JoeyPinkney.com Exclusive Interview
5 Minutes, 5 Questions With…
James E. Alston, author of No More Mr. Nice Guy
(Three of the first ten people to comment will win a copy of James E. Alstonâ€™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 everyoneâ€”no matter their color or creedâ€”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: â€œYou have the Power, Discrimination is Expensive.â€
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 â€œThe Black Caucus of the American Library Association,â€ the â€œInterfaith Center on Corporate Responsibilityâ€ 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 â€œcredit hoursâ€ 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 havenâ€™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, â€œThere is no way that could ever happen,â€ versus the reader saying, â€œNo he didnâ€™t …â€
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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