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A World Beyond ADHD: Interview with Author Jeff Emmerson

(Part 2 of a 2-Part Series)

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Beyond ADHD, the highly anticipated book by Jeff Emmerson and Robert Yehling, will release worldwide from Rowman-Littlefield Publishers on August 16. Pre-ordering is available now.)

Happiness and excitement filled our hearts as we drove across the 401 highway in Ontario, Canada, destined for the U.S. border. Our happiness was borne by the anticipation of the answers I might receive at our destination, answers that would explain and perhaps present new directions in a life I’d had such a hard time understanding, right down to my ADHD diagnosis five years before

— From Beyond ADHD, by Jeff Emmerson and Robert Yehling

Jeff Emmerson’s revolutionary look at the ADHD diagnosing and prescribing epidemic, Beyond ADHD, breaks down into two parts: the current environment and pressures that are causing so much diagnosing and prescribing; and looking ahead into much more helpful, progressive, and successful ways of working with those dealing with attention issues.

In this segment of our interview, Jeff gives us a peek into Part II, and how things might look if we utilized fitness, diet, further education, behavioral therapy and other approaches — approaches that, frankly, feed the whole person — rather than the current prescribe-first mentality.

Word Journeys: One of your biggest supporters of this book is Dr. Allen Frances, the former chair of John Hopkins Medical School and esteemed chair of the DSM-IV committee, which sets diagnosis and prescription guidelines for more than 300 defined mental health issues. What did Dr. Frances tell you that further inspired you to address these issues?

Emmerson: When I discovered his stance on ADHD, current diagnosing standards and his beliefs about the big-picture of what it is to be “normal” these days, I was immediately refreshed (if surprised at the same time). He confirmed my fears early on when he spoke about true ADHD diagnosis prevalence being around 4 percent in American children. Considering he was the Chair of the DSM-IV task force, this was very, very believable. After all, it would be only too easy for him (of all people) to “toe the party line,” but no – he told the truth, even when it wasn’t convenient. He also speaks adamantly about the current opioid crisis and many other topics in healthcare that are severely lacking, ones we need to address with courage, honesty and the desire to get ahead of them before epidemics come forth any more then the opioid one already has, frankly. ADHD may well be on the same path in its own way.

Word Journeys: Another big supporter of alternative approaches, and Beyond ADHD, is Dr. Marianne Kuzujanakis, director of the SENG Institute for Gifted Children. Can you speak to how focusing on a child’s or adult’s gifts, and their natural hunter-gatherer minds, actually takes us beyond the ADHD mindset?

Emmerson: It’s funny what we can achieve when three key things (are allowed to) happen:

  • Our natural abilities are uncovered, focused on and supported;
  • We’re taught to have a “growth-mindset” that teaches self-resilience and focusing on lessons to be learned from every “failure or mistake;” and
  • Different learners or personalities from the “norm” are empowered in environments that focus on strengths and don’t force them to learn in areas that they may have zero interest in (those not needed for day to day life).

Self-worth, confidence, positive morale toward society, and inspiration toward imagination and self-growth need to be taught and nurtured in education systems more than ever. A new day has arrived. We need to buy into the medical model for being “different” and focus instead upon the unique abilities and passions that each of us have within. This cookie-cutter approach to education (at the cost of any alternatives for many millions of us) simply doesn’t cut it, and it’s showing in a number of ways in a profoundly “sick” society.

Word Journeys: What role has Big Pharma played in the increase in ADHD diagnoses?

Jeff Emmerson: An immense one, more than many of us might realize. From suggestive advertising to Americans and those in New Zealand via television to funding healthcare providers, offering incentives to drug reps and physicians to advertising in more subtle ways through online media outlets, and through heavily influencing research findings, they pretty much have their hands in everything, not to mention the U.S. government, in a huge way. While medications definitely help some live better lives, there are billions of dollars changing hands, so following the money to understand its potential influence is of crucial importance.

Word Journeys: A growing number of people think ADHD is a catch-basin, not really an affliction, but more a convenient label for what could be a hundred different things. What is your opinion of that?

Emmerson: I get where they’re coming from! Let’s use some common sense for a moment. I believe that the diagnosis does help some in a wonderful way; I know it does, in fact. I’ve been told tons of stories from others, and I’m all for whatever empowers and helps people learn more about themselves and tools toward self-worth, resilience and most of all, self-awareness. However, the pendulum has swung way too far in favor of rushed, ill-informed ADHD diagnoses to put a band-aid on issues we simply aren’t equipped to address at their deeper cores.

Once I discovered how easily I was wrongly diagnosed with ADHD, my world was never the same again. I saw the elephant in the room where ADHD is concerned: What it is; how to diagnose it (as a diagnosis of exclusion since nearly one hundred other true root causes mimic it); and how to treat it/see it in society. I could NOT, in good conscience, let this newfound awareness go. My soul screamed to bring it to the world through building the largest online community I humanly could.

Word Journeys: You combined your personal stories with the pressing issues in Beyond ADHD. What did you learn about your own journey while weaving your stories into the material?

Emmerson: First of all, I quickly realized that I’m far from alone in living with these symptoms. Beyond that, I’m both humbled and fiercely driven from all the learning I’ve done over the last four years or so. I now have three or four additional book topics in mind for future projects (based in mental health and current society) that I know are needed desperately by millions of people going through challenges in this realm (including those who care for them in any number of capacities).

I also learned (and confirmed to myself) that even if life seems lost, even if the conventional road to what society calls success doesn’t work and we make mistakes that seem insurmountable (with the shame that often comes with them), we CAN completely turn things around with the right support, shift in mindset and faith/resilience. Man, that’s the most humbling part of it all for me – that and seeing others who have been somehow touched by my efforts. I now want others to feel the way I do. I’m more at peace than I’ve ever been. Everything from here on in is icing on the cake.

Word Journeys: If you could envision a society beyond the current ADHD protocols, what would it look like?    

Emmerson: We’d re-evaluate current education, healthcare, food, water, industry, parenting and other social support structures/initiatives in society. Then, I’d look beyond labeling in psychiatry/psychology and look at ways to evolve through a strengths-based approach, entrenched in a solid foundation from as young as possible. From there, massive investment into the collective well-being of society would be made in forms we deem most important from both macro and micro perspectives while ensuring minimal waste of said investments to ensure well-targeted and efficient service to society. It would be tracked and watched to constantly be improved upon as time passes and the world evolves/encounters challenges. That would be a good start.

As we know, it’s much easier to raise a healthy, equipped child by investing in their upbringing than it is to try and mend a distressed or “damaged” adult human being. We should always be mindful of that — from the moment we become parents, educators or healthcare providers.

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Nostalgia: Best of Word Journeys Blogs, Memories of Breakout Magazine, the Legacy of ‘Ball Four’

Catching up after a fun midsummer weekend that featured two interesting correlations between the writing world and memory lane …

Just wrapped up Creating Adventures, Sharing Stories: The Best of Word Journeys Blogs, Vol. 1. I took 50 representative blogs (plus one) from the seven-year history of this blog, touched them up, threw in a little backstory behind its creation, and compiled them into book form. What a joy to relive many of these moments, and also to be reminded of the rich variety of life, people and experience offered by an excursion into the writing life – whether for a day or a lifetime.

The Best of Word Journeys Blogs has a section dedicated to the writing craft, but it’s much more than that. The pieces and stories span across the cultural spectrum, with plenty of words about a few of my favorite things: Gold Rush country, education, the beach, libraries, music, poetry readings, Southern-fried storytelling, social media, surfing and ocean sports, and underpinning it all, the vital importance of having full experiences and reading often. I’ll give a few previews in the next 2 weeks.

The Best of Word Journeys Blogs will be available August 29 through Amazon.com, Kindle, and all e-readers. It is published by Tuscany Global, which also published Backroad Melodies. Hope you pick one up for yourself, and an early holiday gift for a friend – it is full of stories.

Catching up in Oceanside with fellow Breakout editor Kevin Kinnear

Catching up in Oceanside with fellow Breakout editor Kevin Kinnear

 

WHILE CHECKING OUT THE OCEANSIDE LONGBOARD CHAMPIONSHIPS on Saturday, ran into my old friend and fellow board sports journalist Kevin Kinnear. Kevin and I started our magazine careers at Breakout Magazine, California’s regional surf magazine in the 1980s and one of the better ocean sports regionals in the world. The magazine was co-founded in 1979 by George Salvador, who had given me my first newspaper job in 1976 at The Breeze.

The times we had: routinely pulling all-nighters to get issues to the printer, taking surf trips for waves and shots, and becoming the best magazine of all at covering the rising tide of pro surfing in the U.S. We covered these events like Sports Illustrated covers major sports, tying together lifestyle, culture, significance, competitors, and competition.

I remember vividly, and warmly, the creative tussles we had before and during every issue. We had a shop full of creatives: George, Kevin, photo and art director Guy Motil, and myself. Every one of us was strong-willed, loaded with ideas, unfraid to push for our vision of the outcome, and equally bold at taking chances artistically and with our writing. What a crew! The arguments were often fierce tug-of-wars, but when the dust settled, we advanced the magazine that much further. Alongside were our versatile, risk-taking writers, David Rowe and Dave Shaughnessy (Shag’s personality was just as contagious and enthusiastic in print as it was in person, and did he love writing with a Thesaurus!), and our tireless boy wonder photographers, Allen Carrasco and Sonny Miller. Sonny is now one of the top surf cinematographers in the world.

Kevin and I had a great rapport. Both of us were the wildly, fiercely independent sons of military fathers, so we were big on carving our own niches and not so tolerant of authority. He was a few years older, much more experienced as a surfer, and more knowledgeable in its culture and history, but just breaking into editing and magazine writing. Even though I was only 21, I had experience in both. We learned greatly from each other and made an excellent team. We also both loved to put literary spins on our articles, styles we later took to other destinations. I’ll never forget the writing class we took together with renowned author Hillel Schwartz in Del Mar. Six weeks, astute constructive feedback, an emphasis on fine writing, and one reading accompaniment: Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, by Annie Dillard, one of the greatest nature memoirs ever written. That’s when my penchant for writing about nature and environment launched, a passion that has seen its way into five poetry and essay collections. And Kevin also is an excellent guitarist.

Kevin went on to become the founding editor of Transworld Snowboarding, as well as the editor of Transworld Skateboarding and Transworld Surfing (which, sadly, just folded). For many years, those magazines were published by Tim Wrisley, who grew up a few blocks away from me on Basswood Ave. in Carlsbad and is now the publisher of Carlsbad Magazine. Kevin and I bumped into each other all over the world for years, whether at a surfing contest or snowboarding event. Just like we did Saturday, when we shared stories for a couple of hours.2013-08-12 07.00.33 copy

In poring over the back issues from 1980 through 1983, you can see a dream turn into a presentation that was fabulous during a time when you waxed copy, pasted it onto grids, sat in darkrooms processing film and photos, chose from hundreds of slides sprawled across lightboards, and hustled the finished product off to the printer. I can still smell the chemicals and feel my burning eyes. Our little office on State Street was also Party Central, but that’s another story.

Breakout certainly was a launching pad: Out of our tight, dedicated little team that routinely pulled all-nighters on deadline, we went on to edit more than 40 titles collectively. In addition, Guy Motil and I became authors, and we saw a few very familiar names in surf writing gain valuable experience with Breakout assignments. Among them were renowned surf genre author Matt Warshaw, multiple book author Chris Ahrens, former Surfing magazine editor Bill Sharp, former Surfer editors Sam George and Steve Hawk, and photojournalist Kirk Aeder.

 

I JUST LOVE IT when a single book can open the floodgates to a truly glorious stroll through the memories of childhood…41iAGjqR0tL._SY346_

Been having a blast re-reading Ball Four, the book that turned the sanctity of “The Church of Baseball,” as Annie Savoy says in Bull Durham, onto its ear and outraged Major League Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn (among others) when former Yankee star Jim Bouton wrote it in 1970. I first read this book when I was 11. It holds a place in my heart not only because it is one of the best baseball books ever written, but also because it was the first adult-content book (as in, not written for kids) my parents let me read.

When he wrote the book, Bouton was a knuckleball pitcher trying to hang on with the expansion Seattle Pilots, a team that lasted one season before moving east to become the Milwaukee Brewers. A sharply intelligent rabble-rouser who once possessed a demon of a fastball, Bouton had a penchant for stirring up the dust with players and management, and finding humor in everything. Did he ever: Ball Four peels the cover off life in the locker room, bullpen, between the lines, and everywhere else. Example: Bouton tells how Baltimore pitcher Moe Drabowsky, a comedic hit in anyone’s book, was bored one day in the bullpen. So he picked up a direct-line phone, somehow connected with a restaurant in Hong Kong, and ordered dinner. To go.

On the more serious side, Bouton’s exposure of the draconian way owners negotiated player contracts fueld the inception of free agency, which happened a few years later.

Imagine 300 pages of these stories. Apparently, a few did. Ball Four remains the top-selling sports book of all time, with more than 6 million copies sold to date.

When Ball Four came out, I was an 11-year-old baseball fanatic. I followed the box scores, memorized stats … obsessed. So for me, it has been a great ride to bring back into my life names I haven’t heard in 40 years – Jack Aker, Marty Pattin, Gene Brabender, Brant Alyea, Mike Epstein, Vic Davalillo, Roger Repoz, John Kennedy, Frank Howard, Don Mincher.

If you’re a baseball fan of a certain age, close out your summer with a re-read of this diamond classic.

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Two Crazy Weeks of Publishing Bliss

It’s been quite a two-week period on the writing front, and just goes to show what happens sometimes when you throw enough seeds in the garden. So, this blog is going to feel like a combination of a newsletter and announcements.

PrintLast week, two books came out on Amazon.com with which I was involved: The Hummingbird Review Spring 2013 “Hollywood & Literature” edition, which I edited and also contributed a couple of pieces; and Brian Wilkes’ book Stroking the Media, for which I contributed a chapter on the four essentials of generating good publicity – Timing, Opportunity, Newsworthiness and Perception. Will get into these in a future blog. Never had two Amazon listings in the same week, but there they are! Please order a copy – and one for a friend!

This week kept up the pace. I wrapped proposals for two people I have admired for many years: former Surfer Magazine publisher-editor Jim Kempton, who is now shopping his fantastic book of exotic recipes coupled with great surf travel and cultural stories, The Surfing Chef; and Stevie Salas, the Contemporary Music Advisor to the Smithsonian Institution (and great guitarist from Carlsbad), with whom I’m working on his memoir (more details forthcoming). Add to that the chapters I’ve either cranked out or edited for a number of other clients, and it’s been productive.

That’s not all: On Tuesday, Houghton Mifflin announced the acquisition and forthcoming publication of Just Add Water, my biography of surfing great Clay Marzo, who does it all with Asperger Syndrome. For this book, which is truly a joy to write (as those familiar with my long background as former promoter of the ASP World Tour and writing for the surf mags know), I owe a special shout-out to my longtime friend Mitch Varnes, who is Clay’s manager and who suggested I take a shot at writing this book when we had dinner a few months ago.

Mitch and I have history in turning ideas into great books; 20 years ago, Mitch helped me button down my concept and connect me with astronauts and NASA officials for one of the greatest projects of my career, One Giant Leap for Mankind. It was the 25th anniversary publication for the Apollo 11 moon mission, one edition of which NASA later picked up.

Oh yes, one more bit of news: on Thursday, the popular online magazine Indie Writer Net picked up the first of my two blogs on last weekend’s Los Angeles Times Festival of Books (the second blog will be right here on Saturday).

So, to cap it all off, I’m headed up to Orange County later this morning to appear as the guest on the Write NOW! TV show, with hosts Judy Saxon and Charles Redner. We’ll be talking about, well, writing, but also the benefits of writing about something different every day, and reading on a wide variety of subjects with the curiosity and precociousness of a child.

A quick advisory note on that, to take into the weekend: When you spread out your writing subjects – and forms of writing, from letters to journals to essays and short fiction, and everything in between – you develop the diversity to tackle anything and everything. When you read widely, your brain comes along for the ride and makes connections and observations you never thought you had.

Enjoy your writing and reading this weekend!

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A Higher Purpose: Not Fearing Death Part 2 of Interview with ‘A Taste of Eternity’ Author Martha Halda

How do life-changing or transforming events affect our life purpose? And how do we integrate everything we do into that purpose – and then share it with others?

Martha Halda has found her way: By writing A Taste of Eternity, a forthcoming memoir about how one afternoon reshaped her outlook on life, and the way she chooses to live it.

On October 8, 1999, Martha suffered a horrific car accident, after which she was pronounced clinically dead three caa18c26a173d0dd5e52ba7e572fad9atimes. She remains the only person in the 50-year history of Palomar Pomerado Hospital (North San Diego County) to survive after scoring 0 on her CRAM (Clinical Risk Assessment and Management). Those who score 0 to 1 almost always die, or live in a paralyzed and/or persistent vegetative state. She recovered fully – even completing the 2002 Dublin Marathon.

During her passing over, she had a profound near death experience. How that experience transformed and shifted her life, and how she carried it forward, is covered in A Taste of Eternity, now making its rounds among major publishers through literary agent Dana Newman.

Martha also offers behind-the-chapters stories pertaining to the book at her blog, http://atasteofeternity.wordpress.com.

This is the second of a touching, life-affirming two-part interview with Martha, which comes at a most fitting time, as millions begin to celebrate Easter or Passover.

Word Journeys: Why do so many people find it hard to believe someone can have a near death experience, taste eternity, or have direct perception of God?

Martha Halda: I feel it’s because we are too busy judging.  Judgment causes the unbearable fear of non-acceptance.  Think about it, from our first day on the playground, all we want is to be accepted, to be part of the group, invited in.  Some people can’t accept what they haven’t seen, touched or felt themselves. Some need science to prove anything or everything before they will accept it, Often, people are afraid that society will think them odd or mentally off.  To talk about this, I needed the faith that comes from knowing that what I experienced was 100% real.   Faith can go a long way, but first we must to get out of our own way. We need to remove the mighty ego.  Many people still need society to accept it, before they are willing.

WJ: That’s a great point – and leads to my next question. A Taste of Eternity crosses all religious lines – and goes beyond them. When I read it, I saw how you touched and experienced the unifying point behind ALL religions. Could you speak to the essence of spirit, based on your experience?

MH: For me, the essence of spirit is sharing, caring, love, a unity of all things.  I mean all things: everything is energy, it is all particles or atoms or cells, and they are all part of each other.  During my experience, at one point, I had a mental vision or thought that a waterfall would be nice; suddenly, particles from all over a meadow came together and re-formed as a waterfall.  It was as if everything existed to bring pleasure.

img_1293WJ: Three years after your accident, after being told you would never walk again, you completed the Dublin Marathon. How did the marathon intensify your desire to live life to the max, without fear of what may or may not happen next?  

MH: I know that any day could be my last. When it’s my time, then it’s my time, I have no fear of death; in fact, I welcome the day.  I won’t do anything to bring it on myself, because I want to be sure I get to go to Heaven again, and I don’t want to feel the hurt I would cause my friends.

WJ: How does your family view your experience now, compared with how they first responded to it?

MH: They don’t really view it differently at all.  We don’t talk about it much.  It may have changed their views of life indirectly, but it is a personal thing.  I feel they have a beauty inside their souls knowing that God is there for each of us, and there is no reason to fear death.

WJ: How did your life purpose change from your experience?

MH: Today, I don’t know if I really have one, in the traditional way. I used to have a very clear purpose as a mother. Now, it is just to see life in all things with joy. I want to understand how and why religions say their way is the only right way; the loving embrace of the God I met was not that condemning.  I feel if people would open their hearts and minds to another’s way, they would see the commonality in our beliefs, customs, and lifestyles, and not the differences.

WJ: You came back with heightened senses, one of which is a particular affinity with animals, which you discuss in the book. Could you elaborate?

MH: I just look into the eyes of birds, dogs, cats, birds or deer and can tell if they are happy and well or not.  They don’t fear me, and some will become very assertive toward me in a good way. They know they are safe with me.  That’s all.  When you bring this up, I get the opportunity to feel the way some of the people in my life felt about me talking about my near death experience – shoosh! someone might hear you. (laughs)

WJ: When people read books like A Taste of Eternity, or talk with you about it, what would you like them to take away from the experience?

MH: Simply the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have done unto you.  To give, share, and express love; it’s the most important thing we have to offer! Love is the only Eternal possession we have. When we die, the only thing we take is the love we shared, the memories we make, and our integrity. Everything else stays here.  No U-Hauls in Heaven.

WJ: Finally, last year on your birthday, you did something not a lot of 50-somethings would do: jumped off a 50-foot cliff into the Ganges River near Varanasi, India – not once, but several times.

MH: Well, I was also the only high school girl skateboarder in the mid-1970s who bombed the steep La Costa hills in Carlsbad (Calif.), where I grew up! So it’s not that much of a departure for me. It was a spur-of-the-moment thing. I’d been white-water rafting all morning with two young ladies from Scotland who were also go-for-it women. I saw the cliffs, told our guide to beach the raft, walked past some Indian men who were thinking about it but were afraid to jump … and I stepped in front of them and jumped. I laugh every time I close my eyes and see the looks on their faces! It was one of those extraordinary moments. I’m always ready for them.

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The Creative Person’s Greatest Resource: Gratitude

Often in our professions, we lose sight of the people who make it possible for us to work: our customers. While owners, directors, vice-presidents or managers might hire us, they would not have the opportunity or the means to bring us aboard were it not for the people who buy their products or services.

Call it gratitude. In the writing, music, film, fine arts and performing arts professions, it means one thing: being forever thankful to our audiences.

In the past couple of weeks, I have heard and seen gratitude expressed by two men who couldn’t be more different in their professions or career directions: bestselling science fiction author David Brin, and

Southern California Writer's Conference keynote speaker David Brin (photo by Gayle Carline)

Southern California Writer’s Conference keynote speaker David Brin (photo by Gayle Carline)

musician Stevie Salas. The spirit of sci-fi’s greatest 20th century voice, Ray Bradbury, even came along for the ride. Bradbury, author of Fahrenheit 451, Dandelion Man, I Sing the Body Electric and other classics, died last year at age 92.

Brin gave the prime-time keynote at the Southern California Writer’s Conference in San Diego last weekend: the banquet speech. On a weekend filled with workshops, keynotes, breakout sessions, presentations to agents, read-and-critique discussions and high-octane networking, Brin’s message might have been the best: always be thankful to the audience; in this case, the readers. They make it possible for professional writers to write.

“Ray Bradbury used to say that the worst sin is ingratitude,” Brin said. “When someone buys a book that you wrote, they give you the opportunity to write some more instead of working in another way for money. Always thank your readers. Treat them for what they are: the most important people of all to the success of your book.”

The gratitude oozed from Brin as he mixed a wonderful discussion on his writing and scientific life with plentiful humor. The winner of the Hugo, Nebula, Campbell and Locus awards has written nearly 30 books, including the bestseller The Postman and his newest, Existence. He is a living legend in the sci-fi world, along with Alan Dean Foster and others who carry the torch ignited by their heroes – Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein and Frank Herbert, to name a few.

Brin’s passion for his readers, however, burns brightest. And he delivers. What does he consider the primary goal of a book? “You want your reader to throw your book out the window and dive after it,” he said.

That’s commitment to a grateful audience.

• • •

One of the top modern exhibits at the Smithsonian Institution: Stevie Salas

One of the top modern exhibits at the Smithsonian Institution: Stevie Salas

Another example-setter for artistic gratitude is Stevie Salas. His guitar talents and music (20 albums and counting) make him iconic in Europe, Canada and Japan, while keeping him very busy and popular in the U.S. Stevie, who like me grew up in Carlsbad, might belong to one of the most exclusive clubs around: people who have not burned bridges or pissed off others in the music and recording industry. Stevie is so highly respected that he’s now the Contemporary Music Advisor to the Smithsonian Institution. “I still don’t really know how that happened,” he says. “I was lucky.”

That’s the humility and gratitude of someone who produces culturally and music-based TV shows and videos, sits in or produces recording sessions, lays down his own tracks and performs in sold-out concerts worldwide with one thing in mind: delivering to his audiences. He flies around North America like a supercharged thunderbird, keeping up with his many projects to bring more music and musically based entertainment to more people. He doesn’t have to do it; years of playing beside Rock & Roll Hall of Famers, plus his solo projects, have made it so he could just record his way through the rest of this life.

“I’ve never really done anything just for the money,” he says. With most, you’d pull out the BS meter and watch it spike. He’s sincere – and his career reflects it.

Stevie thrives on helping others and connecting people to music. He’s helped “discover” or further the careers of many musicians (as Taylor Hawkins of the Foo Fighters well knows), contributed to projects without credit, and always sought to share music with the masses. This comes right down to his popular app, Rockstar Solos, designed to give users the experience he’s had for the past 25 years.

Consequently, he is one of the best liked people in the music industry. Not surprising, when you know him. Or when he starts rattling off stories. You just know, as he talks, that every musician he references – a Who’s Who list of the past 45 years – is a friend who he has thanked at some point. Stevie lives in a state of gratitude.

Speaking of 25 years … did you know we’re approaching the 25th anniversary of Stevie’s breakthrough, when he launched from his popular North San Diego County party band, This Kids, to playing guitar on Rod Stewart’s 1988-89 World Tour? Or, as he puts it, “I remember driving past the (San Diego) Sports Arena, seeing Rod Stewart was coming and not being able to pay for it. Then a couple years later, I’m on stage at San Diego Stadium when it was sold out.”

You’ll be hearing more about Rod Stewart from us … soon.

Meantime, let’s take a page from David Brin and Stevie Salas, and remember to express our gratitude to our readers, listeners, and the people who buy the products and services we create. It results in developing lifelong audiences, lifelong fans … and such satisfaction that people will jump out of buildings or through hoops to chase what we give them.

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Meeting An Old Friend Who Pioneered (Re)Search Engines

Serendipitous moments always create great opportunities for conversation, ideas, and new revelations. They also create great stories.

On September 28, I was inducted into the Hall of Fame of my alma mater, Carlsbad (CA) High School, for my work in publishing, journalism, writing, teaching and sports coaching. While waiting with a crowd of 3,000 for the ceremony to begin, I turned around — and right behind me, also awaiting induction, was one of the great pioneers in information technology, David Warthen.

Carlsbad High School principal Matt Steitz (far left ) with CHS Hall of Fame inductees: (L-R) Doug Haubert, Patti Regan, David Warthen and Bob Yehling.

Among technology engineers, David is a living legend. In 1996, he created the world’s first common-language search engine, AskJeeves.com (now Ask.com), which flung open the doors through which Yahoo! and Google later stormed. After he sold Ask.com, in 2004, he joined the video technology company GlobalStreams, where he served as Chief Technology Officer — the same year he founded Eye Games, a webcam-based children’s video game company. He then went on to become CTO of InfoSearchMedia and to sit on the board of directors of the search site Kozoru.

AskJeeves.com was as visionary and revolutionary as any online service — ever. Consider that in 1996, business people were just getting used to the idea of email and browsing websites. The vast majority of businesses didn’t even have websites. America Online was king of the fledgling hill. The dot-com boom hadn’t happened yet, and search engines were the province of academia and the technology world. Warthen changed that by creating a service, named for one of his favorite literary characters, British author/humorist P.G. Wodehouse’s “Jeeves,” that allowed users to ask questions and receive answers. It connected the Internet in a way that had never been seen before, and made the Internet a valuable resource and reference tool for millions. In many ways, it paved the way for the everyday online experience.

David and I graduated from Carlsbad High one year apart; he in 1976, myself in 1977. His younger sister, Diane, and I were co-editors of Spindrift, the high school’s literary journal. Even in high school, one could see the potential that David’s keen intelligence and out-of-the-box viewpoints might unleash. When I first heard he was the man behind AskJeeves.com, I marveled at his career from afar. I certainly used it a lot while editing a wide variety of magazines and websites — and, later, for book research.

This summer, while preparing our editorial presentation for The Legacy Series Magazine, which I edit, I decided that we needed this technology visionary in our publication — not only for his accomplishments, but for his laser-sharp vision on the future of IT’s relationship with our lives and our economy.

David Warthen and Bob Yehling

So it was a wonderful treat to share the stage with him at a truly honoring event. We also had a couple of catch-up conversations, during which I realized just how much of an innovator and visionary this man is. Whatever he touches not only succeeds, but also changes the playing field in its sector, whether search engines (AskJeeves.com), video technology (GlobalStreams), or children’s video games (Eye Games). At 54, he has plenty of creative years ahead, and his finger is firmly on the pulse of tomorrow.

In November, we will be featuring David in The Legacy Series Magazine, which will be distributed internationally as a print magazine, tablet publication, online publication and Mobile App. I have the great pleasure of conducting the interview and writing the story of not only a treasure in our recent technological history, but a man who truly cares about your computer user experience — and mine.

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Summer—Summer—Summer!

The prospects of having fun on the first weekend of summer didn’t look too good. With a number of social media projects, a major business writing project underway, four deals to discuss and two books to edit, it looked like surfacing for air would be a big challenge. Going outside? Maybe for a few minutes. I’m not complaining: an active business in this economy is a VERY good development.

Given the long odds of experiencing the weekend first-hand, I decided to revert to what I keep telling writing students: look for the faces and voices of magic, innocence and wonder in everything we see or do — and find the simple pleasures one minute at a time. When an opportunity presents itself, experience it. Later, write about it.

Presto! This weekend transformed from a work-a-thon into a classic Southern California entrée into summer. First, the weather cooperated: after three weeks of June gloom, the clouds parted to sunny, warm skies. Next, the seas delivered a glorious present — a South Swell, large waves from Mexico that brought warmer water, slightly more humid air and the feeling of summer … where body cells dance to the music of a season that celebrates what it means to be fully human. At least for this sun-and-sand worshipper.

It all began with an epic Facebook message, which I re-posted:

“My curfew was the street lights. My mom called my name, not my mobile. I played outside with friends, not online. If I didn’t eat what was cooked, then I didn’t eat. Sanitizer didn’t exist, but you COULD get your mouth washed out with soap. I rode a bike without a helmet, getting dirty was OK, and neighbors CARED as much as your parents did. Re-post if you drank water from a garden hose & survived!!”

That’s capturing a baby boomer’s childhood in less than 100 words! Many school friends and I pounced on the post and recalled some riveting childhood memories, all built around the carefree energy of summer. That alone was magical.

Time for action. On Friday afternoon, I hit “send” and peeled my tired eyes away from the computer to end a day that began at 4 a.m.  We headed to opening night of Jazz in the Park, the City of Carlsbad’s weekly series of free shows. Several thousand people reveled in blues music, dancing, hanging out with friends old and new, and soaking up the golden glow of evening sunshine in the La Costa Hills.

Then came Saturday morning. Take it away, journal:

“The first weekend of summer, and how awesome: sunny, 90 degrees, brown skin, smell of castor beans and gummy sycamores during 5 a.m. energization, dawn peeling away the night over the mountains, reading another T.C. Boyle gem set in California, the ocean calling with a South Swell, 67-degree water and clear skies – Summer! Summer! Summer! This is why people pay the huge bucks to live out here. Work interspersed with plopping in pool, watching U.S. Track & Field Championships on TV, coyote in broad daylight scouring the riverbed overgrowth for rabbits. Self-made dinner of seared ahi, artichoke, corn on the cob, shredded beet-carrot-lettuce slaw, walk to the corner grocery for ice cream, watermelons in a bin outside, baseball game crackling on a car radio…”

Sunday dawned like no other in this cloudy, misty June — sunny. Back to work I went for six or seven hours, broken up by a 6-mile run through orange and grapefruit groves, knowing full well what lay on the other side of this session: a drive to the beach. At 6 a.m., I turned on my favorite nostalgic Internet radio station, Technicolor Web of Sound, and in the magic that seemed to surround this weekend, here were the first six songs I heard: “Hot Summer Days” – The Moody Blues; “Om” – The Royal Guardsmen; “Summer of ‘67” – Family; “Strawberry Fields Forever” – The Beatles; “Fire” – Jimi Hendrix; “Lawdy Mama Version 2” – Cream.

Oh yeah. Gonna be a bright, bright sun-shiny day. We arrived at the beach at 3:30 p.m. to a constant inflow of waves. For the next two hours, we dismissed spreadsheets, articles, research, conference calls, files and social media platforms, playing in a warm ocean (to me, 67-degree water in June in California is warm), catching waves, getting pummeled a few times, emerging from the sea with swimsuits askew and water dripping from our bodies and nostrils.

Afterwards, we indulged in a wonderful Mexican food dinner with ceviche appetizer (heaven is eating ceviche and Mexican food after bodysurfing for two hours). Then it was back to work — shopping at Barnes & Noble for business titles for our major summer writing project. I found a nice surprise on the shelves — The Pilot: Learning Leadership, by Colleen and Bill Hennessy, on which I’d done some ghostwriting a couple of years ago.

Yes, summer came to visit, and She made sure this would be a memorable weekend. It was so magical that I almost forgot working right through it … the whole point of this season.

Now, onto a very full day of writing and serving clients, with the vibration of sun, surf and deep communion with spirit buzzing through body and mind. Summer—Summer—Summer!

 

 

 

 

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