My first visit to Tremendous Life Books was on a hot July day. TLB is located in Mechanicsurg, PA which is just outside of Harrisburg, or about a two-hour drive for me. The Pennsylvania Turnpike cuts through rural PA, so the drive takes you through an area where cows line the side of the road. When I walked in the doors, the first one to greet me was Mr. Blue, the Chief Motivational Hound at TLB. As mentioned in Part I, Mr. Blue had recently pawthored his own book – True Blue Leadership, which provided his thoughts on leadership and management skills from his canine perspective. After introducing myself to Mr Blue, I met Tracey Jones and Jason Liller both in person for the first time, and we sat down to discuss the book.
I was flattered to hear how much they liked the concept and were anxious to proceed with publishing. We talked about the process, and threw out ideas for a title and front cover. One key suggestion Jason had was to make the book, in his words, more “dog-centric.” Each chapter began with a story about the dogs which became a metaphor for the lesson of that chapter. For example, there is a chapter about choosing the right breed which details how Ann and I decided on originally getting Baleigh. We were looking for certain characteristics in a dog. We wanted a companion for Ann when I was away, but didn’t want a large or high maintenance dog, because Ann had never owned a dog before. The chapter makes the correlation that when searching for an employee you need to hire based on certain characteristics, skills, and abilities for your organization. If you are hiring a front-line employee (like a teller in a bank or credit union), he/she needs to be friendly and engaging. Being a friendly person is not really a skill you can train, people either are friendly or they’re not.
While there were chapters which intertwined stories involving Baleigh and Kimba with stories from the job and in the classroom, other chapters had the dogs MIA. Jason suggested mixing more stories about the dogs into each chapter. The following weeks were spent working on the changes Jason suggested. Luckily, Baleigh and Kimba have provided Ann and me with more than enough stories over the last couple of years. A Kimba Recap was added to the end of each chapter which bullet points the main ideas of that section.
If coming up with an idea for a book and writing it is the hard part, then editing and proofing it must be downright gruesome. By the end of the year I saw the first edited draft, and it was great. The editors really tightened up and polished the manuscript. I saw Tracey and Jason again in December. We discussed a possible spring release and threw around some ideas for a title. Up to now, we were referring to the project by its working title of Man’s Best Friends, but we knew that wasn’t going to make the cover of the book. I do some of my best thinking when I am at the gym. A couple weeks later I was thinking about the book while on the treadmill. An idea hit me, and as soon as I got off the treadmill I emailed Tracey. She loved it. The book now had a title – Sit Stay Succeed!
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