Author interview with Michael Rosenbaum, “Your Name Here Guide to Life”
Q. You’re not famous, are you?
A. In my house, almost everyone recognizes me, but I do get to walk
around town without being mobbed by paparazzi.
Q. That’s great, but why would anyone read a book of life lessons from
somebody who isn’t a celebrity?
A. First, I desperately need attention. If enough people read the
book, I won’t have to do something stupid that gets posted on You
Tube. And, if millions of people read the book, I WILL be a celebrity.
Q. Seriously. Why will people want to get their insights into life
lessons and happiness from you?
A. Because I was relatively unhappy for most of my life. I had to
figure out for myself how to make the journey…and I took notes along
Q. So the “Your Name Here Guide to Life” is really a biography?
A. If it is, it’s not my biography, because these are life stories
shared by millions of people. When I tell people a story from the
book, they often respond by saying, “I had a situation just like
that…” or “the same thing happened to my daughter…” The book is about
the human condition and the way all of us share our lives. In fact,
that’s why we have the subtitle, “The book you’d have written, if only
you had the time.”
Q. So if people know many of these lessons, why do they need you to
change their lives?
A. First, I am absolutely not going to change anyone’s life. All I can
do is change myself, and that’s the only person any of us can change.
The good news is that we all have the power within us.
Q. If people already have the power to change, why do they need
self-help and inspirational books like yours?
A. Too often, we make the mistake of ceding our power to someone else.
Maybe it’s our second-grade teacher or the person who stood us up at
the prom. We never get past the hurt, which means we continue to give
control of our lives to someone we might never see again. Among other
things, the book includes ways to regain the power we gave away to
Q. Have you ever given other people that kind of power over your life?
A. Absolutely! At some point, we all make this mistake. Eventually, we
can learn to avoid most of the traps we set for ourselves. We never
get to perfection, but one day we tip the scales dramatically in the
Q. In the book, you talk about the accidental teachers you’ve met. Who are they?
A. Some are cops, who almost always pick up incredible wisdom on the
job, and others are doctors, psychologists, moms, dads, morticians…you
name it. Everybody gains some priceless insight along the way and they
end up sharing their lessons one way or another.
Q. One way or another?
A. Sometimes, people demonstrate an important lesson by doing
something stupid. Many accidental teachers are seemingly ordinary
people who suddenly drop an incredible bit of wisdom into a
conversation. Others do the opposite, delivering a major lesson about
how not to think, act or speak. All of us lead by bad example at some
point in our lives.
Q. Including you?
A. Of course. I’m human, so I’m subject to all the failings described
in the book. That’s the whole point. Except for a few outliers, we’re
all living the same lives. We all end up with the same disappointments
and we all have similar experiences. Knowing how much we’re like other
people is a great comfort. It means we’re not alone in the world.
Q. Why would people want to read your book?
A. It’s honest and funny, and it resonates with the way people really
live. People connect my stories to their lives because they’ve been
there and done that.
Q. You deliver your lessons through stories rather than a direct
discussion of issues or values. Why did you choose this approach?
A. Storytelling is a great, non-confrontational way to share wisdom
and people respond better to stories than to lectures.
Q. I noticed that each chapter includes some space for people to write
in their own stories.
A. That’s very important, because everyone has personal stories and
lessons to share. By giving people a space to jot down their own
reminders, we can expand the impact of the discussion. We’ve even
asked people to share their stories and wisdom at
Q. Does that mean there will be future Your Name Here guides with
other people’s lessons?
A. I hope so. We’re working on a few concepts right now and seeking
contributions at our website.
Q. “Your Name Here Guide to Life” is an unusual name. How did you come up with it?
A. We were talking about the universal nature of the stories and
lessons in the book, and somebody noted that almost anyone could claim
this as their own personal guide. That reminded us of the Your Name
Here tags we end up wearing at conferences and it seemed like an apt
reference to our universal uniqueness.
Q. One last question. What’s the most important lesson in your book?
A. Thanks for asking an impossible question. If I had to pick only one
lesson, it would also be one word: Choices. Many things happen in our
lives and we control very few of them. The one thing we can control,
almost invariably, is how we respond to life’s events. We choose how
we react, how we internalize and how we move forward. Having this
choice makes us very, very powerful.