My Book Project: Now This Is Joy - Giving
I didn’t set out to be a writer. And I am uncomfortable referring to myself as a “writer.” I won’t do it. I know good writers. They are my friends—cultivated through a life of activities enjoyed by an introvert and by participation in writing groups and working for a media company. I am in awe of good writers; their sentences are so technically flawless they impart melody as rapturous as a classical composition, and their words are so powerful they evoke deep, magnificent, and sometimes devastating emotions of a human shattered and cracked open to reveal the tender truth of living inside.
Me? I’m a hack with a penchant for silly, simplistic humor and a glutton for giggles. I am a child writer who never grew up, never advanced her craft. I relish silly words. “Noodle,” “caboodle,” and “doodle,” for example. I can’t even think these words and others like them without entirely cracking myself up! And I surely can’t say them aloud without at least trying to create a rhyming phrase. It’s no surprise then that I would take great time and care to develop an entire vocabulary of “fishy expletives” for my book’s main character, Inspector Dewey. I fancy “Blistering Bass!” this week, but my favorite silly phrase changes with each new reading of the book and each new word combination I create.
I also LOVE alliteration. My poor editor, bless her heart. She’s so kind and patient—I adore her. But I know that, at times, what she really wanted to say to me was “Stop it! Stop it right now! NO MORE ALLITERATION!” Why do I love alliteration? Because it just makes me smile.
I could read Dr. Seuss books aloud all day to my cats. My dream job (for a day) is to be the Minnie Mouse mascot at Disney World, and I can’t even listen to Alvin and The Chipmunks’ Christmas Song without full-on pee-in-my-pants laughter (and a call to my sister, Kelly, to share the moment with me). All of this from a serious intellectual and professional, a woman of academic distinction with multiple degrees, and a corporate scorecard that makes me blush at times. Yep, it works for me!
No, I didn’t set out to be a writer. I set out to be a creator, a builder, and an example. I wanted to build a brand and a business with giving at its core. Lofty, I know, but I wanted to advance a culture of giving and make philanthropy accessible to the proverbial “everyman” by creating an affordable, common product that gave more than just functionality and joy to its users.
And I wanted my level of giving to set an example of giving to others. In short, I wanted it “to hurt” personally—that is, to give at a level that was uncomfortable for even me, a well-trained corporate weenie. So I researched the percentage of profits allocated to charitable causes by our nation’s “most giving” corporations, and I doubled it (and then some!) for my book. I also created what I hoped could be a universal giving standard—that is, the “Half for Health” concept to inspire others to follow, should the spirit move them, to also give 50% of their profits to benefit the health of another living being.
Here’s the part where I’m going to call a spade a spade. I’m not a member of the 1%. I’m not independently wealthy, I don’t have a trust fund, and I haven’t accumulated a massive life savings. I’m a working woman who has invested significant funds in my education, my global worldview, and my dreams. I am also a serial entrepreneurial failure who, like the Energizer Bunny, keeps going and going and going until I have lived all of the dreams that remain inside. I wanted my giving level to “hurt” to prove a powerful point: it doesn’t hurt at all. In fact, the more I give, the more I receive. I think I’m pretty much the luckiest person alive.
I had another aspiration for my book business: I wanted to create art, beautiful art that required the identification, coordination, and orchestration of several artists’ talents (my thinking was synergistic: 2 + 2 = 5).
My goal from the outset of Inspector Dewey was to create and design a picture book independently as lovely as one of the major publishing houses’ titles. Lofty, again, I know, but shouldn’t one at least try to shoot for the stars?
I am moved by the idea of moving others through story, through words, through images, evoking universal emotions and fulfilling fundamental human needs: Laughter. Escape. Comfort. Hope. Dream. Love. Adventure. My business is the joy business—and for good reason. I worry about our world. Our families. Our children. The mother who has no hope. The child who has no dreams. And the home that has no comfort. I know that a book—however sweet—cannot address systemic problems in our society. But maybe, maybe for just a moment, my silly little book could encourage a parent to give the gift of reading aloud or provide a child an escape from bullying at school or inspire another child to be a great illustrator, a pet lover, a crime-fighter, a leader, or a best friend someday. I dream of others dreaming and, more important, living those dreams.
All of the foregoing points to one broad yet deeply inspiring concept: art as the conduit to change. Personal change. Organizational change. Social change. Art + philanthropy, art + literacy, art + whatever. Art has the inherent ability to influence emotions and, consequently, human behavior, individually and collectively. It’s gentle. It’s soft. It’s impactful. It’s me.
Kristen Heimerl Marketing Officer, Strategy Expert, Innovator and Brand Builder, Kristen’s business career spans 20+ years serving the biggest brands in industry and the biggest hearts of start-ups and entrepreneurs. Kristen revels in bringing compelling products and services to life and helping leaders and individuals with big dreams realize their big goals.
Kristen’s life joys include her 2+ year obsession creating the most beautiful self-published picture book possible, the breathtaking forests and lakes of her Minnesota birthplace, the family that really does love her no matter what, and her three magnificent Norwegian Forest Cats who together, with Kristen, helped catch the bad guy on their block that inspired her upcoming book (stake out and high speed chase included!)
She holds a master of science in eCommerce from Carnegie Mellon University, an MBA from the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management, and a BA from the University of St. Thomas. As the great transformer in her life, Kristen supports others’ education and literacy as an adjunct professor of business and strategy and, more recently, through her children’s book, Inspector Dewey (Available September 2015).
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