Adam: Thanks again for taking the time to share your advice. First things first, though. I am sure readers would love to learn more about you. What is something about you that would surprise people?
Sheldon: I’ve written nine-best selling courtroom novels about murder trials. In real life, I’ve never handled a criminal case.
Adam: How did you get here? What failures, setbacks or challenges have been most instrumental to your growth?
Sheldon: After writing five New York Times best-sellers, I was dropped by my publisher because sales had plateaued. I kept writing and eventually started publishing the books myself. This coincided with the rise of Amazon and the popularity of e-books. Nowadays, I sell more books than I did when my books were originally published the conventional way and appeared on the Times list. You need to be persistent and adapt to new technology.
Adam: In your experience, what are the defining qualifies of an effective leader? How can leaders and aspiring leaders take their leadership skills to the next level?
Sheldon: Understand the needs and motivations of your people. People in their twenties have different needs and motivations than people in their fifties. Show people how you do things and avoid asking people to do stuff that you haven’t done yourself.
Adam: What are your three best tips applicable to entrepreneurs, executives, and civic leaders?
Sheldon: In my experience, the most successful start-ups are those that identify a need (or a perceived need) and develop a product to address that need in a better, cheaper, and faster way. If you create a cool new product that doesn’t address a need, it will be difficult to sell.
Be willing to adapt to change and embrace new technology. For example, the publishing industry is unrecognizable from five years ago.
Be scrupulously honest, forthright, and gracious. At the end of the day, your most valuable asset is your reputation. If you ruin it, you won’t be able to get it back.
Adam: What is the single best piece of advice you have ever received?
Sheldon: From my dad: It isn’t necessary to wring every last penny out of every deal. People will respect you more if you leave a little on the table.
Adam: What is the one thing that everyone should be doing to pay it forward?
Sheldon: Mentor a millennial (and stop bashing them). They’re very smart, talented, ambitious, and adaptable. We baby boomers have been lousy stewards of the economy or our world. And we came of age during booming economic times. Respect the millennials for their talents and understand their needs and motivations.
Adam: What are your hobbies and how have they shaped you?
Sheldon: I exercise every day. It provides balance. I like to watch sports, travel, and read. That keeps me out of trouble.
Adam: Is there anything else you would like to share?
Sheldon: Find something that you’re passionate about and see if you can make a living at it.