I headed to bed Thursday, torn as to whether I’d enjoyed Willow Creek or ESPN more. No small feat for Willow Creek to have put themselves in that position.
I’m not sure that our day Friday didn’t pass them both.
We started out at Tyndale House Publishers, our partner for the trio of books that we’ve done. A “set,” people were calling it. Never thought of having a set before.
As we pulled up to Tyndale’s headquarters, we gaped at the loading dock – a giant banner of “The Mentor Leader” hung from the roof of the building, with Tony’s head several feet tall on the banner. (I tweeted that “Tyndale House are the only ones that have given Tony a big head.” For insights as brilliantly funny as this, feel free to follow me here. Of the hundreds of millions of people on the Internet, it’s pretty impressive that I’ve got about 120 following me. Not 120 million. Just 120. Now that’s market penetration.)
Our arrival provided one of my favorite photos of the tour. Namely, little, life-size Tony hopping out of the car to take a picture of giant, banner Tony. He found it very fun to see a picture of himself that size. I assumed that if his picture was on a banner over the loading dock, then mine must be over the front door. Sadly, I forgot to even look up as we walked in, so I’m left guessing about just how big the picture is of me.
Tony spoke at a chapel service for the staff at Tyndale and they really seemed to enjoy his remarks. He shared thoughts on what a terrific partnership it has been with Tyndale – that they shared the vision of a reluctant subject (him) and a first-time co-author (me) and helped turn it into something that we think is pretty special.
We spent the rest of the morning visiting with and thanking the Tyndale team by signing copies of “The Mentor Leader” for the employees, and before we knew it, we had to dash off for Indianapolis and a book signing that evening. Sadly enough, we were so busy visiting and signing that we never had time for a full tour. I’ll have to go back to do that – and I know that Amy, my wife, is always up for a trip to Chicago.
We drove to that afternoon to Indianapolis. Note: that drive contains a great deal of corn. And wind turbines.
Friday night we signed at a Walmart in the Indianapolis area, and had a great time with the people there. The Colts fans certainly haven’t forgotten him.
Friday turned into Saturday – as it often does – but this one marked the official end of my 16th wedding anniversary on Friday. As Tony noted, it didn’t show much of a Mentor Leader work/life balance to miss my anniversary by traveling, so I headed home for the weekend to see Amy and my daughters after our morning signing at a Barnes and Noble. As they headed off to Fort Wayne, I headed back to Gainesville.
And eventually I made it, after being re-routed to Jacksonville and driving.
While I was Florida-bound, Tony signed twice in Fort Wayne and on Sunday morning, while I was in church with my family (just trying to re-establish my work/life balance street cred), they were off to a signing in Jackson, Michigan, Tony’s hometown. Among others who attended were Tony’s Kindergarten teacher, who is now 91, and Allen Truman and his family, including Emmarie. Allen mentored Tony when they were both kids – Allen at 17, Tony at 12. As Allen tells it, he didn’t do anything special – he just took Tony to various sporting events, like high school, Michigan State and Piston basketball games, or Tigers baseball games, and just hung around with him. As Tony tells it, however, that is the point. Allen was simply there to be with a younger kid, and provide an example that made a positive impression.
As I interviewed Allen several months ago to glean his viewpoint for “The Mentor Leader,” I learned that his seventeen year old daughter, Emmarie, had undergone a three year battle with a brain tumor and then leukemia. Now in remission, I know it was special for Tony to get to see the entire Truman family. I with that I had been there, too.
Tony then headed off to the University of Michigan, where 350 people turned out to have books signed in Ann Arbor. (I was still at home in Gainesville during this time, and cringe to think of the hue and cry at the signings when people learned that only Tony was available to sign. I still feel kind of guilty, but as Westley said in The Princess Bride, “Get used to disappointment.”)
Today, they were in Atlanta while I was still being Daddy. Tony did several radio appearances, was on the local Atlanta FOX morning show, spoke at a Boys and Girls Club that was broadcast to Clubs around the country, and had two more signings while I was driving down to Orlando to wait for them. I am typing in my hotel room Monday night at 11pm, waiting for them to arrive.
We’ll pick it back up in the morning as a group – the good people of Florida can rest easy. I will be present for the remainder, Sharpie at the ready. In the meantime, “The Mentor Leader” is ranked #38 on Amazon. Early sales numbers nationwide are promising, and we will find out Wednesday where – or if – we are on the New York Times Bestsellers List.