In this Episode
- [00:39]Stephan introduces Yuval Abramovitz, an Israeli author, reporter, actor, and media persona. His inspiring story, along with his bestselling book, The List, has helped thousands of people turn their dreams into reality.
- [05:17]Yuval tells the story of how he created a blog called The List twelve years ago and shared it on Facebook.
- [11:19]Yuval describes his social media accounts as his workplace and a tool to work and connect with his community.
- [17:29]Stephan asks Yuval how he manages his time with all the stuff he is doing for work and personal life.
- [24:59]What is Yuval’s approach to making a dreams list?
- [30:15]Yuval talks about people comparing his book, The List and the book, The Secret, and points out the difference between them.
- [34:58]Yuval tells the story of when he felt lonely and depressed when he was in France for his book tour, but then became optimistic after looking at the situation from a different perspective.
- [40:52]Stephan asks how and why Yuval gets handwritten notes and feedback from his readers.
- [45:57]What is currently on Yuval’s dreams list?
- [53:51]Follow Yuval Abramovitz on his social media accounts and visit his website uv-tlv.com to learn more about his story and check his books.
Yuval, it’s so great to have you on the show.
Thank you very much. I’m very happy to be with you. Actually, I wrote 16 books.
Sixteen, you are prolific. Amazing.
I have so many things to say to the world. I can’t stop writing. One day I spoke with an agent, he told me, “You should rest a bit. You need to publish a book once in a year, or every three, or four years.” And I told him, “Why? I have so many things I want to share with the world.” Why do we need to play this stupid game and say, “Okay, I would write my next book three years from now.” Beyonce is recording music all the time. I don’t see any difference between music or books or anything else. If you have something to say to the world, just say it.
And you inspire a lot of people. Every time you have a book out, you change more lives and make a difference for people. Who knows how many lives you’ve saved because of your writing.
It’s like magic. Writing a book is like magic. You don’t know what will happen with the book. Even if I have a few books that were hit and did a great job, still, I’m very surprised every time that someone writes me an email or stops me in the street and talks to me about my books. It is magic. I’m sitting in my study, writing something to myself, then suddenly, it’s around the globe.
Amazing. Now, let’s start with your book, The List, which is probably your biggest seller and the book you’re most known for. How did that book come about? And let’s talk about the whole premise of The List. What The List is and what it means?
The story of the book started when I was 16 years old. I’m going to be 44 this weekend. When I was 16 years old, I had an accident. I used to work in a restaurant as a busboy. One day, I fell over an oily puddle, and I cracked my head and I damaged my back. I became handicapped. I was in the hospital for almost a year, I was so bored while I was in the hospital that I took an old notebook and started writing what I’ll do when I am older. From that moment, I became obsessed with lists. I’m writing lists all of my life. I achieved a lot of things in my life until now. And I found this old list 12 years ago when I was cleaning my study. I found my notebook when I was 16 and another list that I wrote 15 years ago. When I was reading my list, I asked myself, “How did I achieve many dreams?” Many big dreams, like being an actor, open shops, have a few businesses, family, and buying an apartment. But I was stuck with small things like going to the gym or learning a new language. So I was really curious.
It was 12 years ago, and I was interested in Facebook. I decided to open a blog and called it, The List. I published a new list of dreams, ten things that I want to achieve in the next 400 days. I put a link on my Facebook, and after 48 hours, I started getting emails all around the globe, from Rwanda, the States, Israel, Iraq, Iran. People started telling me, “I know someone who knows someone, who knows someone, who knows someone, who can help you.” And they also sent me their lists of dreams. In the beginning, I was excited. So I told everyone, “Wow, it’s amazing. Great list.” After a few weeks, I got hundreds of emails. I told people, “You know what, let’s upload your list to my blog and start sharing your dreams and goals with other people.” Other people told me, “No, I prefer to read only between us. It’s a secret, it’s private.” And I told them, “Why? Share your dreams. Look what happened to me.” Then, six years ago, while I was walking with my daughter in one of the streets in Tel Aviv – I’m from Tel Aviv, Israel. It was evening, and my daughter, Shira, was mumbling something to herself. I asked her if everything is okay. And she told me, “Yes, dad. I just asked for a wish because I saw a shooting star.” And I asked her, “What is your dream?” And she told me, “I can’t tell you. If I tell you, it won’t happen.”If you shout out your dreams and do not keep them a secret, they will definitely happen. Click To Tweet
And then I realized that no one told us that we should speak about our dreams, what we know is that if we see a shooting star, we should ask for a wish quietly. If an eyelash falls, I will ask for a wish quietly. Even on our birthday, we’ll ask for a wish quietly. That was the moment that I started saying to myself – people must shout out their dreams, speak out loud about their dreams and goals, and use the power of Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter and ask for people to help them. My blog became huge. One day, I got a call from the university in Tel Aviv. They asked me, “Hello, do you have a lecture about the list idea?” I told them, “Well, yes, I can build something for you.” And they asked me, “How much money do you ask for?” I told them, “I don’t know, whatever you want to pay me.” And that was the beginning of my new career.
People must speak about their dreams and goals by using the power of social media.
After some 20 or 30 lectures, I started hearing from the audience, “It’s a shame that you don’t have a book.” So I wrote a book about how to achieve your dreams and goals, and how to use the power of Facebook and Instagram to share them with others. So I wrote the book but all the publishers in Israel told me that I couldn’t publish this book because I’m too young. I was 37 years old at that time. They told me that it’s not research, and I’m not a doctor. Maybe one day. And I decided to prove it. If you shout out your dreams and goals, it will happen. So I opened a crowdfunding profile, and I asked people to buy my book. After a few days, I raised around 250,000 shekel. And I published my book. And the rest is history because from there, my book was published in China, South Korea, United States, Canada, Belgium, France, and more countries. If you’re listening, look for my book on Amazon.
That’s amazing. That’s such a great story. And so inspirational. And 250,000 shekels is a fair amount of money. For those listeners who don’t know how much that is. It’s like $80,000, something like that.
I believe in building a community using Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Yeah, something like that. From then on, I used crowdfunding to publish all the books that I wrote. I raised almost two million shekel in the last four years just from shouting my dream and sharing my dreams with my audience. I built a community. I believe in building a community, using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or whatever you like. Today, I think that everyone must have a community. It can be a hundred or a million people who like to speak with you about children, money, or books, but build yourself community. Today’s a very difficult time for everyone because of Coronavirus. But I must tell you that this is a good time for me personally and professionally because I built myself a community. I have 3000-8000 followers. I don’t need shops. I don’t need managers. I don’t need someone that will help me. I just can write, “Good morning, fellows. I have a new book. If you want to buy my book at a good price, you can at… I can write and sign and make your copy.” It helped me during this time. And I think that everyone must build themselves a community.
So it’s not just having followers, it’s having a tribe of people who care about you and want you to succeed, and they’re willing to ask a friend, call in a favor with somebody, make an introduction, somehow make a difference for you, even if it takes a little bit extra of their time or resources because they care about you, they want you to have a good life.
I’m getting hundreds of emails from all around the world every week. And I answer all the people who write to me.
Exactly. But we must understand that we must work with our community. You can’t just ask them to buy something from you, you must give them value. You must give them information and be in touch with them. Sometimes people tell me, “Well, I don’t have time to write on Facebook or Instagram, It’s a waste of time.” And what I’m saying to people is that I treat my Facebook and Instagram like my office. This is my office. Instead of driving one hour to the office and being stuck in traffic. Every day, I’m fine with an hour, even less, sometimes 15 minutes a day. I upload something interesting, sometimes I’m selling, sometimes I’m sharing, and sometimes I’m giving them information. Of course, I need to read everything people wrote to me. I’m getting hundreds of emails from all around the globe every week. And I’m answering all the people who write to me. Sometimes I can answer after two months, because I have so many emails, but I’m doing it on my own, even though I have an assistant because sometimes people send me something very personal. I feel that I need to answer my audience and to be in touch with them. Because I see a lot of people who are just selling and selling and selling and forget that you must be in touch with your audience. It’s like a politician, every time that there is an election, so you see Hillary Clinton and Biden and Trump driving all around the country and shaking hands and talking with people.
And holding babies.
Yes, it’s part of the work. So I believe in community and giving them value, and being in touch with them. And it’s working great.
Give first and then get, rather than trying to get all the time. How active is that Facebook community of yours? Do you have thousands of people in it, tens of thousands, hundreds of people, and how often are people posting there?
It’s essential to build a community that doesn’t need a leader all the time.
I have a few groups on Facebook. For example, I have a big group that encourages people to shout out their dreams. My idea is to help each other. In this group, there are about 30,000 people. They understand the rules, so they don’t need me. Every day, 50 people post their dreams and goals. I just approve the status. People understand the logic of the idea, and they help each other. Sometimes, I have time to answer myself or to upload a short video. I think that it’s very important to build a community that they don’t need a leader all the time. Because I can’t be all day on Facebook and Instagram, I must work, write books, or have lectures, and I also have children. So, it’s important to build a community that can work alone without the leader.
For sure. Speaking of the lectures that you do, are you doing personal development seminars, somebody like Tony Robbins or Brendon Burchard, kind of doing that sort of thing, as well as teaching for the university, or just one or the other?
I’m doing everything. I’m doing weddings. I’m not kidding. People invite me to their wedding to have a lecture about The List. When I started my new career with The List, it was almost ten years ago, I didn’t have any dream or fantasy that one day I will speak with people about how to achieve their goals and dreams. In the beginning, it was only a very small lecture, but then people asked me for more content. They told me, “Okay, I got the idea, but I want more from you.” So I built another lecture and another seminar. Today, I have something like ten lectures and seminars that I’m doing. All are talking about dreams and goals, ideas and opportunities. I’m working with companies all around the globe, mainly in Israel, but also in Europe, the States. Before Corona, I was traveling a lot. I was really tired. It’s not easy but I enjoy it. It’s not the money that I’m following, it’s when I’m standing on stage, and I see one person that gets what I’m saying. And I can see in his eyes that something is changing, and saying to himself, “Wow. It’s amazing. Yes, I must shout out my dream. I feel that I must drive to the north of the country or to travel to Paris to speak with people.” Today, I found like 100 hours of content. And I believe that a year from today or two years from today, it will be in a huge seminar. I don’t know, every three months, I will do a seminar for two or three days because I must rest. It was a crazy decade for me. I enjoyed it, but it was a crazy decade for me.We are told that if we share what we wish for, it will not come true. No! People must be vocal about what they want in life. Who knows? Someone listening might be the key to your dreams. Click To Tweet
You do a lot of stuff. You’re a renaissance man. You’re not just writing books and teaching seminars and lectures, you have all these other things like acting, radio hosting, and so forth. How are you allocating your time these days?
First, I want to say something about the fact that I’m doing a lot of things because you told me, “You’re a renaissance man.” When I was young, a lot of people told me, “You must focus on what you’re going to do when you get older.” And I said, “Why?” I love to act. I’m quite okay with that. I did like 500 episodes in a few soap operas in Israel, and theater and movies. And I worked in the biggest newspaper in Israel, and I enjoyed it. I write books, have a radio show, and have opened a few shops. Why do I need to do only one thing? That is what’s beautiful in life and special today. The world is so small. Why do I need to decide what I want to do? For years, I felt that I’m paying the price for being all of these things. I read a lot of articles about me in the media. Some of them wrote, “You must decide what you want to be.” But why? Lady Gaga can be a singer, an actor, and sell perfume and makeup. Why not? I feel like it’s a combination of all of my abilities as an actor standing on stage, as a writer or journalist telling a story, and of course, as a businessman who knows how to rent the auditorium and to work with my team.
A few days ago, someone asked me, “What was your biggest dream when you were a child?” I told him, “I wasn’t sure what I would be when I’m older. But my dream was to have a calendar. And that every day will look different from the other day.” And this is my life today. Sometimes when I’m bored from writing, I say, “Okay, this is a period of time that I want to act in a play, theater, or television.” When I get bored from television, then I will take a rest. Now, I want to open a shop or to develop something. So I don’t know, I have so many dreams. I have dreams in politics. Maybe one day I’ll be a politician in Israel. I have few offers here and there. I don’t know. But I follow my heart. I listen to what I want to do. And I’m turning 44 years old this weekend. And I just spoke with my daughters today – Shira is 12 years old and Noga is seven years old. They asked me, “Are you happy with your life?” And I said, “Look, I’m in the middle of my life. I did so many things. And yes, I’m so happy.” I’m waking every morning with a smile waiting for the next day. I think this is a dream. I live in a dream. I’m also trying to find time for myself because it sounds like I’m working all day. I have time to think, I have time to rest. I think people who want to be a writer or an actor must have time for thinking. We live in a crazy decade today. We’re running all the time with our iPhone and iPad. And we don’t have time to think. Even when we’re alone, we’re not alone. Even when we’re traveling or on vacation, we’re taking photos all day. Even when we’re going to sleep, we’re going to sleep with our iPhone and wake up with our iPhone. I believe that we need to find time for ourselves to think about what we want to do next week, next month, next year. I’m trying to live that way.
Yeah, that makes so much sense.
By the way, I’m sorry for my English. I didn’t finish high school.
Oh, you don’t have to apologize for your English. I think it’s great. It’s about the content. You’re an inspiring person, and whether you get every single word right or not is inconsequential.
Just play in life. Everything amazing that we have today, like airplanes, computers, and electricity, happened because people played it like a game.
I’m saying it because I guess the people that will hear us will be all around the globe. I remember the first time that I got a call from the States, and they told me, “Okay, we want you to lecture about The List.” I was so nervous. I said, “Oh my god, my English is so bad.” Now my English is much better. But my English was so bad. I didn’t finish high school because of the accident. I was so nervous. One of the things that I’m saying in my book and my lecture is that we must play in life. Just play. Everything amazing that we have in life today, like airplanes, computers, and electricity, happened because people played like a game. I want to build an airplane, I want to build a computer. So I’m playing. Even though I know that I have mistakes, I hear myself, and I know that sometimes I have mistakes in English. You know what, I don’t care. Not because I don’t care about the people and I want to be rude, but because I know that people understand what I’m saying. As you said, the content is the main thing. So I decided to stop being nervous or apologize for my mistakes. And because I’m playing, I’m playing a game. And I’m sure that in three years from today, my English will be better than ten years ago. My English will be much better.
Yeah. It’s not a coincidence that I watched a TEDx talk about a week ago. It’s specifically about learning languages because I’m learning Hebrew. And this was a powerful way of looking at it from this talk. Don’t try to learn a language like you learn the piano because you’re focused on every little mistake, and people will point those mistakes out, especially your teacher, and so forth. Play it like a video game because you see these people in arcades or on Twitch or whatever, and they’re just full immersion, loving every minute of shooting everything up and not worried that they made a mistake. Not feeling judged for any of those mistakes. They’re just having a good time. And the people that are surrounding them, either in the room or virtually, are also encouraging and not pointing out the mistakes because it’s a video game. That is very appropriate and relevant to what you were just talking about.
How do you go about making a list? It’s not a to-do list. It’s a dreams list. What’s too short? What’s too long? What’s the process for coming up with it? Do you do a thinking exercise before it, because you did mention having some thinking time, which I love, by the way? I learned about that concept from Keith Cunningham, who wrote The Road Less Stupid, a great title for a book. But he talks about how he has a thinking chair that he will only sit in when he has his thinking time, and he won’t bring his laptop to work on email or anything like that. He brings his special idea notebook and a pen, and he just gets comfortable. He schedules thinking time. He got that special thinking chair that he’ll get into, and ideas flow, and it makes such a difference to his businesses that he does this.
Exactly. We live in a crazy decade that we are running all the time, we have Netflix and Amazon Prime, and we have so much noise around us. The first important thing is to close your computer and phone, and take a note and a pen. In the beginning, just write all of your thoughts and dreams, big and small and stupid, without any excuses. We have so many excuses and explanations for ourselves. Without saying, “My husband,” “My wife,” “My children,” “Work,” “Boss,” “Corona,” “Money,” “I don’t feel good,” just write everything, even thousands of things. Just let your thoughts pop up out of your head. A lot of people don’t have time to think about it. I meet so many people from all around the country in Israel and also around the globe. There are some people in some countries where it’s a matter of mentality, sometimes there are communities that say, “Don’t dream. Think about your family, you don’t have time,” and “Dreams are only for people who have time or have money.” “Be humble.” I hear this all the time from religious people in Israel. “Be humble. Family, that’s all.” But they have dreams, especially the young ones.
Take a notebook or paper and write down ten things you want to achieve in the next 400 days.
The first thing to do is take a notebook or paper and just write down a lot of dreams. Then, start looking at your dreams and goals and ask yourself a few questions like, “Why did I write this dream?” “Is it my dream or my parents’ dream?” “Is it my dream or maybe just a fantasy?” Sometimes we have a lot of fantasies, “One day, I will learn how to speak Chinese.” Do you want to learn Chinese, or it’s a fantasy? If it’s a fantasy or it’s a dream from high school but it does not belong to you anymore, delete it or put it aside and say, “I’m not sure about this dream.” Look for the dreams that you want to achieve in the next 400 days. Why 400 days? Because you can see the future in your eyes. Choose ten things that you want to achieve. I say to choose different dreams, something that belongs to your family, something that belongs to your work, or a dream that belongs to the world – like to travel to some country, or to meet someone interesting. So you’ll have different dreams.
And the next step is also to shout your dreams out and ask for help. Speak about your dream all the time to everyone. It’s very important. I think because you don’t know when you’ll meet the person who can help you in real life. Use Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Of course, you need to take your dreams; the dream is only a title. Now you need to write to yourself, the action that you need to do. What do you need to do? For example, find a trainer to go to the gym. I work out to be in shape. And it didn’t happen right away. In the beginning, I said, “Why?” But I wrote it. Because I wrote it, I must act. So I decided to take a year to myself and to search and look for the right sport for myself. What is good for me? I tried cycling, and I didn’t like it. I tried to run, I didn’t like it. In the end, I found swimming. That’s what I’m doing today. That’s what I like, it has good results and I’m happy with my body.
Sometimes, you just need to find the road to achieving your dream. Because when you write it, it’s only a title in the beginning. If you want something to happen, you must act. A lot of people tell me that The List book is a bit like The Secret. I guess that you know about the book The Secret, and the movie. I loved it when it came out. And both books are indeed talking about being positive and thinking about your dreams, but I find that a lot of people don’t get the message until the end with The Secret because they’re talking all the time about how the universe will hear you and think about your dreams and the universe will help you. And sometimes people think that they will sit on the sofa and they will sail into the world of dreams and something will happen. It’s not only thinking. It’s mainly acting and doing things that you need to do.
Yeah, including speaking with the dreams to others so that they hear that you have a goal that you’re trying to reach because otherwise, how are they gonna help you if it’s a secret? How do you come up with different ideas for books? Are they mostly non-fiction or some fiction? I already kind of know the answer to this. But what’s your process, and how do you get inspired to create your next book?
As I said in the beginning, I wrote 16 books that have been published, and now I’m working on two books. A lot of people talk all the time about a muse, that they have a muse to write or that they don’t have any muse. I’m saying it’s not a matter of whether I have a muse or inspiration, because then again, you put your talent in the hands of God. He is sending me inspiration. I use the word “trigger.” I have a trigger to write. It’s like I will tell you, “Why do you post something on Facebook or Instagram?” because you saw something on the street and you want to post because you have a trigger. It was elections lately in the States, so you have a trigger to write something about Biden or Trump, or whatever. Every time that I’m working around, I see so many triggers to write. For example, when the book, The List, was published in the States, it was three years ago, I was in the States for a few weeks. And I saw so many people holding shopping bags in their hands. One day, I said, “Oh, my God, who needs all of this garbage? Why do you need to shop?” I mean, there are so many things to do in New York, why is everyone running to buy new shoes?Dreams only work when hard work and action are included in the equation. Click To Tweet
Then I decided to write a book for children, it’s about a child who wandered and checked what he had in his room. He discovered that he doesn’t have three things that his friends have. And he said, “It’s not fair, I don’t have those things.” And his mother taught him a game called, “I don’t have, but I have.” And so she told him, “Every time that you see something that you don’t have, say something that you have.” So I don’t have this game, but I have this game. So you will learn how to appreciate what you have. So I wrote it while I was in the States, this book for children, it’s a huge book here in Israel. I hope after Corona, I will sell it to more countries. Because everyone now stopped printing new books. I see the ideas around me all the time, especially books that say about dreams and opportunities and ideas. I get emails from readers; they ask me so many great questions. Sometimes I don’t have the answer. So I tell them, “You know what, I will think about the answer for you.” And then when I find the answer, they say, “Okay, this is a book.”
For example, the second book after The List, called The Idea, how to make an idea become a reality. And I read so many lists from all around the globe, and I noticed that almost everyone has an idea in their dream or their list. Like, to open a business, to record a CD, to have a lecture, to open a blog, and much more. Most people don’t know how to do it, and it’s very easy. There are few tools that you can work with a list and know how to do it. So I wrote this book. Or I can tell you when I stopped working around the globe, especially when my book was published in France, I was so depressed, I was in France alone for a few weeks. I don’t know how to speak the language. And it was a huge thing then in France. And I was so depressed. I felt that The List took me from my life. I missed my children and my home. Even though I was in amazing hotel rooms, I wanted to be home. I was depressed for a few weeks. I was talking with my psychologist, and I told her, “I think I want to stop this thing with The List because I feel that The List controls my life, instead of me controlling The List.” One day, I told myself, “You know Yuval, you got an opportunity. So you have two options. One option is to stop it, don’t answer emails, close your Facebook, and the book will be out, but no one will be in touch with you.” This is one option. And then I told myself the other option, “Look what happened to you. You wrote a book. It became all around the globe. It’s a dream of so many writers, and it happened to you. So you must decide if you want to hug this opportunity or to complain all day.”
Decide if you want to embrace this opportunity or to complain about it.
Of course, because I’m optimistic, I told myself that I would hug this opportunity. So this was the trigger for writing about the book about opportunities. Even now, we’re recording this conversation while we’re at Corona time. It’s scary. I know people who got sick, and even people who died, and I think everyone sees the result in their bank account. Everyone feels the Corona, and we’re stuck at home, and we can’t travel. But there are so many opportunities in Corona. I know it sounds like a cliche, but it’s true. I think that in the last year, I spent so much time with my family and my children. I finally learned how to cook. After so many years, I adopted a dog. It’s a great time of opportunity. You need to decide if you’re gonna complain all day or say, “Okay, this is the time that we’ll live, and let’s see what we can do.” Even as a Jewish, I can say, even in the Holocaust–it was a horrible time, there was Jewish theater, and people published books, and people continue living, and people have children, and people have sex. It was the Holocaust, much worse than Corona. So, I see triggers all around me. I’m surrounded with ideas for books. I have so many ideas for books.
Amazing. I remember something that my friend Ephraim Olschewski, who was a guest on this podcast, told me once. He tells his kids if they’re complaining or having a tantrum about something, and he asked them, “Are you creating or are you complaining?” And that’s such a powerful question because then they will reevaluate. One time, he was driving his kids to the gym, so they were going to hang out in the daycare area, and he and his wife were going to work out. One of his kids had forgotten his iPad. He was in the process of having a meltdown once he realized that he didn’t have it and that they probably weren’t gonna drive back to go get it. And so he asked his kid, “Are you complaining, or are you creating?” As he did it, he was holding his iPhone in his hand, and then his kid looked at him, and he’s like, “Oh, can I borrow your iPhone?” “Yes, you may.”
It reminded me of when I’m writing my books in Greece. I’m flying to one of the islands for two weeks, alone working on my new book, then I’m coming back to Tel Aviv, then I’m traveling three months after again, and then I finished the book. One day, I’ve traveled to one of the islands in Greece. And while I traveled for two weeks, my computer just went out. No electricity. And I was stuck on a very small island with no shop that could help me. I can’t buy a new computer, and no one can fix my computer. I didn’t know what to do. I was talking with one of my friends, and she told me, “Let’s try to write your book in a notebook. Like in the old days.” So I tried to write in a notebook, it didn’t work for me. Then a friend of mine told me, “Try to write on your iPhone notes.” I told him, “I can’t write a book on notes.” And he told me to try. You know what? I was writing my book on my iPhone, 16 chapters, and I learned to write on my iPhone. Today, every time that I have free time, while I’m waiting for my children after school or whatever, I’m writing a few sentences. So it was a disaster that became an opportunity for me because I learned something new.
It was a disaster that became an opportunity for me because I learned something new.
It was a gift. And I’ve said this probably more than a few times on this podcast, Orion, my wife, has this expression: “It’s a gift, but sometimes the bow is on the bottom.” And that was an example of that.
Now one thing that I noticed one time when I was at your place is you showed these handwritten notes that came from your readers, and you were sending chapters of your book out to readers for feedback, and they would write long explanations, and they would write in the margins of the printouts that you’d send them, you’d send a chapter printed out to them in the mail, and then they would return it with all their notes and everything. I was impressed by that.
Why did you find it interesting?
Well, I don’t know of anybody who does that in terms of getting feedback from their readers. While the book is being written, for one thing, I think that’s pretty unusual. Usually, what I hear from authors is that they will get feedback on the book from editors, other colleagues, other authors, and so forth once a rough version of the manuscript is finished. Not a chapter at a time, like, “Okay, here’s my first chapter. What do you think? I haven’t started on chapter two yet, but I want feedback on chapter one.” That I think is unusual. And then to do this in a very analog format, and not just send a Word document or a PDF to these folks, but instead to send them in the mail a printout that they’re going to hand right on, I think that’s pretty unusual as well.
Well, you know I’m doing unusual things. I started doing it before three or four books that I worked on. And I was writing a novel called, The Year of Gifts. I love this book, and it’s a huge thing here in Israel. After Corona, it will be published in France, and I hope in the States also. I felt that I want to be good at this book because it was a very important book to me. I decided to offer people that follow me to read my book while I’m writing the book. So I choose 100 people that I don’t know, different ages, different professionals, different people. Every few weeks, I send them envelopes, six or seven chapters, and I ask them to write what they feel while they read the book. Like, “It was very funny,” “It was too long,” “I didn’t get the joke,” “I didn’t understand this character.” “It reminded me of a story of myself.” And then I read all the notes, some of the notes, I agree. Some of them I didn’t agree with. Some of the notes were very cute. Some of them were even insulting. But at the end of the day, I’m writing for an audience. I’m not writing to myself.
Last night, I was on Zoom with a group of very famous writers here in Israel and the host, and it was with an audience. And the host asked all the writers, “Do you think about your audience while you write?” And everyone says, “Well, no. I’m writing to myself. I don’t think about the audience. I don’t care about them. I try to be honest with myself. If they like it, they like it. If they don’t like it, they don’t like it. I don’t care. This is art.” And I say, “Well, I don’t believe you. I don’t believe that a writer sits in a study room or whatever, for a year or two, sometimes five years, writing something, and doesn’t care if people will like it.” I’m not trying to be shallow or to write what people want to read. But I want to hear what people think about it. Because behind every person, there are two thousand people that will think the same. And I know that some of the group told me, “I think that you can be shorter in between chapter three to chapter seven.” I had one person say that it’s too long. So I did it shortly. I love to be in touch with the audience. I’m writing for the audience. It’s like being a chef in a restaurant, you must think about what people will say about the food, and it could be tasty or not tasty, salty or not salty. I think that there are so many writers that I don’t understand, like, “It’s a very important profession. Only we can write, and you can’t write.” No, everyone can write. Everyone writes every day on Facebook and Twitter and a lot of applications. Like when you are looking for love, and you have downloaded some apps, and you’re writing messages for someone, or texting on WhatsApp. Everyone is writing.
That reminds me of the quote from Ratatouille, the movie, “Anyone can cook.”It's not the universe that hears your dream, it's people who care about you and support you. Click To Tweet
I know. Yes, it’s true. And it’s like in big companies for food, or dress or whatever, they have a group of people that test the food, test the clothes, test the car. Why not test my book before I publish my book? And I think that one of the reasons is that The Year of Gifts, became such a huge success here in Israel and will be out, after the Corona, to a few countries, because I asked people, “What do you think about what I wrote?” I want to hear. I want to be better. So that’s all.
That’s great. And it’s also a good lesson on intentionality like you have a higher intention for your book than just to make it on the New York Times bestseller list or whatever kind of ego drive that some other author might have. You have the recipient of the book and the reader in mind and what transformation you’re going to be able to offer them. So it’s not information, that’s transformation, and you’re after an outcome for them. And I think that’s laudable. What is your list currently? What are you dreaming about and shouting from the rooftops that you want to achieve?
I love to be in touch with the audience. I write for the audience.
Wow, that’s a great question that I hear a lot of times. “What are your next dreams?” I can tell you that if you ask me this question two years from today, the answer is balance. I want balance in my life because I was traveling around, and it was crazy. But I find the balance not because of the Corona, before the Corona. I found the balance in my life between working and staying at home and being with my family and being with myself and watching television finally after years that I didn’t have time to watch television. And it’s a good question, “What are my new dreams?” And, again, I just spoke about it today with my children, that I feel that I’m very proud of the fact that I’m 44 or maybe only 44. I’m quite old. But did I achieve a lot of things? I mean, I have a family, a great house, books, an audience, money, and time to myself for health. So I feel that I have a lot of things. I don’t have a list of dreams right now because I achieved so many things in the last decade. Sometimes I’m thinking about what would be my next big thing. I’m not sure that I will continue The List project for years. I know myself, I get bored. And I’ve been doing it for ten years. And I feel that my books can work without me. People can work on their list with my books. Maybe I’ll have a few videos that I will sell. I want this year to do an online course. And it’s a good question. You see, the man with “The List” doesn’t have a list.
I would guess that what isn’t on your list that you don’t have, is to get your books, like The Year of Gifts, published into many hands in the US and France and wherever else outside of Israel.
You just need to ask yourself every day, “What do I want to do?”
Of course. If someone is listening all around the globe, if you’re a publisher, or know someone who knows someone from publishing houses from all around the globe, yes, I have 16 books, all bestsellers in Israel. I’ll be very happy to find more publishers in Germany and more countries. I feel so lucky that I don’t want to ask for more. I have a lot, and I’m fine with it. I’ll be happy to meet Oprah Winfrey. I mean, I think that she can take my idea, shout out my dreams and share it with her audience. It’s a dream. It’s one of my dreams. I was talking with her staff, and I was sending her my book. One day, maybe it will happen. So I can share with you my professional dreams. But you know what, maybe I didn’t mention it because I know that if I have a professional dream, I will achieve it. I know what to do. And I can tell you, by the way, talking in English, that I got a call three months ago from Hollywood, one of the biggest producers there, heard about The List. And he asked me, “Do you want to do a reality show about The List?” I said, “Oh, let me think about it… Yes, I want.” And so we start talking to a group of people and building a format for this show. And we just finished writing it two weeks ago. And now we started pitching the idea to Netflix and Amazon and NBC and CBS. Maybe this is the next thing, reality-based on The List.Give first before you get. Share your wisdom, show your value, do what you love, and the rest will follow. Click To Tweet
I didn’t mention professional dreams because I know that I can achieve everything I want. I’m saying it like, “Well, everything that I want, I can do,” because I trust myself. I noticed that if I want to achieve something, I work very hard to get it. I can tell you that I built a garden in my house lately, I enjoy taking care of the garden. We have a dog, so I enjoy being with my dog. I have small dreams, like taking all of the 30,000 photos that I have on my iPhone and iPad, and putting them into files and printing some of them, making albums for my children that are almost 12 years old, and she doesn’t have an album. My mother passed away a year ago, so I want to have album photos of my mom. It’s a small dream. There are a lot of people that hear me think that I’m running after huge dreams, like to be in the States, to fly to Australia. It’s nice, but it’s not only to be obsessed with achieving dreams.
If I want to achieve something, I trust myself in working very hard to get it. Yuval Abramovitz
You just need to ask yourself every day, “What do I want to do?” because we’re changing all the time. I’m sure that even you, Stephan, ten years ago, your list of dreams was different from your list today. We’re changing. I think that at the end of the day, The List, it’s not only about achieving dreams. It’s being in touch with yourself and asking yourself all the time what you want. And now, I will ask you. What is your list?
What is my list? Well, I want to have a New York Times best-selling self-help book. I have a working title, which I’m not going to share here on this podcast, but I do want it to be kind of a spiritual book and something that will help people to elevate their consciousness and love more and be more. I want to talk about that book on the Today Show or Good Morning America or both and change millions of people’s lives with it. So that’s my big dream for now.
And then another dream that is not only professional? Something personal.
My wife and I, Orion, and I want to have another baby. So we have a 15-month-old now. He’s amazing, and we get so much joy from him. He is a blessing from God. We want another one.
Good luck with that. You can start working after this podcast.
Yes. Thank you so much for inspiring our listeners and making things seem so much more possible and accessible. And yes, just shout out your dreams. It’s a beautiful sentiment and a beautiful idea. And you’re changing the world with that. So thank you for doing that.
Thank you very much. And you can find me all on Amazon, and of course, on Facebook. And I hope to hear from you.
And what is your website?
Awesome. Well, thank you so much, Yuval.
Checklist of Actionable Takeaways
Be vocal about my dreams and aspirations. Wishes come true when they’re shared with others. The people I surround myself with are the ones who can help me achieve my goals.
List my dreams no matter how crazy they seem. Believe that nothing is impossible as long as I set my mind to it.
Manifest my dreams. Claim them even before they’re a reality. Just thinking about them brings me halfway to my destination.
Use the power of social media. Millions of people worldwide are using social media not just to connect with friends and family but with potential new business partners, colleagues, and opportunities.
Find my tribe. Having ten people who I consider part of my tribe is way better than having thousands of followers. A tribe is composed of people who believe in what I do and support me in following my dreams.
Share my light and wisdom with the world. Don’t be the best-kept secret, especially when I have something that can positively impact others.
Engage with people. Frequently communicate and connect with my tribe to keep the momentum going.
Believe that I can do more if I want more. I can grow a business, take care of my family, or pursue a hobby as long as I am willing and able.
Be patient with myself. Don’t expect to accomplish my list of dreams instantly. Never limit myself from aspiring for the best things in life. However, be realistic about the timeline and resources as well.
Grab a copy of Yuval’s book, The List: Shout Your Dreams Out Loud to Make Them Come True.
About Yuval Abramovitz
Yuval Abramovitz is an Israeli author, cultural reporter, actor, and media persona. Alongside his writing career, which has already yielded two best-selling suspense novels, Yuval maintained a long-lasting career as an actor and a TV host, interviewing high-profile public figures including Leonardo DiCaprio, Meryl Streep, and Juliette Binoche. Abramovitz is also the owner of a few design stores, a writing school, and a proud father of two daughters, Noga and Shira.
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