Kevin D. Johnson
President and CEO, Johnson Media Inc.
What inspired you to write your first book?
In March of 2012, I started a business blog that discussed various ways that successful entrepreneurs think. The blog became popular with readers from all around the world and received tens of thousands of page views within weeks. Before long, I was encouraged by some of my readers to write this book which quickly became a best-seller. Furthermore, I wanted to provide a comprehensive body of work and advice for the many people that I mentor. Ultimately, I think publishing this book and extending The Entrepreneur Mind brand in other areas are great ways to teach entrepreneurial concepts.
Do you have a specific writing style?
My writing style for business books has two major goals: 1) to be very accessible and appealing to even the reader who may not be interested at all in business or in entrepreneurship and 2) to not be so technical so as to turn off the reader. I do this by using creative stories that entertain and teach at the same time. My accessible style is one of the main reasons so many schools, including from Harvard, Columbia, and Brown, have used my book.
What books have most impacted your life?
The Bible has impacted my life the most. Considering all the time that I’ve spent in church hearing sermons; considering all the time that my parents and family have quoted Bible verses; considering all the time that I’ve read the Bible and so on; it is undoubtedly the book that has impacted me the most — consciously and subconsciously.
What are you currently reading? Why that author?
I am reading The Divided Mind of the Black Church: Theology, Piety, and Public Witness by Raphael G. Warnock. I am reading this book, because Dr. Warnock is a well-respected friend and scholar. Having been raised in the black church, I also have an acute interest in the history of the black church and what its future will be.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything about your latest work?
If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t change one thing about my latest work. My team and I edited and refined it several times before publishing it, and it is just the way I want it to be. The awesome sales domestically and internationally have indicated to us that we did a great job. I do, however, wish that I could have thanked even more people than the hundreds I mentioned in my book’s acknowledgements. I am the result of so many great people helping me to be successful.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging about writing or coming up with a concept for your book?
The most challenging thing about writing is finding the quality time to do it. Once I have an outline and a good sense of direction, the writing is the easy part.
What was the hardest part of completing this project?
The most difficult part of writing this book was staying committed to my goal of writing the entire book in 100 consecutive days. Around the 70th day, I was tired and desiring a day off, but I kept going.
What advice would you give other writers?
I love to give writers advice. Above all, authors must understand that they have to be very involved in the marketing of their book to be successful. That means building and maintaining an audience on social media, attending book signings, doing radio interviews, etc. It is a nonstop commitment.
Describe the process of getting published.
I self-published. My company, Johnson Media Inc., has been in the publishing business for over 14 years, and my company has the experience and success of launching and marketing projects like this. It’s a major part of what we do. Although major publishing houses and agents were interested in my book, I thought it was best for my company to have creative control and to retain the rights of the content. That way, my message will get to readers in its purest form and without any hindrances. Moreover, the publishing industry has changed drastically, giving the advantage to authors who want to sell directly to consumers. In short, I felt that having a major publishing house for this book didn’t give it an advantage in the marketplace. Instead, it gave it a disadvantage. Not to mention, I am an entrepreneur.
What were the literary, psychological and/or logistical challenges in bringing your work to life?
The biggest challenge in publishing my book was logistical. Considering the drastic changes that the publishing industry has gone through in such a short time, my team and I were exploring new ways to launch and promote the book in the most cost effective ways. For example, we noticed huge differences in pricing for things such as eBook conversion. At times, prices varied by several thousands of dollars with no major difference in service.
Everyone’s process for writing is different. Explain yours.
Here was my writing process for this book: In a nutshell, I would wake up early in the morning, write for two or three hours, and then edit for about an hour. Later that evening, perhaps while watching TV or listening to music, I would casually write an outline of what I wanted to write about the next day. I did this for 100 days in a row, and it really helped to get the book done in an orderly and quick way.
What are five of your favorite books and why?
I have hundreds of favorite books but these five come to mind: 1) Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne 2) Benjamin Franklin: An American Life by Walter Isaacson 3) The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Alex Haley 4) How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie 5) and Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali. I love these books because they all inspired me to take some kind of immediate action, whether it was to change my business strategy, to develop my own personal skills, or to better understand a culture that I knew nothing about.
Please provide three interesting facts about yourself.
Three facts about me:
I’ve never had a “real job” for more than three months.
In 2007, I co-hosted a fundraiser for then-Sen. Barack Obama that raised almost a quarter of a million dollars for his presidential campaign.
Before college, I never imagined starting my own business or owning a multimillion-dollar company.
What is the mission you set out to accomplish with your voice in this book?
The mission I set out to accomplish with my voice in this book is to be very accessible, using very real lessons. The Entrepreneur Mind offers simple, digestible concepts that entrepreneurs must master to reach a high level of success. The book is pragmatic, not theoretical. Every reader will gain new ways of thinking that will help to improve his or her business.
Who are the authors you reread and why?
The author that I have read the most recently is Walter Isaacson, who wrote the biographies of Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein and Steve Jobs. I have read those three books of his in a short time. I love Isaacson’s style of writing, which is clear, accessible, yet sprinkled with phrases and words that appeal to and excite an erudite reader.
A great book has what elements?
In my opinion, a great book is one that you just cannot put down. Or if you have to put it down, you are overcome by the unrelenting urge to pick it up again and continue reading.
You develop ideas by …
I develop ideas by reading a lot and being actively engaged in industry discussions about business and entrepreneurship.
Where would you travel if you could to write your next book?
I would actually prefer not to travel to write my next book. I enjoy writing in the comfort of my own home. A destination other than home would be too tempting for me. I would focus on other things like exploring my surroundings. If I had to choose, I would visit my parents where I know I could be a hermit and not have to worry about eating right or offending anyone for not having bathed in a few days. I’m kidding about the bathing part.
Kevin D. Johnson is the author of best-seller The Entrepreneur Mind available for purchase at TheEntrepreneurMind.com. Featured in Forbes. Amazon Best Seller Ranking No. 1 in Small Business & Entrepreneurship. Winner of the Axiom Business Book Award. Winner of the Eric Hoffer Award. Winner of the National Indie Excellence Book Award. Buy today. Special online offer ends soon.