Leader by Accident (Author Interview)



Leader by Accident looks like life lesson book.  What can you tell us about it?

I think it’s a life lesson book in a couple of ways. I realized that many of the lessons I shared with the Boy Scouts in our troop (in the form of Scoutmaster Minutes) were important for adults as well. In Leader by Accident I’ve done my best to make those connections.


How long did it take you to write Leader by Accident?

It took a few years, but most of that was on me. I would write for a while, step away for a few months and come back, and repeat. While sooner might have been better, I think the writing benefited from letting it age a bit and coming back to it. It’s a different book than it would have been had I rushed through the process.


What inspired you when writing Leader by Accident?

The spirit and resilience shown by the young men of BSA Troop 328 following the tragedy that begins the book inspired me then, and it inspires me now. They managed to make good things happen in the wake of something unthinkable.


What will readers get out of your book?

Most of the feedback I’ve had so far is along the lines of, “I really needed to hear this right now.” Life challenges us at different times and in different ways, and we sometimes need reminding that a detour from our plan might represent an opportunity. That has played out many times in my own life. And while we all know intellectually that good things tend to happen when we leave our comfort zones, a little prodding on that front helps as well.


What motivated you to become a writer?

I’ve always loved to write, and do a good bit of writing professionally as a marketing consultant: website content, blog posts, email newsletters, and so forth. That experience with conversational writing – which really dates back to my radio career – really helped in telling the stories of Leader by Accident. It’s very gratifying to me that many people have said that when they read the book they feel as though they’re across the table from me, having a conversation. That’s very much by design.


How did you come up with the ideas in Leader by Accident?

Well, I lived the central stories of the book, unexpectedly becoming a Scoutmaster in really challenging circumstances and launching a career as an entrepreneur out of necessity. As I reflected on those events over the ensuing years I realized that the power of those stories might be helpful to others.


Did anything stick out as particularly challenging when writing Leader by Accident?

Organizing! Like most of my professional writing, the book is made up of short chapters and lessons. Keeping track of all that, and arranging it in a sequence that made sense, was probably the biggest challenge.

The other delicate part is that while Leader by Accident begins with a widely reported tragedy, it is not about that tragedy in terms of being a tell-all or true crime book. It was and is very important to me to draw that line and make it clear that the book is much more about the good things that followed.

Can you tell us a little about your background?

I was a radio announcer and program director for about a dozen years after college, and then moved on to the home improvement industry as a marketer and sales manager. In 2012, I launched JMRketing, a marketing and communications consultancy, and I continue that work today, combining it with my work as an author and speaker/presenter.

I’m a Philadelphia-area native, but I’ve lived in the Baltimore area for more than three decades now and we raised our family here. Married 32 years, with two grown children.


Where can readers find out more about your work?

At leaderbyaccident.com and jmrketing.com.