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LEADERSHIP AND MORE
THE BOOKSHELF REVIEW
An Interview with the Author of SHOW YOUR INK
By Anthony T. Eaton 05/01/2016
Not long ago I stumbled upon Dr. Todd Dewitt and his book SHOW YOUR INK and was struck by his message. Through the power
of story, Todd shows you how to begin improving yourself personally and professionally. SHOW YOUR INK contains twenty short
stories and uses the power of those stories to grab you emotionally. Focusing on a different aspect of success in leadership and life
these stories will make you think about the importance of authenticity, the need to use your mistakes, the vital role of feedback, why
values matter, the key to personal change, and much more.
An easy read, SHOW YOUR INK will transform how you view your career and your life. Helping you become a better version of
yourself, this book will show you that being more successful is not complex. The following is my interview with Todd about his great
book, SHOW YOUR INK.
AE: SHOW YOUR INK is your third book, what are the first two about?
TD: The first was The Little Black Book of Leadership, a short and to the point introduction to the fundamentals of leadership and managing teams. It was written initially so that I could offer my graduate students an affordable book. As a professor, I was bothered by the sky-high prices of textbooks, so I wrote my own and ended up giving it away free to my students. They gave it to their bosses and friends, and the rest is history. The second book is a novelty token item, The Little Black Book of Leadership Ideas – a book of inspiring or funny quotes. I loved creating quotes as an exercise in learning to say something meaningful with only a few words. I’ve been creating them ever since, thus, a revised and expanded version will be forthcoming.
AE:Your latest book was published in October 2014, how has it done?
TD: SHOW YOUR INK has done well for a self-published book. Any self-published book that sells more than a few hundred is considered quite successful and this one has sold several thousand.
AE: What kind of feedback have you received from the book?
TD: The feedback has been strong. There are not many books in this space, if any at all, focused exclusively on stories. My platform of followers is modest in size but quite loyal. I’ve heard from people who have read it five times, many who have shared it with others, and more than a few who have thanked me for being so honest which has pushed them to be more self-reflective and honest as well.
AE: What made you decide to write the book?
TD: I was told by other professional speakers that you must protect your keynote material. Don’t share the stories in podcasts, or blogs, or books. Eventually, I decided they were wrong. Sharing more creates more interest and demand. It allows a great takeaway for those who have heard me speak and want to revisit the stories. It also pushes me to not rest on my laurels by forever offering the same speech.
AE: In your book you talk about how you stopped hiding your tattoos in professional contexts. How did that change your interactions with people?
TD: I have become progressively more honest and candid, while of course still being respectful when speaking to others about nearly any topic. My decision to not hide my ink combined with my growing credentials as a successful professional seemed to allow me increasing latitude to be honest in conversation. I beat around the bush less, I compliment more glowingly, etc. – in short, I’ve learned to censor less and be a bit more authentic.
AE: You are very candid in the book talking about your experiences, family, and feelings. Have you always been that way or is it something you have developed?
TD: I’ve always been an above average speaker. I had to develop the ability to be more open and expressive. When I was a senior in high school my father decided to end a dedicated career as an alcoholic. Part of his treatment and recovery pushed him to embrace his failure, learn from it, talk about it, even laugh about it when possible. That’s when I started embracing the same behavior, slowly but surely.
AE: Having lost both of my parents your stories about losing yours is familiar to me. How did the experiences change your view on life and death?
TD:Like nothing else, this specific loss makes you feel alone. Thankfully, if you choose to cling to positivity, soon it changes from despair to a clarity about the very short nature of life. That becomes freeing and motivating. Why censor or not take risks when out time here is so small?
AE:Will there be another book?
TD:There will be many more. The next, which just came out, is an edited volume from Oxford University Press called Creativity: A Reader for Writers. I wrote 3 of 33 chapters, each focusing on some aspect of creativity (my original love as a scholar). My next solo book will be out late 2016 or early 2017. It will be a lively book focused on great relationships – particularly adult marriages and partnerships. Another book of original stories is likely to follow.
AE: In the book you say “People are starved for real talk, uncensored dialogue, and real emotional engagement.” Do you think technology is hurting our ability to connect with each other in an authentic way?
TD:Great question. On average it hurts. It allows expeditious yet much less thoughtful communication to become the norm. Electronic communication is very efficient, but almost never as clear and useful as face-to-face communication. On the other hand, for a minority these tools (e.g., text, instant messaging) provide a needed medium. Just as some learners have been shown to learn better in online programs instead of traditional classrooms, so to are some communicators better aligned with electronic channels instead of traditional channels given their more introverted personalities. However, in general, we typically use our technology to inadvertently create more communication problems, not answers.
AE:When I read the story Using Your Mistakes: For the Love of Ham it made me think of similar things I have seen in a number of organizations where I have worked. How do leaders stay “connected” and not get into the bubble?
TD:No leader ever avoided the bubble completely. You can, however, ensure it’s impact is small by striving to be a colleague who wants to collaborate more than a boss who wants to dictate. Share decision making when it makes sense. Share praise widely. Strive to be open and authentic, a person not just a professional. These behaviors all build trust and make a leader approachable, limiting issues associated with the status bubble.
AE:Has State Farm called you for their discount? (You will have to read the book to understand the question!)
TD:No! Though I have made it my custom when telling that story to tell the audience that if they know anyone who works for State Farm at corporate to contact them! I’m hopeful I’ll be able to make good on that debt in the next few years.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Todd Dewett is a globally recognized inspirational speaker focusing on leadership, teams, and success in life. He doesn’t just speak, he moves people to embrace behavioral change. At every event, people laugh, learn, and cry. Attendees leave excited about becoming a better version of themselves. For Todd, speaking is about changing lives.
His credentials, message, and Harley Davidson-inspired rock star style have made him one of the fastest growing speakers in the world. After beginning his career with Andersen Consulting and Ernst & Young, he earned a Ph.D. in Management from the Mays Business School at Texas A&M University.
His hard work was awarded with several scholarly publications, a prestigious Post Doctoral Fellowship, teaching awards, and, finally, a tenure track appointment at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. Todd’s teaching at Wright State focused on leadership-related courses in Wright State’s nationally ranked MBA program. He also served as the assistant Dean for MBA and Executive Programs.
As an entrepreneur, Todd wears many hats: speaker, author, trainer, advisor, not to mention being the go-to leadership and career expert for millions of members through Lynda.com at LinkedIn. His library of work with Lynda.com has earned praise from professionals in over 160 countries. As a speaker, Todd possesses a rare combination of traits: world-class expertise, a rugged authentic style, and an ability to use words and humor in way that lights a fire inside every attendee.
His leadership and life insights have resulted in quotes in the New York Times, TIME, Forbes, BusinessWeek, US News & World Report, CNN, Chicago Tribune, and hundreds of additional outlets. His electric performance as a speaker has secured recent clients including Exxon Mobil, State Farm, JM Smucker, Ernst & Young, Medtronic, TGI Fridays, Standard Register, Cox Media, NCR, and scores of additional corporations, conferences, and nonprofits.