Kennen Sie das Buch „Das Café am Rande der Welt“? Von John Strelecky? Mir ist dieses Büchlein vor Jahren in die Hände gefallen und ich habe es mit großem Spaß gelesen. In diesem fantasy-angehauchten Roman, setzt sich Werbemanager John mit drei – auf einer Speisekarte magisch auftauchenden – Fragen auseinander: „Warum bist du hier? Hast du Angst vor dem Tod? Führst du ein erfülltes Leben?“. Mir gefiel es, wie die zentralen Fragen, die auch meine Arbeit ausmachen, in einer ganz anderen Form präsentiert wurden. Und so gerne wollte ich den Autor mal interviewen.
Vergangene Woche erhielt ich eine Mail von Streleckys deutschem Verlag. John sei in der Stadt und wir könnten uns treffen! Da ich leider den ganzen Tag im Workshop war, stellte ich kurzerhand ein paar Fragen zusammen und meine Mitarbeiterin Brigitte warf sich ins Auto, um John zu treffen. Herausgekommen ist ein 20minütiges Interview mit Einblicken in das Leben des Bestseller-Autors. Was macht ein Millionen-Autor den ganzen Tag? Was rät er heute Menschen, die einen Bestseller schreiben wollen? Und: was kommt als nächstes aus seiner Schreibwerkstatt?
Hören Sie rein in das Podcast-Interview (auf englisch) oder lesen Sie die Abschrift des Gesprächs hier unten in diesem BLOG-Beitrag. Sie sind in Englisch nicht so fit? Dann kopieren Sie den englischen Text häppchenweise in den Google-Übersetzer – das klappt relativ gut und bringt nachvollziehbare deutsche Sätze zustande 🙂
Und jetzt: viel Spaß mit John Strelecky und einer neuen Episode von „Kreatives Zeitmanagement“.
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? When you wrote “The Why Are You Here Cafe”, you didn´t write it with the ambitions of writing a book. What was your intention? And what was the trigger to write it?
John Strelecky: Yeah, so you are 100% correct. There was no master plan to be an author or anything like that, I had made a major decision in my life and gone off and backpacked around the world for a year, had left everything behind, my career, where I lived, all my worldly possessions and literally backpacked around the world for a year. And when I came back from that I went back to an assignment, I used to be a consultant, a business consultant and so I went back to an assignment for four months and on my flight home, excuse me, I started to think about a simple question which was, what would I tell someone right now is the meaning of life? Because I had just spent a year doing exactly what my heart wanted me to do which was to go see the world and experience other people and other cultures and visit places I could only dream of seeing and then I had spent the last four months going back and doing the work that I had left behind because it just didn’t have a heart connection, right.
And so here I am coming back from the last moment of that work engagements and I am on the plane and I don’t have anything to read and I find myself asking the question what would I tell someone right now is the meaning of life, because I sort of had these two worlds colliding right, and I started writing something out, and I woke up the next morning at my house, and I thought there is so much more to say than that, and I don’t know why but something told me just sit down and start typing, and so I sat down and I started to type and things were just flowing out of me and I got to the end of that day and I went to bed and I got up the next day and something said sit down and start typing, and so I did that again and this went on for 21 straight days and yeah, I mean it’s crazy right, so I mean I had just come off this experience of backpacking around the world and when you are out there travelling in countries that you don’t speak the language and you don’t understand the cultural nuances, what you find is that you have to trust your instincts, because that’s really all you can count on, and so now that I was back, I had very much found myself trusting my instincts that although I didn’t know where this was going, or why it was happening, that this was the right thing to be doing. And so, I spent 21 days typing and at the end of the 21 days I felt like what was supposed to be typed was typed and I never thought about oh what am I going to type tomorrow, or, I never looked back at what I had typed the previous days I would just sit down and just flow.
And so, at the end of the 21 days I printed it out and put it on a shelf and I let it sit there for a week, I am not sure if I was afraid to read it, or I am not sure why, but something said leave it there for a week, and when I came back and read it at the end of the week, what is in there is almost word for word what is in Vas Cafe or the Cafe at the Why Cafe, so yeah, amazing experience it was.
John Strelecky: Yeah I often think to myself that sometimes we are asked to play a role in the play of life right and for whatever reason I think at that moment in time I was asked to play the conduit role for this story to come out.
? Did you make corrections on this script or was it like after that 21 days?
John Strelecky: Yeah, it is almost word for word what was in the 21 days, I went back obviously you know and fixed some things and put periods where they needed to be, and you know, quotation marks and that kind of stuff but the essence of the story was exactly what flowed yeah.
? That’s great. The book is a bit of a fantasy novel and had fantastic successes around the world. What is the secret of the success? Are we hungry, do you think we are hungry for inspiration and magic dreams?
John Strelecky: Well, I will tell you one of the most inspiring things that has come about is, so the book is now in 34 languages and countries across the world and it’s been a number one best seller in different countries across the world and as a traveller myself, are you a traveller? Do you enjoy travelling?
? I enjoy it, but I am not really a traveller.
John Strelecky: Well, okay as a traveller, in fact you have travelled, one of the things that I notice when I travel to different countries is how each country has its own nuances, its own culture, its own special things right, and so what’s particularly fascinating and cool to me is the fact that this story connects with people in all different cultures and you know, I’ve gotten these amazing letters from people in south East Asia, in the Middle East, here in Europe, in North America, and you think about how drastically different our childhoods are and our lifes are and yet, there is something in these 3 questions, why are you here, do you fear death, and are you fulfilled, that seems to connect us all, no matter where we are on the planet, no matter where we were born, no matter what our life experiences are.
? In Germany you sold over a million copies of the Cafe. Are the Germans especially looking for orientation?
John Strelecky: Yeah, so it’s actually closer to 1.5 these days so I guess or even more Germans are towards this orientation, I think there are probably a number of reasons why it has done so well here, first and foremost I have an amazing publishing company that I work with, DTV, and so the people that work with me, they are just incredible and they do an amazing job of making sure the books are there, my editor is incredible, and we’ve had a relationship DTV and I now for gosh over a decade you know and so were not for them, no way would it be as successful as it is because they are the ones who helped make sure the book is where it’s supposed to be and looks the way it could be, and then I would say the book store owners, you know, so many times, you walk into a store, and the person behind the counter just sort of looks you over and they say I’ve got the right book for you, right, and that person is the conduit between the story of the Cafe, and that individual and that customer, right, and were it not for the bookstore owners, there’s no way it would be the way it is, and probably lastly it’s the fans, you know, we live in an era of social media.
? And do you think the bookstore owners are a little bit special here in Germany?
John Strelecky: You know so I think when you are in an environment where the bookstore owners take the time to get to know their customers, then that facilitates that exchange and so that must be something special here, yeah I can think of individual stores I’ve visited in other countries around the world that have it but maybe here it’s on a broader level you know, and the last thing I would say is that social media is a reason you know, because this is a very advanced culture, people are socially, they are technologically savvy and so when someone has a touching experience with a book and they get on Facebook or Twitter or Linked in or whatever and they are talking about it then in this country, other people are listening, you know, yeah, and then there is also magic which I can’t even explain, I don’t know, sometimes things just happen that you can’t quite understand.
? You never chose this fantasy style again, why?
John Strelecky: Well, so I wrote the original Why Cafe? Das Cafe? here in Germany and then I was thinking about what to write next and the book had hit best seller lists in different countries around the world and that’s when your agent says so what are you writing next you know, they are looking for that next title and I had an ending to a book come to me, and that became the story „Life Safari“ in English or „Safari des Lebens“ here in Germany. And that one was interesting because the ending to the story came to me and it was so powerful and so emotional, and I said I want to write that story, but then I had to go start at the beginning and say well how am I going to get to this end you know, but I actually wrote that story in 10 days.
John Strelecky: Yeah. It was an amazing experience, 10 days I had the house completely to myself, and I found myself just writing and writing and writing, I would write till 2am it was an amazing experience and it was very much of a dialogue with the main character, Ma Ma Gombe, so, but then I ended up going back to the Cafe as you know.
? Very impressive.
John Strelecky: Again, it’s trusting your instincts you know, it’s very easy to say I can’t understand this I don’t know why this makes sense, and therefore to start doubting ourselves, but I think whether your calling is writing books or running your own company or travelling the world that if you allow yourself to trust your instincts even if you can’t explain why this feeling is this feeling now, then you have the chance to do amazing things in life.
? Yes, I agree.
? You initially published a book on your own and it sold more than 10 000 copies across 24 countries in less than a year, then you were signed by a literary agent, it seems to me that today we have a flute of self-publishing authors, do they still have a chance to be found do you think and what do you recommend other people today who want to share their thoughts with others to be a self-publishing author or looking for a publishing house first?
John Strelecky: You know there’s so many variables associated with that answer so let me just try and cover a few aspects of it but the first, I get asked this question all the time, you know, I’m thinking about writing a book, what do you recommend, and the first thing I ask someone is what is your end goal, you know, are you writing a book because you want to be a speaker someday, are you writing a book because you want to inspire as many people as possible, are you writing a book because you want to make a difference in the life of children and so if you think about what the end goal is then it’s going to determine what is best path and these days you know, sometimes it’s better to be a blogger, right, you can take your message and share your message and you don’t have to spend a year or a year and a half sort of putting one book together, every day, every week can be out their sharing your thoughts and your ideas and your wisdom and it doesn’t have to be necessarily grammatically perfect either, you can just be a little more free and if you want to be a speaker these days maybe instead of writing a book it would be a little more you know, free and if you want to be a speaker these days maybe instead of writing a book maybe you start a YouTube channel right, so as the technology changes as the world changes, I think it’s important to ask ourselves what’s the end goal and therefore what’s the best path to get there.
John Strelecky: Back in my day which was 2003, this path was the best you know, I would have had to wait 18 months probably to get a publisher to publish the book and when it pours through you in 21 days something is saying there is a degree of urgency to this you know, so.
? And when you initially self-published your book you didn’t have any marketing strategy? Just put it on the way?
John Strelecky: Yeah, this was so crazy and this is what I mean when I say that sometimes you are asked to be part of something that is so much bigger than you and so again this like going back to 2003 it’s almost hard to remember where we were in 2003 technology wise but so I had spent my life as a strategy consultant getting smart on companies, how do businesses operate, how do industries operate, and so when I had these pages that I printed out and I thought it looks like a book it feels like a book, right, what do I do with it, I treated it like a consulting assignment I said let me learn everything I can about publishing in one weekend right and basically what I learnt was either you sort of take the I’m going to send it off to publishers and agents and hope that someone picks it up or you can do it what back then was called vanity press, we will take whatever you give us and make books out of it or you can follow the Oprah model and start your own business right so she started O magazine Oprah magazine and I was like I think she is usually successful and I like what she does I am going to follow the Oprah model right and so I literally did so I had books printed and I made my own website which was horrible, I will be the first to say and I couldn’t even take credit cards, I was taking PayPal payments, and I don’t know, something magical was happening, people were reading it and telling other people in the world back then and we just started taking orders from everywhere it was the craziest thing, and then I got picked up by a literary agent because the word got out and they said hey we want to be a piece of this.
? In Germany your work is supported by John Strelecky and friends. How did that come about? Did the friends ask you or did you look for somebody?
John Strelecky: Yeah, so what happened is so many people were reading the books and saying what is the path to take my life in this direction you know, what’s the path to getting clear about my personal big five for life from the big five for life book and so I created a course to help people get clear because sometimes working with someone, my path to clarity was backpacking around the world for a year, that’s not an option that’s available for everyone, and so I created this course a series of courses to help people get clear and I realized that if I was the only one teaching the courses there was a limitation on my time because I can only be at one spot at a time, and then there is a language limitation, it’s easier to hear something especially when it’s something from the heart, it’s easier to hear it in your own native language, and so I just found some amazing people to work with and started a company here in Germany and it’s been amazing, as a matter of fact last night I was talking to three people who had been through the course recently I got a chance to hear their stories which were spectacular.
? And how is a normal day in your life today?
John Strelecky: A normal day in my life, so for the last three years I have been home schooling my daughter and so a normal day for me is literally getting up at a relaxed pace, and then she and I do school work and then we go have some fun riding our bikes or doing something else and you know, sometimes I am here doing interviews and the rest of that but it’s very flexible, very fluid.
? And what is coming next?
John Strelecky: So, I have been inspired to go back to the Cafe again and so I am working on the Cafe Three, the trilogy to the Cafe book and I am really excited about that and then I have something else big coming up, but I actually can’t talk about it so stay tuned, keep honest with social media, but I actually can’t say what it is yet but stay tuned because as soon as we can release the information we will definitely do it but it’s big.
? Well we are excited.
John Strelecky: So am I, so am I.
? End of the questions – the flash Questions: First one – in my current job inspires me?
John Strelecky: Probably the feedback from readers is the thing that inspires me the most or people who go through the workshops so yeah.
? Three of my best personal features are?
John Strelecky: Probably my hat I would say is at the top of the list, I love this hat, I love trying new things and being open to new possibilities and new things is definitely one of the things that keeps me going and I’ve learned, this is probably something that is a learning, is find good people and partner with them, you can’t do everything on your own.
? One of my biggest weaknesses is?
John Strelecky: I get excited about so many projects.
? A decisive aha moment of my life was?
John Strelecky: I talk about this in the Why Cafe? book or Das Cafe?, sitting on a beach in Costa Rica and asking myself for the very first time: Why am I here?
? My biggest mistake in life was?
John Strelecky: You know the older I get the more I realize the mistakes are often guiding paths to something else, so I can’t really say with certainty that something was a mistake, but I wish I would have had this level of clarity earlier in my life if I had been more aware.
? Are you more a „creative chaot“ or a systematist?
John Strelecky: That is such a tough one too because I am left brained and right brained when I am writing, I am totally right brained right, and then when I am thinking about things that require structure it’s harder for me to shift left brain, but I can shift left brain and just be locked down, and when I do that my business partners are like oh he is in left brain mode.
? Your credo, successful mantra?
John Strelecky: To live your big five for life and start today.
? Three book recommendations?
John Strelecky: Three book recommendations, so I won’t list mine although it certainly I love mine and I will tell you, people often ask me whose the first person that should read your books and I always say it’s me, like everything in there is something that I need to learn first right, but so I will say something outside of my illusions, a book by Richard Barkra in the 1970’s one of my favourite books of all time, gosh what else would I recommend, you know, I wouldn’t recommend a particular book but find good fiction writers and enjoy time reading, because one of the things that’s easiest to do is to like get so busy, busy, busy you forgot to take pleasure in reading and you know what there is great pleasure in being lost in a world that is not of this world and you can only do that for fiction reading. So, I will leave it at 2 books because the second one can be a whole bunch of books with a particular author you love.
? A very variable internet business tool, software for you is?
John Strelecky: I use WhatsApp actually so yeah my business partner here in Germany she is the one that queued me into WhatsApp and I’m so glad because we can talk all the time.
?: Okay the last question, what great wish do you have left?
John Strelecky: Oh, I’ve got more than one, yeah, I’ve got more than one, I am always thinking about what is the next big adventure so yeah, yeah.
? Thank you very much.
John Strelecky: Thank you it’s great pleasure.
? A great pleasure for me too.