What Makes You Tick & What Ticks You Off: How The Basic Elements of Temperament Will Lead You to a Happier Life This is a non-fiction book that explains temperament (i.e., that part of our personality that deals with behaviors and our reactions to them) and provides guidance on how the four Basic Elements of temperament (i.e., Earth, Air, Fire and Water) influence how we view the world. Our book utilizes easy-to-understand, everyday situations depicting common conflicts (e.g., fights with a spouse, arguments at work, misunderstandings with children, etc.) that are then analyzed in terms of the Basic Elements at play. Of special note is our view that our “shadow” temperament, that is, the temperament that least describes how we view the world and how we characterize ourselves, as typically the cause of our most common conflicts and problems with others.
Tell us something about yourself.
I was born in Illinois but grew up in Southern California in Buena Park (near Knotts Berry Farm). I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Marshall Islands for 3 years followed by an additional 7 years of consulting and various staff positions for Peace Corps in Micronesia and Samoa. A journalism major in college, I have written six screenplays and a number of other articles. I have been involved with management and leadership training in the US and in about 30 countries around the world. My wife, Sue, and I met when we were in the Peace Corps in Western Samoa and we now live in New Orleans. I have a son who will soon be a DC policeman and have two grandsons.
What inspired you to write this book?
My co-author, Jim Harden, and I have used temperament theory in our workshops for many years and were often asked for more information about it. We found that most of the information out there on the subject was very academic and not geared for the layperson – the ones who needed the information the most. We believed that we could provide a clear and reader-friendly understanding of temperament.
How did you publish this book?
Jim Harden and his wife, Lynda, did a lot of research on publishing and found Kevin Kremer at Snow in Sarasota Publishing who guided us through the self-publishing process. We published our book under the name Shadow Stone Publishing. While we were a bit nervous about self-publishing, we felt much better about it when noted author Ken Blanchard (“The One Minute Manager”) and his son Scott (“Leverage Your Best, Ditch the Rest”) agreed to write the foreword for our book and were very complimentary about what they had read.
How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?
In college I wrote for our daily newspaper while majoring in journalism. I always felt that my education and practical newspaper training enhanced my natural bias toward being skeptical of authority, focused on facts, and logical in telling a story. While in the Peace Corps I began to write short stories (unpublished) and was inspired by a friend who is the brother of author, Paul Theroux. Later, when I was traveling throughout the world doing management consulting I began working on screenplays. I just kept at it.
What do you believe is the hardest part of writing?
For me, the hardest part is getting started. It is often difficult to decide when I have a complete story to tell. However, when that lightning strikes, and it could be at any time of the day or night, I start and it all comes pouring out. But I never know when that lightning will strike.
How do you do research for your books?
For “What Makes You Tick and What Ticks You Off” Jim Harden and I had lots of materials related to temperament that we had accumulated and saved from our various workshops. These participant responses focused us on practical explanations based on questions, comments and reactions we had from hundreds of folks over the years. We also reviewed some of the classic volumes on temperament (e.g., “Please Understand Me II” by David Keirsey, “Type Talk at Work/How the 16 Personality Types Determine Your Success” by Otto Kroeger and Janet Thuesen) and other books that shed more recent light on temperament.
Did you learn anything from writing this book? What?
I think the main thing I learned was that self-improvement and improved relationships are complex and very difficult to understand. I think the self-imposed rigor we used to insure “readability” and logic of these complex concepts will help to clarify them for the average reader.
What are you reading now?
I am currently reading, “Meeting the Shadow” by Zweig and Abrams.
What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Why?
I like whodunits! I think it’s because I’m an “Air temperament and enjoy the logic of the stories and like to try and figure out “whodunit!” I like Agatha Christie and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle the best.
Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?
Yes, I am working on a book that I hope will further the discussion on our “shadow” temperament. While all of us have all four Basic Elements within us, it is our fourth temperament, that is, the temperament that least characterizes us (at least from our personal perspective) that typically gets us into trouble with others. Ken Blanchard told us he thought our work on the shadow temperament in our first book was of great interest to him and we want to build on that to explore those behaviors and improvement practices in more detail.
What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?
I think it was James Michener who once said, “The only difference between a professional writer and an amateur writer is that the amateur quits!” My advice to other writers is to write about something you’re passionate about. As for publishing, I would tell any writer NOT to wait for the traditional publishing houses to find you. The publishing business is rapidly changing. Explore other options. Read Dan Poynter’s “Self-Publishing Manual.” Contact Kevin Kremer at Snow in Sarasota Publishing for help.
What are you doing to promote your latest book?
Kevin Kremer is coordinating our distribution. Jim Harden and I have done book signings at a number of bookstores and our book can now be found online at Amazon, Books-A-Million, Barnes and Noble, etc. In addition, Jim and I continue to conduct interactive workshops for clients who want to spend a half-day or full day on the topic of temperament. Jim is the keynote speaker at a conference coming up in May 2009. We have also developed a set of cards and legos as complementary learning tools to accompany our book. You can find them on our website (see below).