A common misconception entwined with authors is that they are socially inept, how true is that?
Not true at all… I am socially “ept” .
If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why?
The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. The author tackles the common human trait of resistance to doing what we are supposed to do, and examines this with creativity, humor, and grace. It’s one of my very favorite books and I recommend it to anyone who wants to turn inspiration into action in their lives.
What makes this particular genre you are involved in so special?
My books are in the motivational, transformational, self-help genre. In 2014, I decided to sell my previous company and dedicate my time and resources to giving back. Now I spend my time researching and sharing best practices for health and wellbeing, through my new venture, HappyLiving.com. I write to inspire others to believe that a better self is always possible – today, every day, for the rest of their lives. It’s the best job I have ever had, and every day has a great sense of adventure.
What works best for you: Typewriters, fountain pen, dictate, computer or longhand?
I write on a laptop computer so I can write wherever suits me… from my lakeside patio office during the summer, in my traditional indoor office in the winter, and from my floating office, a pontoon boat my wife and I named The Happy Living, whenever possible.
When did it dawn upon you that you wanted to be a writer?
I actually started writing a book in the 1990’s called Raising a Champion but the resistance Steven Pressfield writes of got the best of me and I didn’t finish it. When I launched HappyLiving.com, I knew I wanted to write a book. It was only after I started writing Turning Inspiration into Action that I knew I wanted to become a writer.
Do all authors have to be grammar Nazis?
Absolutely not. I am a grammar train wreck. That’s why we have professional editors at Happy Living. I may have the best one ever with Kelly McKain, who is both a fiction author with over forty published titles, and a non-fiction editor and copywriter specializing in self-help and wellbeing. She turns my train wrecks into creations of grammatical beauty.
What inspires you to write?
I believe our purpose, the reason we are here, is to become all we are capable of becoming with the gifts we are given so that we are able to give to others, lift them, and help them become all they are capable of becoming with the gifts they are given. Writing is my instrument for giving, lifting and helping others.
How often do you write?
Most every day. When I am in book mode, I dedicate 90 minutes every morning, five days a week.
Do you have a set schedule for writing, or are you one of those who write only when they feel inspired?
Writing is a priority in my life so I make space for it with a set schedule. I write on time but I also stop on time to make space for the other priorities in my life.
How hard was it to sit down and actually start writing something?
The moment I knew Turning Inspiration into Action was the book I wanted to write, i.e. once the inspiration hit me, it was easy. Everything just seemed to flow from that moment on, which isn’t to say it was all smooth sailing – see question 13!
Do you aim to complete a set number of pages or words each day?
No, I commit to a time schedule rather than an output goal. I simply write for my set 90 minutes a day, five days a week, and allow the book to be finished when it is finished.
Writers are often associated with loner tendencies; is there any truth to that?
Maybe. I do enjoy my solitude and reflection time, which is such a valuable tool for growth and transformation. But I also think that, in my case, taking that time for myself makes me even more engaged with my family and community too. For me, it’s about harmony and balance.
What, according to you, is the hardest thing about writing?
That’s easy – having patience. Having patience during the writing process. Having patience during the editing process. Having patience during the selling process. And most importantly having patience once people start reading the book. I want to know what they think, if I have moved them, if they found valuable insights that can help them in their life… and I want to know all of that immediately. My wife would tell you I am the least patient person on earth, but I like to think of my impatience as enthusiasm for moving forward!
What would you say is the easiest aspect of writing?
I sit in a comfortable chair, listen to soothing music, and hit keys on a keyboard in a specific order that, hopefully, creates something inspirational… All of it sounds pretty easy, doesn’t it?
Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors?
I read every day. There are so many wonderful authors. Here are my top three: Dr. Wayne W. Dyer, Stephen King, and Steven Pressfield.
Have you ever left any of your books stew for months on end or even a year?
Yes. In Stephen King’s fantastic book, On Writing: A Memoir Of The Craft, he recommends setting your book aside for four to six weeks after the first draft. It was excruciating but I did it with Turning Inspiration into Action and found it extremely helpful to come back to the text with a fresh pair of eyes. Raising a Champion has been stewing for two decades.
What is the most important thing about your book in your opinion?
The fact that it gives hope. Whether a person is young or old, rich or poor, I believe it’s always possible that tomorrow we can be better than today. That idea keeps me working to progress in a purposeful direction with consistency. I wrote the book to inspire hope that the life of your dreams is possible, and to provide a clear, concise and practical process for creating it. From hope you can move into a place of belief, and then knowing, and then anything’s possible!
Any advice you would like to give to your younger self?
Yes. The same advice I offer the reader at the end of my book.
Make progress slowly but surely. Be super kind to yourself. Focus on the work you love, not the outcomes you want. Start small. Go easy but do not stop. The journey of a lifetime takes an entire lifetime. It’s taken your entire life to get to this point. It didn’t happen all at once, did it? Over all your years, it was the accumulation of little actions, daily decisions, your reactions to the events of life, and the passing of time that led you right to where you are at this moment. I know you want more from life and you can have more. You can have everything you desire in life. That’s what I believe. But you can’t have it all tomorrow. So be diligent and carefree at the same time… Enjoy the journey!
Any advice you would like to give to aspiring writers?
Start writing. Don’t stop. Start reading. Don’t stop. When you begin to lose confidence, remember you’re writing for your readers and they need you. This wonderful quote from Deng Ming-Dao helps me: “Live long. For you have gathered wisdom unique to yourself, and the people still in darkness need the light you have.”
What did you want to become when you were a kid?
That’s an easy one. I wanted to become a professional football player. The first personal story I share in the book shows how I used my Process to transform myself from a 5 foot two inches, one hundred pound high school football player (who wasn’t even good enough to be selected for his starting freshman team) into a hard-hitting, strong safety good enough to be signed by the World Champion Los Angeles Raiders. It wasn’t an easy journey, but I learned so much about myself, and life, along the way.
What is your next book?
My next book is about professional growth, and specifically in the niche of how to maximize the benefits of a conference. I’ll be writing about how to create the greatest return on investment for all three stakeholders; conference organizers, conference attendees, and the employers sending people to conferences.
Is there anything you are currently working on that may intrigue the interest of your readers?
I am currently in discussions to publish a fascinating story about a sixteen-year-old bank robber, who spent twenty years in prison, and met the love of his life while incarcerated. The author (the nephew of the robber) found the couple’s love letters while sorting out their papers as the executor of the wife’s will. His novel is called Love Letters from the Grave.
What is your view on co-authoring books; have you done any?
Yes, I co-authored The Belief Road Map with my daughter. It was a really creative and exciting experience and it feels great to see both our names on the cover.
Are you “there” where you wanted to be?
Yes, I am so happy, grateful and content with the life I have today. And no, I have so much more to do. I’ll explain the answer with two of my favorite quotes.
“All of you are perfect just as you are and you could use a little improvement.” (Shunryu Suzuki-roshi)
“Once you get where you want to be, you’re not there anymore.” (Unknown)
What do you do in your free time?
I have worked hard to organize my life so I spend as much time as possible doing those things I love, whether its “work time” or “free time”. I call the things I love my “ings”. Loving, learning, exercising, reading, writing, cooking, meditating, thinking, boating, giving, playing, traveling, entertaining, speaking, researching, and networking.
What is your motivation for writing more?
I write to inspire others to believe that a better self is always possible – today, every day, for the rest of their lives. When I first explored the idea of writing Turning Inspiration Into Action, I discovered that writing to inspire others deeply touched my heart. It was anchored to who I am and what I want. It was my way of giving back. Once I started writing, I was hooked! I plan to write for the rest of my life.
Do you believe you have done enough to leave a legacy behind?
Here’s what I think about my legacy. I will have done enough if, after I have completed this physical life: 1) My example helps even one person make positive choices for themselves, 2) My company Happy Living helps even one person improve their health and wellbeing, 3) The lessons in my books help even one person, 4) My children feel they were unconditionally loved, and 5) My darling wife Dani feels she was absolutely cherished.
How many children do you have? Do you see any young writers in any of them?
I have three daughters (31, 12 and 10) and one son (27). I’m sure there is a writer in each of them. It’s only a matter of whether or not they choose writing as one of their preferred instruments of creative expression and to share their light with the world.
Do you plan on owning a publishing house?
Yes. In fact, I already do! Happy Living Books is an independent publisher. Our first “outside” book will most likely be Love Letters from the Grave. Our plan is to publish two books a year.
Do you have a library at home?
Absolutely. There are hundreds of books in my office, and I love having them near me. While I enjoy the convenience of e-books (and that’s very nearly exclusively how I read now), I miss the romance of holding a “real” book in my hands, marking it up as I read, and adding it to my beautiful library when I’m finished.
Is there a particular kind of attire you like to write in?
Shorts, T-shirts and flip-flops in the summer… Jammie-pants, sweatshirts, and comfy slippers in the winter. This very casual dress code is one of the perks of working from home!
If you were given a teaching opportunity, would you accept it?
Yes. When I was a younger man, I coached a high school football team and my son’s youth basketball teams. I loved coaching. It was an early sign of what would become my mission here at Happy Living to improve the health and wellbeing of the world, one person at a time. Coaching sports offered me the chance to teach and provide leadership to youngsters. A teaching opportunity would do the same.
If you could live anywhere in the world, which country would you choose and why?
Dani and I bought our dream house on a lake two years ago, in North Carolina, USA. We love it and plan to live here for the rest of our days. In fact, I am planning a Viking funeral for myself in 2064. You’ll have to read the book for details!
What is that dream goal you want to achieve before you die?
My great hope is to provide inspiration to help at least one person improve their health and wellbeing, and then another, and another… until together, we have improved the health and wellbeing of the world.
Do you blog?
Yes. I write for HappyLiving.com, along with a handpicked team of Happy Living Experts. We write two posts a week about health and wellbeing within the boundaries of our Seven Foundations of Health: Physical Fitness, Mental Fitness, Spiritual Fitness, Financial Fitness, Love, Adventure, and Significance. It’s free to join our community and get the benefit of all our research and experience – we really want to share the love!
If you had to pick one other author to write your biography, who would it be?
Steven Pressfield. He’s amazing. Can you introduce us?