Karen Rinaldi – Why Sucking at Something Can Turn Out Great and How to Publish Stories


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Karen’s Wild Idea: To share bold, brave, wild stories, both her own and by others through books and essays with the world. Also, to embrace surfing at an older age, a sport that’s taught her why it’s so great to suck at something.

Karen Rinaldi is a writer, publisher, and the creator of Harper Wave, an imprint of Harper Collins that has published the work of three past guests: Jaimal Yogis, Mark Lukach and Steph Jagger. Karen has also published books by authors like Dave Asprey of the Bulletproof Coffee movement, Dr. Gundry of The Plant Paradox, and Tony Horton of P90X, to name a few.

In addition to her literary life, Karen is also a surfer. She started at age 40, and recently wrote an essay in the New York Times that every surf writer’s mom sent them (including my own) titled, “It’s Great to Suck at Something.” I loved her story, and all of her essays I’ve read. I also don’t have a lot of mentors that are females, writers, publishers and surfers, so when I find someone like Karen, I have to share her knowledge.

Karen talks about her perspective on surfing, why it’s important to suck at something, the difference between a good adventure and a great story, how to get published, and the books you should be reading.

Listen to this Episode if

  • You suck at surfing (or anything, really).
  • You like trying new things, no matter how good you think you’ll be.
  • You’re an avid reader.
  • You want to write a book and get published.
  • You love the Modern Love column in the New York Times.
  • Your family is important to you.

Key Takeaways

  • 5:30 – What happened to Karen when she started surfing.
  • 10:00 – Why it’s important to suck at something.
  • 14:00 – How the patience she’s learned from sucking at surfing has translated to the rest of her life.
  • 15:30 – Why you should strike the phrase “Why don’t they just…” from your vocabulary.
  • 16:15 – How love and surfing go hand in hand.
  • 22:25 – Karen’s history with publishing.
  • 25:45 – The difference between a great adventure and a great story.
  • 28:50 – How to get over the fear of telling your story.
  • 32:00 – Her children are an essential part of her life.
  • 34:00 – Why you have to listen to your body and feed it the right stuff.
  • 37:15 – Good books for a surf trip.
  • 42:00 – Why you shouldn’t be afraid of the ocean.
  • 44:00 – You should try sucking at something.

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