Posts Tagged ‘Success’

Mandela and Malala

Monday, December 9th, 2013

Nelson Mandela died last Thursday.  By any standards Mandela was a great human being whose life symbolizes the true Nelson_Mandela-2008_(edit)meaning of success.

Nelson Mandela was not a perfect human being. He was married three times and divorced twice. I am sure that in his youth he may have had to take actions which incorporated qualities of anger and frustration, perhaps even violence. In many ways the life of Mandela is a case study of how a strong leader needs to embrace both masculine and feminine qualities. Without the fierce strength and perhaps even aggression of his youth, Mandela would not have been in a position to show the power of forgiveness in solidifying lasting change. As Nelson Mandela learned the true nature of balance in his personal and political life, he was able to achieve lasting results which were truly extraordinary.

More than any other statesman, Nelson Mandela represented unity and overcoming separatism. Those who knew Mandela personally felt he exuded the quality of love. Certainly the photographs from his later life show a man who was able to smile and laugh and enjoy the quiet moments of life. That he was fearless in confronting those who abused and mistreated him and his people, and that he was able to genuinely forgive those  who sometimes hated him and his purpose, made him a unique and admirable leader and human being.

I see many of these same qualities of balancing male and female energy in Malala. Malala was born when Mandela was already 79 years old.  Many years will have to pass before we are able to determine how significant a role Malala will have on the world stage, but whatever her role the lesson we can learn is that fearlessness for one’s personal safety, dedication to a larger purpose based on simple justice, human decency, and the willingness to remain true to one’s roots and family are qualities both of these larger than life personalities share.

Nelson Mandela was the son of a tribal chief. Malala is the daughter of a school teacher. In neither case were these families positioned to create great world leaders. That is exactly the point. No matter who you are, no matter who your parents, grandparents or relatives may be, you are potentially a great world leader. What impact you have on the world may never be formally recognized in the way that Nelson Mandela and Malala have been recognized, but the impact of your life may be just as great.

Everyone matters, everyone can contribute. We can create a just and peaceful world with opportunity for all. The life of Nelson Mandela confirms this truth. We salute a great soul whose journey no doubt continues at this time to contribute to the intended joy of all creation.

The Meaning of Success

Friday, December 6th, 2013

There is a John Lennon song from his 1980 Double Fantasy album called Woman which talks about the meaning of Bed-In_for_Peace,_Amsterdam_1969_-_John_Lennon_&_Yoko_Ono_16success. John did not have a perfect life and he died much too young. As someone who achieved so much in the world of music with fame and fortune, John was clearly a success. We know he had rocky times with his first wife and later with Yoko Ono, but it seems he was able to navigate those rough patches and reach a new level with Yoko before he died. His song Woman was definitely written for her, thanking her for the guidance she had given him in helping him to wake up to the true meaning of success.

I find this song particularly relevant to my own writing and my own thinking about where we are headed as a species.  The indigenous have told us that we need to incorporate more feminine values into our culture if we are to survive. I believe this is true. I also believe that it is not only possible but actively taking place.

I have experienced extraordinary success in multiple areas of my life. Despite following a relatively conservative path of going to private schools such as Yale and Harvard, and taking a Fortune 500 executive position with Harcourt Brace when still a young man, I have always felt that I have been a pioneer and a risk taker. I started my literary agency in San Diego, California at a time when very few literary agents outside of New York City had any meaningful success. I became an expert on computer books at a time when the majority of book agents and book publishers had little if any interest in such books. I drifted into representing mind body spirit books when such titles were still not mainstream.  Success has followed me in all these areas, but the real success of my business life has been in the relationships I have formed with authors, editors, and publishers.

There have been a few exceptions, but for the most part I like and respect everyone with whom I have done business. The majority of books I have represented have helped people in some way. I have enjoyed the economic privileges that come from representing major bestselling authors, and I would not feel the same about my career and position in the world of publishing and the world at large had I not had such significant and measurable public success.  But in the end the  true meaning of success will be  in what is left behind, in the number of people I have helped, in the good that has come from the books I have helped get published.

I am moving increasingly into the area of public speaking and my own writing. I will continue to agent books but increasingly take on fewer and fewer new clients. I am open to the extraordinary, but the extraordinary will be judged by the impact that can be made, not necessarily by the number of copies that will be sold. I will also continue to use our e-book publishing company to bring new voices to the general public. The newest voices I will be publishing next month will be dolphin voices. I kid you not. I have the honor and privilege of publishing the first book written by dolphins. There will be doubters. Major publishers will probably not want to pick up our e-book.  But be on the lookout for Dolphin Letters: Vital Information from Sea to Land.  Of course there is a human go-between who took down the dolphin communication. I will be writing more about this unique author and book later this month. Suffice to say, the dolphins truly understand the meaning of success. To quote John Lennon again, “Perhaps I am a dreamer, but I am not the only one.”

Imagine and succeed.

Interview with Mark Goulston

Wednesday, July 10th, 2013

I have spent my life as a literary agent, publisher, and filmmaker and remain delighted to continue to work with writers. My mother was a writer, book collector and literary scholar with a fascination for what she termed second-rate Victorian novelists. She loved the way those authors captured an era and brought it to life. My father was a publisher.  So you can see how I was hooked on books from birth.

Writers, good ones and even sometimes mediocre ones, often communicate through the written word some of the deepest thoughts, most compelling observations, and most innovative concepts to which we are ever exposed.   Successful writers capture the human condition with poignancy and empathy, reveal the true meaning of friendship and loyalty, take us to places we might otherwise never visit, and create worlds beyond what we ever might imagine.  Writers inform, create, provoke, and empower. They are often eccentric and rarely dull. I hope this series of interviews will allow you to enjoy, as IDebMark do, getting to know these talented and successful  authors.

My first featured author, Mark Goulston, is an extraordinary individual. His own blog is full of fascinating and useful insights. Read his bio below as well as his answers to these questions and reflect on the many different ways and reasons successful writers choose to write:

1.     What got you started writing, and what did it take for you to become a writer?

I have been keeping a journal since 1976, after finally making it through a tumultuous time in medical school, and I’m on volume 220 with more than 40,000 pages.  That morphed into writing books when I met my first co-author Philip Goldberg who told his agents that I had already been on Donahue, Oprah, Today, NY Times, Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Magazine about the work I was doing helping divorced couples get back together with their ex-spouse and successfully remarry. I didn’t write about this “recoupling therapy” because I was also focused on suicide and violence intervention and treatment, which was more compelling to me at the time. (more…)


Friday, May 17th, 2013

Good or bad? The word  Playboy growing up suggested success . Success with women and  living a life of  excitement, living a life of play and not work. Of course  as I grew older I learned that being a playboy had its limitations. It implied a lack of commitment, a lack of maturity.

I would never consider myself having been a playboy but I certainly had  years of not being serious and I like the idea of playing.

Yesterday I had lunch with  my good friend Scott Flanders. Scott  happens to be the CEO of Playboy Enterprises. Yes, the  Playboy  company created by Hugh Heffner. The playboy company with the magazine with the pretty girls.  The nude centerfolds, the sexy jokes and the  often well written articles.

Scott has only been the CEO for the last four years. Before that he ran  Freedom Communications, the company that owned the Orange County Register and many other local newspapers. Before that Scott ran Columbia house and before that Scott  was the publisher of Que , one of the leading computer book companies.  That was close to twenty years ago. That was when Scott and I   used to go to conferences together  and in the beginning compete for the best computer book authors and later  collaborate on creating some highly profitable book series. (more…)


Friday, April 19th, 2013

Ever consider whether or not your life is successful?

Recently I joked to a golf buddy that my inability to differentiate between a washer and a dryer is an indication that I have lived a successful life. As a young man my clothes were washed by maids and even in college I would arrange to come home when my cache of clean clothes were no longer clean. I may have once or twice gone to a Laundromat but actually do not remember ever having done so. I  vaguely recall   using  a  washing  machine or dryer in my own home but again I  have always employed others  who would  do these  tasks for me. I have been warned that it is politically incorrect to reveal such an elitist upbringing and lifestyle but I do so not to create a sense of separation from others but to make a point. The definition of a successful life in reality has nothing to do with whether or not any of us do or has done manual labor. I have worked as a dishwasher at a hotel restaurant, as a cattle  herder in Brazil, as a housepainter, and  a book packing clerk, but most of my work has been cerebral in which my hands were used for writing. The definition of a successful life has nothing to do with how much luxury we may experience on a daily basis. Nor does it have any direct connection to the number and quality of our material possessions. (more…)