Lee SilberContact Info
About Success Stories

The best part of Malcolm Gladwell's website ("Blink!", "Outliers", and "Tipping Point") is the question and answer section. So we borrowed a page from his book and included a similar section here—and one we wish every author provided on their site.

little red arrowQuestions About Your Books
How long does it take for you to write a book and how do you do it?
"Some books I have written in under a month, but most take at least a year from proposal to publishable work. The reason it takes so long is it's a process that includes a lot of research to put together the proposal—which includes information about what other books are out there like it and how mine is different, how many I think will sell and how I will do it, who the buyer is and why they will spend money on the book, and what ways to promote the work to get the most exposure. There also has to be a detailed description, chapter outline, and some sample chapters. It's a lot of work but it has to be done to get a book deal. With my books that go straight to digital publication (Think: Kindle) I can bypass the whole proposal process and just write. To write a non-fiction book I use index cards. I'll write quotes, concepts, and chapter ideas on the cards and then start sorting them into piles. This leads to an outline and later a first draft as I put it all together. I like the flexibility of index cards because I can arrange them (and rearrange them) easily. For novels, I just write . . . and write, and write, and then rewrite. I love the part of the process when I wake up the next day and just get to read what I had written the night before and start tweaking it."

little red arrowQuestions About Your Business
What surf shops did you own and why did you sell them?
"The very first surf shop my brothers and I bought was called Scripps Surf and Skate in Scripps Ranch, California. At the time it was one of the few inland shops. We pooled our money—we were all under 25 years-old and bought the struggling store like you would a home or a car—we made a down payment and had a loan for the balance. We took this tiny store and turned it around in the first few months and we doubled and then tripled the sales of the previous owners. We decided to expand almost right away and moved to a bigger and better location in the same mall and formed a corporation called Waves and Wheels Surfcenters, and things grew from there—which included our super store which had a skateboard ramp inside it. Our philosophy was that kids (who were our core customers) couldn't get to the beach on their bikes or skateboards so we brought the beach to them. I loved everything about being in the surf industry because I loved surfing. The main reason I moved on was a result of one of the many promotions we did for the kids that came into the shops—these included gifts for grades, skateboarding clinics, and free surf lessons. Each summer myself and a couple of co-workers would meet customers at the beach with soft boards and show them how to catch and ride waves. The joy I got from seeing someone stand up and surf for the first time was so powerful I wanted to do something just as meaningful every day, all day—which is how I came to be an author and trainer." little red arrowQuestions About Fitness
Is it true you lost 50 pounds in less than a year?
"No. I lost eighty pounds in just under a year. I weighed 245 pounds in May of 2010 and today I weigh 165. It freaks people out. In fact, friends are starting to ask me if I'm okay. I may have gone too far. It also gets others to ask a lot of questions. The most common is to inquire if I've had some kind of surgery to lose the weight. The answer is no. The other question I am frequently asked is how did I do it. I have yet to come up with the perfect answer. I know people want to hear it was some simple solution (it wasn't) and that it won't require any sacrifice (it won't). Alas, I just tell the truth—I changed my lifestyle. It's the easiest and most direct answer. When I start saying I stopped eating pizza, gave up drinking beer, and don't do dessert, I lose most people. In a nutshell I went from eating 7,500 calories a day (that's not a misprint) to 1,750. I do 45 minutes of cardio exercise five days a week and lift weights for about 30 minutes. I also play a lot of tennis, softball, surf, and ride my bike everywhere. I think the question people should ask is how do I feel? The answer is fantastic. Losing 80 pounds has created a ripple effect in my life and I think is the key to the sudden surge in my success. Fortunately most people only need to shed a few pounds. I am here to tell you it's doable. So do it. You'll look better and feel better."
little red arrowQuestions About The Books
Do you think people will be "reading" books in five years?
"Man, I hope so. You know, it's hard to even imagine what the book business will look like in five years—even though the publishing industry as a whole took a long time to change how books are produced and distributed—things are morphing into all-things-digital fairly quickly now. I guess you could look at what happened with the music business for clues about what will happen with books—which isn't all bad . . . if you're a reader. As a writer, the future is a little more murky. But I have high hope 'books' will be better than ever. It was amazing how J.K Rowling brought hundreds of thousands of young readers back to books because these tweeners wanted to know what would happen next to young Harry Potter. If writers can continue to craft compelling characters and gripping stories, or offer breakthrough ideas and insights for business leaders, there are plenty of people who will want to read what's been written—and will pay for that priviledge. If not, I guess I will be asking people if they want burgers with their fries?"

little red arrowQuestions About The Stage
Would you call yourself a motivational speaker?
"Whenever someone calls me a motivational speaker I quickly flash to Saturday Night Live and Matt Foley, a comical character created by Chris Farley about a lonley, overweight, motivational speaker who lives in a van down by the river. Schnikeez! That's not to say I'm not a fan of people like Tony Robbins and Zig Ziglar (two of the best speakers I have ever heard), but I see myself more as a trainer and teacher who motivates audiences with great ideas. In fact, I have recently tried to shed some of the more staged stuff and just speak from the heart, and as a result, I am much more motivating. It helps when you can say you've lost 70 pounds in seven months, been happily married for 17 years, and live in a house by the beach rather than a van by the river. But I learned a long time ago to get rid of the word "you" and replace it with "we" when addressing an audience, and never see my success as anything but a reason to do something to help others reach their goals. People are surprised to hear I am actually a little reserved in social settings, and really only shine when I have something important to say—like during a presentation. When I am not the featured speaker, I am much more interested in listening to what others have to say."

little red arrowQuestions About Goals
Weren't you refered to as The Goal Man before you became The Wild Idea Guy?
"Good one. There's a couple of funny stories that go with my answer. Yes, I was called 'The Goal Man' by various media outlets and even had personalized license plates that read 'Goal Man'. I got rid of them because more than once someone made me pull off the road to get my autograph thinking I was either an NFL kicker, or a soccer star. (Clearly, I am neither.) I also wrote an article and a book about Tony Robbins and spent quite a bit of time in his home. One day during our interview he asked to see my personal planner sitting on his coffee table. Now, this is no ordinary planner, it's my life's work—a comprehensive goal-setting system. I let him have a look and he was floored. He begged me for a copy. For some strange reason, I said no—and I am glad I did. I have since discovered that nobody has a goal-setting system like mine—not even Tony Robbins. I actually sold the rights to a software company that was planning to produce a version of it until they went out of business (and no, it wasn't my fault they failed.) Now, I use it myself and without a question it is the reason I am where I am—wherever that is. I have shared parts of what I call The Ultimate Goal-Setting System at various times, but I have realized it's too much for most people. I'm not bragging, in fact it's quite the opposite, I think I am a Goalaholic and need an intervention. I truly am addicted to the achievement of goals. Just like anything, in moderation it's fine, but taken to the extreme . . . "

little red arrowQuestions About You
Are you really as upbeat, creative, and productive as you appear?
"Hmmmmm. I'm probably not the best one to ask, but since you did, I would have to say yes. A few months ago my wife and I started something called 'Family Circle' where each night we get the kids together just before bed and say something complimentary about each other. Everyone gets a turn, and as corny and contrived as it sounds, I thrive on hearing what my wife and kids have to say about me. Well, just the other night my wife said to the kids (about me), 'Your dad does exactly what he says he's going to do. He always does the right thing, the right way, and does it right now.' Wow. I was floored. That really sums me up in a sentence. I may not be the most talented, the smartest, or even the most creative, but I don't let that stop me from going after my goals and getting things done. All of my life I have blindly taken small steps in pursuit of my goals, trusting that I would figure it out as I go, and things have worked out almost exactly as I have planned. Maybe the fact that I always knew where I wanted to go and just kept trudging along, keeping my feet moving, even when what I wanted seemed impossible—to others. In 2009 and 2010 I made my theme for the year to be better. Each year I needed to better than before. This year (2011) I raised the stakes and finally allowed myself to say I want to be the best. The best. Man, it's not easy to say that, because it seems so bold, but that's what the people who are the best set as their goal. Since I speak and write about being upbeat, creative, and productive, I feel I do have to rise to a higher standard. But I like having that kind of pressure to be better. Maybe, just maybe I will one day be able to say I am the best speaker, writer, husband, father, and friend people know."

Lee Silber.

When people say they want to "pick your brain" it doesn't conjur up a pretty picture. That's why Lee decided to take reader questions and answer them here. If you have a question you would like answered, send it to Silber using the contact link. The interview to the left was conducted by Andrew Chapman.

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