Writers Spotlight: John Hawkins

Red knew when she heard giggling in the M3 Coffee Shoppe, she needed to grab the makings for Cuban espresso macchiato, double, of course. Not that she really thought John Hawkins needed either caffeine or demerara, mind you, she was more interested in what he would say about success.

M3: Just for giggles, would you give the M3 Readers the short version of Who is John Hawkins?

JH:  John M. Hawkins is a consultant who helps companies and individuals achieve their goals. He graduated with a degree in business from the University of Portland. He is also the author of Affinity: Managing Java Application Servers.  John lives in Oregon with his wife and twins.

M3: Who is on your thank you list?

JH: I have to give all the credit to my younger sister, she is two years my junior. Years ago she called me on the phone and said, “You’ve really matured since you put hair remover in my shampoo. You have a lot of ideas, some great, others not so much.” She went on to say, “John, I think you should write a book”.  I wasn’t smart enough to know what that entailed, so I took her words to heart and started writing my first book.

Later, she told me that she vaguely remembered the conversation, but that had eaten bad guacamole that day, whatever. We are still friends, on Facebook, but don’t really talk all that much anymore.

M3: Indigestion can be blamed for lots of books. Tell us where you got your start.

JH: I got my start in California, I started at a very early age – I was five years old. I can remember learning my ABC’s & 123’s (ba dum bum).

I think you really need to have good fundamentals to be successful in this business. Once I mastered the basics I started working my way up the ladder. I remember reading classics like See Spot Run. One of my favorites is Green Eggs & Ham – but I didn’t stop there. I continued reading other published books.  There were some dark times in my career, psychedelic stuff like Puff The Magic Dragon, but I grew out of that phase.

M3: I am sure you found a good support group. Did you blossom after that?

JH: After spending thirty-plus years as a reader, I decided to advance my career. Enough reading, I figured. I quit reading altogether and moved into writing. If people who write about green dragons and cats in hats can do it, then I can. too!

After years of thinking about it along with a little encouragement I just did it. So, I basically went from Reader to Author.

I love you MOM & DAD!!!

M3: Be careful with the foam finger. Getting espresso out of it is a nightmare. Since you took a slightly divergent path to authorship, any advice for the newbies in the M3 audience?

JH: I would like to tell any newbie that they are just as qualified to write a book as anyone on the planet. They must take ownership of their dream.

  • They are the only one who can write the book.
  • Before they can be successful, they need to believe in themselves.
  • Don’t rely on others for motivation or accolades.
  • If you want support then find a writing group. Other than fellow writers, few will understand what it will take to accomplish the dream.

If you don’t know what to write about just start typing away on the keyboard, write in a journal, talk into a recording device – use the medium that best suits you! If you don’t have one then experiment until you find one that works. The next day start with the same theme and develop it a little more – do this for a couple months straight.

M3: This all sounds more than vaguely familiar. I am rather persistent with this theme and my publishing company.

JH: It does take persistence, but you can do it. Do that enough days in a row and you will be on your way. If you are completely at a loss then take a bike ride, visit a library, change your location & try writing there. Eventually you will find a medium that is conducive to your goal.

Oh yeah, don’t ever write for the money! Write because you are passionate about something. It doesn’t matter if you sell 1 copy or 100k copies – the accomplishment is the same: you did it!

M3: We all know a few who sold the only copy to their mother. Any bones to pick with the publishing industry?

JH: I guess that depends on the classification system we are using. Do you mean the industry classification based on the “Standard Industrial Classification” or “North American Industry Classification” system?

Regardless, here is my position. The publishing industry is a business. Business is about making a profit; publishing is not any different. I have no bones to pick with the fast food industry, oil & gas or any other industry for that matter.

The one industry I do not really understand is the “Public Administration” industry, but that’s from the “North American Classification System”, so who cares? Not me. I do like the sanitation industries such as 4953 Refuse Systems, 4950 Sanitary Services, 2840 Soap (BO is not good), and 2771 Greeting Cards cause they make people feel good.

M3: I am rather fond of 3167 Air Freshener, personally. It does double duty. Speaking of doubling up, should the M3 Readers care about your day job?

JH: I love to work. In fact, I mostly write about my experiences, best practices and lessons learned from working. My books would be pretty boring if I just stayed at home all day and didn’t work. I suppose I could write about the sleeping patterns of my gender neutral Shitzu, or the amount of time it takes for the plants to need water. Who knows, I could even run statistics on the mail man.

Perhaps a macchiato would speed the process?

I’ve noticed he’s been coming later and later – do you think in a year or two he’ll be a day late?

M3: Guarantee it. Mine is currently 26 days behind, but she has in thirty years. Since you brought up time, where do you find yours?

JH: It wasn’t finding the time to write; I had to pick what activities I did not want to do. I then replaced the old activity with writing.  The unleveraged activities include things like going in to work early, sleeping, watching television and partying. Nowadays there are lots more activities I should be doing, but don’t.

M3: I prefer the parlay method myself. So, a bit of deduction says if you are not doing things you should and still sticking to your method, you have something in the works.

JH: My wife has asked me to write about our twins or perhaps a romance novel. But since every night at home is a like a romance novel, nudge, nudge, wink, wink say no more, and those dirty novels lead to more twins, I have decided to do neither.

On a more serious note, I do have other ideas. They are all like totally wild and crazy, you know, far out…at any one point I have 100 book ideas. Today, I have more like 5 or 10 really good ideas. But I am focused on two really key ideas.

Hey, speaking of ideas, do you have any ideas of what I should write about next?  Red, can we poll the audience? Can you set up a link on your website for me?

M3: As the reigning queen of polls, look right over there in the left sidebar. No, up a touch more. See? And now, for something completely different. Did this economy change anything for you?

JH: My writing did get a little boost from the down economy. Looking around I saw so many people who were sad, under-employed and unhappy with life.

On a serious note, I’ve known several people who committed suicide since the economic downturn. That didn’t cause me to write, but I thought that if I could help people find a purpose and vision for their life, that perhaps they wouldn’t turn to drastic measures. If I could just give the world the confidence they need, would that not be worth it?

M3: Sounds like you have read to the end of my autobiography. Since we have established you may be almost as busy as I am, do you ever go on hiatus?

JH: I’ve never been to hiatus, but I hear the weather is lovely there in fall, and spring is a good time to go as well. The summer is a little hot, but where isn’t it hot, it’s summer right? Instead of going to hiatus, I like going on lacuna from time to time. Sometimes the lacuna is a day or a month. Regardless of whether you’re in hiatus or lacuna, I write because I am passionate about something or a topic of interest and want to explore it more.

When things are at a homeostasis I may or may not write. Recently I’ve been focusing on op-eds, blogging and other social media. I really enjoy working with my posse – in fact I’d like to give a shout out to two special members, Jaymie & Liz. Thanks for all you do!

M3: *Waves to Jaymie* You are surrounded by talented people. How do you feel about your colleagues?

JH: I love my colleagues, but today I have one ASK of them. Starting today I ask that they stop writing and publishing, being a businessperson and understanding the supply & demand thing. I’ve played Monopoly I know how this works. If my colleagues just stopped writing I’d sell tons more copies of my books!

Simon says “Stop Writing”, including you Red!

So, at this point I would like to ask everyone to just stop writing, please put down your typewriters, iPad, computers, pens, dip Pen. Doesn’t your nib need cleaning? It’s been a week. I’ll let you know when you can resume.

M3: Apparently, you haven’t heard how staunch my deadlines are. Let’s talk about your book. What makes Building a Strategic Plan for Your Life and Business close to your heart?

JH: How many times in life have you heard about people who have had dreams they could have accomplished but they didn’t take the risk? My grandfather was offered a job by Walt Disney to draw cartoons, which he turned down. He gave up that dream because he felt he needed to raise his children, and he couldn’t make as much money drawing cartoons. I don’t believe you should give up your dreams. If you believe in something then go for it!

Seriously you can do it, so why are you still here? Go! Skedaddle! Scoot!

M3: Because they are waiting to hear the answers to the rest of the questions. How inextricable are belief in one’s self and success?

JH: Without belief that you can be successful you will be just like every unsuccessful person out there.

M3: Nice to hear from someone else. Although you have already written the book on it, are you still finding innovative ways to be successful?

JH: Everyday I discover new techniques; I still get writers block and writer cramps. But a few aspirin and the cramps go away.

I also don’t always schedule the time to write and have other activities in life that keep me from the writing. I’ve just found ways to deal with them quickly and get back to what drives me.

M3: No need to explain life getting in the way. In the ocean of coaching books out there, what makes your fish different?

JH: The main difference between my book and everything else is that I wrote my book. I did not write everything else out there. So that’s one major difference.  The second is the content, I took what some might consider a complex at times and boring and tried to relate it to everyday life that you can apply to your life or business goals. Because I do feel there is a benefit to running your life or business strategically.

M3: The similarity between life and business is one of my touchstones. You’ve bared a few secrets. anything you want to tell me you might think I should keep under my hat?

JH: Thanks Red for taking the time to talk to me today, I had a great time.


Whew, glad that’s over, thanks for not asking me about the hole in my pants, I would hate for the readers to find out that under the business suit and tie I had on candy cane boxers. I also have Christmas tree and squirrel boxers at home, all purchased by my three beautiful daughters –I hear an echo, you’re not recording, are you? OK stop the tape … please do not use this in your interview?

M3: Borrow my hat to cover the hole. Daughters are always good suppliers of knickers. Let’s talk about money. How important is your marketing to the success of your book?

JH: My non-professional marketing pales in comparison to professional marketing. I think a better term for my marketing would be: unprofessional – I take the quality out before putting my name on it. But give me a chance; I am trying hard to do a better job. I’ve joined a program to help me become professional, The Unprofessional Marketers Anonymous (TUMA). It’s not a TUMA that’s going to help me – so I am closely looking at my options, I might outsource the marketing to India or China.

M3: That might earn you a spot in my Follies or the stink eye from Clyde.

JH: I do agree that marketing is the most important part. Often books are sold based on who wrote it, not what they wrote about. If you can’t build a persona for yourself you might as well take two weeks off from writing and then consider quitting.

M3: Personas are merely characters. Have you put on a superhero persona and had any triumphs over the industry proper?

JH: The biggest triumph I’ve had in the publishing industry is that I learned to read and write. Since then it has been pretty down hill, so no triumphs for me. But I hope to one day be triumphant, if not in publishing then perhaps in golf, badminton or as a world class barista.

I do have a goal of making a great hot sauce one day, but that’s not an easy road and the competition is fierce.

M3: Got a line on a pepper yet?

JH: I am currently thinking about developing a line of sauce using the Ghost Pepper; it’s one of the hottest peppers on the planet, perhaps the Universe. The working name is: “510 Alarm Ghost Pepper Sauce” – The Sauce That’s at 5 Alarm In and a 10 Alarm Out.

M3: Let’s add the 5 & 10. In fifteen words or less, why should the M3 Readers buy your book?

JH: I can make all your wildest dreams come true!

And for a very limited time we are giving away a free iPad to everyone who buys the book. It’s a very limited time offer; you’ll have to email me for the details. OK, so here are some of the details so the lawyers don’t get involved. Many are still being worked out, but it’s going to happen Jan 18-19, the start year will be based on the “Gregorian Calendar” in the year 2050.

You must be present to win and no purchase is necessary, but I highly advise you purchase not only one copy but also many more, 10 is a good number – the holidays are right around the corner. My book would be a great gift, and there is nothing like one stop shopping!

M3: *Scribbles note John is math challenged.* Thank you for stopping by the M3 Coffee Shoppe, John.

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Darling M3 Readers,

Stop laughing long enough to check John Hawkins out by visiting his blog and grabbing a copy of Building a Strategic Plan for Your Life and BusinessYou can connect with him on Twitter and Facebook. Enter to win a copy of Building a Strategic Plan for Your Life and Business everyday between now and Tuesday.

When you tweet and +1 this post, please use the hashtags #WW, #giveaways and #authors.

Thank you for your continued support of the authors of the M3 Coffee Shoppe. You can find out more about all the authors in the Coffee Shoppe.


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  1. I don’t think many of these very helpful publications are very helpful anymore. Not because there is anything inadequate about the quality of presentation or the insights provided. It is that in a system rigged by megacorps and megabanks and bought off congress , the ability for creative and resourceful people to rise in entrepreneurship has been curtailed making any American dream virtually unattainable. I have become very cynical as it seems the ability to realize economic democracy has been buried.

    • You bring up a good point “The ability for creative and resourceful people to rise in entrepreneurship has been curtailed”. I am one of seven children; son of a carpenter, my mother ran a day care out of our family home to make ends meet. The one thing my parents did teach me was that you never quit, you never give up. I believe it is the 90% will and the positive attitude that has helped me this far. It isn’t easy, but I do believe there are opportunities for all of us. The important thing to realize is that success isn’t always measured in financial terms.

      • Without discounting what Carl has said, I believe too many believe the only success is that of wealth. Correct me if I am wrong, Carl, but I have never seen economic democracy, if for no other reason than it is theoretical communism. I am not lifting the M3 ban on politics, but discussing economy theory.

        The term success is one which many misinterpret. Likewise, it is one many believe is an all or nothing prospect. It is neither a monetary designation nor a black/red proposal. The biggest part of strategizing success is creating attainable goals and parlaying the successes which fall within the acceptance arc into momentum to continue seeking success.

        We discussed this at length in Fear & Failure series in January after we discussed goals.
        And the loser is…
        What’s your level?
        Punt an Ostrich

  2. What a kidder! And, such an entertaining guest interview.

    I believe in not giving up your dream. If less people worried so much, and gave in to what nurtures them, we’d be a happier and healthier bunch.
    Tess Kann recently posted..Flash in the Pan: PepperMy Profile

    • I think you are right, Tess. We have been headed down the wrong paths for far too long. No wonder psychiatrists make a fortune 😉

  3. And, unfortunately, too many see their own success to the same scale as they see everyone else’s fail…
    And, too, we have spent centuries and generations trying to push down the creativity level in favor of the “let’s not rock the boat” factor…
    and because I don’t see the world and success as “they” define it, I must be “wrong” or worse “crazy”!!!

    BuddhaKat recently posted..Thursday was for Thinking, Monday is for Manifesting…My Profile


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