December 19, 2012
Adam Wahlberg claims he’s never had so much as a fleeting entrepreneurial thought.
That is until he chucked his corporate job and bet a significant chunk of his life savings on an idea that just wouldn’t go away.
With the launch of Think Piece Publishing, Wahlberg is wagering that not only can great writing bring social change, but that literature and advocacy can be the foundation for a profitable new business.
His aim is to publish what he calls “singular voices” on a variety of social issues, from autism to post traumatic stress syndrome, and to provide access to a variety of helpful resources around those topics. As a former public relations practitioner and long-time editor at the much-loved but now defunct Minnesota Journal of Law and Politics, Wahlberg sees an opportunity to turn his passion for promoting great writers and causes into a viable new approach to publishing.
I caught with Adam for a little Q&A about his journey to entrepreneurship.
You’re in an elevator in the Medical Arts Building, and a chatty old gentleman on his way to see a skin specialist on the 14th floor asks you what you do for a living. What do you tell him?
You took quite a risk in leaving your fancy corporate big shot job at Thomson Reuters to create Think Piece Publishing. Tell us about the moment when you finally said “Screw it, I’m going for it!”
I spent a few months thinking about whether to do this full time or nights and weekends and there was a moment when a friend said I just light up talking about Think Piece, in a way she hadn’t seen from me in quite a while, and I thought, why not stay lit up all the time? That’s sort of my Christmas tree answer.
With Think Piece now officially launched, what have you learned about yourself in the process of turning an idea into reality, and what advice can you share with those who have dreams of becoming an entrepreneur?
Two things. Check your idea with people you trust and ask them to tackle you if it seems like a bad idea. Beg them to tackle you. Say: “Please tackle me.” If they don’t, go for it. And once you go, turn off your worrying brain. Just turn it off. The thing will work or it won’t.
When will you know that Think Piece is a success?
When it becomes about readers and not me. Right now it’s about me, and that’s fine; it exists because of me. But when it becomes known for helping people navigate their lives, then it’ll be a success.
True story: An hour into a five-hour drive to cement and celebrate a pivotal author signing for Think Piece, you realized you had left your wallet at home and the gas gauge was on empty. Describe the thoughts racing through your mind at that moment.
Ha! Yeah, that was funny. I was annoyed with myself, and had to figure out how to fill up my car without cash or photo ID. I made it to a Wells Fargo branch 29 miles away with $2.10 in car change. Deep down, as someone who loves stories, I just knew this was going to make for a great one. So while I hated that I had to backtrack and be late to a three-months-in-the-making meeting with a legend like Janet Burroway, I knew it’d work out, and that the day had suddenly become even more awesome.
What keeps you up at night?
It used to be running out of gas on my way to an important meeting. Now it’s my backhand. Just so bad. Giving away two points a game on that wing. Can’t have it. But what am I going to do, slice?