Tag Archives: public speaking

Kevin Hines: How a Suicide Attempt Led to Global Speaking & A Compelling Memoir

Most of us experience transformational moments when everything changes, we find and pursue another direction, and our old ways feel like an existence someone else led.IMG_9597

Few, if any, of these transformations can match the one that brought Kevin Hines to his current station in life. Hines, author of the fabulous memoir Cracked, Not Broken, never intended to live “two lives”, but because he has, the world is benefitting from this dynamic self-help speaker and author. His book, published by Rowman-Littlefield’s Taylor Trade imprint, is now in its 20th printing, less than two years after its July 2013 release.

Hines can summarize the book’s narrative premise in one sentence: “I jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge — and survived.” When Hines was 19, the darker side of his bi-polar mind “told me that the only way the pain would go away was if I jumped,” Hines recalled in 2013, “so I did. Then, halfway down, I suddenly felt I had a greater purpose in my life, and I needed to survive.”Unknown

It takes four seconds to fall into San Francisco Bay’s hard, chilly waters at a speed reaching 80 mph on impact. During his final two or three seconds, Hines twisted his body to minimize impact. Still, he was seriously injured, and had trouble staying afloat.

Enter a sea lion. Really. The animal sensed Hines’ distress, swam under him, and lifted him above the surface until a Coast Guard cutter arrived. If you’re counting, that’s three miracles in roughly a minute.

Almost fifteen years after his jump, Hines has turned his experience into a highly successful suicide prevention and self-esteem message, which he delivers with presentations, talks, and signings around the world (watch this video). How many authors can say they’ve been on the road with their book for two solid years, in more than twenty different countries?Unknown-1

“It’s been a great response,” Hines said. “I’m selling 85 to 90 percent of the books I bring to major events where I speak. And the book has only a 2 percent return rate from bookstores.”

If you’ve had books on store shelves, or have spoken with books to sell in the back, you know these are phenomenal numbers. Cracked,  Not Broken is also reaching far beyond bookstores. A psychiatric unit on the East Coast provides books to all inpatients, who use them daily to understand and work with their mental afflictions. Most recently, he spent two weeks in Australia, speaking to groups ranging from high schoolers, young miners, and crisis intervention teams, to hostage negotiators at the International Police Officers Conference. That’s variety, as well as a lesson in author-driven book marketing.

“The input I’ve gotten from people who come to my events has been great, and it’s had a lot of variety,” Hines said. “A man from Ft. Hood came up to me at a signing and said, ‘I gave this book to my military group, 30 young men and women, and they credited it with saving lives.”

But that’s not the best story. That belongs to initiative his wife, Margaret, took. “I walked into a bookstore in Dublin, Ireland, and my wife said, ‘See if they’ll carry your book.’ I got the assistant manager, who asked if it had an ISBN number. I said ‘yes’, although at the time, I had no idea. She called it up and ordered 50 copies,” Hines said.IMG_9602

Cracked, Not Broken is remarkable for Hines’ honesty and insight into his transformation. He continues to live with his illness while funneling his energy into a most noble, challenging cause — showing people their lives have a purpose. This, to me, makes the book. Too many transformational memoirs are black-and-white: someone has major trouble, then a crisis or an epiphany; afterwards, everything is perfect. Hines takes us deep inside the real inner world of recovery and transformation. It is a constant struggle to hold up one’s head sometimes, but by staying strong and finding a sense of purpose, living one day at a time (or one minute, sometimes), and helping others, that struggle can transform into a great work — and a happiness and fulfillment not known before.

“What people like is that Cracked, Not Broken is very specific, and it helped me bring up things that happened in my past,” Hines said. “It’s my perspective. As I wrote it, it helped me grow and become a better person.

“I had a lot of people who came forward and helped me. They were always pushing me to dig deeper and bring it out. I did three rewrites, and then when it came out, readers picked it up and couldn’t put it down. This book also seems to be passed along from one person to another, a lot.”

Hines provided three key tips for people with suicidal ideation, attempters, and their families, friends and colleagues:

Today is not tomorrow. “Because you feel suicidal today doesn’t mean you will when you’re 30, 40, or 50,” he said. “Get past the feeling you’re all alone and no one understands you. Don’t do what I did — ask for help.”


Ask yourself, “Am I having thoughts about ending my life?”

I’ve worked with and have known several thousand authors, and without question, this man has presented one of the most incredible stories. I also had the pleasure of working with Hines on his earlier drafts. He and I have a publisher in common, Taylor Trade (Rowman-Littlefield), which also published When We Were The Boys, which I co-authored with Stevie Salas. We also have the same literary agent, Dana Newman.

Hines plans to write several more books, all of which he’s roughly outlined. He’s now coming out of the blocks with his next book, which he hopes will be published in 2016.IMG_9600

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The Champion’s Way As Coaches, Educators, and Role Models

On Friday, opening day of the London Summer Olympics, I began what I hope will be a long run of speaking engagements for The Champion’s Way, the book that I co-wrote with swim fitness expert and former U.S. Ski Team conditioning coach Dr. Steve Victorson.  I spoke at a Lion’s Club luncheon in Union County, where I coached cross-country for three seasons with success athletically and academically, as our boys and girls honors students regularly qualified for individual and team bids to the state championships.

I began by reviewing the central tenets of The Champion’s Way – the 11 distinctive characteristics common to all great champions, and how they apply to any and every endeavor in life once we recognize our inherent potential. However, given recent events at Penn State, and the complete perversion of an influential adult’s role in a young person’s life that occurred under the long shadow of the football program for many years, my talk turned to a simple question: what more can we do, as educators, coaches, community and business leaders, parents and caring adults, to bring out the best in young people and also to bolster their self-esteem and focus on excellence?

The answer to this question begins by understanding the relationship between athletics, academics, the community and the student-athlete – and the responsibility coaches, educators and adult citizens have to students, both in shepherding them toward adulthood and in helping them identify their potential greatness. In my opinion, our responsibility begins with two questions: What can I do to bring out the best in this young man or woman – whatever that latent talent might be? And how can I integrate my life experience, victories achieved and lessons learned with the sport or curriculum at hand in a way that impassions and motivates one to strive for excellence, whether at sports, music, art, mathematics or small engine repair?

Everyone is potentially great at something. What is it? That’s the 64-million dollar question. It wracks many of us throughout our adult lives as we seek greater meaning and purpose. What is that special niche, whether God-given or self-developed, where we can make a unique imprint on the world and benefit others the most? Here’s a follow-up: who showed you how to identify latent potential in yourself, and develop it with a focused eye on excellence? Chances are, the face of an old teacher, coach, pastor, parent or other concerned adult will pop up in your mind. It’s a question that smart parents, educators, counselors and coaches help their children, students and athletes ask and answer.

It’s one thing to ask a young person what inspires and motivates them. It’s another to help them develop that latent skill, talent or passion. That’s where our other responsibility comes in: commitment to drawing out that ability. And showing young people how to translate that focus, drive, perseverance, skill and effort to every activity in their lives.

For my part, I always try to recognize the first flash of potential. It might come as an accident; it might only last 30 seconds. However, if I’m doing my job, if I’m truly committed to helping a boy or girl identify, understand and commit themselves to excellence, then it is my duty to recognize the first signs. I’ve seen some wonderfully revelatory moments on the sports field and in the classroom. As the young people involved know, off we went to the races from that moment forward, whether it was running intervals to increase speed or learning to write strong personal narrative.

Want to make a difference in a young person’s life in an unforgettable way? Be the one who recognizes the inherent greatness and potential within them, and shows them ways to develop it. Be the one whose mantra for all young people is, “To facilitate a lifelong love of learning,” or “To facilitate a drive to be the best, to put 110% effort and purpose into every activity.”

This is the sweet spot of coaching or educating. It is also what we are supposed to do as guides to help our young people prepare for purpose-filled adulthood. When we can approach students or athletes like this, committing ourselves solely to helping them develop their fullest talent and skills, then we, too, are bringing excellence to our jobs.

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Meet Your Greatest Book Promoters: Part 2

TO RECAP: At the final day of a wonderful, lively Southern California Writers Conference steeped with equal parts of “polish your work to the finest shine” and “learn everything you can about promoting yourself and your books,” I had the distinct pleasure of sitting on the “e-NDEPENDENCE” panel with “Wine Lovers Mysteries” series author Michele Scott, BackMyBook.com co-founder GK Parish-Philip, author Gayle Carline (Freezer Burn), e-publishing expert Linton Robinson and memoirist Hyla Molander, who has helped popularize Scribd.com with her personal success (33,000 reads) using it as a promotional tool for her forthcoming memoir, Drop Dead Life: A Pregnant Widow’s Heartfelt and Often Comic Journey about Death, Birth and Rebirth. Internet strategist Jeremy Lee James of AuthorsEdge.com and WriteClickHosting.com was our moderator.)

During the e-NDEPENDENCE panel, we took turns discussing the subjects of the day in the publishing world — and what should be subjects of every day for authors in 2011. We also fielded very good questions from the audience. A few more subjects that were discussed — all of them important for writers and readers alike:

PROMOTE YOURSELF WITH RECKLESS ABANDON: Get used to it, readers and media — you’re going to hear a lot more from authors directly. Some may have publicists, and others not, but the name of the game today is PLATFORM: creating an angle, showing your face, gaining exposure, tying your book’s themes and subject matter into relevant current events, and promoting tirelessly.

Some panelists suggested hiring publicists to help with this, and I agree, with one condition: that you, the writer, learn how to do this yourself so that you can promote every day. That’s what it takes. Learn how to write captivating blogs, press releases, converse with bookstores, libraries, museums and art galleries (GREAT places for readings), and generate article writing campaigns (subject of a future blog). Take a class in public speaking or find a coach. Know all the online media sources inside and out pertaining to your subject. Push yourself forward as the expert and voice of your subject, or the live narrator of your novel or memoir … because, you are. And do something to promote your book for a minimum of 1 to 2 hours every day.

WHEN A PUBLICIST CAN HELP: This was a lively topic on the panel — and it went both ways. Some authors spend thousands on publicists, only to receive little more than press releases and empty promises. Others spend nothing, and wish they had. Still others hire publicists as consultants, fill in their plan with specific strategies and contacts provided by the publicist, consider it the best $1,000 to $2,000 they ever spent. Even on our panel, one panelist, author Michelle Scott, had a negative experience with a publicist — so she learned to do it herself, and very well. Another, Hyla Molander, will recommend her publicist-friend to anyone who asks. Her work was that good.

Let’s solve this dilemma. Assuming my former place as a public relations agency owner for a second, here are the three critical considerations (besides money) for getting a publicist involved — and I suggest face-to-face interview or, at the very least, Skype:

1) Does the publicist know how to publicize books and authors? The PR world is full of great event and corporate publicists who don’t know the first thing about book promotion — nor do they have the right media list to get you there. This alone is a a dealmaker or deal-breaker.

2) Is the publicist passionate about your work — and putting you in print and in front of cameras? She or he must love your book, your story and how the two mesh. And share the love with reviewers and interviewers. Simple as that.

3) Are you one of many — or the main feature? Make sure your publicist considers you and your work vitally important, enough to make you a prime client.

For this final reason, I suggest starting with a consulting relationship. You’ll know whether or not you need to go further. Take notes, listen, participate in your own publicity campaigns, and learn how to act on your plan. This skill is not an option any longer if you want to make it as an author in the 21st century. It’s a survival skill.

4) SELLING BOOK RIGHTS FOR PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED MATERIALS. More and more, publishers and editors read blog material, or postings on magazine websites, Scribd.com or other open forums, and see the potential for books. Or, they read serialized chapters posted by authors and want to buy the full product. How to deal with this? My experience is that, if a publisher wants something badly enough, they’ll buy the rights — even if it’s previously published. When they buy the rights, you may have to take down whatever you posted, unless you can convince the publisher that keeping it up helps promote the book. If you’re selling the work — say, a serialized e-book chapter by downloadable chapter — then you’ll almost certainly be asked to take the material off the market. I know several people who went from being bloggers to authors in the past two years alone by pre-posting material, or originally writing on the subject on assignment for online magazines, websites or blogs.

This is a wide open frontier, and as I tell everyone in every workshop I teach, you never know who’s reading. If you get an online assignment or invitation to post on someone’s blog, offer one-time rights only. That keeps all your options intact in case a publisher comes knocking — or in case you choose to publish a book on your own.

Oops … I just checked the word count. Looks like we’re going to have a Part 3 to this series.

(NEXT: I will discuss how to negotiate e-rights, making social media ROCK for you, and the world of the 21st century writer-entrepreneur.)

If you’d like more specific information or assistance with promotional planning to help with your book or project, BOB YEHLING can be reached at bob@wordjourneys.com.



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