Just launched yet another new book (not the one from yesterday, a different one)—and I can honestly say, this is the first book I’ve ever written that had an endorsement from Dolly Parton.
This woman is an amazing speaker, with an extraordinary capacity to be both profound and hilarious at the same time, and she has touched millions of lives with her story. When the protagonist, Joe, hears her speak about authenticity, it signals a turning point in the story.
We named the speaker “Debra Davenport”—and that was not a coincidence.
When Bob and I wrote The Go-Giver I’d already known Rita (not Debra) Davenport for nearly a decade. I met her first in the nineties, when I interviewed her for a magazine cover about phenomenally successful female company presidents. But by that time I had already known her by reputation for many years. It seemed that everyone I knew and everyone I talked to had heard of Rita, most had heard her speak, and all had some variation of the same thing to say:
“Oh, Rita Davenport—I love her!”
The outpouring of affection and admiration that seemed to follow this woman around made me wonder if she was something like Mother Teresa. When I met her, I found out: yes, she was exactly like that—if you can picture Mother Teresa with lightning-fast and screamingly funny delivery in an outrageous Southern twang … and wearing terrific outfits.
It’s now mid-2011, and I get a call from my friend Reed Bilbray at SUCCESS Media, who wants to know if I have some time to work on a book project with them. Honestly, I don’t. Alas, I reply, I am really and truly jammed, half a dozen projects on my plate, couldn’t possibly take on another one, very sorry, love to, but no can do.
Then he tells me it’s a book with Rita.
And that’s that.
I mean, I can’t very well say no to a character out of one of my own books, can I?
It’s hard to describe just what a pleasure it has been to listen to Rita tell her life story and then weave the bits and pieces of it, together with her perspectives on life and living, into the book you’re now holding in your hands.
The reason I’m excited to see this book finished and on its way out into the world is that I already know what kind of impact it will have on people’s lives. Rita has a sort of Socratic Midas touch. Socrates asked his students questions until they found the answers inside themselves. Rita does something like that, only she interacts with people until they discover the gold inside themselves. And when she talks about “a rich life,” she’s not just talking about financial abundance, but about the abundant richness of human experience, accomplishment, connection, fulfillment, and love.
Every phone call I’ve had with Rita ends the same way: the last words I hear as I’m about to hang up are, “Love ya!”
That’s how she ends every phone call with everyone. And she’s not kidding.
Love ya too, Rita.