Please type all responses in Blue. Answer as a band or spokesman for the band.
Stuck is a book about how people work. It connects to a common challenge we share, which is the unwillingness to do the next thing. Whether it is in our personal life, a relationship, or at work; this a shared barrier for so many of us. The challenge starts in our brain where we have to stop trying to use logic to get through these challenges and instead connect with our MEL – the memory, emotion, and learning – that will help us understand why we are Stuck and, more importantly, get un-Stuck. The book includes research, stories, and exercises to help people explore their personal experiences, relationships, work experiences, and organizations to understand how they get Stuck.
How long did it take you to complete?
The book is part of a 20 year-journey by my co-author Victoria Grady who has been conducting research on these topics for that entire time. I have worked with her on research, writing, and presenting for the last decade. Because we had formulated our story so well, when the pandemic hit, we just decided it was time to write it. It only took us about 6 months to actually write the book once we got started.
Who are some of your top 5 authors or writers you look up to & admire?
I admire writers for what they have to say and for how they construct their work. This is how I learn from their work. And while there may be pure authors that provide more to my writing style, I think these five have been strong influences in different ways:
J.D. Salinger – for telling stories with purpose and meaning like the truly American post-war stories of the Glass family
Anna Burns – for creating entire worlds that can feel like anyone and using the language of the familiar to explore division
Dan Pink – as the business/societal writer I most structure my style around
Brene Brown – for bringing heart and soul into her writing
Aaron Sorkin – for writing compelling dialogue with gripping storylines that keep the viewer/reader engaged with each detail
Why do you write?
I write to share ideas. I like to work with my team and my colleagues to think complexly and communicate simply. Writing is where we can take hours, days, weeks, or years or ideas and bring them together into a story that helps create understanding with people across generations. It also helps me relax and feel like the ideas that have been circling in my head for that expressed period have found a home on a page.
What’s the biggest take away you want your readers to come away with after reading your latest work?
We want our readers to understand that when they are trying to change something in their own life or in their workplace that resistance is natural. In fact, it is biological. People get Stuck because a new behavior challenges MEL – memory, emotion, or learned behavior. What is already in the brain is connected to positive or comfortable emotions, so when it is changed, the reaction will immediately be fear. That is a biological response that cannot be overcome with logic. It can only be met with empathy and emotional understanding that will help a person through the desired change.
How is the writing/reading scene in your locale?
Victoria and I both live and work in the Washington, DC area. It is a great place for writers. While DC is rarely recognized for its robust creative class, we have all the makings of it across the region. There are a number of universities, great venues for sharing ideas and going to reflect/write, amazing outdoor space to collect your ideas and build your narratives, and we have seasons, which I think make for well-rounded writing.
What’s the best book you’ve ever read?
There is no way to answer that question, but I will answer in the context of our latest work. The book that has Stuck with me over time is The Count of Monte Cristo. I still remember the way it made me feel as I read it and many of the impactful lessons told throughout the complicated storyline. It also has one of the most powerful finishing lines of any book I have read – “He who has felt the deepest grief is best able to experience supreme happiness. Live, then, and be happy, beloved children of my heart, and never forget, that until the day God will deign to reveal the future to man, all human wisdom is contained in these two words, ‘Wait and Hope.’”
It is a concept that grows with you. I first read the book when I was in high school. When I was younger the “grief” that I experienced would have been trite compared to what I have experienced through life now, but so much smaller too were the measures of joy compared to the family my wife and I have built. Likewise, while these were once words that were comforting to me, is it is hard not to think about them as words to my own children now.
When did you first realize you wanted to become a writer?
I have always loved writing. I loved the writing assignments in school and hated tests. My father used to say it was because writing assignments allowed me to BS, but I think is because I always wanted to tell more of a story. When I was in college, I would lock myself in the library with a borrowed laptop (not everybody had them back then) for my allocated 3-hour rental period and write for three hours straight. Then I would return the laptop, get a coffee, wait for someone to claim it, and when no one did, I would take it out again and repeat. After college, when I was consulting, I would write mock speeches for political candidates and write scenes for movies when I needed to get ideas out. Throughout my doctoral program, I always loved the writing assignments. I would get lost in the process for entire weekends and come out with chapters of my dissertation. I think it is just part of who I am.
How have you evolved as a writer over the last year?
Two big changes – shorter format and more visualization. I am so eager to get ideas across simply, that I find myself cutting the format down into the shortest form possible. I am not sure if there will be another book for a long time, as I really enjoy these shorter pieces. Additionally, I have been using a lot of visualization to create the story. I love having one visual instead of three pages.
If you could meet, have dinner, have a drink with anyone (writer/non-writer) (dead or alive) who would it be?
It would be a writer and someone who I think embodies the lessons of Stuck – Lin-Manual Miranda. First, as a writer he creates such rhythm and cadence that should be mirrored in any writing, even business writing. Heck, even in academic writing. Complex sentences are overrated. They prove nothing. Evidence proves; words confuse. His writing is simple and direct, but also syncopated and the tone is aligned with characters to create the right voice across all his works whether its Broadway or animated films. It is nearly perfect writing, even absent the amazing music.
Second, the connect to Stuck is his ability to connect our MEL. He builds memory and learning off emotion better than anyone I have seen. He changed opinions about history and created new archetypes of our revered founding fathers, things that are often considered sacred ground in the U.S. Through our research, I have come to believe we need this kind of creative approach to change minds on other big issues as well and I would love to hear how a creative mind could build new worlds around our challenges today.
What’s next for you?
It’s simple, help people get un-Stuck. For the last four years, I have been building my company Simatree. In December of 2021, we joined Galway Holdings to help increase our capacity to grow. We support organizations – companies, governmental organizations, and non-profits – with their toughest organizational transformations. We put the practices of Stuck in place every day with our clients and we will keep doing that for as long as we can. I keep writing, but the next project hasn’t emerged yet.
RELATED URL: https://www.simatree1.com/
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