Turning Pain Into Strength

My friend Robert Goolrick is one of the most remarkable people I’ve met. He’s a first class novelist, writing two New York Times bestselling books: A Reliable Wife and Heading Out to Wonderful. These are stories that will linger with you long after you finish them. He writes the kind of novels you have to tell someone else about. He also wrote the bestselling, non-fiction book The End of the World as We Know It about his unbelievably difficult life.

A Perfect Life?

Look at his life now, and you’d think it was made-for-movie perfect. His books sell millions of copies. He lives a gentleman’s life in Virginia. He travels to exotic destinations. On his wrist, you are bound to see a timepiece to remember.

You may see the external life of dreams, but dig a little more and learn his story.

As an adult….

  • He was fired from his job as an advertising executive.
  • His manuscripts were rejected by publisher after publisher.
  • He was addicted to drugs and drinking.
  • He cut himself.
  • He literally lost a decade of his life in a world you wouldn’t recognize.
  • He was institutionalized.

As a child….

  • He was verbally abused.
  • He lived in squalor (complete with rats!).
  • He was raped. By his father.
  • He was neglected.

Most of us don’t understand that kind of life, that kind of pain. But all of us have obstacles thrown in our path.

Responding to Challenges

Leadership Lessons from Over 50 Thought Leaders

People + Books = 1 Changed Life

 

Charlie “Tremendous” Jones was one of my great influencers.  He repeatedly said that, “You will be the same person you are today in five years but for two things:  the people you meet and the books you read.” Every year, I am privileged to have the opportunity to read so many incredible books and meet fascinating people from all walks of life.

Last year, I launched this blog with the idea of sharing insights, ideas, and inspiration from many sources. On the one hand, I’m disappointed that I was only able to share a fraction of all of the people who influenced me. On the other, I’m glad that I started doing it because now, as I look back on it, I’m the one who benefited the most. Charlie was right. All of the books I read and all of the people I met did indeed change me.

Here are a few of the people who shared their experience and wisdom. If I can learn a fraction of what they know, I will be better equipped to lead in the coming year.

Before you start the new year, take the time to meet some of these people and take their leadership lessons with you. Instead of “interview in progress” you will find a “great life in progress.”

Leadership, News & Politics

 

Dan Rather (his life in the news)

Condoleezza Rice (former Secretary of State)

Barbara Simons (on the dangers of new ballot machines)

Senator Bill Bradley (on how we can all do better)

 

Business Leadership, Strategy & Execution

 

John Baldoni (purpose, leadership)

Jill Geisler (Make Work Happy)

Tony Hsieh (CEO of Zappos on culture)

Cynthia Montgomery (strategist)

Jim Huling (on the 4 disciplines of execution)

Geoffrey Moore (how to cross the chasm and rethink the future)

Faisal Hoque (BTM CEO on the power of convergence)

Chris Grivas (which creative style are you?)

Shep Hyken (7 strategies of amazing customer service)

The Creative Processes of 4 Best-Selling Thriller Writers

A few months ago at Book Expo America, I had the opportunity to interview four of the premier thriller writers today:

Brad Meltzer (The Inner Circle, The Book of Fate, The Tenth Justice)

Michael Connelly (The Lincoln Lawyer, The Poet, Blood Work)

Michael Koryta (The Prophet, The Ridge, The Cypress House)

Nelson DeMille (The Gold Coast, Plumb Island, The General’s Daughter)

They have each sold millions of books and regularly top the bestseller lists.

We talked about a number of topics including:

Crime Writer Jo Nesbo on Phantom

Jo Nesbo is one of the world’s top crime thriller writers.  His books have sold millions around the world, but his popularity in the US is only now skyrocketing.

With Martin Scorsese directing a film of The Snowman, and more readers discovering his work every day, it’s easy to see the trajectory ahead.  (Readers of this blog may recall that this book cover was recognized as a top book cover for 2011.)

Next week Jo’s newest book will be released, again featuring his main character, Harry Hole.  Phantom will certainly soar to the top of the fiction lists and spur sales of his previous books.

Jo lives in Oslo, but I had the opportunity to meet him when he visited New York.

7 Lessons of Extraordinary Resilience from Lee Woodruff

“When bad things happen, we all dream of rewinding the tape…but we can’t so we do the only thing we can:  we take those bad things and turn them into situations we can learn from.  It’s human nature to try to pan for gold, to find a positive slant in something so negative because anything less would feel like defeat.”  Lee Woodruff, Perfectly Imperfect

Lee Woodruff dropped into my life unexpectedly.  We were both speakers at an event raising funds for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.  Within minutes of meeting her, we were sharing stories, laughing, and exchanging email addresses.  Some people have that incredible gift to connect with people in an authentic way that makes you feel you’ve known them all your life.

If you were to read only about Lee’s successes, you would think she never had a problem in the world:

 

  • Contributing editor for CBS This Morning
  • Author of three books
  • Mother of four beautiful children
  • Married to one of the world’s top journalists
  • Author of numerous articles published in magazines such as Redbook, Prevention, Country Living and Health
  • Co-founder of a foundation to help wounded servicemen

 

We so often read about people who are wildly successful, and think they are somehow different.  In some way, the world only showers good things on them.

That’s not the case with Lee.  We all remember when her husband, talented news anchor Bob Woodruff suffered a traumatic brain injury in Iraq.  Only a month after succeeding Peter Jennings at ABC, it changed the Woodruff’s lives.