“Take a moment to think about the answer to this question: Am I prepared to have great success and not get any credit for it?”
Who wrote that? I mean, really? It sounds great, but when push comes to shove…
Oh. The Mentor Leader, page 26. Well, it’s gotta be right, then.
Tuesday – the second Tuesday – of the book tour began in Orlando. I had caught back up with the group Monday night after spending the weekend with my family, and we had two book signings in the Orlando area that day: a Lifeway that morning, followed by a Family Christian Store in Ocoee that afternoon. Both went great, although I was a few minutes late for the Ocoee signing – I was having to drive myself and got gas en route. Whoops. So if you were one of the first ten people through line and only ended up with Tony’s signature, I apologize. Like you care.
We then raced off to Gainesville for our final signing of Tuesday, at the Books-a-Million near I-75. In a tour that included signings in New York, Chicago, Orlando, and Atlanta, Tyndale House had thrown in our hometowns of Jackson, MI and Gainesville as a nod to us. The one was so fun. I was interviewed by Chris Price, a longtime friend of WCJB-20, the ABC affiliate in Gainesville, and saw relatives, longtime friends, high school friends and their families, and friends of my parents and in-laws, all of whom live in Gainesville. My folks and wife flitted about, making sure that they greeted everyone they knew…DJ, my agent, later shared that it felt a little like the pride that you feel when reading the verse in which God says, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17, NLT) (NOTE: Look, I’m not the one drawing the parallels between myself and the Messiah. It’s my agent.)
My favorite moments of the night included quotes from a couple of the children there, including one from our home builder’s son, Beck, who kept telling people that his dad was building a house for Mr. Whitaker, and the daughter of Wayne, a high school teammate of mine, who asked, “Who is the man sitting next to Mr. Whitaker?”
I also enjoyed seeing myself on the local news that night in a brief interview with Chris (“…it’s a joy to make a career out of riding Tony’s coattails…”) and I woke up, still aglow, looking forward to seeing the write-up in the next day’s Gainesville Sun. After all, I had contacted the writer, inviting him to attend and interview Tony. Since the angle was surely “Tony Dungy book tour detours to smaller city because local kid is his co-author,” I was looking forward to the coverage.
Nothing. By “nothing,” I mean, “lots about Tony and the signing, including a teaser on 1A, and a large photo – that me and my great purple and lime green shirt were cropped out of – on 1B, along with a terrific article…in which I’m not even mentioned in passing.”
But as I said in the beginning, I had to remind myself that life isn’t about who gets the credit. Ugh. Sometimes I’m tired of learning that lesson. I swallowed my pride and called the writer, thanking him for such a good article. And it really was a good article.
Wednesday morning I got up early and headed to Tampa, arriving at the signing at Lifeway for the second consecutive day…a few minutes late. I slid in next to Tony, who looked up, and through a grin, said, “My mother used to say that once is an aberration, twice is a coincidence, but three times may be a habit.”
We headed from signing to signing with a New York Times business writer, Charles Duhigg, in tow, who was watching Tony interact through the day. We signed at three places in Tampa, and while none drew crowds as big as his prior books, they were all steady and energetic.
Just before the final signing concluded, we got the call: The Mentor Leader would debut at #2 on the New York Times bestsellers list of August 22, to go with a #7 ranking from Publisher’s Weekly.
We headed out to Bern’s a well-known Tampa landmark, for dinner to celebrate, both the ranking and the end of another terrific tour. Notably, Bern’s was also the site of Tony’s hiring as head coach of the Bucs, some fourteen years prior.
The next morning, we all headed our separate ways around the country, glad to rejoin our families, but sorry to see the book tour end so soon. Especially since Tony said during the tour that he didn’t foresee writing another book.
Looks like I’ll have to change his mind – for the fourth time.