Introducing “Blind Fear” - How Exploration & Curiosity Unlocks Productivity with John David Mann

What does it take to be successful? Today’s guest, John David Mann, shares his journey to authoring over 30 books!

What does it take to be successful?

Today’s guest, John David Mann, shares his journey from writing parables to now his third co-authored crime novel. We talk about framing success and how we often have an incorrect perception of the successes of others. John shares how exploration and curiosity are the keys to productivity and success in business, life and all creative endeavours. John shares his 1 year writing program for writers to “get good” at all levels. He leaves us with a final reminder that the “world needs the fruits of your passion!”

John David Mann is coauthor of more than thirty books, including four New York Times bestsellers and five national bestsellers. His writing has won multiple awards, including the Living Now Book Awards Evergreen Medal for its “contributions to positive global change.” His first thriller, Steel Fear, has been nominated for a Barry Award. This year’s sequel, Cold Fear, was hailed by Jeffrey Deaver as “one of the best crime novels of the year.”

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book, writing, fear, people, unstructured, parable, puerto rico, drowns, thinking, iceland, part, finn, talk, world, work, big, leadership, feel, living, experience


Paula Shepherd, John David Mann

Paula Shepherd 00:01

Hi, I'm Paula Shepherd, I went to college to get a good job and make a lot of money. Back then, no one talked about doing what you love. And while I successfully climbed the corporate ladder, I felt like there was something missing. So I left the seemingly comfortable corporate world at 40 years old for the freedom of full time entrepreneurship. Today, I get to help ambitious women go from entrepreneur to competent CEO of their lives and businesses. I created this podcast to share what I've learned with you to make your journey just a little easier, and to connect you with other incredible business owners who took a chance on themselves and who they are becoming. So whether you're just getting started, are all in or just want to hear friendly voice. Come on in and sit with us. Now, let's dive in.

Paula Shepherd 01:02

Welcome to your next episode of The confidence sessions. And every time I have the opportunity to talk to our next guest, I am absolutely blown away. I mean, when we think about authors, people who have won awards, New York Times bestsellers multiple times, it can give you a bit of impostor syndrome. But with John David Mann, never, it is like talking to one of your best friends. And I am so excited for the third time to have John on the confidence session. So John, welcome back. Thank you so much. This is like talking to your best friend. I mean, why this is the first podcast I'm doing in relation to this third book, and I'm gonna see Paul again. Oh, boy, I love being oh my gosh, it's the first one that you're doing with a new book. Oh, my gosh.

Paula Shepherd 02:01

So we had the opportunity to meet on your last book tour last summer, and I brought my son, and you got to meet him. It was it was kind of the angst of COVID, too. So we, we did more elbow bumping than we did hugging. So maybe this time when you do your next book tour, but it was great to meet you in person, I felt like I already knew you. And it was amazing to see how many people had dug into that book, the second book in the series.

Paula Shepherd 02:30

And now you're on your third. So tell me what is the name of this new book? And is it out already? Is it for preorder tell us about it.

John David Mann 02:38

So it's called Blind fear. And the whole series, this series of thrillers is all fear is steel fear, like the metal steel was number one,

John David Mann 02:47

then cold fear, which was last year when we saw each other alive. And this year is blind fear. And they tell the story of the same character. It's a continuing story. You don't need to have read the first two books to know where you are in the third book. It isn't essential. But they do they do form a you know the new form a linear story. It's coming out in the middle of July. July 18.

Paula Shepherd 03:11

Wow. And can we preorder that now? You can preorder it anytime? Yes. Oh, yeah. Okay, well, we're gonna put all the details of that. So we'll talk about that at the end. However, how awesome is it that this is book number three for you. And the first time that we talked about book number one you writing a thriller? After being known for years and years as a writer of parables?

Paula Shepherd 03:35

How are you feeling now versus back then when you thought, Wow, this isn't I don't really know how I'm going to do this. How am I going to co write with a Navy SEAL this book in a genre that I've never done?

John David Mann 03:47

Yeah, I mean, I think the thing that's important to remember is that when Brett So Brandon, we had my Navy SEAL buddy and I conceived and wrote these books together, I do the kind of the lion's share of the writing part. But he's my partner in the conception of it. Steel fear, the first one was based on loosely based or inspired by a series of true events that he'd witnessed early in his career in the Navy. And then from there, we've just made up the other stories. But

John David Mann 04:16

when we first undertook to write this novel, first off, you're right. To me the idea of writing a novel for decades when I was writing, all this other stuff seemed like an impossibility. I mean, this is not false modesty. I'm like, how do people do that? I couldn't conceive of it. It seemed like 400 pages and you keep all these threads straight in your head. And there's all these characters and like, how do you? How does a human being do that? It was completely intimidating to me. i My wife used to say, you'd be great at writing novels. And I used to say back to her. Well, thank you for the vote of confidence speaking.

John David Mann 04:53

Which was really meant Yeah, I don't think so. I'm glad you think so. But I don't think so. When I find didn't kind of screw up the courage to dive into this project? It's easy to think, yeah, well, you had 30 titles already published. So like your old hat for you, and you're already well known the book world. This is a different world crime fiction fiction period was a completely new world for me, in terms of editors, reviewers, bookstores, the people that you deal with commercially, and in terms of the business, and also their reading audience, it's let alone the writing experience. It was, for all intents and purposes, being a brand new writer, diving into a huge pool, not knowing how to swim. And the first book took me over two years to write because I was spent a year learning how to write a novel. And the second book took me about 10 months to write. And the third book took me about six months to write. So it's, we're getting, we're getting a curve going. But But that first book, we didn't have a publisher, we didn't have an advance, we didn't have an agreement, we just wrote, I spent two years of my life writing a book with absolutely no guarantee it would ever earn me a penny or pay me a penny, no guarantee it would be published. I mean, it was completely on spec, as they say, meaning speculative. So it was a huge gamble. And when we sold the book, we were, of course, thrilled. And publisher, Bantam took it for a two book deal, which meant that we already had the second book guaranteed, which was really nice. By the time the second book came out, they signed us up to write a third book. So it's, you know, it's nice, it's nice that this has worked, it's it's, there was no guarantee that it was being on a high wire with no net underneath us. And it and it's worked out, the books have really struck a chord, we have a really, really loyal, dedicated vocal fan base. And because the books just feel so real, the characters feel so real, this is not just action, this is like, very, very, very human drama going on.

Paula Shepherd 07:07

Wow, I had no idea that you did that without a net, that you just kind of trusted yourself in a space that you hadn't yet been successful, you know, it would be so much easier to just keep doing the thing that you know, you do well, that's earning the awards and the, you know, placement on the New York Times bestseller list multiple times. And so to hear you say, well, I took that chance, and I spent two years of my life writing this without any kind of an advance. In my mind. In all honesty, I made the assumption that you had the deal, because you are who you are. And you'd already proven yourself in other ways that of course, people would be throwing money at you to write these books. And so I think there are really two important lessons here is one, our perception of other people who are successful, take less of a risk and in and that's not true, because in this case, you took a big risk, you went completely the other direction, and it wound up paying off. But you did it because you trusted yourself. And I think the other bit here, for me that's really important is I know a lot of people in this day and age, whether you're a business owner, or you're in a professional job, are digging into a lot of personal development books. And what they're missing is this opportunity to, to kind of be creative, to escape to live to see a different world to you're described by someone else, and to not always have to be learning. Right? in the traditional sense. I think what you offer is this opportunity for people to critically think in ways that they maybe hadn't considered before because this is a crime novel. This is a thriller, they're they're thinking about what's happening, you know, who did it? What Why did that happen? Oh, my goodness, what does this detail mean? And to me, that has been such an important part of my journey is being able to say I know enough, I don't need any more personal development right now. What I need is something that helps me think differently, and allows me to be creative.

John David Mann 09:25

So that's so interesting. You know, one of the cool things about the experience for me is that because of my background because of the books I've been involved with in the past that go giver books and the latte factor and slight edge and all these books that are about different aspects of personal development or leadership or career growth. So I have sort of following, not huge, but I have a following in that whole realm. And a lot of these folks when steel fear came out, because it was genuine man because they knew me so well. I got to read that and it's not the kind of book that typically read. So I had a lot of people Well, who I mean, I also discovered that there were a lot of closet crime novel freaks in that group. But there are a lot of people who are coming to the Finn books finished is the lead characters, the Euro series, there are a lot of people that I know who are coming to the finish books. From a background in personal development, like that's what they've been focused on their whole professional lives. And it's really fun. You know, my specialty of if I have one, in the past has been parables, and I adore writing parables I, it's kind of what I've cut my teeth on. And it's what still what I'm best known for, if we're unknown at all, is the Go Giver book. So the recipe or the latte factor out of the maze are these various parables. And on the face of it, a parable, which is like an like a nice little story that tells that tells a little, simple, brief, highly readable tale that illustrates some basic life principles. You know, like Aesop's Fables, Who Moved My Cheese was about two tiny people and two mice. To go from that to a disgraced Navy SEAL stalks a serial killer on an aircraft carrier in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Seems like a stretch, it's very, very different experiences. And they are, I mean, there's violence and there's there's life and death issues, and the characters are vastly more fleshed out in a novel, whereas in a parable, characters are intentionally kept very, fairly simple. But to the things on that, I've always believed that for, for a parable to be effective, a good parable, even though it's simple, like even some on the level of a children's story, has to have characters that feel so real, that you care about them deeply. So that when you when you're being carried through the story, you really want to know what happens, you're really invested. And so that when you get to the end, you know, you may laugh, you may cry, you go through his experiences, it's real. It's kind of like a novel, but shrunk down to miniature, abstract form, almost. So the experience is hugely different, but it's not so different. And, you know, I'd like to leap from from selling books to Zappos or, I mean shoes to Zappos, or the leap from selling books to Amazon, you know, you as a business person, you may change your medium vastly. But there's things about the experience that you bring with you that aren't so different. And in my case, it's storytelling. So the other thing is that people read a parable, kind of for the point, like they want to learn the leadership principles, or the success principles, or whatever it is, in that particular parable. They read a thriller for the thrill, right for the adventure for the vicarious experience for learning, what's it like living on an aircraft carrier or in cold fear? What's it like living in Iceland? Or in the new book? What's it like being in Puerto Rico in the middle of a hurricane? But there are stowaways on board? Because when I write these books, there's principles in there that you that you, you bump into whether or not you're aware of it, like steel fear was really a book about leadership.

Paula Shepherd 13:26

Yes, I remember talking about that. That was actually in my head as you're having this conversation. Yeah, but what, what and not to interrupt your your thought, but I'm thinking, do you start the book, knowing what those principles are that you want to address? Or do those just naturally unfold through the character development,

John David Mann 13:47

it's more of the second than the first. You know, in the case of, in the case of steel fear, Brandon and I. So Brandon Webb, again, my name is your writing partner. He and I had collaborated on a memoir, his memoir, the red circle, was our first book together. And in the story of his life, it became really clear to both of us that leadership was a big deal. I mean, leadership has always been something I've written about leadership and a lot and a lot of different books. I've been in sales and sales management, I had a group of 100,000 people once that I was involved in in leading. My father was a conductor, which is a leadership function. You move your fingers and 100 people play music, in concert. So I've always been intrigued with leadership, and so his brand and so that was kind of a natural fit to emerge from the steel theory experience. But it wasn't a conscious plan kind of emerged. And then in the second book, and in the third book, I was only sort of knee deep into writing the book and saying now, as I'm writing what's really going on, what do we really what are we really talking about? If the first book was about leadership, the second book is about friendship. You No third book is about is about family. So they're just their themes that kind of hover in the background.

Paula Shepherd 15:07

Who makes that decision? Because I, when I think about a partnership and something as as important and as intricate and character development, all the things, the storyline, when you're writing with somebody, it makes me think about going back to the days of school where you were partnered with someone, and ultimately, somebody did the most work. So how did you? How do you do that? Because you've been doing this for a long time where you're writing with other people, how does that partnership look like specifically for this series? Because you're obviously you and Brandon are getting much better at it. Because you're becoming more expeditious. You're obviously trusting your skills. So how does that partnership work?

John David Mann 15:50

I've been blessed in all the as most of the books I've written have been in partnership with a co author. It's just how it's worked out for me. And I've been blessed in that most of my co authors have been really sanguine about leaving me alone, and letting me do my thing. So I do the writing, basically, on the reading half of the team, but like in the case of the couple of cases in point because it doesn't vary from book to book to book, and partnership to partnership, in the case of the Go Giver books. So Bob, and I collaborated on the basic concept of the first book, it was it was his idea originally. And he brought this idea to me and we we already knew each other really well. So we knew that we were in sync around this basic idea that the more you give, the more you have. And that living your life with a focus on giving value to other people isn't a just a noble, selfless sacrificial act, it's also a smart way to live, because the world repays you for being that kind of person. If you as Zig Ziglar used to say, if you help enough other people get what they want, you'll get what you want, what you need. Well, Bob, and I were already in sync around that basic concept. So he kind of released me to go take off writing, and I would touch base with him periodically and show him chapters and stuff. And I would borrow or import principles from some of his other books I knew about as well as bring some of my own. And so it was a real nice collaboration. In the case of the Go Giver leader, it was mostly my my principles, because I'd written a lot about leadership and study that a lot. In the case of the third parable, go giver, influencer, it was really Bob's principles, because he'd written about about the whole business of turning adversaries into allies and negotiating disagreements, and being a person of influence, not by intimidation, but by empathy. And so you know, who provided the key themes is varied book to book to book to book? In the thrillers? It's, you know, it, Brandon and I agree on a basic setup. And then I'm off to the races and kind of take it from there and touch base with him when I need his help to give me give me a concept.

Paula Shepherd 18:13

Wow. Okay, so he's feeding you ideas, but you're also doing research on the back end? Oh, yeah. That Correct.

John David Mann 18:21

These are these are research heavy, these these thrillers are research heavy. Yeah.

Paula Shepherd 18:25

What does that look like? What does the research look like? I'm one of those people that can go into the black hole, and I know what I'm researching, and then all of a sudden, I find something off. And I'm off over here on this tangent. So how do you how do you structure the research that you're doing for these novels? And how do you keep yourself on track so that you don't go into some abyss where you didn't intend? It's a

John David Mann 18:49

treasure hunt. It really is. And you can't map it all? Because you don't know what's there. And so, you know, you can map sort of where you start, but it is it is wild to treasure hunt. My father was a musicologist. And he, he wants visited the British Museum. He went there. He was an expert in Bach and Handel. It was his deal. And he was also a conductor, as I said, so he was both an academic and a performer. And he was on a trip to Europe once and he went to the British Museum, and he was studying in the library and there was this shelf of old old books. And he reached behind the books and found a hidden shelf that was behind the regular, the regular old bookshelf that held some really old stuff and pulled out a manuscript and it turned out to be an hitherto undiscovered manuscript of something written by handle. And they completely freaked out the museum's like, they wanted to take them to the Queen and have this big press conference and all this stuff. And it's like they asked him How did how did you know that was there as it he doesn't know how he knew it was there? Sometimes it feels like that researching a book, you just go in the dark are searching stuff. For example, I'll give you an example from cold fear, which is the second book called fear I set in Iceland, and which is a country that I knew nothing about. I didn't even really know exactly where it was tell you the truth. And so I started researching Iceland. And I knew that in the beginning of the book, I had this idea that I wanted to have somebody drown. Drowning terrifies me, I think we might have talked about this. We did. Yeah. So I knew that I wanted to start in the middle of winter. And I thought maybe Christmas Eve, in in Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland, and there's going to be a woman who drowns, and we don't know why she drowns. And that's part of the mystery of the book, Finn has to find out why did she drown. And I started looking at Google Maps, like work on this person, drone. And I was like, Okay, I've talked my, I've really talked myself into a corner now because it's the middle of winter. So I'm looking for lakes, but it's all they're all gonna be ice covered. But you know, and it's in the middle of the city. So I discovered, there's this pond in the middle of Reykjavik called turnin, which is the Icelandic word for pond. And I thought, well, that's perfect right in the middle of the city, but it's covered with ice. And I researched it and researched it and researched it. And I discovered that they keep the north east corner melted in the winter. So the ducks can swim and, and it's like, how do you? How do you find something like that, and it was like, perfect. Beginning of the book, the first scene, she runs to the street, stops at the edge of the pond, takes off all her clothes, slips into the water, the melted water, where the ducks are under the lip of the ice, and drowns to death. Or maybe she freezes to death. And we're like, what the hell just happened here. And that's the engine that drives the book. But I couldn't have planned that. It was just by poking around. A lot of researches is just going down rabbit holes, rabbit holes online.

Paula Shepherd 22:08

So I mean, that to me, that brings up another kind of a, I don't know, an interesting thing in my mind around what we societally see as productivity, because what you did was you allowed yourself to explore. And yet we're always trying to do and achieve and meet some outcome. And you just said, My outcome is I'm just going to go on this treasure hunt of discovery to see what I find that may be useful. And wow, what an incredible principle to bring into everyday life. They haven't most people don't,

John David Mann 22:45

they have this thing in the film world where they say that for every hour of finished film, you see in a movie, in the movie theatre, they've shot 20 hours of raw footage. And in many cases, it's more than 20 hours, right? And here's the trick about that is you don't know which are the 19 and which are, which is the one you can't know that going in, you have to shoot all 20 hours to get that one hour, and researches like that. When I went into Puerto Rico, which I knew nothing about, for blind fear, the third book, I just sat down and said, Okay, Puerto Rico, tell me your story. Tell me all about you. Who are you? What's going on? What are your hopes, dreams? aspirations? What are your What are your oppressions? What are your fears? You know, where are you hurting? What's going on? What does the island look like? What does it feel like? What does it smell like? What is life in Puerto Rico, like, and you just go like, exploring and hunting, knowing that most of what you find, is not going to end up in the pages of the book. But that's okay. Because when you're reading the book, you have hopefully, you have the experience of the writer knows what he's talking about. I'm in safe hands, because there's so much hovering in the background that isn't expressly told in the page. But I've known it, I've researched it, I've been there. I my wife and I went to Puerto Rico, I didn't get to go to Iceland. Unfortunately, I went on an aircraft carrier when I was doing the first book, you have to know at least 20 times more, probably more like 50 times more about your story, even about your character, then you show the show the reader and that's that's part of what gives it depth. I mean, it's that way in business. You have to know so much more about the shoe than what size it is and so much more about the potato and the yam and the and the cauliflower, then, you know, then then what's on the plate. So, I think there's like that with anything if you want it to have depth, richness and value. You have to spend unstructured time like you would with a friend getting to know them like you would with a spouse just to Talking about nothing and everything. That's what you had to do as a writer, talk with your subject. There, gosh, there's

Paula Shepherd 25:07

so much in this that really does apply to, you know, to the way that we live and the way that we work. Because haven't you said the word unstructured and I always talk about when I'm speaking with people rebel leadership. And I don't mean that in the way where we're breaking laws, I'm more mean, you know, we're breaking barriers. And that is one of the ways to do it is to kind of go back to our roots, like you said, and allow the space, the time to be unstructured and say, I'm getting somewhere, but I don't know how long it's gonna take me to get there. And I'm okay with that. Because I trust the process, versus I have something that's so structured that I have to get to this thing by this deadline. And then we put so much pressure on ourselves to achieve and then reflect on Oh, I could have done that better, or that would have if I just had more time. And yet, if we just pushed back and said, I wish or I, I hear what you're asking. And I see the deadline however, this the opportunity here, the potential would be better if we were willing to let go of, and that's the unstructured part. There's there's just so much in this thriller novel, right and your process that is applicable to just everyday life. And I love the nuance in that. I like the fact that I'm not just reading something when you're writing it, particularly this series, I have not had the opportunity just yet. I'm going to read the book, I'm gonna read this third book. But for the other two, where there really are lessons in it. It's not just a fun read. It's a make you think, situation about you are vested in the character, you are thinking, Hmm, what do I do that's like that? Or were it have I experienced something? Maybe not as severe as Finn did in the first book, but that you can relate to?

John David Mann 27:06

Yeah, yeah. Yeah. And it's it's writing? Is it? Is it gonna sound maybe a little a feat? I don't know. But writing is the process of self examination. Because you really ask yourself questions like, What is going on with this character? What is what is this character experiencing? Where is it coming from? What do they really want? And, and not coming up with answers to quickly that you talked about this, the the thing of being in flow versus being structured is, is a huge part of the Writing Challenge. Like the way I write is I start at five in the morning, sitting in the chair, I'm looking over in the corner of my office, my big, comfy overstuffed chair, I go sit in the chair with a blank pad of paper and a pen and a cup of tea. And typically headphones on with something very benign, that I know so well, that I barely hear it. And just kind of say, Okay, what's next? It's very unstructured. And it's kind of frustrating, it can be kind of terrifying. Because I do have deadlines, I am on a clock, I do have structure. And if I need to put out a book, it's 400 pages or a book that's, you know, 100 pages, whatever it is, you know, sometimes I have to actively work to quell or resist the feeling, I'm wasting my time, I better get on this, I gotta hurry up, I gotta get on this. I have to just sit in the chair. And sometimes this morning, it took me probably 45 minutes of kind of being in this, I don't really know what I'm doing here place to sort of catch something. It's like sitting on the edge of a pond when the sun isn't even up yet. And the pond is still and you're hoping that a fish will nibble but nothing nibbles for half an hour for 45 minutes. And then you do see, you get a little tug on your line. It's like that. And as I said, research is like that. I think, you know, I used to be in sales. And what I taught my my my folks was the first question you ask when you're sitting on the phone with somebody or sitting in person with somebody is Who is this person? I mean, not like you don't give them a third degree. So tell me, Paula. What problems you're experiencing right now that my product can solve? It's not like you shine the bright light and ask these canned questions is like you go into the conversation with a genuine curiosity or like, exactly what makes politic who is this person in relation to nothing, not in relation to my product, not in relation to my business, but just in relation to the experience of being a human being? Who is this person? It's an attitude of genuine curiosity. And I think you that's what I take into writing is I start out with a genuine curiosity even if I have given parameters like I have. I'm reading a parable and we already know what these principles are. Forget about that. or reading a story. And we already know, like who the killer is, or you know what's going on there already elements that are established. I have to kind of put those away and say, okay, story. Who are you? What are you up to?

Paula Shepherd 30:14

So what are you doing in that chair for 45 minutes, because in my mind, you're getting up. This is the this is the truth, because I remember having a conversation with you and your wife, Ana, and her saying, Oh, he gets up every morning at the same time, and I'm sleeping and then he brings me my my tea or my coffee in bed. I remember all of this, this is what you do, right? But you spend that time together by yourself just writing and what are you it almost felt very meditative. So when you're in that chair with that pad of paper, not in front of a laptop, big fan of pen and paper myself, what are you doing? What are you thinking? Are you trying to think of something? Or are you just letting your mind be empty?

John David Mann 30:56

It's not empty. And because I don't think anybody's mind is empty. There's one of my favourite cartoons of monks sitting on cushions next to each other. And one of them says is what says to the other one? My mind is especially empty today. It's like so proud of himself for being selfless. Yeah, no, my mind is full of stuff, as are all of our minds. And so part of what I'm doing is just kind of letting it's like letting particles in the water settle. Just letting stuff settle and sort of see what comes to the surface. I know their thoughts. I know, there are ideas, I know their story threads. You know, I've done a bunch of research, I've done a bunch of thinking and so I sort of letting seeing what seeing what emerges. And part of it is asking myself questions, and not being too quick about the answers, like, Okay, I know I'm going to write a chapter today, I'm going to start a chapter. And here's the situation. So in this situation, what happens next, what is this character feeling right now? What do they want right now? How did we get into this? How do we get out of this? Just start with questions and just sore throat. Throwing a question out is like throwing a fishing line out in the pond. You just throw it out, and then just kind of wait to see what see what tugs back. I may spend an hour and get nothing but a few words. Or I may spend an hour and 45 minutes in. Oh, baba, baba, baba, baba, baba, sometimes it's been an hour, I get nothing two hours, I get nothing. But I'm I'm by the pond. And there's a lot of stew of thought going around. And I'll go get my dog up. And we'll take a walk. And while we're out walking, it suddenly goes, Ah, bum bum, bum bum bum. I do and I think a lot of writers experience that a lot of entrepreneurs experience that sometimes. You kind of till the field and prepare it by sitting, thinking, sitting, thinking, sitting thinking and then when you get into action, you keep driving, you go walking, you go running, you go swimming, you do whatever. How are you going to do the dishes? Suddenly, now that you're not focused on it, things start to click, and

Paula Shepherd 33:04

whiteboards for the shower. Now, by the way,

John David Mann 33:06

yeah, there you go. I like part of part of the the the skill skill set, I think of being a writer is is learning to pay attention to those little sparks of thoughts you have, I think that's part of the skill of being a good entrepreneur, is paying attention to those sparks of thought you have

Paula Shepherd 33:26

you said not forcing the answer. And I think that is one of the I mean, that's really important is not forcing yourself to come up with just something and saying, Alright, if planted the seed, right, and I know it's coming. It's on its way, I don't know when but it's coming. And then you said you, you know stand up, you walk, you move your body, and then all of a sudden, this thing comes to you because your brain is still working on the answer in the background. And it's very much like your self coaching, because it's that awkward space that people want to fill so quickly, that that is where like the most creative bits of you are in the space between those gaps that you allow yourself and it's really exciting to hear that you do that because I had no idea I've like learned so much about you every time because I also thought that you sat at a desk with a laptop, you get up at five o'clock in the morning and you're just like banging on the keys and you're not you're in a comfy chair your writers

John David Mann 34:24

didn't do by the way. I mean, what my experience is there are writers that get up and there are writers that do 2000 words a day, I was just listening to somebody talk yesterday about how he RL Stein, famous children's, goosebumps 2000 words a day. He says he gets to 2000 he stops can be the middle of a sentence he stops. That works for him. Work for me. How it works for me is I don't have a word count. You know, I might get as I said three words. At the end of the day. At the end of the morning session. I might fill a page. It varies and typically what I do is If it's not all like that, I don't want to give that impression. I'll spend time in the chair in my chair, where I'm brainstorming. And it is very unstructured and it is frustrating and difficult. And sometimes it's almost painful, but it's also very satisfying when something and then I'll scribble a scribble on a pad. Then, after breakfast later that morning, or that afternoon, I'll take my scribbles is what I got right here. I got scribbles on my pad. I'll take it and bring it to my desk where my laptop is. And I'll do what you just said. I'll transcribe the scribbles and I start going up one Pan Pan Pan Pan and start to construct to, to spin it out from there to take the threads I've got into we've met in something bigger. But I can't just sit down and go well, but like Bugs Bunny on his typewriter doesn't work that way. For me. What's funny is my is my, my, my formative hero. So

Paula Shepherd 35:58

I love it. So let's go back. Before I want to talk about this new writing programme that you've just undertaken with with 10 Amazing humans. However, I do want to talk just a little bit more about the new book, because you mentioned the theme family. And you also mentioned it's now set in Puerto Rico, which is so much different than Iceland. So where did that theme that family theme stemmed from? And and why Puerto Rico?

John David Mann 36:30

Two totally different answers. Puerto Rico, it's in part, because Brendon was living in Puerto Rico at the time, and he said, let's set one in Puerto Rico. I said, Okay, so there you go. Also, we I wanted to go as far away from Iceland. Not geographically. But in terms of climate, temperament, you know, it is really pretty opposite of Iceland, you got frigid up toward the Arctic Circle. Iceland has the northern most capital city in the world, in the world of any country in the world. It's just almost butting up in the Arctic Circle. And then you have Puerto Rico, which is tropical. So that was part of the part of the thinking there. But family, so in the you know, it's fun in these books. Each book has its own like mystery, or that needs to be solved within the confines of that book. So in steal fear, there's a serial killer on an aircraft carrier. It's like a locked room mystery. Only the room is a big ship that has 6000 People important. So yes, within within the pages of the book, The Mystery gets solved we find the serial killer that serial killer was caught in cold fear. There's this girl drowns in a lake. Why did she drowned by the end of the book, we know why she drowned. And it turns out to have been an act of nobility really? The third book, blind fear, yes, there is a story that has to be solved within the pages of the book to children go missing bang on the first of the first prologue, and Finn wants to find them. So why why did they go missing? What happened to them? Why did it happen? And where is he going to find them all? That's that all that stuff has to get get solved in, in the confines of the book. And there's a shadowy crime network involved in a crime boss whom we don't know who it is. So there's finesse to try to figure out how to unveil who this person is. And there's a series of horrific murders that are happening throughout Puerto Rico. All that stuff is local to the third book. But there's also a thread that goes through all the books that's not finished yet, which is Finn Finn's life, Finn's own mystery. And his mystery is kind of himself. So in the first book, while he was working on the serial killer mystery, his internal quest, if you want to put it that way, was something just happened a month ago, that was terrible, terrible, and has caused his whole team to get disrupted. And he can't remember it because he has holes in his memory, something traumatic happened. So he is trying to find out what happened to me what happened to my team? That's his question that he gets the answers partially by the end of the book, but he learns that his best friend was killed. And in the second book, he's driven by the question who killed this guy? That's what he wants to find out. By the third book, his questions about himself have gotten bigger. He has holes in his memory that go all the way back to childhood. And the thing that drives him the holy grail of Book Three is he can't remember his parents faces he can't remember what his parents looked like. And the character who's a blind old blind cook that actually finished his employee is all blind cook runs a little cafe in the southern side of Vegas off the coast of Puerto Rico. And Finn is working for him as a as a cook and fish Fisher fisherman And so he's living with this guy who who knows the faces of his children will never forget them just by having touched them with his fingertips. This blind man knows that knows his kids faces like, like, permanently imprinted photographs. And Finn, who has eyes can't pull up his parents faces, bugs the crap out of them. He doesn't know why. So the mystery is his parents. Finn has no last name. Finn's last name is he put down his ex when he enrolled? And we still don't know why it's like, does he know his last name that he does is that blanked out in his memory halls? Did he not use his last name because he wants to shut the door to that piece of his past. So his family, these kids who are like surrogate family that he goes trying to rescue and his own search for his own childhood, his search for his parents faces? Those are kind of the themes that drive the book.

Paula Shepherd 41:01

Wow. Wow. And I like that you can pick everyone up, you don't have to go back to the beginning. You can pick up where, you know, yes, you can. Yes, you should. You should read all three books, but that they can pick up this book and and feel like they know where they are? Yeah.

John David Mann 41:19

Yeah. I mean, that, to me, that's important. I don't want anyone to feel like they, they just happen to hear about blind fear. And so they pick it up, they start reading it, I don't know what's going on. I'm lost. I don't want anyone to feel that way. Definitely, there are things that if you read the first book, it'll give more a little more depth and richness to the second and likewise to the third. So it's advisable to read them in order. But like you said, you don't have to. And that's important to me, because I don't want anyone to ever feel lost.

Paula Shepherd 41:49

I love that. He's very inclusive of you. So you now also have a writing programme, because you didn't have enough on your plate. You thought let's do this, too. Right? What what inspired this programme? And and what, you know, what did you hope to get out of it when you were, you know, bringing these people along on the ride.

John David Mann 42:13

I mean, there's sort of an external and internal reason, the external reason i couple of years ago, I wanted to have something to offer as a premium on my website, free for people who subscribed to my site. So I decided to write this little ebook on how to write I called it how to

Paula Shepherd 42:28

write good, and it's so good. So you should go sign up for his email, it gets a little

John David Mann 42:33

ebook grew and grew and grew as I was writing, and it turned into a 30,000 word book. But I still offer it free as a premium on my on my on my site, and it's still called how to write good, or at least good or, and it's someday, when at one point, I'll actually expand that further and publish it as a real book, it'll become a real boy. But right now, it's free on my site isn't ebook. And in the process of writing that book, I learned so much about writing, because it's like, there's things that I just do, that I never sat down to explain. So I never, even to myself, I never articulated. And I realised in the course of that, looking back at my career, the times that my writing has, my writing has kind of gone, you know, slowly, slowly gotten better, gotten better, gotten better. But there have been a few times where it's taken a big blip, big leap of improvement. And those times have been times where I was teaching somebody else, or I was helping critiquing somebody else's manuscript, or I was helping somebody else. Understand how to write. And I discovered that when I teach is when I learned most. So part of the reason for doing the course is selfish. It's like I wanted to put this course together to really understand how this writing thing works. And part of it is that I wanted to, I've always wanted to help. There's so many books that people put out that aren't, what they could be. There's particularly with self publishing, being such a hugely available and relatively easy platform. There's so many people putting on books, that couldn't be really good, and just aren't, you know, they're just like, graphically, they're not good or the title is not a good title, or the writing is not, you know, what it should be, and there's good stuff in there. It's a book with a good heart, and good information, but it's just not a very good book. And that is that pains me it's a tragedy to me, I so part of my mission is to find people who have a burning desire to put out a book, help them make it all that it could be to bring out its full potential, which takes a lot of doing. It's not like writing a diary or a journal. So that's, that's the that's the the external reason for the programme is it's a year long programme. And I take people from soup to nuts, A to Z through the process of writing the book, both the structured aspects, and also the unstructured aspects, the sort of the technical part of how to take first crummy first draft and improve, improve, improve, improve to make it better. And also the sort of the, the internal process side of how to how to be a writer, all the way to the process of publishing, self publishing, traditional publishing agents and all that stuff. Yeah, and I'm having a ball doing it. It's, I just started, we've actually been up in an active for about a week as you and I speak. I've got 14 students in the class, and it's having a blast.

Paula Shepherd 45:45

Oh, my goodness. And is it just a wide array of demographics and psychographics? Just across the board,

John David Mann 45:54

it's, I've got I've got people who are, you know, seven is approaching 70. I've got a 22 year old kid who's writing a fantasy adventure. I've got fiction, I've got nonfiction, I've got people writing parables, I've got a few people who are in the programme and have said, I don't really know yet what my book is, I'm not sure what I want to write. But I know I'll never find it if I don't have help. So a lot of people writing How To books in the sphere of leadership, or sales or success, or you know, those kinds of things. But yeah, all over the map, fiction nonfiction memoir, it's of all people who have already published books, I got one guy who has two award winning books out already. And he's in this because he wants to get better. And I have other people who've never written a book, never even, you know, dreamed of writing a book before. So it is it is a mixed bag. And that's, I love that diversity.

Paula Shepherd 46:50

Oh, and you get so I think amidst those people, they're gonna get so much perspective, that it's not just, you know, the same kind of I hate when people say, you know, like minded people, because I don't want to be in a group of like minded people I want, I want people maybe that have similar values. But I also want people that are going to challenge my thinking a little bit. And I love that you have that. So are you going to be offering this again?

John David Mann 47:18

Yeah, absolutely. And by the way, all over the world, it's all it's all online. You know, part is part is pre recorded, and part is live. There's live coaching, it's a mix. And yeah, I'm going to be offering it again, I'm going to open it up, I don't know the date yet. I'm going to open it up again, sometime in the summer, probably probably June, mid June, I don't even know when this will air, but sometime very soon. And then at that point, it'll be open, rolling enrollment open, whenever, like you can jump in at any point. It's Wow, we're gonna structured so that you can jump in at any point, and follow the curriculum of the of my trainings in sequence, kind of like binge watching a TV series at your own pace. But plug in also to the live coaching the group coaching that we do twice a week. So it's, it's like you can sort of make your own make your own programme. And it still goes a year, a year from when you enrolled to a year, because it takes I want people to have a year long experience of immersion in their project and having the access to coaching.

Paula Shepherd 48:21

Wow, that's incredible. There's been just a book, there's been several books in my mind that I've always thought of, there's something in me, but it's always that getting started process, particularly if you are a recovering perfectionist, or maybe still have a lot of those tendencies, it's very difficult to get started and think, Well, maybe somebody's already done this, or how how am I going to have the time to do this with my children and their activities and running a business and all of those things. And I think it's great to have a coach and a mentor, particularly one like you who has been in the game for a long time, have a lot of experience. And you also have that sales experience as well, which is crucial, because so many people are creative, but they they don't have that kind of practical know how and you have that very amazing blend of it. Plus, you you just are such an amazing human being. I mean, you care about humanity and diversity and all of those things, which is why I adore you and continue to maintain contact and like stand on the rooftops and just sing your praises. But this is definitely something to anyone that's listening that I'm going to be exploring to work with John in this capacity. So if you are interested in coming along on this ride with me, please let us know. And you can send me an email and I'll make sure that you get on John's list or you can shoot him an email. John, what's the best way for people to reach you right now?

John David Mann 49:52

Probably my website, John David And you know, there's a little contact tab there where you can put in Contact and send me an email and it goes to me. I'm the person who reads it.

Paula Shepherd 50:04

And he does write back and it is actually him and you can tell in fact, He's way better at responding to email than I am just ask him and can people buy or pre ordered by your your first two books in this series? And preorder the third one?

John David Mann 50:19

Yes, steel fear is out in in mass market paperback. And cold fear is out in hardcover. It'll coming in paperback in the summer. And blind fear is available for preorder now, everywhere Amazon Barnes, indie bookstores, support your local indie bookstore.

Paula Shepherd 50:36


John David Mann 50:37

you can go into your library for that matter and ask them to preorder it you can you can preorder it anywhere.

Paula Shepherd 50:42

Fantastic. And you blind fear and you are doing a book tour this summer. I am. What are some of the cities you're going to? And can we find those on your website as well?

John David Mann 50:53

Ah, okay, so glad you asked that question, because that is a different website. And I really should put that on my site. But I have Brandon and I have a site called Web and man web, and D, ma Nn. Web and man. And that's the site for our Finn books. And the tour schedule is on that site. I'm going to Southern California. I'm going to Texas, couple cities in Texas. I'm going to Nashville, St. Louis, I'm going to a couple spots in New England, still in process. Maybe Phoenix, Arizona, that's maybe and Brandon is going to show up in Florida. We're both going to be in Manhattan. And that's the tour so far.

Paula Shepherd 51:39

Fantastic. Alright, so check that out. And I will make sure that all the links that John has mentioned, so that you can buy his book, get in touch with him get that ebook that he was talking about before he starts selling it, and send him an email, also the website so that you can check out the book tour and see if you can go meet John in person. Have him get a little autograph on your book. John, I am so happy that we have continued this relationship that I've gotten to see these three books unfold. It is absolutely amazing. And I am grateful to you for sharing with our audience. Again, all of the the bits and pieces and the places of vulnerability and just a peek behind the curtain at how you do things. So thank you so much.

John David Mann 52:30

Oh, thank you. Thank you, Paul. I love doing your show, because I never know where we're gonna go. Exactly. I love your curiosity. And I love that you just I did not know we will be talking about me sitting in my overstuffed chair and throwing fishing lines out in the pond. So that is

Paula Shepherd 52:45

Yeah, appreciate everybody. Your big fluffy chair. Yeah. Well curious. Or like my kids would say maybe I'm a bit nosy. But we'll go with curious because I like the reframe on that so much better. Is there any final words of wisdom you want to leave the listeners with?

John David Mann 53:02

Yeah, only just this I mean, it's whether or not you person listening, are destined to write a book. You know, a lot of people experience what you described. Paul is like, do I really? Is this really somebody else already done this? You know? No, they probably haven't. If you feel a tug, to write something, it's, it's, it's because the world needs it. You know, the world needs. There's no one who has the experiences you've had. There's no one who's living exactly the life you've lived in your living now. We are all it's cliche to say, but we're all unique as blades of grass. So the world needs your book, or your business or your whatever it is. That is the fruit of your passion. The world needs that. And yeah, you need to do it.

Paula Shepherd 53:54

Okay, I couldn't I feel like I need to pay you for saying that. Because that was so good. That was amazing. Oh, my goodness. Talk about the best audio clip ever. John, thank you. Again, thank you for being such an amazing human. Thank you for continuing to put your work out into the world. And thank you again for being here today. Thank you. All right, everyone. I will see you on another episode of the competence sessions next week. Make sure that you dig into the show notes and grab all those links to reach out to John and get a hold of his books. I will see you next time. Thank you for listening to this episode of The confidence sessions. I know there are hundreds of 1000s of podcasts and I'm so grateful that you chose to spend your time today with me. Head on over to the courage forward slash podcast to check out the show notes from today's episode, and grab links to all the amazing goodies mentioned today. If you love this episode, as much as I loved making it, make sure you don't miss out on any future ones by hitting the subscribe button right now. See you next time

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