Who am I?
My name is Ben Fox and I am a serial entrepreneur who loves to read. I live in Portugal with my amazing wife and my 5-year-old son Calico Jack (named after the pirate). Here is my LinkedIn profile if you want to see my entrepreneurship background.
Why am I creating Shepherd?
Joy and fun (I am an entrepreneur) 🤪
I am a long time entrepreneur and I love to take ideas and turn them into reality. Combining this with my love of reading is pure joy. I have so many ideas on how to help readers find books in new and unique ways, and I can't wait to share them over the coming years. Plus, I get the pleasure of meeting amazing authors and helping them achieve their dreams.
Please don't mistake me for a crazy dreamer. I plan to build a sustainable and profitable business that does great good. I have big goals and Shepherd will eventually rival Goodreads. I have started and grown numerous companies over my career. One of the largest companies grew to 55,000 clients with 130 team members spread over 18 countries.
I love to read.
I can remember the exact moment when I learned to read. I was trying to read The Snow Baby and I was jumping from word to word. There was this magical moment where the words came alive and it all clicked. It was one of the most amazing feelings in my life. I was also gifted with a reading superpower and I read insanely fast. I read 100+ books a year, with my best year being 2020 with 193 books. I adore books, reading, and the authors that make it all possible.
Authors & readers deserve better.
As a reader I am incredibly frustrated with online book discovery. Goodreads does almost nothing to help authors meet readers or readers find amazing books (what are they doing with that huge team!!!). At the same time, Amazon sells books the same way they sell toothpaste (hint - it isn't very exciting). A book is an experience and it should be marketed as such.
For Readers - I love wandering around bookstores and letting random books capture my attention. Nothing will ever replace the “bookstore experience”, but I want to reimagine book discovery online with a lot more serendipity and delight.
For Authors - I want to help authors meet more readers. Authors illuminate our world, take us on faraway journeys, and entertain us. There is a growing trend that authors have to become their own marketing team. That concerns me because it is very difficult to do. I want to make this easier.
Teach people to appreciate complexity and the people who manage complexity.
I think one of the biggest problems the world faces is that increasingly large groups of people feel there are easy and simple solutions to large problems. And, many political leaders are pandering to this type of simplistic nonsense in order to gain power. Not only does this create unrealistic expectations but it destroys trust in the institutions our society has built to manage the complex world we live in. I think books are one of the best ways I can help to fight this terrifying trend.
And, I feel powerless.
We live in a time where social-media algorithms serve only to reinforce existing worldviews and propagate overly simplistic solutions. I think a book is one of the best ways to help us see the world through different eyes and understand the hidden complexities that we are surrounded with. We need a lot more of both of those things right now.
I want to impact soft culture in the USA and globally over the next thousand years. I want to play a role in creating cultural values that will create a better world for our children, their children, and so on. I am tired of feeling powerless and Shepherd is a vehicle to help create a better world.
What type of world?
A world where science and scientists are respected and science is recognized as the best way to understand the physical world around us, where justice is fairly accessible to the rich and poor, where healthcare is affordable for everyone, where critical thinking and financial skills are taught in schools, where citizens have a vote in how they are governed, where meritocracy is actively pursued and respected, where being poor is not seen as a moral failing, where college and vocational educational are low cost so that everyone who wants to better themselves can, where labour and workers have a fair say in the economic system, where people are free to express their views without governmental punishment, where the environment is protected from pollutants that harm human/animal/plants, and where taxes are fair for both the wealthy and poor.
I don't think any of those things are partisan, they are about us creating a world that we want for our kids and every future generation after that. I will write and expand more as the project gets further along as well.
Who are your guiding stars on this project?
Anthony Bourdain is one of my guiding star for this project. He is someone I've always admired. For me, he epitomizes the ethos that humanity is so similar and that every human on this planet has something to teach us. I also admire him for his constant soul searching, while also not letting it hold back his day to day actions. He is missed.
Khan of Khan Academy sums up a lot of what I hope to do with this project with this quote: “If you believe in trying to make the best of the finite number of years we have on this planet (while not making it any worse for anyone else), think that pride and self-righteousness are the cause of most conflict and negativity, and are humbled by the vastness and mystery of the Universe, then I’m the same religion as you.”
And, of course Wikipedia as they have done so much to help people learn and are a great source of Truth in this world.
Where can I learn more?
Always feel free to email me, I am an open book!
Here is more info on...
- The business model
- How sharing book recommendations shares your book (with sales data)
- Marketing plans
- A blog/newsletter that I update every two weeks about building Shepherd.
- A monthly newsletter for authors that shares traffic and other data.