I recently read a book I found to be, frankly, stunning, and felt compared to share it with you.
The China Study is ultimately about an amazing study on the long-term effects that the things we eat have on our bodies and our health. I am, or at least was, no health-food junkie--in fact, far from it--but I ran across this book after following who-knows-how-many links off an interesting Facebook post. And I'm very glad I did.
What I learned is that the diet we have all been told over and over again is good for us is...well...not. Animal-based food products, including meats, dairy, cheeses, and so on, are the plight of the developed world. It's somewhat amazing to me but these foods are killing us. I know that sounds like a radical position and, to be honest, I've always though Vegans were slightly nut-cases, but there is solid and very real evidence--about as indisputable as things like this get--that the Vegans have it right and the rest of us don't. Really, it's just about that simple.
If you have any interest in minimizing your chances of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and a whole host of other all-too-common diseases, you owe it to yourself to read at least the first hundred or so pages of this book. It has changed what I eat; I suspect it will have you looking a little differently at what you eat, too.
I spent last week at GILD, the Global Institute for Leadership Development, in Palm Desert, California. It was a wonderful opportunity to experience firsthand some of the world's most prominent thought leaders on the subject of leadership. Speakers were many and varied, and ranged from Roger Nierenberg and his orchestra, to Patrick Lencioni, Marshall Goldsmith, Gary Hamel, and many others.
Many of the presentations were thought-provoking, some challenging, and not just a few at least somewhat confirming of the practices I've tried to follow over the years. In digging through my personal notebook afterward--the easy-to-hold blank book that's become my mostly constant companion over the past year or two--I found a quick essay on leadership I'd jotted there a few months back. I was pleased to discover that what I'd written there was pretty much on the mark with most of what we heard last week. For anyone interested, here's what it said:
As a leader, it’s your job to lead. Not necessarily to do the work, but to guide, nurture, cajole, and convince those who do need to do the work to do it effectively, in a timely manner, and in full cooperation with those around them.
Business is not a singles game, it is a team sport. It’s critical not only to win the individual contest but also to win—or maximize the finish—of every contest. It’s a matter of cooperation and coordination. Of all parts working and playing together and of everyone playing their part. It’s selfless at the same time it’s ruthless, and the team needs to get along to work along.
A well-coordinated team working together is a wonderful thing to behold. It’s smooth and organized, even amid the inevitable clutter of crisis. Everyone knows their job and their position and it is your job—as the leader—to let them do their jobs. To interfere as little as possible. To be a coach more than a dictator. To trust those in whom you’ve put your trust to do the things you expect them to do.
A team is a family.
As a leader, it’s your job to remove obstacles. To provide the tools—in the form of equipment, training, knowledge, or funding—to allow your people to do their jobs.
Long ago, managers were seen as traffic cops, or maybe parents, whose job it was to keep the unwashed masses that were their employees from wasting company time, company resources, and from being the lazy, slovenly, stealing creatures their nature made them.
But that’s not how you lead, that’s how you police. Leadership means creating a shared vision of success and sharing it in a way your people can both understand and embrace. As a leader, it’s your job to inspire, not to force. At gunpoint, you can make anyone do pretty much anything, but the motivation lasts only as long as the threat. And, once the threat is removed, the motivation is replaced by resentment, anger, and thoughts of reprisal. We need only to look to the events in the Middle East to see exactly how that works.
So, rather than demand or force or threaten, the only sustainable long-term strategy for leadership is to lead. Rather than force, inspire. Create an environment in which people not only want to do the things their jobs require, but in which they search for more, both for themselves and for the organization, to do.
Long gone are the businesses able to survive on a single, un-varying idea. In today’s world of roller-coaster economics, instant worldwide communication, and the voice of everyone, everywhere, always, companies have to invent, improve, extend, and rework their products, and even themselves, constantly.
Where do these new ideas come from? From you? Maybe. Certainly some will, or should, but ideas come from everywhere, all the time. And, your first and best source of many of those ideas are your people. Your team. Those below know as much or more about these things than those above.
Necessarily, those at the top in most organizations are insulated form that which is below, but it is often from below that ideas are generated. You’ll never hear those ideas—ideas that might transform the organization, might become the next killer product, might prevent the next massive problem—unless you create an environment in which people feel both welcome and empowered to share. In which they are not paralyzed by the fear of rejection or reprisal. In which they’re given an open and honest chance to share their thoughts, and in which those thoughts are respectfully accepted and considered.
Last Wednesday, the day after this year's US presidential election, I posted a statement here I called An open letter to the Republican Party in which I outlined my dismay and disappointment with my own political party, the republicans.
My goal, as much as anything, was simply to get off my chest the things I've been feeling for some time now. Things that make me less and less supportive of both my own party's actions and the actions of politicians in general.
I posted a link to it on Facebook mostly because I hoped a few of my friends might at least take a look. Really, I expected it to end right there.
I couldn't have been much more wrong.
In the five days it's been up, my blog post has been viewed almost nine thousand times. My Facebook link to the post has been re-shared well over 100 times. And, I've been engaged in long and mostly-thoughtful discussions on the topic here in the blog, in Facebook, and via that old standby, e-mail.
I couldn't be more surprised nor, if I had to admit, more pleased.
Because, what I've learned is that I am not alone in my disappointment. Maybe misery really does love company, but with regard to what I perceive to be a problem like this, the only chance of getting it to change is to have a lot of people determined to change it.
And, from what little I can see from here on the second floor in Columbus, Ohio, there is a lot of support out there for a change. Not an Obama change, a real change. A change in the way our government works or, more to the point, doesn't.
I have been heartened by the passion and the support I've seen for my meager words. Minus a few respondents from the far right fringe, there has been an amazingly supportive stream of responses from people on both sides of the aisle.
What this has done for me is confirm what I believe to be the passion in our country for a real change of dialog. A return to a more civil level of discourse and to people with differing ideas working together to find the best possible compromise for our country.
People have been asking me how to make it happen and the real answer is, I'm not sure.
Having said that, I think our country is at the point of almost begging for a revolution of thought. Not a revolution of arms--nothing so radical as that--but a change in the workings of the political system and the way all of us deal with it.
As a practical matter, it would be incredibly difficult to try to create another political party. Look at the Libertarians or, for that matter, the Tea Party. It might actually be that the Libertarians are what we're all looking for in a political party but it's pretty hard to know. With Joe Lieberman as your headline guy, I think it's pretty hard to get a lot of passion going among the millions of people it would take to make a real difference.
More to the point, if the way you win elections is with billions of dollars of support, I don't see anybody other than the two major parties--including the Libertarians--getting that in the short term. But I could be wrong.
Unfortunately, I think it's probably almost as hard to imagine making a substantial change in the Republican party, although I have to say I think they are closer to being willing to consider new ideas than they've been in a long while. But they have a lot of baggage, so I'm less enthusiastic than I'd like to be. Still, it might be possible.
What we need in any workable scenario is a groundswell of support from the people. At the end of the day, that's the only thing that can heavily influence change. Corporations and the wealthy on both sides can pour their multiple millions into the support of whatever they like, but at the end of the day we still have voting, and it's the tally from that which is the final determinant.
I think the timing for something like this is pretty good. If the response to my little blog post is any indication of the pent-up passion out there, and I think it is, it seems like there are a LOT of people ready for some kind of substantive change.
I've been thinking more and more that if there is a solution to this, it may lie in some combination of technology and media. If you look at the power literally sitting in all our hands to communicate widely and immediately through things like Facebook and Twitter and all the rest of it, there is the possibility of the basis for a solution.
Maybe, just maybe, there's a way to leverage the power of these technologies, the masses of people, and the determination that there has to be a better way to work to build an effective and influential base without spending the billions of dollars it took Mitt Romney to lose.
And, I think we need a Rush Limbaugh / Bill Mahr type of media person for sensible government. The problem is, sensible thought and reasonable discourse are not likely to be nearly so entertaining as the ranting and raving of those guys. But it seems like we need someone able to call a spade a spade and to help reinforce the imagination and the will of those who want to see substantive change.
I'm a great believer that every problem has a solution if you can just figure it out, including this one. I'm not sure how one begins such a thing.
I'd sure love to hear your ideas.
Dear Sirs and/or Madams,
I am a life-long Republican. The son of Republicans who were, themselves, the children of Republicans. At fifty-five years old, and as the owner of two small businesses, I believe very strongly in the importance of conservative fiscal policies, and that hard work is the key to success.
I believe it's better to get ahead by the sweat of your own brow than by legislative mandate. And, I believe that the greatness of the United States comes in great part from the flexibility and tolerance we have developed as a culture, rather than from the rules we choose to choke down each others' throats.
By being comprised of so many other cultures, from so many other places, the United States is less a melting pot than what I prefer to think of as a wonderful curry. A rich mixture of flavors and textures which might not be intuitively combined but which, nevertheless, coalesce into a wonderful, incredibly flavorful dish.
It is our strength, not our weakness, that we are not all one thing or another. We are many things, together, and it is this broad exposure to others' cultures, to their ideas, and to both our similarities and our differences that makes us different and, in some cases, a little better.
I was taught, and I still believe it to be true, that the American dream is that any of us, if he or she is smart enough, or lucky enough, or works hard enough, can become rich, or successful or, heaven forbid, even grow up to be the President of the United States.
The America I believe in was built on the basis of limited legislative restriction, broad applicability of free will, and the value of hard work. But it has become increasingly obvious that that is no longer the position of the Republican party and, frankly, I am embarrassed.
When did it become acceptable to overtly attempt to insert not just religion, but Bible-beating creationist Christianity, into our government? Yes, many of the formers of our Constitution were Christians but they clearly, and with no room for misinterpretation, made it absolutely clear that no form of religion--including their own--should have any part in our government.
And, when did it become acceptable to limit the rights of American citizens because of who they choose to love? It is apparently the ignorant and inexcusable position of this party that being gay or lesbian is a choice people make rationally, like choosing a car. That they somehow have opted into a much more difficult and persecuted lifestyle just because, I don't know, because it seemed like fun. And that, regardless, those who make that "choice" are somehow inferior or worthy of lesser forms of equality, or of lesser opportunities.
It is narrow-minded thinking of the worst and most damaging kind, and that's why the Republican Party of today has become a national embarrassment.
I can't think of any clearer way to say it.
This party's obstinate insistence on marching in lockstep with the most radical and narrow-minded creationist right-wingers has crippled its ability to represent and motivate the actual, real live citizens of this country. From what I can tell, "my" party is being run by a commission of geriatric white Southern Baptist preachers and they have made the party look ridiculous, vindictive, and idiotic.
I don't think there is really much doubt in most voters' minds that, of last night's two candidates, Mitt Romney is the one vastly more qualified to turn up the wick on our stagnant economy. And yet, he had his hat and walking papers handed to him because, it turns out, most people don't vote based on only one issue.
By being elitist and arrogant, "we" turned off both the middle- and lower-classes who, not coincidentally, constitute the bulk of the electorate. By insisting on the wrongness and inexcusability of gay marriage, "we" not only turned off the 10-15% of the population that is gay or lesbian, but also the huge portion of the population that is young and/or sympathetic to gay people.
By insisting that abortion should be illegal and Roe vs Wade overturned, "we" turned off the women. And, by being passionately against any kind of immigration reforms, "we" turned off the fastest-growing portion of the American population, Latinos and Hispanics.
What I want to know, in all seriousness, is: For what?
When Todd Akin publicly said, "...If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down...," or when Richard Mourdock said, "...even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, ...it is something that God intended to happen," you, the leaders of the Republican party, should have cut them loose. Just said to yourselves, and to us, "they are a cancerous growth on our party and we're pulling all support in a very public way."
If, in response to both of those, Mitt Romney had said, "that is both ignorant and wrong and I cannot endorse someone so wrong-minded," we would have lost those two seats--which we did anyway--but it would have done worlds of good not only for Romney's chances with women but with a lot of others of us, too.
Except, of course, he didn't. Instead, he shuffled around it, no doubt in great part because that's what he was told to do. We still lost the seats, but Romney's actions, by implication, defined him to be as much of an idiot on women's issues as Akin and Mourdock.
And, that's just one example of many.
It is long past time for the leaders of the Republican party to wake up, look around, and see what an incredible mess they have created for us all. No longer is this a country driven merely by the wants of rich white men. Today, more than ever, we are a multi-cultural blend of the best and worst the world has to offer.
There is a whole country out there that is about social justice, personal freedom, and the rights of individuals. And, unlike even a decade ago, there is no escaping immediate and ubiquitous social communications throughout all strata of the society. If you're an idiot, it will be found out both quickly and publicly.
The people of this country, as am I, are, on the whole, appalled by the vast majority of the positions and actions taken by this party. We remain moderately loyal, simply because of this party's conservative fiscal policies.
But it won't last much longer.
This party has lost all touch with the people of the United States. I'm not talking about the people of the United States back in 1950, I'm talking about the people of today's United States, and it is high time to re-evaluate and reconnect.
Get to work, boys, before it's too late.
Eventually, after all the writing and editing and looking for agents and all that, eventually, in my case at least, it was time to give up on the agents (for now) and self-publish the book.
Not very long ago, self-publishing meant the author would have to dig into his or her own pockets to find the money to pay for a print run of books. That's not just printing, that's typesetting, page makeup, proofing, page and cover design, printing, binding, shipping...you get the idea. What it was, was expensive.
Back in a prior life, when I owned and ran printing companies, we used to say it was the first copy that was the expensive one. Once all the equipment was set up and running, making more copies was incredibly cheap. But it was getting the equipment (and the typesetting and the page makeup, etc) set up that cost all the money.
So, back in the day, you had to buy larger quantities to bring the unit cost down to something manageable. Self-publishing authors would typically buy a thousand or two of their books and then work their butts off for who knows how many years trying to unload them. And, all the time--or at least most of the time--they were out of pocket the full production cost.
It was a hard way to make any money.
But today, that's all changed.
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I'm thrilled to say, early reviews of my book Loss of Control have been overwhelmingly positive. Here are a few of the comments I've pulled from both Amazon.com reviews and Facebook:
!!!! I loved it...and I read a lot of thriller/mysteries. I loved the characters. The plot set in/around the race track was great. I didn't figure out "who dun it" until you told me!!! I keep trying to figure out what actor plays which character in the movie.
I'm about halfway through and still riveted. Started taking the book with me into the loo so I can sneak in a few more pages.
Just finished my copy tonight. I loved it….Can't wait for the next one!
The movie will make Scott money, but it will suck. They always do. READ THE BOOK!
Just finished reading this book last night. I found myself sneaking time away from other things to get in a few more pages. Needless to say it was tough to put down. Whether you are a racer, fan, or just love to read, it's a must-have.
Great read that combines a well crafted murder mystery with a very descriptive and exciting foray into the sport of road racing. The story grabbed me immediately and kept me engaged to the intriguing end.
Thoroughly enjoyed this book, and in fact I found myself reading "just a few pages more" until I finished it the second day. It's well paced, with plenty of action. I particularly enjoyed the inside look at racing from a driver's perspective, and I think the racing action scenes added a lot to make the story an interesting one. The mystery itself keeps you guessing up to the end. A great read; I'd love to see more like this one.
Scott Good's debut novel is a fast-paced read that was difficult to put down. Even when I thought I had a pretty good idea whodunnit, I was glued to the page to find out what happened next. Loss of Control is a captivating thriller all the way to the final race against time. It's a must-read for racing fans and fans of the mystery/thriller genre alike.
Well….I think this was a first for me! You may recall that [I bought] a copy of “Loss of Control” at Road America. I also received a copy of “Killing Kennedy” as a gift that Friday evening. I started reading Kennedy Friday evening and finished it Monday evening. I then tore into your novel and couldn’t stop. I don’t think I have ever read two books in one week but I finished “Loss of Control” last night and REALLY ENJOYED IT!!!
I LOVE murder mysteries and this book does not disappoint. It has everything: suspense, romance and great characters. I don't know anything about car racing, but the writer has a great way of making everything understandable…. The technology mentioned throughout the book is really interesting. Reminds me of a Michael Crichton novel where he weaves science and medicine into the storyline. "Loss of Control" provides the same type of information only about car racing.
I had a blast reading this book! I really got into the race action. The author helped me visualize each turn as if I was actually in the race car, and had me visualizing each turn by name. The race action is very exciting, from the opening scene, which sets the premise of the book, to the end….The ending to the mystery is not what I expected, and had a few twists I did not see coming. All in all, a great read from a first time author.
If you haven't ordered your copy yet, what are you waiting for?
Now available in paperback, Kindle, and ePub (like for Nook) formats. Or, if you're near Columbus, Ohio, join us tomorrow at Jeffrey Thomas Clothiers in the Kingsdale Shopping Center for a book signing from 11 until 2.
Get it today (or tomorrow) and spend the rest of the weekend finding reasons to sneak off to the bathroom to read!
There is plenty of advice available to budding new authors. A lot of it. Most is out here on the Internet and most of it--that I've seen anyway--says your only real chance of getting noticed by a publisher is to be represented by an agent.
If one is to believe the preponderance of what has been posted on this subject (and I can't see why not), it seems there is a pretty clear hierarchy at work here, with the publishers at the top because they, after all, have the money.
Beneath the publishers are the agents, of which there are many, who represent many different books for many different authors. Like an auditorium filled with teenage girls, all screaming for the attention of Justin Bieber, the agents clamor for face time and attention from the publishers because, as I believe I have already mentioned, the publishers have the money.
Once you get past the agents, you're down to the talent. The authors themselves. I was tempted to use an analogy of John/pimp/hooker for the publisher/agent/author relationship because there's a lot that works. Both the pimp and hooker, for instance, are working for the John's money.
Where that breaks down is when you get to the authors. In the pimp/hooker scenario, the pimps are doing the work of developing the relationship between themselves and the talent. Although not exactly my area of expertise, I would expect it's a lot easier to convince a pimp to take on a hooker than it is to convince a hooker (or hooker-to-be) to sign on with a pimp.
In the agent/author scenario, the dynamic is the other way around. There, it's the authors trying to lure the agents into representing them. Back to the teeny-boppers and Justin Bieber analogy, Mr. Bieber has a wealth of options from which to choose while each of the ladies in the crowd has a single choice.
Agents are the Bieber in the agent/author relationship, at least at the start which, for most of us, is the only place that really matters. Agents get so many requests from anxious new authors that they can be incredibly, remarkably, cavalier with their attention.
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Once I'd finally finished the first cut of my book, I figured I was just about done. I mean, after all, I'd done a lot of editing as I was writing. I'm a little anal that way (actually, I'm a lot anal that way) and I can't really pick up where I left off without going back and re-reading and re-editing stuff I've already written.
So, by the time I got to the end the first time, I'd already done a lot of editing.
I figured I was nearly done. Practically finished.
(This is where you should shake your head back and forth with a knowing look while thinking, "That poor, poor boy. He really has no clue, does he?")
Over the course of the next 14 months, depending on how you count them, I did at least 8 full edits. That is, front to back, full printout, read the whole thing, mark it up like I've got stock in companies that manufacture red ink. The whole lot.
And, then fully update the book and make the changes, and rearrange the text, and add the new ideas, and re-write or delete whole sections. Heck, between the time the e-books were first made available and the paperback came out (the matter of a week or so), I did yet another full edit and deleted two whole chapters.
Somewhere in there, very late in the process, I even had a good friend who is even more anal about these things than I am do a slow and thoughtful edit of the thing.
What I know from all of that is I could probably edit it ten more times. I could probably edit it forever. But, at some point, you have to just pull the trigger. It is what it is.
At least, until the next revision...
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