Community//

“How to write a book that sparks a movement” With Candice Georgiadis & Brian Johnson

Books have been around for thousands of years, and provide a certain mystique and truth that can’t be always explained outside of the front and back cover. A book has the ability to establish a perspective that doesn’t always translate as powerfully in other forms of communication. I think for a lot of people, reading […]

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres. We publish pieces written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team, and though they are reviewed for adherence to our guidelines, they are submitted in their final form to our open platform. Learn more or join us as a community member!

Books have been around for thousands of years, and provide a certain mystique and truth that can’t be always explained outside of the front and back cover. A book has the ability to establish a perspective that doesn’t always translate as powerfully in other forms of communication. I think for a lot of people, reading is an inherently personal experience that can’t be duplicated with other forms of entertainment. The words on the page can resonate deeply and inspire change.


As part of my series about “How to write a book that sparks a movement” I had the pleasure of interviewing Brian Johnson.

Brian Johnson is quickly becoming one of the most inspirational thought leaders of his generation. Brian is an Emmy winning TV producer and an Amazon #1 best-selling author, host and inspirational speaker. As an Emmy winning talent producer; his rolodex reads like a who’s who in Hollywood. As a personal coach; Johnson’s clients have included notable Fortune 500 companies and some of the largest nonprofits in the U.S. As an in-demand speaker, Brian has shared his message in front of executives and entrepreneurs around the country. Brian’s webinars and coaching sessions regularly sell out to students across the globe.


Thank you so much for joining us Brian! Can you share the “backstory” about how you grew up?

I grew up in a small town called Skipperville, Alabama. Population of 600 people, where the rooster wakes up every morning religiously. The town has one caution light and is about 15 minutes from your nearest town. It was my dream to play in the NBA so my adolescence was consumed with playing sports and trying to figure out how to take care of my Mom. She was a single parent and her constant workload took a toll on me emotionally by wanting to help her financially.

When you were younger, was there a book that you read that inspired you to take action or changed your life? Can you share a story?

When I was younger, I didn’t like to read. I only read or skimmed through books in order to qualify for a local promotion where students could win a Pizza Hut Personal Pan Pizza after reading a certain number of books. Reading wasn’t a passion for me when I was younger. The only books I was interested in were sports books about people like Michael Jordan, Bo Jackson, Walter Payton and Wayne Gretzky. Although at that time I have to admit I wasn’t an avid reader, I vividly remember the photos in those books. I loved the pictures in them and that really helped me get comfortable with books and led me to become a voracious reader.

What was the moment or series of events that made you decide to bring your message to the greater world? Can you share a story about that?

My personal story of wanting to commit suicide coupled with my pursuit of moving to Los Angeles to live my dreams. I realized that my personal journey affected so many people when I talked about it, that I felt responsible to share it to inspire others.

What impact did you hope to make when you wrote this book?

My book is titled “ Live Your Dreams Out Loud”, and with my book I hoped to bring a message to the world that extended beyond the traditional aspect of just living your dreams. I wanted to craft a more tangible process around the “How.” Also, I wanted people to be doers and that’s what the “Out Loud” is for.

Did the actual results align with your expectations? Can you explain?

The actual results exceeded my expectations. I didn’t think that I would become an Amazon Best Seller and sell thousands of copies as a self-published author. I’m a kid from Skipperville Alabama, having just moved to Los Angeles with $325 and a red suitcase and just finished working on The Arsenio Hall show. It was my dream to get this in the hands of as many people as possible, but I didn’t know that it would have these results.

What moment let you know that your book had started a movement? Please share a story.

I knew that my book had started a movement when I got asked to speak at a national convention. I didn’t think that it would happen all so fast but I went from a broke Uber driver to a best-selling author in a few months. As an African American man; the fact that I had been transparent with my mental health struggles created a great amount of support and mobilized people to want to share and support. My story reached individuals at the corporate level and organizations brought me in to speak. When I was on my book tour, I did media across the country and I was able to not only remove the stigma of mental health issues, but to inspire and motivate people.

What kinds of things did you hear right away from readers? What are the most frequent things you hear from readers about your book now? Are they the same? Different?

When people who knew me learned that I had dealt with depression and a suicide attempt, it started conversations among families and friends that became more aware of mental health issues and identified either struggles they had personally, or it shed light on the actions of people they knew. A lot of people said “ I had no idea you were struggling like that”

The things that I heard the most from readers who didn’t know me before is that they thanked me for sharing my story. I had a lot of readers tell me they loved the book because it was easy to understand, and it made them realize they could build structure to their dream thoughts and get started immediately. The most frequent thing that I hear now is that this book is inspirational and really helped them with a plan and framework, and that they are ready for the next book.

What is the most moving or fulfilling experience you’ve had as a result of writing this book? Can you share a story?

The most moving and fulfilling experience that I’ve gotten from this book is readers telling me that this book saved their life. I don’t think that there is anything that can top that. Because I have had so many readers talk to me about how my transparency around my suicide attempt helped them talk to people about theirs, In 2019 I put out a short video during suicide prevention month. A young man in Europe reached out to me that he was contemplating taking his life and we began to communicate online. When he stopped communicating with me, I reached out to his family via social media. After much back and forth they went to check on him and found that he was very close to taking his life. If I never had one moment of success with this book, that moment alone would have made it all worth it.

Have you experienced anything negative? Do you feel there are drawbacks to writing a book that starts such colossal conversation and change?

I personally haven’t experienced anything negative. That’s all about perspective too. I’m a pretty positive guy and always try to see the good in things that may not seem so desirable to most. I don’t think that there is anything wrong with writing any book. The thoughts and ideas not fully unleashed do humanity a disservice by not bringing that energy to the world.

Can you articulate why you think books in particular have the power to create movements, revolutions, and true change?

Books have been around for thousands of years, and provide a certain mystique and truth that can’t be always explained outside of the front and back cover. A book has the ability to establish a perspective that doesn’t always translate as powerfully in other forms of communication. I think for a lot of people, reading is an inherently personal experience that can’t be duplicated with other forms of entertainment. The words on the page can resonate deeply and inspire change.

What is the one habit you believe contributed the most to you becoming a bestselling writer? (i.e. perseverance, discipline, play, craft study) Can you share a story or example?

The habits that contributed to me becoming a bestselling author is strategy and consistency. It was also a necessity of mine. Because of necessity I had to be strategic and consistent in order to survive. The energy that propelled this book forward was survival. When I was making my way in Hollywood, I worked as an Uber driver. I would start at 6am and work until 10pm 7 days per week. When I had downtime I was either parked on the side of the road writing, or I was at a coffee shop writing. I did that until the book was completely finished, marketing strategy was created and the book had successfully launched.

What challenge or failure did you learn the most from in your writing career? Can you share the lesson(s) that you learned?

The biggest lesson that I’ve learned is that you don’t have to be a great writer to author a book. I know that sounds contradictory, but there are plenty of people that can help you with the administration of getting the book written. I was never a strong writer, but I had a great idea and the determination to get it written. The example I like to give is that some of the greatest musical artists and performers have never written a single song.

I’ve also learned that if done strategically, self-publishing can really be lucrative.

Many aspiring authors would love to make an impact similar to what you have done. What are the 5 things writers needs to know if they want to spark a movement with a book? (please include a story or example for each)

5 Things:

  1. Make the DECISION to Get Started
  2. Develop a plan and strategy
  3. Determine what your accountability will look like
  4. Model somebody else.
  5. Understand how to utilize the internet as your best friend

The world, of course, needs progress in many areas. What movement do you hope someone (or you!) starts next? Can you explain why that is so important?

My next movement is continuing and building on the one that I already have. Also, teaching others how to self publish a book. It’s important to me to teach others to do what I’ve been really successful at doing as it relates to self-publishing. In terms of a movement; the world needs a lot of progress in a lot of different areas. I’m adamant about staying inspired in all facets of life. It’s vital to always have a positive outlook and perspective on life. I’m launching a new web-based show called The Daily Inspiration which will release 7 days a week that will give you the necessary steps to being inspired daily. This is important because we are in the middle of a pandemic, race relations, and uncertainty about most aspects of life.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

I’m everywhere as @BJTheDreamer

Thank you so much for these insights. It was a true pleasure to do this with you.

Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...

Community//

Rising Star G. Brian Benson: “Why we need a movement toward more self-love and self-acceptance”

by Yitzi Weiner
Community//

“Succeeding in the end speaks for itself.” With Candice Georgiadis & Tommy Vicari

by Candice Georgiadis
Community//

Taking a Leap of Faith in the Midst of Pandemic Chaos

by Brian Rubiano

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.