Effective Apology is my 15th book. My other titles cover such areas as leadership, ethics, careers, finance, and business history. I got my start as an advertising copywriter. My career then moved to freelance journalism, speechwriting, and ghostwriting. I currently live in central Pennsylvania. I am married and the father of two children. For recreation, I like to fence.
1. Tell us about your latest book.
Effective Apology: Mending Fences, Building Bridges and Restoring Trust is a guidebook to apology. Most of us have little experience with apology, either offering it or accepting it. No wonder, then, that many of us mess it up. We don’t need more apologies; we need better apologies. Using over 75 examples of actual apologies from the worlds of business, relationships, sports, and politics, this book tells you exactly what constitutes effective apology. Briefly, I see effective apologies having five components. I call these the Five Rs: Recognition, Responsibility, Remorse, Restitution, and Repetition. The bottom line: apology is a critical leadership skill. The willingness to apologize signals strength, character, and integrity—real leadership is impossible without it. Progress occurs one apology at a time.
2. How did you get started as a writer?
I sold out early. I got my first job as a writer at an advertising/public relations agency. The training was invaluable. Every day a different client, a new assignment, and a tight deadline. Eventually I started doing freelance technical writing and magazine work. Only in the last ten years have I been writing books.
3. What does a typical day look like for you?
I do my creative writing in the morning. I’m generally at my desk by 8:30 AM. I like to go out to lunch. Take a walk. Clear my head. See a friend. Writing can be an isolating life. It’s vital for me to get evidence that other people have different preoccupations. Then in the afternoon I do other necessary stuff like research, phone calls, billing, marketing, etc. I try to knock off by 6 PM or so and try not to think about work until the next day.
4. Describe your desk/workspace.
I work at an L-shaped desk. A large flat screen monitor dominates one end of the desk. A music system is at the other end. I have music on constantly. I also have a big bookcase filled with books, which I constantly refer to, and CDs. My office has a large outside deck. On warm days I can take my laptop out to the deck and work there.
5. Favorite books (especially for writers)
Check out Artful Sentences: Syntax as Style by Virginia Tufte.
To see the possibilities of language, I pick up Ulysses by James Joyce.
On Writing by Stephen King is a favorite.
6. Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you
For exercise, I do fencing at a local fencing club.
I was born in Hungary. English is not my first language.
I’m still friends with the very first friend I ever had. I met her when I was two.
7. Favorite quote
Listening is not the same thing as agreeing.
8. Best and worst part of being a writer
Best part is the flexibility. Worst part is the isolation.
9. Advice for other writers
A piece of writing can always be incrementally improved by holding on to it an extra hour, day or week. Know when good enough is good enough and let it go. Remember that a piece of writing is never finished, it’s abandoned. Editors would rather have an assignment good enough on time rather than something perfect late.
10. Tell us a story about your writing experience.
This is how my first book came about. One of my clients asked me to ghostwrite a book for him. I had never written a book before. I had six weeks. I didn’t know it was impossible, so I did it. The project was a success. McGraw-Hill (which published that book) was so impressed, it invited me to write a book of my own. That was the first of—so far—15 books. I realize how incredibly lucky I am.
Where can people buy your book?
Effective Apology is published by Berrett-Koehler, an incredible publisher quite unlike any other www.bkconnection.com The book is available at bookstores, Amazon, Borders, B&N, etc. Links can be found on my web site www.effectiveapology.com