My Perspective on Publishing, Christianity, Social Media, and Being a Dad: An Interview

Turney Stevens is the dean of Lipscomb University’s College of Business in Nashville, Tennessee. Recently, he interviewed me on his program, “Conversations with the Dean.” We talked about the future of printed books, e-books, leadership, personal branding, and a few other topics.

More specifically, Dean Stevens asked me the following seventeen questions:

  1. Tell me about Thomas Nelson. When you say it is the largest Christian publisher in the world, what does that mean?
  2. With everything going digital, what is the future of books?
  3. Are your books at Thomas Nelson available on all the various devices?
  4. What do you think about enhanced e-books? Are you working on those kinds of projects?
  5. From your seat as a Christian publisher, what do you see as the state of Christianity in America today?
  6. We’ve seen a big shift from denominational churches to non-denominational churches. What is your perspective on that?
  7. Do you see it ever getting to the point where worship experiences are delivered electronically, as a shared experience, but without requiring physical presence?
  8. What are the advantages and disadvantages of your business being a public company previously as compared to being now owned by private equity.
  9. How does your personal branding strategy fit with the corporate branding strategy of Thomas Nelson?
  10. Your blog seems very broad in terms of its content. How do you decide what to focus on?
  11. What have you learned about leadership over the years?
  12. How are some of the leaders who have influenced you?
  13. When you look for new authors, what are you looking for?
  14. What is your best story of finding an unknown author and turning them into a bestselling author?
  15. What advice would you give to a person who says, “I think I have a book in me. How do I get it out?”
  16. What is your personal social media strategy and what advice would you give other executives about their strategy?
  17. In addition to being a CEO and being heavily involved in social media, you are also the father of five daughters. What advice do you have for dads?

I am very proud of the job Lipscomb is doing with their business school. We are fortunate to have a university of this caliber in Nashville.

I am on vacation this week and offline. I will not be participating in the comments as I usually do. However, my daughter, Megan Hyatt Miller will be moderating the comments on my behalf.
Question: What answer surprised you the most? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • Maurits Dekker

    Great to see you talk. Have been reading a lot of stuff on your site but always a delight to see someone in ‘reality’.
    Thanks for all the great input!

  • bruce crews

    I agree with Maurits – you do such a wonderful job of allowing your readers get to know your personal side. Your technological advise is wonderful, but learning from a successful Christian leader is timeless in today’s society. Thanks again.

    • Michael Hyatt

      You are welcome. i’m glad you enjoyed it.

    • Uma Maheswaran S

      Bruce! That’s true. It takes courage from a CEO to share his success secrets with so much transparency. I like that.

  • Uma Maheswaran S

    I loved your perspective on leadership. Your experience is a great lesson to people like me. And, I am able to learn the beauty and importance of work-life balance from you (CEO of a book publishing company Vs. father of 5 daughters).

    Overall — Great questions. Wonderful insights. Thanks for sharing your secrets of success with us.

  • Karl Mealor

    I’m looking forward to watching this later today (can’t watch this at work). I’m especially interested in your answers to #13-15.

  • Jim Whitaker

    Wow. This was a very interesting interview. In a world where people think that it is difficult to be a Christian in your everyday life, you provide a breath of fresh air in that regard. Despite the fact that you work for a Christian book company, it is still easy to succumb to the pressures that society put on us and yet you still find a way to be ground in your faith in all that you do. You provide a unique look into the life of a CEO that most people never get and yet your transparency is amazing. You are an inspiration to all of us who strive each and every day to be a Christian in the workforce, a good parent, a good leader, but more importantly a good follower of Jesus. Thanks for this enlightening look in into your life.

    • Anonymous

      Thanks for your kind words, Jim.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Jim. I appreciate that.

  • Joe Abraham

    It was great listening to a variety of topics within the 23:50 minutes time frame. It was truly helpful.

    I especially like what you said about the local church community and the community in social media platforms. Though it’s great to get a good community on social media like Twitter, connecting with a local church community is essential and more fulfilling.

    Also, your talk on giving importance to your spouse which in turn works as a model for your children – that’s awesome!


    • Anonymous

      Speaking as an adult child, I think it’s critical that parents model making one another a priority to their children. The foundation of a family certainly starts there. Thanks for your thoughts.

      • Jim Whitaker

        I agree with you Meg and with Joe. One of the most important things that my wife and I try to do is give our children opportuinities to see us funcation as a funcational family (rather than a disfunctional one). We try to model the things that we want them to pick up on, like eating together, reading the Bible together, praying together and working out disagreemetns in a positive not negative manner. My hope is that this will rub off on them and lay a foundation for what family means.

        • Michael Hyatt

          I think this kind of thing can cover a multitude of other sins. Gail and I made a lot of mistakes, but we have tried to love one another well, not only as a gift to one another, but as a gift to our children. Thanks.

      • Gina Burgess

        Super point, Meg. I am the product of Christian parents and I am so grateful for the legacy they gave me in the Christian home. It set a standard that I haven’t always been able to live up to, but then I was never satisfied until I made that standard my own. Now I have two grown daughters who both love the Lord. What wonders God works in our lives.

      • Joe Abraham

        I agree. No wonder the Bible gives emphasis to raising a godly generation in the context of family. Godly generation doesn’t simply evolve; it takes training and modelling.

    • Michael Hyatt

      I feel strongly about my comments about social media and the church. I think it is really important to maintain an “incarnational community” as the foundation of church.

      • Joe Abraham

        Beautiful! I agree.

  • Cynthia Herron

    I agree with Bruce…It’s encouraging to get a glimpse of your personal side. Transparency seems so frightening sometimes, but you connect so beautifully with people and I think that is why we keep coming back here! I am learning so much! Thank you!

    P.S. Five daughters?! Wow…Five proms, five weddings? Amazing!!

    • Jim Whitaker

      And I thought I have it bad with twin girls.

    • TNeal

      Well noted about transparency. I appreciated the humor and honesty of “happily married” 26 years (out of 33). Going on 28 years myself, I know how thankful I am that my wife endured some of my worst moments. She’s such a blessing and life is so much better than I could have imagined at the church altar 28 years ago.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for your kind words.

      Yes, FIVE! Wow. They are the joy of my life.

      • Robert Ewoldt

        Michael, what were some of the most difficult things about raising girls? I have one five-year old girl who is already quite precocious, with the possibility of another in October. I’m fairly dreading the teenage years with girls.

        • Michael Hyatt

          I think the biggest challenge was learning to listen without trying to fix anything. The great thing is that you’ll find this skill helpful in a variety of areas.

          • Robert Ewoldt

            I’m finding this with my wife, too… sometimes she doesn’t need me to offer advice on how to fix a situation, only listen to her talk about the situation, so that she can work through it. I guess that’s a difference between men and women.

  • Forrest Long

    Great interview. I’ve been reading your blog for quite a while and this interview gives your readership a bit more insight into what makes Michael Hyatt tick. And those were good questions. Thanks for doing this.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Forrest. I have been serving up more video footage since my readers indicated in my recent survey that they wanted that.

  • Anonymous

    Interesting thoughts. I admire your courage to just dive in to things having no idea where they’ll go. It was also inspiring to hear the examples of best-sellers that you discovered almost by accident. Persistence, persistence.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Yes, I always feel like I do best in interviews when I have not seen the questions ahead of time. I think I am more authentic and transparent.

  • Jeff Goins

    Great interview, Mike. Really enjoyed it. Love the challenge of leading yourself first before leading others.

  • Jan Cox

    Loved the interview. At first I thought – yikes 25 minutes – can I take the time? It was well worth every minute. The quote on the best thing a Dad can do for his kids is love the Mom – that is on a plaque on our wall. The reverse is true. Your kids live as they see you live. If love and acceptance, forgiveness and respect are freely shown and given – your kids will do the same.

    • Robert Ewoldt

      Even if our kids don’t hear a word we say, they will see what we do, and will imitate us!

  • Gina Burgess

    Mike, I think the thing that surprised me the most is Andy Andrews was rejected twice. I truly thought that once rejected, always rejected. What a great agent Andy has! I also very much admire the ability you have to take a second or third look at a work. That says so very much your trust in people. It give me a great deal of hope.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Absolutely. We have a couple of stories like that. Sometimes, it only takes a few tweaks to make a proposal acceptable.

  • Dylan Dodson

    Your insights are always so educational, thank you for sharing your wisdom.

  • TNeal

    Enjoyed the interview. I found Michael’s answer to “best author story” a little surprising only because he has so many to choose from. I went through my own list of Thomas Nelson authors and guessed Donald Miller. Hearing about how “The Traveler’s Gift” came to be a TNP book was an encouragement and a blessing.

  • TNeal

    In reading another person’s comment, I remembered a thought aroused as I listened to the interview. I’d like to hear more about the biographies read. I think my first real interest in reading came when I picked up books on the lives of Thomas Edison and George Washington Carver.

    In “The Noticer,” Jones gives Andy Andrews three biographies–George Washington Carver, Winston Churchill, and Will Rogers.

    What biographies would you, Michael, recommend (when you get back from the Caribbean) and written by whom?

  • Dave Baldwin

    What a great talk. Thank you for sharing it with us. It’s not a surprising comment or section, but I am always impressed with what you have to say about leading yourself. What a timely discussion point for all of us. Certainly things I need to work on.
    By-the-way, I’m still working on my ideal week and it dove tails really well into a book I’m reading now by Brian Tracy entitled, “Eat That Frog.”
    Many Blessings,

    • Michael Hyatt

      I keep meaning to read that book by Brian. Several people have recommended it to me. Thanks for the nudge.

  • Anonymous

    So appreciated what you said about loving your spouse. So very important and elemental.

    Also I enjoyed your words about what kinds of authors you are looking for. That encouraged me, helping me realize I’m on the right path in my branding, social media, and unique message. Step by laborious (yet joyful) step…

    • Michael Hyatt

      You are definitely on the right path, Mary. Be encouraged!

      • Anonymous

        Thanks Mike. I just finished writing a self pubbed book about the secrets to getting published. I hope to have it available on Kindle, etc. soon. But as I edited it, I realized just how long I’ve been working at this gig.

        For anyone who wants to be published (and continue to be published), remember it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

        • TNeal

          Good, sound advice.

          • Anonymous

            Thanks, TNeal! I’ve been writing since 1992, published since 2005.

          • TNeal

            You are another example of persistence, a key quality in an aspiring (or should I say perspiring) author. :-D

  • Brett Vaden

    I’m caught between wanting to ascend (i.e., gain “social authority” or “credibility”) and wanting to be faithful where I’m at, which leaves little time to build a “platform”. That surprised me most about reading your blog today. Thanks for the provocation to thought.

  • James Pinnick

    I love, love when you speak truth about the Gospel. I belong to a home church with about 30 members, just like the Old Testament.

    Stay strong Mr. Hyatt, both work and personal life.
    James Pinnick
    Author-The Last Seven Pages

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, James. I appreciate that.

  • Kent Richardson

    I’m really digging the video posts and the Q&A talks (seem to be coming out once a week).

    • Michael Hyatt

      Yes, I have had a rash of them lately! I have a couple more to post; I just hate to do more than one a week, because not everyone likes video.

  • TomGrey

    Sorry, no time for 23 minutes — why not look for a tech solution of doing Voice to Text for interviews, etc.? I would guess that a program could get some 90-95% correct, with an editor to correct the final issues.

    I’m sorry MS bought Dragon Speak and there is so little V 2 T competition.
    (I’ve long been very interested in Computer Aided Telepathy.)

    • Michael Hyatt

      Yea, that’s why I do some video but not all video. I started including this, because of all the comments I got in a recent reader survey I did. However, I know not everyone likes it. Oh well.

  • Jeff Kusner

    really enjoyed the interview, glad i revisited to watch in its entirety. couldn’t agree more with your thoughts on marriage and family… just hope viewers hang on long enough for the last couple minutes.

  • Jeff Randleman

    I didn’t get a chance to watch this when you posted it. Did so today. Great stuff. Thanks for sharing!

  • Dan

    I listened to this today on my phone. Great interview. I really enjoy your advice to potential authors about having a passion and platform in place. I have a passion for leadership and am working on my platform. Thank you for posting it

  • Tom Johnson-Medland, CSJ, OSL

    Thanks, Brother, for the transparency in your words. I also share the connection with family in ministry and how we are not always at the same place. It is a valuable recognition that many people in the ministry never own up to. Subsequently they knuckle under and force their spirituality on the family – which ends up enacting roles that are not healthy.

  • Simon

    Michael I thank you for sharing your faith, experiences and wisdom, particularly from a christian perspective. Your life is a testimony and a miracle! It gives everyone hope, showing that with God, ALL things are possible. Do not give-up, nor look back, nor become discouraged. God gives hope to those who dream, and miracles to those who believe. God never fail those who trust Him, and never leave those who walk with Him. I pray that God’s Word will forever dwell richly in you and gain greater ascendency in every area of your life! May God continue to be the lamp beneath your feet and the light onto your path!

  • J. White

    Thanks for the very interesting interview! Any comprhensive interview with a successful CEO should include his or her philosphy on leadership, family and their respective trade. It’s such a dynamic position that anyone who does it well, could and should have a lot to pass on. The networking component alone makes it such a enviable pursuit. I find the more I read your blogs and tune into to your variety of links, the more well-rounded my perspective on those topics is becoming. From creating a personal life plan to scheduling my week, and even tips on the book I will one day publish (not yet in the works, but someday maybe) you certainly give your readers something to aspire towards.

    Thanks Mike and keep it up!

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Joe. I appreciate your kind words.

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