.
1. You can ask me whatever you want, I’m here to make you look good.
2. I hope you are not doing this for money, you will never make enough money through a book club.
That’s when I questioned myself, “Am I doing this for money?” I don’t know yet.
It’s time, open the virtual door.
GOAT Book Club starts here.
Stay tuned for the second part where I share my learnings, mistakes, remote handling a team of over 10, and what’s the future looks like for GBC.