"My passion is assisting people in growing and achieving
The Long Story: How I wrote my first book, Coffee With Ray
After a long time of being "gently nudged," by fellow educators, students, parents, business people and family members, I decided to succumb to their, "You have to put this stuff in a book." anthem. When I began to put pen to paper, I thought I would create a textbook. Ten pages in, I was bored of out my skull writing it and I had the sneaking suspicion that readers would be bored reading it! "What did I like to read?" "How did I like to teach?" Stories, I liked stories that had lessons. I liked stories because they made the lessons easier to remember. I liked stories because they had people in them, not just facts.
My first book, Coffee With Ray culls its lessons from 27 years of working with thousands of students of ALL ages (2 to 90!) as well as hundreds of teachers. After graduating from college with a BFA in music education, I started my career as a public school music teacher way back in 1986. I loved the students and the students loved me, but I hated the school system and well...I'm sure you can complete the rest! I'm not a very good politician and it takes a certain amount of "keep-your-mouth-shut-'til-you-get-tenure" to well, get tenure. Needless to say I wasn't interested in nor was I granted tenure. At least the public school system and I agreed upon something!
1987... no public school job, no secure income, no health benefits. Hey here's an idea! How about moving out of my parent's home and starting a business? Genius! Take on a rent and my own food bill without income! Sounded great... worked out even better! Started my company, actually it was just bunch of private students - 62 to be exact!- with a waiting list of 40 after six months. Hey, maybe I was onto something? Came up with a name for said company...Music SIMPLY Music. I taught students how to play the piano...or so I thought.
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1988... I found a like minded teacher who needed some students. I had students, he had availability, a match made in heaven. Said teacher asked me, "What are you doing that is making you so successful?" Great question! Damned if I had an answer. Guess I should probably figure that out so said teacher could duplicate what was bringing in the students (and the money!) And so was birthed the idea of finding the "secrets to my success." What I discovered was that, while I was an excellent pianist and teacher, what made my teaching different was that teaching music was simply a metaphor for teaching life skills! You'll find some of those "secret to success" stories in the lessons that make up all of my books.
Along the way, other teachers came and so did students. One of the teachers was REALLY attractive. On Aug. 2, 1989, I asked her to marry me, she accepted. I married this incredible woman on Jan 5, 1991 and since then we've shared all of the ups and downs that a couple should have to make their relationship really interesting. Along the way, three other younger human beings started showing up in our home on a regular 24/7 basis.
As my life progressed, I was fortunate enough to have many other enriching experiences. I taught the stock broker licensing exam (the Series 7) in which I also applied the success principles you'll find in CWR. I've spoken to groups of all sizes on the success principles I have written about in CWR. I've trained in the martial arts for 30 years, mining and applying principles from the ancient wise masters to use with my students. I've rode a century (100 miles) on my bike in just over 5 hours, performed in intimate jazz settings and on grand stages in rock bands. I've formed and conducted church choirs. I've assisted other like minded people in applying these principles to start their own successful businesses. I've worked as a private coach with individuals who wanted to quickly connect their dreams to their reality. The one common thread in all of the fun was this: I loved growing and assisting other people in growing and achieving their fullest potentials.
That's why I love to write and speak, because I love to assist people in believing in themselves. I love providing quickly applicable strategies, not just pie-in-the-sky ideas, but hard core applicable skills, that you can immediately use to create the life that exists in your grandest dreams. I love sharing this information....most passionately through stories with lessons and people.
For all who wish they could/would write a book, my actual process of writing went something like this: I wrote the first chapter as a rant after a challenging and discouraging day of teaching. Much of this chapter is autobiographical. The first chapter was birthed quickly and painlessly, but after a hiatus of about a week, I was clear that I would follow my usual "cheap wine" pattern: strong start, weak follow through with a most likely non-existent finish. Yet I really wanted to complete this book if not for the simple reason to tell those who "pestered" me (thank you to my motivational pests!) that they no longer had reason to provide their encouraging nudges. So, I decided to apply the same strategies which I used to ensure that my piano students achieved...I committed myself to a weekly review with a writing and accountability coach. I reached out to a friend who was a writer and asked if we could meet on a weekly basis to ensure that I was demonstrating a high level of accountability. Each week, because I will do just about anything to not go back on my word, I would write whatever I committed to writing. (Sometimes, that meant I spent the entire night before our meeting completing my commitment!) I used the voice recording function on my smart phone to record ideas when they hit me (usually at the most inopportune times -driving, just about to fall asleep, having dinner with my family. The muse has no boundaries when she strikes!) I would then take the voice notes and type them into my manuscript. Nine months later, book number one was birthed. What did I learn from that process?
1. Always focus on what you want. 2. Create a climate of commitment that motivates you toward your dreams not an environment of excuses that prevents you from achieving them. And those are just two of the lessons you will find in Coffee With Ray.