For me, the first thing is knowing how to command your passion with conviction and capture the imagination of the reader. A great author pulls you in between the juxtaposition of emotion and intrigue with compelling ease.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Kevin Davis. Davis is a native of Brooklyn, New York, who spent much of his childhood reciting original poems and rhymes, influenced by the hip hop craze like any other inner-city child in the 80’s. Davis always had a great passion and knack for writing and is deeply inspired by his son. He’s currently at work on the next books in a series intended to be a roadmap for his son and the generation to follow.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you share a story about what brought you to this particular career path?
It was my deep desire to see a seismic shift in my family history and, more importantly, a legacy. The day my son was born, it awoke a talent that laid dormant, which was my ability to write. It became increasingly urgent to leave instruction as well as a guide behind for my son. I was born into chaos, as did so many children that grew up the same way. It made me want to stop the repetitious cycle of fatherless children and the destruction of the family unit as we know it. It made me dig deep financially because I understood that having a financial footing would allow me a greater chance of success in being present — as both a husband and a father. So, I decided from the moment that I held my son in my arms; he would have a road map as well an inheritance left for him by his dad.
Can you share the most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career?
They say in life, what doesn’t kill you will make you stronger. Well back in 2003, a dear friend, Leota Blackburn, and I partnered up to start a brand marketing company. Unbeknownst to us at the time, there was a huge barrier of entry. I had experience as an artist, artist management as well a stockbroker. She had experience as a top executive at Ruff Ryders Entertainment.
We got wind in our sails that we would get brand deals for recording artists, which seemed like a great idea at the time. This was around the time that Steve Stout had gotten the Reebok sneaker deals for both 50 Cent and Jay-Z. So, hip hop culture was being recognized as having brand power.
Leota was friends with Lil’ Kim’s manager, so we had our first meeting and secured permission to try and get a deal for Lil’ Kim. There was a brand marketing conference where all the major brands were present like Mercedes, Sprite, and AT&T. I networked the event and collected all the senior executive’s business cards I could get my hands on.
That evening after the event, I emailed a one-sheet with a proposal to everyone I received a business card from. AT&T responded the next day, so my partner and I took the meeting. This was around the time that Nokia was acquired by AT&T and announced that they were releasing a phone that could play music. Of course, this predated the iPhone. Now here’s how the pitch went:
It would be extremely hot if you took a highly anticipated artist like Eminem, Jay-Z or 50 Cent and release their album on the Nokia phone two weeks before the album release. The artist would make themselves available to promote in all the major markets, such as California, New York, and Chicago…etc. It would be a win-win. AT&T would get more customers, and in turn, the artist would get the weight and power of a major brand promoting their project.
The head of marketing at AT&T loved the idea and stated they would have a meeting and get back to us.
We were excited because we thought we were on to something. We were right — it just didn’t include us because about three months later, Jay-Z announces a deal with AT&T. We were dumbfounded, but then it hit us. We didn’t get a signed letter of non-disclosure, so we were taken advantage of by an overzealous, credit-starved marketing executive.
Jay-Z was none the wiser, but he has been using my blueprint to sell his albums since 2003. I chalked up this experience as the price of entry, so I charged it to the game.
What was the biggest challenge you faced in your journey to becoming an author? How did you overcome it? Can you share a story about that that other aspiring writers can learn from?
My biggest challenge was the distraction of life’s natural hindrances. Working a 60-hour workweek and writing every day starting at 4 a.m. for 3 hours was a giant undertaking, but it was for my son, so I saw no other option.
Whenever I set a goal, I always make a plan that includes math. For example, my goal was to write three to four pages a day for two to three months or until I finished. This would net me a 200 page or more book.
The further I got in the book, I realized that I underestimated my passion for completing the book, and I did so within six weeks.
So, I encourage any writers, if you are going to write a book, write your passions and you will be amazed.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
About 11 years ago, I started a book about my life on Wall Street at the notorious chop shop Stratton Oakmont. Now, this was before Jordan Belfort’s The Wolf of Wall Street. I was 19 pages deep in the story when I ran the idea by a friend in the music industry. She did what most people do in the music industry, and that said, “Send it to me, and I will tell you what I think.” Weeks went by, and months passed; since I never heard back, I let her lack of reply silence my writing, and I stopped writing the book. Now, as I look back, I guess I just wasn’t ready to follow my dream, because if I were ready, I would have never let anyone stop me. So, the lesson I learned was never let anyone oversee my conviction or passion because had I followed my original instincts, I could have my wolf of wall street story.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I have just completed my next book titled, Get your Money A Job. I’m also gearing up to start a financial coaching business. I run an investment club called the Investment Dojo on Facebook, YouTube, and Anchor podcast, where we teach people how to research. Financial literacy is one of my major platforms because I see how so many people don’t have a plan for retirement, and this type of instability is depressing the population. So, I am excited to teach what I know and pull some of the smartest minds together to help folks take control of their financial future.
Can you share the most interesting story that you shared in your book?
It would be the relationship that I had with my stepdad, from our first contact until the day he died. I met my dad when I was seven years old, and in the first few years leading up to the birth of my brother, everything was great; we would play basketball, watch sports together and play chess. Around the time my brother was born, the relationship between my mother and him soured and the abusive treatment reared its ugly head. I spent my teenage years extremely angry for the way he treated my mother and me. As I grew older, I began to realize that something was missing, and I sought out answers that only a man could answer. I reached back into my past to reconnect with my stepdad because at that point I was purposely distant. Ironically enough, we bonded and healed the wrongs and my stepdad transitioned from stepdad to dad. He taught me a lot and I gained knowledge and wisdom through our relationship that has impacted me in ways I can’t explain. I literally went from hating him to loving him with every molecule in my body until the day he died. ’Til this day, I don’t feel like he has left me because of all the things he has instilled in me. I miss him intensely, but his legacy lives on through my son and me. His name will be carried for generations to come as the cornerstone of excellence we have become.
What is the main empowering lesson you want your readers to take away after finishing your book?
My sincerest wish is that parents, not just fathers, seek to leave their future generations a blueprint, the stories of their families, and, more importantly, generational wealth built through inheritance — and a roadmap to continue it for generations to come. I believe the family unit, as we know, today is under extreme financial pressure. The main reason is that there is widespread financial ignorance. People are working day to day without a plan for the future because somehow they got caught up between the grind for fewer dimes. The importance of family and understanding of our contribution to the family unit has not been explained or pronounced in a way that clearly states the terms of financial responsibility. It is genuinely supposed to be “each one teach one” instead of every man or woman for themselves. So, I hope this book inspires fathers as well as mothers to never leave the next generation to figure it out without a blueprint.
Based on your experience, what are the “5 Things You Need to Know to Become a Great Author”? Please share a story or example for each.
1. For me, the first thing is knowing how to command your passion with conviction and capture the imagination of the reader. A great author pulls you in between the juxtaposition of emotion and intrigue with compelling ease. They know how to make the reader feel the exact emotion at that precise moment and then whisk you away in their prefabricated adventure. I remember when I wrote the first two pages of, Who’s Your Daddy? What Every Son Needs to Know, I was bawling with emotion. Ironically, people find themselves crying, drowning in tears, realizing the actual purpose of the book serves as a last will packed with direction and such a compelling story that you can’t help but be inspired to do the same for your children.
2. Secondly, but not in chronological order, is that you must know the inner works of you. This will allow you to be brave in the face of any criticism or and adversity. When I was writing my story, I had already dealt with the naked truth of my emotional baggage, so writing it impacted my readers more than it did me. But had I not owned my confidence, the authenticity of the story wouldn’t have packed as much punch, like the time when my mother attacked me with a knife. Just the mention of the event sent my readers spiraling out of control. But I laughed at it as if it was a right of passage in my adolescent development.
3. One of the qualities of a great author is their paralyzing honesty; whether you are writing fiction or non-fiction, it’s essential to know how to capture the purity of a situation. It’s a refreshing feeling when you read a book, and you forget where you are because you are transported into the story — it feels impossible to put the book down. It’s like when I read Mario Puzo’s, The Last Don. Even though it was fiction, I felt every bit of the story as if I was sitting next to the characters while they were talking, because of his ability to capture the honesty of the moment.
4. This goes without being said: A great author must know their strengths. For example, if I was to ask what genre Stephen King writes unless you have been underneath a rock for the last 30 years, the style that should come to mind is “Horror.” A great author focuses on his or her strengths and doesn’t answer to the roar of the crowd but follows their own raw creative instincts. When an author falls in line with the sensationalism of what the crowd wants, they are not being true to themselves. That’s as silly as telling Biggie or Tupac how to rap.
5. And lastly, a great author should know how to stay on task with their purpose. I think those who capture our minds capture our hearts first. Theodore Roosevelt once stated that no one cares how much you know until they know how much you care. So, in its simplest form, no one will buy you until they believe in you. It is this type of heartfelt authenticity that moves and captures not just the imagination of the reader but their hearts.
What is the one habit you believe contributed the most to you becoming a great writer? (i.e., perseverance, discipline, play, craft study) Can you share a story or an example? For as long as I can remember, I would wake up in the wee hours of the morning to write. If asked why I would say it is what I call the God Hour. To me, this is when the world is the most serene, and I can hear what God was inserting inside my pen. I found that during the day that the outside distractions caused my mind to race but at 4 a.m. or earlier, I found peace. So, whenever I sought to write, I plotted the coordinates based on math and the discipline to execute the task in the wee hours of my day, which I commonly referred to as the 25th hour.
Which literature do you draw inspiration from? Why?
I draw my inspiration from reading leadership books. My favorite authors in this genre are John Maxwell and Simon Sinek. My writing career started as me being a rapper, so I never looked to mirror another’s writing style or wanted to be closely associated with another rapper’s likeness; the same goes for my literary work. I am an original; therefore, my inspiration comes from those who motivate me to stretch at the peak of my creativity.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
My deepest passion is generational wealth and financial literacy. This is why I started my investment club, Investment Dojo, on Facebook, and YouTube. I want to teach people how to take control of their finances by learning what the professionals know in terms of investment. This way, instead of being taken advantage of, they would have the advantage. This is my fire because I know that only through financial stability, people can create the best lives for their families.
Just ask yourself how much you knew about stocks, real estate, or business coming up in the school system. Most would say absolutely nothing and those who claim through ignorance to understanding, I would challenge — what stocks or portfolios has your understanding built?
The question becomes if you do not invest, how do you enjoy a quality of life? How are you going to raise your children if they lack financial strength has you chasing your tail burning the candles on both ends trying to make ends meet?
How long are you going to fall victim to the same line — go to college, get an education, find a good job, settle down, and start a family?
First off, the average person changes jobs 11.2 times between the ages of 18 and 50, and more importantly, the average person stays on a job 4.2 years.
So where is the longevity, secondly the average minority finishes 12.75 years of school, and those fortunate to finish college end up saddled with a load of debt, and many are working in unrelated fields to their education?
So, riddle me this, how do you start a family if your financial life is still in flux?
They say the divorce rate is 50%, and 20% of the divorces are due to finances, so in theory, if we become financially literate, we have a shot at a prosperous life.
The movement needs to be through our children — to stop each generation from starting on zero. There is absolutely no reason why we shouldn’t make it commonplace to leave an inheritance. We may have lost our true names and heritage through our travels, but our current stories are still powerful and need to be passed down to the generations coming after us. The shift must happen now by educating ourselves and our families because no one is going to stop the abuse, especially if we keep doing it to ourselves.
Thank you for all of these great insights!