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5 Minutes, 5 Questions With… Dawn McCoy, author of Leadership Building Blocks: An Insider’s Guide to Success

JoeyPinkney.com Exclusive Interview
5 Minutes, 5 Questions With…
Dawn McCoy, editor of Leadership Building Blocks: An Insider’s Guide to Success
(Flourish Publishing Company)

Written by Dawn McCoy, one of the youngest elected members to serve on the Sacramento City Unified School Board of Trustees, this pivotal book shows how ordinary people can become extraordinary leaders. Geared towards aspiring leaders or those already in leadership positions, Leadership Building Blocks: An Insider’s Guide to Success outlines seven strategies to achieve success. These include Vision, Balance, Courage, Relationship Building, Tenacity and Commitment to Legacy.

McCoy candidly shares personal triumphs and challenges she faced in the political arena and other leadership roles. She draws attention to Leadership Building Blocks’ fundamentals, skills designed to distinguish a leader. Each concept is illustrated by an example, application, and story. With easy-to-follow icons, leadership self-assessments, and goal-setting worksheets, McCoy takes readers through her experiences while simultaneously giving them tools to succeed in their leadership roles.

Leadership Building Blocks provides step-by-step procedures about where leaders begin, how they can advocate for their cause, and how they can deftly maneuver through unpredictable circumstances.

Joey Pinkney: Where did you get the idea and inspiration to write your book Leadership Building Blocks?

Dawn McCoy: The inspiration to write Leadership Building Blocks came to me in two ways. During my years as a nonprofit executive and elected school board trustee, I witnessed shortcomings among leaders in business, politics and community groups. For me, the ideas developed when I wanted to provide solid, easy-to-digest solutions to common leadership challenges. Eventually, these ideas became the premise for the seven leadership building blocks.

Second, my grandmother and aunties inspired me to write because of their legacy sewing quilts. For years, I’ve watched them weave together from scrap materials and clothing creative home-spun blankets, quilts and wall-hangings. They have created stories that come alive from fabric and decorative embellishments. When I received a quilted square handed down from a great-great aunt, I knew I had n obligation to tell a story using my creativity.

So, Leadership Building Blocks came to me as a way to both tell my story about life in public office and the local political landscape. In the process, I shared lessons learned with the intent to help others get in, survive and manage leadership roles.

JP: What sets Leadership Building Blocks apart from other guides on leadership?

DM: There are a lot of leadership books such as reference guides, business management and personal development. To me, some leadership books and biographies fall short without delivering real strategies about how to become a better leader.

Leadership Building Blocks will inspire readers to jump in, take on or tackle any leadership role. Too often we hear about leaders making bad decisions. This book is the perfect solution to bring integrity back to leadership. It is filled with kernels of wisdom, chapter-by-chapter icons and self-assessments.

JP: As an author, what are the keys to your success that lead to Leadership Building Blocks getting out to the public?

DM: For me, there are two keys to my success getting the word about out to the public.

First, it’s about staying balanced. This means staying centered on a personal level. It also means having a solid support system. I often quote noted African American dancer Katherine Dunham who said “Go within every day and find the inner strength so that the world will not blow your candle out.”

Second, it’s simply about connecting with people. Finally, I’ve found success already getting the word out about Leadership Building Blocks through leveraging my network. In other words, I’ve found success connecting with people given their needs or challenges.

JP: As an author, what is your writing process? How long did it take for you to start and finish Leadership Building Blocks?

DM: My writing process is to write when and where inspired. I always keep a notebook with me to jot down thoughts, observations and notes. Typically, I work with an outline but give myself the flexibility to move sections and chapters around.

Also, since I write non-fiction, I’m inspired by greatly current events and personal circumstance. For instance, the section and chapters about legacy was written just after my grandmother died in 2007. The epilogue was completed just as President Barack Obama was elected as the first African American U.S. president.

In total, writing Leadership Building Blocks took me about three years to complete. The challenging part near the end was editing out exercises and text that will be part of a leadership workbook.

JP: What’s next for Dawn McCoy?

Right now, I’m excited to be on a national tour for Leadership Building Blocks speaking at conferences and visiting local bookstores and colleges. Over the next few months, this will include book signings in New York, DC, Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas, and Los Angeles. It’s really an exciting time!

Last fall, I rolled out a new audio CD, Effective Community Engagement: Seven Steps to Make a Real Difference. Included are excerpts from chapter 13 of Leadership Building Blocks and also concrete ways about how to become a better champion for a cause, community group or faith-based organization. These step-by-step techniques are timeless insights to help people really take action rather than just talk about it.

Later this summer, I’ll finish work on the leadership workshop and on my next book Winning Campaign Building Blocks. That book will be a guide about running successful grassroots political campaigns. It is set for release in 2011, so I’ll put the finishing touches on it by late September.

Finally, I’m delighted to share that I’m exploring some collaborative work with other noted leadership experts.

Flourish Leadership Group


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Dawn McCoy, President and CEO
Flourish Leadership Group, LLC
Motivational Speaker, Leadership Consultant, and Author of Leadership
Building Blocks: An Insider’s Guide to Success
“Empower Effective Leaders for Today and Tomorrow”
Direct: (916) 201-7189
Toll-Free: (877) 210-4049

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P.S.S. Dawn McCoy provided a book to JoeyPinkney.com to give away to one of its readers.

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