The first five minutes after you’re awake, you’re in an alpha state, which is a naturally creative, intuitive space. Before you reach for a phone or jump out of bed, allow your ideas and thoughts to percolate.
As part of my interview series on the five things you need to know to become a great author, I had the pleasure of interviewing Nancy J. Ganz.
Nancy J. Ganz is an author, internationally certified Executive & Parenting Coach, and Harvard-trained Mediator & Negotiator. Her first book, “Finding Peace at the Center of the Storm” was a #1 New Release on Amazon. Using her proprietary parenting tools and techniques that she developed over decades working with parents and children, she helps parents to lay the foundation for healthy emotional development, decisive-thinking, a positive mindset and proactive conflict resolution skills.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you share a story about what brought you to this particular career path?
A lawyer by education and businesswoman by vocation, I have always been a writer by avocation. Both of my parents loved stories and encouraged my writing. My father was my best audience, responding with rapt wonder and a crooked smile to all my tales as a child.
Following years as a COO in private wealth management, “stay-at-home Mom,” startup consultant, and political advisor, I pivoted to the coaching and mentorship space. As an executive & parenting coach, I love working with adults and children to brush aside the debris of doubt blocking their road to success, arming them with tools for effective communication and strategies to achieve their vision professionally and interpersonally.
Can you share the most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career?
My career was jumpstarted by a series of spontaneous and serendipitous conversations. I was always taught to dress for the job you want, be the first in the office and the last to leave, and to match a person’s handshake. In one scenario, an old high school friend needed a date for a political event, and I went and met the head of HR for a Fortune 500. Her handshake was like a piercing, crushing lobster claw. With a smile, I matched the intensity of her grip. She intensified. I matched. A few minutes of conversation later and she offered me an internship to join the head of litigation in her company’s legal department. After law school, I started a position in corporate trust. One day, a finance executive came to my desk to pick up a check for a client, and after briefly chatting about the market, he plucked me for an opportunity in finance. I joined a broker training program akin to the one that Will Smith completes in “The Pursuit of Happiness” — I was the only one in the program with no experience, no previous training and no book of business to bring into the firm. Yet I made it through the program and kicked off an entirely new career. I’ve learned to never discount the small, micro conversations and connections you can make.
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?
In order to maintain full creative control over the messaging and visuals of my books, my daughter and I decided to self-publish. But with that came a steep and time sensitive learning curve of stepping into an industry that we knew nothing about. One of the quotes in my book is “each marathon runner began with a single, stumbling baby step.” We tackled the process head on, step by step, to learn the nuances of printing, publishing and distribution that go into taking a book from spoken word to production.
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?
When I first started in finance, for each prospective client, I’d create an entire proposal mapping out their financial strategy, portfolio allocation, recommended securities. But perplexingly, while the advice was good, they would choose to remain with their current financial advisor. A seasoned colleague laughed at me, explaining “you give the portfolio after they become a client, not before. They’re taking your proposals to their existing managers.”
While I did learn better client acquisition techniques, my main takeaway was a reinforcement of my personal driver. I am most fulfilled in service of others. As such, a major part of my practice today is pro bono.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
In addition to launching my collection of twelve children’s stories over the next three years, my daughter and I are co-writing a book, and I am working on an extended version of my quote book, Finding Peace at the Center of the Storm.
Can you share the most interesting message that you shared in your book?
There’s a pervasive attitude that children need to be great at everything and follow a very specific path. What I love about Tina Searches for Her Dream, the first book in my collection of children’s stories, is that it shows kids that it’s ok to fail, that your skills and talents might be very different than what you or your parents expected, and that the secret to finding “joy” in life is to “go for it” without letting the fear of failure, judgement or disappointment stop you.
What is the main empowering lesson you want your readers to take away after finishing your book?
Each person is on a unique personal journey. Often, that journey is not a straight line, fraught with detours, circuitous paths and obstacles, but when you lean into your strengths and talents, rather than focusing on weaknesses or limitations, you can move forward with greater ease toward the realization of your dreams.
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 example?
When I was young, my Mom dusted off her old Remington typewriter and let me keep it in my room. The visual alone was a constant reminder of what could come off the keys. I have always had a designated “writing space,” whether a specific cubicle in the college library or facing a window in my home. Habits run off a trigger. So, having a consistent space has always sparked creativity and reinforced the habit and discipline of writing.
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?
Our mission of Feel Good Fables is to donate 1 million books to children in need throughout the United States though Title I schools, afterschool programs, women’s shelters, etc. With the help of individual and corporate sponsors, we are able to send these books that prime for social emotional learning to communities where, on average, children only have 0–2 age-appropriate books.
Books are a window into creativity, imagination and hope. Each of the Feel Good Fables is designed to empower children to develop the cognitive tools they need to navigate through complex emotions, taking each child on a journey toward greater self-love, confidence and empathy.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
I am on Instagram at @nancyjganz and @feelgoodfables, and Clubhouse @nancyjganz.
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. The first five minutes after you’re awake, you’re in an alpha state, which is a naturally creative, intuitive space. Before you reach for a phone or jump out of bed, allow your ideas and thoughts to percolate.
2. Sideline your mental editor as you’re putting down your narrative, and then give yourself freedom to critically prune. Many writers get stuck in a creative paralysis, worried that what they produce won’t be “good enough.” A first draft is better than no draft.
3. Jot down your ideas as they pop into your head because they might float off like a balloon and escape your memory later. Even fragments of thoughts can bloom into larger themes, but not if you’ve lost the essence. When I sat down to write my quote book, re-assembling my phrases from a lifetime of spoken words was a much greater challenge than if I had been writing them down as I went along.
4. Just like our own retina reverses an image, sometimes what we think is clear isn’t as clear to the outside world. Choose an honest sounding board, one that has your best interests at heart, and be open to direct and honest criticism. For me, my daughter Sara is a great example of someone who will go right at a document with an astute eye, helping me to refine and clarify my messaging.
5. Keep the Pride. Drop the Ego. Have confidence that you have something to say, the flexibility to take input, and the knowledge that you are the final editor.