5 Minutes, 5 Questions With… James E. Alston, author of No More Mr. Nice Guy

JoeyPinkney.com Exclusive Interview
5 Minutes, 5 Questions With…
James E. Alston, author of No More Mr. Nice Guy

james alston no more mr nice guy book review on joeypinkneydotcom

(Three of the first ten people to comment will win a copy of James E. Alston’s No More Mr. Nice Guy.)

Congratulations to Joyce, Lisa Fikes and Asia for winning the free copies of No More Mr. Nice Guys.

This professional chronology deals with the psychosocial dynamics in a workplace environment and how those dynamics impact minorities, women and the general public. Through his interactions with subordinates, fellow managers and executives throughout this text, the author teaches invaluable lessons on how to handle undue pressure and inappropriate expectations with tenacity. This book also shows how everyone—no matter their color or creed—has a breaking point.

Pushing all the right buttons, this true story is filled with empathy and powerful directives on how to choose battles in order to win the war. Fearless and without irony, this sociological analysis of an African American who climbs the corporate ladder and hits the glass ceiling. This is a painful reminder of how little has changed in the past century. No More Mr. Nice Guy serves as a history lesson, filled with the backlash of sexism and corporate color games. Ultimately, a lesson on grace and survival, minorities and non-minorities are given a rare in-depth look into just how unfair the corporate workplace can be.

Joey Pinkney: Where did you get the idea and inspiration to write No More Mr. Nice Guy?

James Alston: It is a book that inspires us to think, see and work differently every day. I expanded my story into a book because of its social relevance. Federal job discrimination complaints filed by workers against private employers shot up 9 percent last year, the biggest annual increase since the early 1990s.

During 2007, 72,442 private sector discrimination complaints were resolved. Plus, the commission recovered approximately $345 million in compensation for those who had filed discrimination charges. This number does not include worker complaints settled before a complaint is filed or other types of quiet back room settlements.

I was inspired to write No More Mr. Nice Guy from my many experiences in Corporate America. My idea was to compel corporate executives to examine their own corporate culture and employees to be empowered. The message is: “You have the Power, Discrimination is Expensive.”

JP: As an author, what are the keys to your success that lead to No More Mr. Nice Guy getting out to the public?

JA: I started with a detailed two year business plan. I use Guerilla Marketing strategies, i.e.; talking up my book to family and friends and networking. I also joined “The Black Caucus of the American Library Association,” the “Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility” and the NAACP.

I set up a web page before the book release, sent my manuscript to four people for their review and book blurbs and gave a copy of my newly released book to the people that I mentioned on my acknowledgement page along with a request for their support.

I sent out post cards and a professional press release to targeted markets. I met personally with the local librarians or their coordinators and set up reading and book signing engagements. I also personally visited local book stores, leaving books to display and my business card and participated in Street Fairs, Book Festivals, Independent Bookstore appearances, Book Club appearances and NAACP events.

I recently approached the Marketing Department at a local college and asked about hiring a student to assist with my book promotion. I was pleasantly surprised that the college embraced the idea and said a student could actually earn “credit hours” through an internship program if it was set up properly. Along with the college credits earned, real world experience is a resume builder for the student in this tough job market, and I hope that we both can benefit from the project. I am in the process of interviewing suitable candidates.

JP: As an author, what is your writing process? How long did it take for you to start and finish No More Mr. Nice Guy?

JA: It took me approximately four years to write and release No More Mr. Nice Guy. My writing process is somewhat unconventional. There are days that I will write for several hours almost non-stop. The next day I might not write at all but instead read a book that I enjoy.

I consider myself a slow writer. After I write fifty pages, I go back and read what I have written when it is cold and I haven’t looked at it for awhile. I do not write by a set of strict rules. I do not write with the pressure of a dead line. Once I have completed my manuscript, I will ask a friend (or two) who is pretty tough on me to read and tell me what they think.

I do work with an outline to develop the characters. Using fully developed character helps to move my story in a more seamless fashion. I find that if I put undeveloped characters on paper and they come together with the other characters and situations, they might not interact well. That leaves the reader to feel frustrated.

Undeveloped characters also slow down the rhythm of the story. If I try to work with undeveloped characters, I usually develop writers block. When a character is doing something unlikely and unreal from their personality, this could leave a reader saying, “There is no way that could ever happen,” versus the reader saying, “No he didn’t …”

JP: How did you feel writing No More Mr. Nice Guy knowing that your colleagues would know exactly who you were talking about?

JA: I thought long and hard about writing No More Mr. Nice Guy. I had to work through my personal feeling of how people would or might feel about the book. I learned from other authors that when it comes to a book, everyone wants to be viewed in a good light. It is unrealistic that everyone is going to always do the right thing for themselves and others. I felt a moral responsibility to dedicate my story to employees and their families who were unable to get some fairness in the workplace.

After the book was released some of my colleagues were upset and angered, to put it mildly. Most of my colleagues were delighted that some light was shed on the subject of injustice in the company. No More Mr. Nice Guy places a face on a number of people that I witnessed who never had a chance to defend themselves. Corporate America has many cemeteries with graves of employees who should not have been fired by the hands of unjust actions.

JP: What’s next for James Alston?

JA: I am working on a second book about customer service, attentively titled A Lost Art: Why Are We So Thankful When We Find It.In this book, I disclose a unique perspective on how service affects everyday lifestyles. Service, or lack of great customer service, definitely has an impact on us mentally, physically and on our everyday decision making.


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30 thoughts on “5 Minutes, 5 Questions With… James E. Alston, author of No More Mr. Nice Guy”

  1. Wow, I loved and really enjoyed this interview. He really takes time and pride in his work. I will have to get a copy of “No More Mr. Nice Guy” and like the title too. I would love to hear more about Corporate America, since there are many of us who want to work for Corporate America to make a decent pay to take care of our families and discover all the inequalities and discrimination…are we able to fight these illegal matters and be noticed for our rights.

    1. Adrienna, you are so right. Many of us want nothing more than a solid job to provide for our families and ourselves. Corporate America is a viable option, but comes with its potential pitfalls.

      When I read this book, I saw the worse that Corporate America had to offer. More importantly, I see the best that Mr. Alston had to offer to the company, his employees, his superiors in the face of the literal definition of adversity.

  2. As a government employee with aspirations to work in Corporate America later on, I enjoyed this interview immensely. Will definitely buy the book and maybe even get a copy for my 21-year old son. He needs to know how the game is played while he is still young! He also needs to know how to handle his when the game is not played fair and his rights are infringed upon. Thanks, Joey, for sharing Mr. Alston’s interview and for bringing the book to my attention.

    1. Imani, your son will learn so much from this book. It’s not boring like a manual. It’s heart-wrenching like a well-scripted movie.

      You are so welcome for bringing this interview to your attention. I am so honored to be in a position to put it out there. We need more of this.

  3. James Alston seems very laid back with his work. I love that in an author, to me it means you get the whole story instead of a rushed, shortened story. I would love to read all of his books. I am sure i would learn alot from him.
    Nice touch helping students.

    1. Shani, I learned a lot from the part where he was talking about the two-year business plan. He is extremely organized, and it definitely boosts the success of this book.

  4. Mr. Alston has really piqued my interest with this book. The title alone presents an awesome spin on what is to come. I would love to have this book so that I can let my 14 year old know how to handle himself in corporate America.

  5. This interview was awesome, you see information about what is like to be a African America but you never get the full view because either a person does not want you to know all the information or they are afraid if they say to much it might keep them from rising up higher in corporate America. But I am so excited to see a book of this caliber and I know I will enjoy it just from reading the interview…

    1. I asked him about his former colleagues’ reaction to this book being published and in the public eye. They would recognize themselves in this, and I wondered how did that affect their relationships.

      Did you have a chance to read my review?

      1. I did and he said his colleagues did not seem angered at first but once the book came out they were but that is how things are the same when you try to corner your corporate companies to fight for certain things and then when you as a person go forward your and ask colleagues stand by you they give you the go ahead once done then they are angry or plead the 5th like they know nothing…

  6. This story really inspired me as I can relate to his anger, and stand to shed light on unethical fair treatment acts in Corporate America…I’m working on a play, that is inspired by a true story of my life and trials I endured that left me very angry. I watched employees totally ruin some people’s lives and it was and is really sad…Thank you for this man’s courage to stand…Lisa Fikes

    1. Wow, that sounds like a very interesting play. Corporate America is a two-sided affair that can be anything but fair. Thank you for sharing, and I look forward to working with you in the future.

  7. Here is the list of people who are in the running for the free copy of No More Mr. Nice Guy.

    1) Adrienna Turner
    2) Imani True
    3) Shani
    4) Unika Molden
    5) Joyce
    6) Lisa Fikes
    7) ???
    8) ???
    9) ???
    10) ???

  8. The title and subject matter of the book can discussed in light of the recent “Kanye incident.” The themes of tenacity, recognizing individual power, and refusing to “play nice” were witnessed by all who saw Kanye’s “moment.” While it can be debated whether or not he was inappropriate for what he did and how he did it, I would like to make the point that Kanye said and did what a lot of other people were thinking, and wished they could also do –namely, speak one’s mind without fear of retribution (go get ’em Kanye, but you do need some time for self-reflection and healing before you self-destruct). What I hope is that people (specifically those who feel marginalized by whatever “ism” afflicts them) who read Mr. Alston’s book will find first peace, then power, then move into action mode. This book sounds appropriate for several levels of interaction, not just the corportate world. These days, going to Walmart and feeling empowered to speak up for yourself takes tenacity. Much Success to the author.

    1. You know what? Thank you so very much for bringing up that point. That was basically the same thing I was saying to someone the other day about the Kanye West thing. He didn’t really say anything like, “YOU’RE A LIAR!! LIES!” He was more like, I think this one is the coolest…

      I also feel like said what others thought and many know. We are quick to attach him, but he is confident and that intimidates a lot of folks.

      Sure, he has to practice a little more couth, but I appreciate him.

      Now, Mr. Alston’s book should be required reading for the young Black people who are doing to pursue being a powerful and strong here in America.

      Thank you for stopping by.

  9. May I add to your comment tat this book should be required reading for young Black people — this book should be required for all Black people who, at the end of the day, feel angry, stressed, nervous, broke-down and beat down at the end of each work day. One of the other books you reviewed centers on the theme of suicide and it’s invisible presence in our community. Suicide and (credit to the late Dr. Bobby Wright) the lesser known Mentacide are forces to be dealt with. Mr. Alston’s seems to be providing a blueprint for understanding the psych(mind)social(environment)…thanks for listening.

    1. No, thank you so very much for coming and giving us some very insightful comments, S.

      You’re right. We all should have this on our reading lists. It’s simply a great book. Have you had a chance to check it out?

      You’re dropping bombs when you start bringing Dr. Wright into the picture.

  10. Here is the list of people who are in the running for the free copy of No More Mr. Nice Guy.

    1) Adrienna Turner
    2) Imani True
    3) Shani
    4) Unika Molden
    5) Joyce
    6) Lisa Fikes
    7) S
    8) ???
    9) ???
    10) ???

  11. I’m hooked !..These author reviews are awesome !..It’s great to get an insight into how an author achieves their ultimate dream of publishing a book that will inspire others !…

    Sounds like this book has a raw insight on minorities in the workforce and as we all know – sometimes the truth hurts! Even with an African American president, we will always have those hills to climb !.This too sounds like a great read !

  12. Excellent interview…Mr. Alston’s book is about something that many of us are aware of and actually live through but don’t know how to overcome. A book I would definitely read…

  13. Here is the list of people who are in the running for the free copy of No More Mr. Nice Guy. James E. Alston has sent three copies, so instead of one winner, there will be three winners in this list of ten people.

    1) Adrienna Turner
    2) Imani True
    3) Shani
    4) Unika Molden
    5) Joyce
    6) Lisa Fikes
    7) S
    8) Montae Pinkney
    9) Asia
    10) Natalyne Bledsoe

  14. I really appreciated this interview. Very impressed with this author’s story. As a 29 year old Black man in the entertainment field of radio and music production i can see ALOT of parallels to what i see here most days.. Thank you so much for such an incredible interview.. Definitely going to read the next one.

  15. Firstly, I admire how transparent Alston is with his journey to publication. I’m sure aspiring writers everywhere will appreciate such honest and specific details as to how Alston was able to make this treasure of a book come to life. Secondly, I have to say that the issues that are addressed in No More Mr. Nice Guy are completely relatable and real, not only to those in corporate America, but to minorities and women who work in various professional settings across the nation. This book seems to be very empowering in directly exposing issues of discrimination which are so often expressed and carried out covertly in today’s society. The need for these issues to be realized and dealt with in a just manner is a urgent. It’s highly upsetting to hear about people carrying out such discriminating behaviors and, furthermore, getting away with it year after year. I’m sure that the publication of this book ruffled many feathers, but as I remember you so often saying James, “If it quacks, it’s a duck!” Kudos to you for being the voice of those who have been injustly treated in the workplace based on their race and/or sex. Keep the publications rolling. Cheers!

  16. This was a great interview. I applaud Mr. Alston for taking a stance and sharing his story with us. It is sad to see that there has not been much progress in corporate America as people would like to think. Even today, I can still see some of the issues that Mr. Alston talks about in his book, but some people are too afraid to speak out and do something to stop the behavior for fear of losing their job or backlash from co-workers.

    It is amazing how Alston utilized sources that are available to us everyday to get the word out about his book and how we too can do the same if we have a story to tell.

    I look forward to the next book on “Customer Service” which I know is another area that people should really take notice of and be prepared to act. Alston should continue to write more informative books, of course at his own pace, we need to hear his story!

  17. Congratulations Mr. Alston,
    I was trully thrilled and inspired by your interview with Joe Pinkney. As a former employee of a fortune 500 company, I was elated with the fact that you were able to bring this problem to light. I most certainly appreciate that your book will raise awareness of a problem that continues plagued the coperate community beyond measure for generations. Such an awareness should be included in basic training and orientation requirements within all agencies & companies. I was truly inspired by the interview to purchase the book and await your second book.

  18. I am a bookseller who has hosted Jay in my shop for a signing. I would point out that the marketing efforts Jay has used are quite effective – and these are efforts most authors are expected to commit to in this age. The book itself is a remarkably positive account, which helps get the points across.

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