Don Allison of Faded Banner Publications: “First and foremost, I am curious”

First and foremost, I am curious. That desire to know what makes things work, and the details behind it, motivated me to investigate and write about issues that mattered to the community during my work as a journalist. In one case I looked into a company that was proposing a new 8 million chicken egg […]

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First and foremost, I am curious. That desire to know what makes things work, and the details behind it, motivated me to investigate and write about issues that mattered to the community during my work as a journalist. In one case I looked into a company that was proposing a new 8 million chicken egg laying facility near Bryan, where I live. The stories I researched and wrote about the smell and filth associated company’s main facility several states away helped fuel a grassroots and local government effort that stopped the project.

Many successful people reinvented themselves in a later period in their life. Jeff Bezos worked in Wall Street before he reinvented himself and started Amazon. Sara Blakely sold office supplies before she started Spanx. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was a WWE wrestler before he became a successful actor and filmmaker. Arnold Schwarzenegger went from a bodybuilder, to an actor to a Governor. McDonald’s founder Ray Croc was a milkshake-device salesman before starting the McDonalds franchise in his 50’s.

How does one reinvent themselves? What hurdles have to be overcome to take life in a new direction? How do you overcome those challenges? How do you ignore the naysayers? How do you push through the paralyzing fear?

In this series called “Second Chapters; How I Reinvented Myself In The Second Chapter Of My Life “ we are interviewing successful people who reinvented themselves in a second chapter in life, to share their story and help empower others.

As a part of this interview series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Don Allison.

For four decades Don Allison worked as an award-winning journalist, columnist and newspaper editor before leaving that field to embark on a new journey as a historian, book publisher, public speaker and autho. His books focus on Civil War history and the paranormal. In addition, Don currently is a historical researcher and interpreter with Historic Sauder Village, Ohio’s largest living history destination, and is a recognized speaker, author and investigator in the field of exploring paranormal phenomena.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

As a child I was an avid reader. During summer vacation I would ride my bike across town to the public library, check out a book, take it home, read it that afternoon and then return it for another. As a high school student worked part time as a sports writer with the local weekly newspaper, and my fascination with Watergate led me to initially choose a career as a journalist. I never lost a secret desire to write books, however, and later in life I left the newspaper field to do just that.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Abraham Lincoln once said “I reckon most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” That quote is important to my life in two ways. For one, if I am looking to be happy I will bring a positive, engages and productive attitude to whatever I am doing. On another level, if I am focused on happiness I will make life choices that enrich my time on this earth, including my occupation.

You have been blessed with much success. In your opinion, what are the top three qualities that you possess that have helped you accomplish so much? If you can, please share a story or example for each.

First and foremost, I am curious. That desire to know what makes things work, and the details behind it, motivated me to investigate and write about issues that mattered to the community during my work as a journalist. In one case I looked into a company that was proposing a new 8 million chicken egg laying facility near Bryan, where I live. The stories I researched and wrote about the smell and filth associated company’s main facility several states away helped fuel a grassroots and local government effort that stopped the project.

Secondly, I generally appreciate people and can relate well with those in various walks of life. That directly led to my success as an interviewer in crafting news stories,features and books, and to my leadership role that placed me in charge of a daily newspaper’s news team. This also prepared me for founding and operating my own business.

Finally, I love a challenge and react well in an emergency. This allows me to respond to unexpected questions during presentations, and to antagonistic audience members who challenge my statements and conclusions regarding the paranormal, which can be a controversial topic.

Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion about ‘Second Chapters’. Can you tell our readers about your career experience before your Second Chapter?

I began writing for newspapers as a high school student, and I excelled at it. I continued writing professionally for newspapers through college, and soon after receiving my journalism degree I was hired at an extremely unusually young age to be a daily newspaper editor with the Bryan Times in northwest Ohio. I rose to the rank of news editor, in charge of the newsroom and news operations, and later was named senior editor in charge of special publications, which are important revenue sources for the company.

And how did you “reinvent yourself” in your Second Chapter?

Although I loved the news business, I never lost my desire to be a book author, to immerse myself in history and to run my own business. In preparation for making the break I spent time on weekends and evenings researching book publishing and starting a business, served as a board member and officer with our local historical society, and published one book on history to prove to myself that I could do it. Once I decided to make the break I fully embraced the challenge, constantly telling myself to make the most of it and enjoy the ride. My enthusiasm must be infectious, because very early on I was recognized as an expert author on Civil War History, and was asked to serve, as my time will allow, as a historian and interpreter at Historic Sauder Village. The same was true in the paranormal field. My first book on the subject led me to immediately be recognized as an expert speaker and to be invited to investigate cases of paranormal activity.

Can you tell us about the specific trigger that made you decide that you were going to “take the plunge” and make your huge transition?

As I grew older I began seeing the pressure and deadlines of being a daily newspaper editor as being more stressful and less challenging and exciting as they had been, and I wanted more satisfaction and control in my professional life.

What did you do to discover that you had a new skillset inside of you that you haven’t been maximizing? How did you find that and how did you ultimately overcome the barriers to help manifest those powers?

I began to seriously consider a desire that had always been in the back of my mind, to be my own boss. I spent much of my spare time for a period researching the publishing industry and how to run a business, and I found that I had the tolerance for risk and a natural affinity for the necessary business skills.

How are things going with this new initiative?

We would love to hear some specific examples or stories. I have never enjoyed my professional life more. As a full-time publisher and author, my work in Civil War history has led to numerous speaking engagements with high profile Civil War history organizations, including Civil War Round Tables. AS well as being a great platform for book sales, this allows me to meet and converse with other Civil War authors and historians. I was invited to give a presentation and signing at the National POW Museum at the Andersonville National Historical Site in Georgia, and was able to spend an hour talking with perhaps the most renowned Civil War historian of all, Ed Bearss. It turned out he had read my book “Hell on Belle Isle: Diary of a Civil War POW” and was highly complementary of it. I was thrilled.

As an author of my first book on the paranormal, “I Met a Ghost at Gettysburg: A Journalist’s Journey Into the Paranormal,” I was invited for my first appearance on a nationwide paranormal radio and podcast show, “The Paranormal View.” It turned out my interview was the show’s most popular episode of the year, and was one of only two episodes rerun during the show’s December holiday break.

Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Yes, the Regis Spielvogel, who was publisher of the Stryker Advance newspaper. When I was a high school student he recognized my writing talent, hired me as a reporter and encouraged me. I continued writing for Regis as a college student and for a while after, until I was employed full-time as a newspaper editor. The encouragement, praise and instruction he offered gave me confidence that I could do anything I wanted to do with my writing, and still contributes to my success today.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started in this new direction?

I was invited to take part in a paranormal investigation at the Fairfield Inn near Gettysburg, which had served as a Confederate field hospital. This was my first-ever large scale investigation with experienced and respected people in the paranormal field. It was late in the evening, and a fellow investigator started getting faint readings on an electromagnetic field meter, which indicates the possible presence of an entity. We weren’t getting much response. After my fellow investigator told the entity that it didn’t take much to make a ghost hunter happy, just make the needle move, I took it further. I said, “You’re just having fun with us, aren’t you? You’re just laughing you’re a- — off.” That got the meter’s lights to move higher, and I kept repeating that until the lights went all the way to the top, and everyone in the room was laughing hysterically. I earned a measure of respect from the other investigators, and learned that humor is a great way to elicit evidence from apparent entities while on an investigation.

Did you ever struggle with believing in yourself?

If so, how did you overcome that limiting belief about yourself? Can you share a story or example? After my first paranormal book “I Met a Ghost at Gettysburg” was printed and being stacked in the back of my van, I experienced almost a panic. I thought “What have I done?” and imagined people would think I had lost my mind and would ridicule me endlessly when I began giving presentations and taking part in signings. As much as I feared ridicule and serious harm to my professional reputation I stayed the course, and the book turned out to be my most successful endeavor to date.

In my own work I usually encourage my clients to ask for support before they embark on something new. How did you create your support system before you moved to your new chapter?

I recruited friends and acquaintances in the fields of history and journalism to serve as sounding boards, sources of advice and book editors. Later I added my new acquaintances and friends in the paranormal field to this group. I never could have tasted success to the level I have without them.

Starting a new chapter usually means getting out of your comfort zone, how did you do that? Can you share a story or example of that?

Foregoing a regular salary in place of the uncertain income from running my own business definitely was outside my comfort zone. To compound that, I had to invest in book design and printing, not to mention devoting time to writing my book and editing books written by others on the chance of future income from that effort. To make it work I gave considerable effort to researching the process of designing and printing books, to make my projects as cost effective as possible, and I also researched the potential audience for the books.

Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my organization” and why? Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Everything will take more time and effort than you expect, particularly when you are just starting out. I did not allow enough lead time for my second book on paranormal phenomenon, “I Met More Ghosts at Gettysburg” so I did not get the books from the printer in time for initial launch appearances and thus lost potential sales.
  2. Balancing cash flow will more difficult than you anticipate. This lesson forces you to plan your expenditures very carefully. I ordered more copies of one of my early books than I really required at the start, forcing me to rely on an unanticipated loan to get me over that hump.
  3. No matter how well you think you have planned for all the contingencies, a problem will appear from out of the blue when you least expect it. It turns out that another publisher accidentally printed one of my company’s ISBN numbers on the cover of one printing of one of it’s books. When I assigned that ISBN to one of my books, it delayed the availability of my book on a number of online platforms, crippling sales of that book during the critical early launch period. Even then it took considerable time and effort to have my book, not the other publisher’s book which unfortunately was a bestseller, show up in ISBN searches.
  4. You need to conclude that some troublesome customers are not worth the hassles, so don’t be afraid to say no and let them go. I found that some book distributors demanded such a steep discount, and delayed payment for so long, that sales made through them were not worth the effort.
  5. Try to foresee additional opportunities that success will present to you. When my first paranormal book took off once I at least partially resolved the ISBN issue, I wasn’t really prepared for the doors the book would open to me in a new field and I should have been quicker to take advantage of them.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

I would love to promote honesty and civility in our society — to encourage telling the truth and create consequences for lies, and reward and recognize good behavior and respect for others.

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them. 🙂

Jon Meachum, because he so clearly places events of today in the context of what has gone before.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Please check out and

Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!

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