Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Q&A with Sanjiv Chopra, author of Doctor Chopra Says


What is the book all about, for those who don't know?

The book is about topics I and my co-author Dr. Alan Lotvin get asked about all the time by friends and even strangers we meet all the time.

Where do you get people talking to you the most about these subjects?

At cocktail parties, dinners, at airports when they find out we are Physicians.

What's the biggest lesson your learned from writing the book?

We knew lot of facts but it was great to solidify them and connect with some of the folks who had made the original and seminal discoveries and to talk to experts who shed light and knew all the Nuances.

What's next for you?

My next book has been completed and was just sent to the publisher. It's called The Ten Tenets of Leadership.

Monday, January 24, 2011

5 Questions with Marc Muchnick, author of No More Regrets


1.     How'd the book come about?
No More Regrets! came about as a result of a conversation with one of my best friends from college just six months before his untimely death.  Gary, who had Stage 4 cancer and was going through a brutal regimen of chemotherapy at the time, out of the blue asked me, “What’s your biggest regret?” The question sparked an intense conversation about how life is short and sometimes you don’t realize that until it’s too late.  Essentially, our regrets go with us to the grave.  Gary asked me to promise him that going forward I would live my life with no more regrets, and part of my commitment to doing that was to write this book so I could share Gary’s message with others.

2.     What's the main message of it?
The main premise of No More Regrets! is that while most of us have regrets, there is no time like the present to start living life without any more of them.  Regrets are the things we do that we wish we hadn’t done and the things we fail to do that we wish we had done, both of which result in unhappiness, disappointment, or remorse.  Thus, to avoid having regrets in the future, we need to ask ourselves two very important questions as a routine part of our decision-making process:
·      Will I have regrets if I do it (or don’t do it)?
·      Will I avoid having regrets if I do it (or don’t do it)?
I provide 30 practical ways in this book for banishing regret from our lives altogether.

.    Why do people live with regret?
Most people live with regret because they can’t find a way to forgive themselves. Essentially they become prisoners to their regret, which takes a lot of energy and can be both stressful and depressing.  If we want to free ourselves from the chains of regret, we must move on from the past because we can’t change what’s already happened.  Instead we need to focus on what we have the power to change today as well as in the future.

4.     What's the biggest regret people have on their deathbed, and how can it be avoided?
My research shows that there are some common themes to regret:
·      We get stuck in ruts.
·      We take some things or people in our lives for granted.
·      We sacrifice our authenticity.
·      We stop growing, learning, and evolving.
·      We become overly self-absorbed, insensitive, and judgmental.
As people get older, especially as they near the end of life, our regrets tend to be more about the things we haven’t done but wish we had done.  Some examples include spending more time with family, taking more vacations, following a lifelong dream or passion, and being more authentic.  One thing is for sure, you don’t hear too many people in their final days of life say that they wished they could have worked harder or missed fewer days at work.

5.     Do you have any regrets?
Of course, but I’m trying not to have any more of them!  The year I missed my missed my kids’ first day of school is one of my biggest regrets. Every year prior to that it was a family tradition for my wife and I to make the kids a big breakfast and take pictures of them in their “first day” clothes. It was one of those times where work just got in the way – perhaps it couldn’t be helped but I sure felt disappointed. Not only had I let my kids down, but I had let myself down. Since then I’ve tried to plan ahead so that I can avoid repeating this scenario. I realize I can’t be there for everything in my kids’ lives, but I don’t want to sell my soul to my job either.

5 Questions with Jennifer Maughan, author of "100 Meals for $5 or Less"


Have you tried every meal in the book?
The best part about writing this book was gathering recipes and ideas from family and friends about their favorite budget meals. I knew I couldn't stand beside any recipe that I hadn't tried myself, so I gladly gathered recipes that fit the criteria for the book and made them for my family over the course of a year. The big hits found a place in the book, but there are so many delicious budget recipes out there that once readers know what to look for in a meal recipe, they can add to their own personal budget meal favorites.

Which meal was the most fun to make?
My three children love to help in the kitchen, so to me, the most fun meals to make are the ones where they can contribute significantly. One of our favorites from the book, Chicken Rolls (p. 85), requires you to slice the tops off of round dinner rolls, pull out the roll innards to make little bowls, fill the roll with a creamy chicken and veggie mixture, sprinkle them with cheese, then bake.

Another personal favorite from the book is Cyndi's Curried Coconut Chicken (p. 132). This is my sister Cyndi's signature dish and it's simple and delicious. I love how this dish smells as it is cooking. Using ingredients like coconut milk, stewed tomatoes and curry powder, this recipe transforms chicken into an exotic, filling meal for pennies.

What's the best compliment you've received on your work?
While I love getting compliments about a particular recipe in the book, the most satisfying compliments to me are from readers who really internalize the budget meal methods. The first part of the book teaches readers about how to plan budget menus, smart shopping techniques and being efficient in the kitchen. One reader emailed me that because of the book, she was not only seeing serious reductions in her grocery bill, but serious reductions in stress with herself and her family concerning shopping and meals.

What chef inspires you most?
What's inspiring to me is when regular men and women create good memories in the kitchen for their families. Look at the kitchens of a single person entertaining friends, a young couple with little children, or the parents who end up feeding a few extra teenagers -- it's the simple, hearty, healthful meals that make a connection that families and friend share.

What's next for you?
I haven't stopped searching for budget recipes even though the book is completed. It's too much fun to challenge myself to not only prepare healthy and delicious meals, but to save money to spend elsewhere.

5 Questions with John D. Luerssen, author of U2 FAQ



How'd the book come about?

I have been following U2 for nearly 30 years. From about 1981 to 1987, they were one of my favorite bands alongside groups like The Clash, The Replacements, R.E.M. Elvis Costello, The Cure and Echo & the Bunnymen. I kind of lost interest around the time of Rattle & Hum a bit but Achtung Baby rekindled my fascination. I also loved 'All That You Can't Leave Behind'. Anyway, I had written a book on Weezer called 'Rivers Edge' a few years ago for ECW Press that got a lot of attention and in the years since I've kept busy writing about music for Spinner and magazines like American Songwriter.

Somehow Robert Rodriguez -- who launched the FAQ series for Backbeat with The Fab Four FAQ and Fab Four FAQ 2.0 -- sought me out and asked if I would be interested in contributing to the series. I came up with a short list of bands like Radiohead and Bruce Springsteen and U2 was at the top of the list. I drafted a quick proposal and they asked me to write it but the deadline was a little tight. This was in December 2009. I turned in the first complete draft on April 1st. I tweaked it a little into the summer and it went to press in late September. We made it out for the back half of 2010 which was the plan. It was adventurous but I'm thrilled with how it turned out.

What's the most interesting fact about U2 most people don't know?

Bono and The Edge almost walked away from it all.

Most people may not remember that U2's Christianity was a key driver in the group at the outset. Bono, The Edge and Larry plus some friends and members of their crew were involved in a Dublin based Bible group ran by a guy named Chris Rowe called The Shalom. The band's bassist, Adam Clayton, was the lone dissenter and resident partier at the time who hung with the group because he loved rock & roll and the camaraderie of his mates. But after U2 first cracked the U.S. with Boy and went home to work on the October album in the summer of 1981, The Edge and Bono -- who had become local stars in Dublin and Ireland in general by now -- were feeling pressure by The Shalom's leaders to give up playing rock & roll. Mind you, they rarely drank, never did drugs nor hook up with groupies -- all of which was  pretty unorthodox for popular bands at the time. The point is that they never embraced the lifestyle.

Soon enough, Larry Mullen started to think The Shalom was off base trying to tell them what to do and he left the group -- which by now had set up a camp with tents and communal living which Bono and Edge were trying to help to finance, even though they still had little money. Anyway, one afternoon The Edge had been swayed by the pressure and told Bono that he's quitting the band. He's dedicating his life to Christ. And Bono tells Edge he's quitting U2 with him.

So they go to break the news to Paul McGuinness, who has just booked another North American tour. McGuinness can't believe what he's hearing. He tells them to go away for a few hours and think about the decision some more and when they return he guilts them into staying with the group because they have all these commitments to their crew, record label, booking agency, etc. Once they are out on the road, headlining East Coast venues they resume life as normal and never look back. By early 1982 they were opening for The J. Geils Band.

What makes U2 such a special band?

They may have come from other mothers but Bono, Adam, Larry and Edge are a band of brothers. They all know each other's weaknesses and strengths and cumulatively they make some of the greatest music in the world. Bono may seem like an ego maniac to some, but its only these three others -- plus manager Paul McGuinness -- who can bring him down to size. And sometimes, with a band as big as U2 -- that's exactly what's required. Name another band that has had the same founding membership for 35 years. It's very hard to do.

What was the most interesting thing you learned about them from this book?

For me, I think the neatest revellation actually comes in the Forward, which John Griffith, formerly of the Red Rockers, wrote for me. He talks about being out on the Unforgettable Fire tour opening for U2 in 1985, as their popularity was cresting in advance of Live Aid. For some reason, the Red Rockers' own tour manager went off the rails and took off with their gear and clothes and basically left them high and dry. Bono got word of it and the band donated four thousand bucks -- a lot of money in 1985 -- so that they could carry on and finish the tour with some dignity. I thought that said a lot about who they were then and who they became. From their commitments to Amnesty International and Greenpeace to Bono's commitments to absolving third world debt and trying to get AIDS medicines to Africans, they may have become the biggest band in the world, but they also are the biggest band in the world with a conscience.

What's next for you?

I am currently at work on a Springsteen FAQ for Backbeat which I'm super excited about. As a New Jersey native weaned on Bruce, I can't think of a greater honor. I think that's coming out in 2012. I'm also launching my own series of Rock & Roll Quote Books this year. Between all that, my day job, my wife and kids and my constant tinkering on and obsessing over a 9 year old Volvo convertible, I'm hoping to still have time left over to paint my house this year. Seriously.


Thursday, January 13, 2011

5 Questions with Angel Shannon, author of 100 Desserts for $5 or Less


Which dessert were you surprised was $5 or less?
All the desserts were designed to fit the $5 or less criteria so we started with the end in mind.  However, I’d like to give a huge thumbs up to the Cranberry Cream Cheese Shortbread Pie!

What's the most tasty dessert for yourself?
For ease of making and baking…something that also makes me happy when I eat it?  That would have to be Dad’s Favorite Pudding Crunch.  It’s so versatile because you can use any pudding flavor to make it.  I’d have to say the most surprising dessert is the Homemade Melt-In-Your-Mouth Marshmallows. S’mores never tasted so good!

How has the book been received?
Every time I meet someone who’s already bought the book, they have nothing but great things to say.  They fall in love with one recipe and have trouble trying another!  For example, try the Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies and you’ll want to make a batch or two every week. When people call me, “The Dessert Lady”, it’s the best compliment ever!

Which dessert is the one that is most intricate and difficult to make?
I’m a home cook so all of the recipes are easy. That being said, the Super Show-Off Chocolate Crepes can be a challenge until you get the technique down…but after that it’s smooth sailin’.

What's next for you?
I’m working on a cookbook that nourishes our body’s energy centers.  It’s an extremely delicious journey through fresh fruits, veggies, grains, and yes, even pasta! Your family’s favorites will be transformed into a dish  that  will  help you embrace healthy eating from the top of your head to your toes..and beyond! 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

5 Questions with Roger Dawson, author of Secrets of Power Negotiating


Which country has the best negotiating techniques?

Negotiating styles are so different in other countries that’s it’s hard to pick one as the best. The best negotiators are the ones that understand those differences and work with them. Americans, Germans and the Swiss are very much focused on getting the contract signed. I call that being a low context negotiator. Asians are much more focused on the relationship between the parties – they are high context negotiations.
Americans think of the contract as the end of the negotiations. In the Arab world, it’s the beginning of the negotiations. In Korea the contract is only valid as long as the conditions under which the contract was signed are valid.

What's an overlooked aspect of negotiating?

The number one mistake that beginning negotiators make is failing to Flinch when the other side asks them for a concession. Flinching is reacting with shock and surprise that they would have the nerve to ask you for a concession. Very often the other side suggests something that they really don’t expect you to do. When you fail to Flinch, they start to believe that they could get it from you.

For those shy or too diplomatic to negotiate hard, is there a tip you have for them?

Shy people can be great negotiators because they listen more than they talk. That’s a big advantage. They should get over their fear of asking for concessions by practicing negotiating tactics in non-threatening situations.

Who is the best negotiator you've seen and why?

On the international scene, Ronald Reagan was a great negotiator because the had mastered the art of projecting a consistent set of values. Other countries knew exactly where he stood on key issues and knew that it would be a wasted effort to try and get concessions in those areas.

When negotiations get real tough and don't seem to be going anywhere, what advice would you give?

In my book Secrets of Power Negotiating I discuss three areas of problems with negotiating:
Impasses, which are handled by setting aside the point of conflict and reaching agreement on smaller issues to create momentum; Stalemates, which require the negotiators to reset the negotiations by changing location or negotiators; and Deadlocks, which can only resolved by bringing in a mediator or arbitrator who must be perceived as neutral by both sides.

5 Questions with Dave Kahle, author of How to Sell Anything to Anyone Anytime


What aspect of selling do you feel is overlooked and therefore sometimes the cause of bad selling technique?

Step number six of the sales process: Follow up and leverage satisfaction.  Too many people think the sale is the end of the effort, when in many cases it can be the beginning of a relationship that results in multiple transactions.  The call made on the customer after he has purchased and used your product cements the relationship, shows you care, and leads to other opportunities.

How important is to believe in your product and/or completely?

Relatively unimportant.  I know that’s a departure from the conventional wisdom.  I sold expensive men’s suits for a long time, as I worked my way through college.  I always thought it was a bit arrogant and self-important to spend that much for a suit.  I never bought one myself.  That didn’t stop me from selling them, though.  Your opinion is secondary to what the customer wants.  .  It is far more important that you understand the customer and his/her interests than you believe in the product. 

We receive a lot of questions about selling advertising space online, do you have any tips on how people can improve their sales in that area?

Adhere to the process I articulate in the book.  Do each step well.  There is no quick, easy, simple “secret” for selling anything.  Instead there is intentional, disciplined adherence to a process. Think deeply about each step.  Prepare thoroughly.  Practice.  Implement with excellence.  Success in sales is a result of thinking about it before you do it, and then doing it with excellence. . 

What aspect of this book was the most fun to write about?

The last few chapters on turning your sales efforts into a system.  I’m a systems thinker, and much of my work as a consultant has to do with refining sales systems.  But that’s a concept that is new to many people and there isn’t much in the literature about it.  So, I enjoyed the opportunity to express the things that I have learned along the way on that aspect of selling and be one of the pioneer thought leaders on this issue.

How can one "practice selling" if they're intimidated at first?

In any endeavor, whether it be fire-fighting, brain surgery, preparing taxes, or selling, the serious practioner recognizes that part of the struggle for success is internal.  We battle against our own preconceived notions, habits, mind sets and emotions.  Just recognizing that is a great first step.  I only know of two ways to go from intimidated to competent:  practice and experience. So, practice every step over and over until you feel comfortable, but recognize that those feelings are going to be around for awhile, and you need to deal with them.

Monday, January 10, 2011

5 Questions with the author of "The Face of God"


What inspired this book?

This question should be: who inspired this book, instead of what. And the answer to this, I have no doubt about it, can only be Our Lady of Guadalupe. I had written a book about her and her miraculous image in Mexico, which is certainly not made by man’s hand – and is nevertheless nearly completely unknown in Europe. I travelled around the world for years doing research. But the very day (February 2004) when I held the first copy of this brand new book in my hands, (MarĂ­a of Guadalupe, Shaper of History, Shaper of Hearts) a new door opened which made it clear in an instant that I had to write a new book of the “True Image” of Her Son, too, which was unknown to the entire world at the time.

What part of it was most fascinating to write?

It is hard to say. To tell the truth it has been fascinating from the first to the last line – in a book which has not really ended yet. New chapters are added to it from year to year, although my book remains to be the true logbook of this discovery forever.

How have people responded? What's been the feedback?

It’s different from person to person and from heart to heart. Everybody is reacting differently. I saw people crying and laughing. Some of them see and realize its divine dimension at first glance. For others – including myself – it is a process in which the image is revealed to them. In the last years – namely after Pope Benedict XVI visited the Holy Icon on September 1st 2006 – I was witness to the first waves of a growing Tsunami of pilgrims to Manoppello. This discovery might look too good to be true for quite a number of people (particularly those who never have seen the Holy Face). But it is true – and it is going to change the course of the world. The Mexicans will discover it in the near future, and then Americans, the Canadians, the Chinese and so forth. The world is going to realize what is there on that remote hill in the Abruzzi mountains.

What were you trying to get through to readers of the book?

God has left an icon of His face on earth, inexplicably imprinted on two different cloths in Manoppello and Turin. Both pieces fit as one - as two pieces of a broken seal. Now we can look at these mysterious images for the first time in history in a unique new way – beginning instead of ending with the well-founded assessment that both of them are as real and authentic as anything can be. Both of them lead us right back into the empty tomb of Jesus of Nazareth outside the walls of Jerusalem as no other document, back to the moment of the origin of these images in the early hours of April 8th in the year 30

What's next for you?

To convey and get the message of this discovery through to the world is a challenge for a lifetime.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Interview with Joseph Wambaugh, author of Hollywood Hills

What was the inspiration behind Hollywood Hills?

An LAPD cop specializing in art theft told me the story of a painting switch perpetrated by a butler.

Did you feel any different writing this book compared to the Hollywood series?

This is the fourth (and last, I think) in the Hollywood Station series so I was comfortable with the continuing characters who seemed like old friends.

What was the best compliment on the book?

The book has received great critical reviews but my favorites come from cops who say, "You got it right."
Which character did you feel was the most fun and entertaining to write?

 The Hollywood Station surfer cops, who the others call Flotsam and Jetsam, have always been fun to write.
What's next for you?

Currently, I am trying to research a novel about LAPD's Harbor Division. So far, I have interviewed 31 cops.  Usually, I need about 50 before I feel ready to go.