Dr. Eric Zabiegalski is one of BAM! Publishing’s newest authors. His book Why America Should Elect Donald Trump in 2016 jumped to number one of the BAM! Publishing Bestsellers List for March. Written as a political satire (Spoiler Alert: this book is completely blank) Dr. Zabiegalski intends for this book to make waves this Presidential election cycle. By asking thought provoking questions on the back cover of his book, Dr. Zabiegalski allows the reader to determine for themselves if the candidate in question is qualified to be the Forty-Fifth President of the United States.
For this post we sat down with Dr. Zabiegalski and asked him some questions about his new book.
Besides writing your Ph. D. dissertation, did you ever have aspirations of being an author?
Yes, I think I have since I have been young, I first caught the bug from my older brother who was a writer in California during the 70’s and 80’s. He had some limited success writing stories for television but ultimately gave it up for more steady work as a private investigator, eventually opening his own investigation firm in Northern California until his retirement several years ago.
What gave you the idea for this book?
The idea of writing a blank novelty book is not new and has been done about many different subjects with such titles as “sex after 50”, “what men know about women” and so on. Poking fun at political candidates has also been done; in the 1990s with a book regarding re-electing Bill Clinton and also a more recent book about Barrack Obama. With that said I wanted to do something a little different in that these previously mentioned books were all designed to make fun of and humiliate the candidate, hitting below the belt if you will. I wanted to design a book which would both be humorous and poke good natured fun at the candidate while also being respectful as well as able to work on several different levels at the same time. First as a gag book designed to get a laugh and shock out of the reader and then also as a book which would invite the reader to unpack complex Presidential qualities which I think all candidates should be able to answer (which I placed on the back cover), finally, I wanted to design a book which would start conversations and cause personal reflection.
Are you particularly interested in politics or was this cycle what prompted your entrance into the political discussion?
I’ve always been fascinated by politics, and celebrity for that matter, I think because of the great potential people in the public sector have to display and practice responsibility and leadership and do great things for others with this influential tool. It’s interesting to me to see what people will do with this gift once it is given to them. I also like the structure of politics and the purposes for practicing it. I see politics as an overlay, a user interface, like Windows on a computer, which should be used as a method or language to behave professionally and fairly on behalf of humanity and for business, following certain protocols and conducting affairs in logical and practical ways. Of course this is frequently misused and politics can be full of personal agenda and ulterior motive and grotesquely transformed from its noblest intent. I like to see how leaders will handle the method of practice, and operating language of politics and if they can wield its power in altruistic ways.
What do you hope to accomplish with this book?
I’d like to start a conversation regarding the critical Presidential qualities listed on the back of this book. Americans are smart, regardless of how much formal academic schooling or their life experience they have they know what is important and what is right, and what matters at the end of the day. I want to invite the reader to unpack the complex concepts on the back of this book and talk about them, on their own terms. I want to get people to pop their brains out of neutral and into drive and get back into the driver’s seat of their own lives and maybe experience independent thought instead of being driven around by public opinion, or the media, or the loudest person in the room, or their first initial observations for that matter. I’d also like to sell a ton of these so I can say my first book sold “X” number of copies. That would be cool!!
In your personal opinion, what will it take to “make America great again?”
In my opinion America doesn’t need to elect any more fractional leaders, they must possess several traits and behaviors across a spectrum and not simply be known for, or selected for, one specific attribute, or reason. We don’t simply need to elect someone because of their ethnicity, or their gender, or their business acumen. We don’t need just a businessman in the White House any more than we need a Border collie, sure they both have some valuable characteristics and traits but they must have many strong traits to include leader, statesman, and diplomat. What it will take to make America great again is a President who is a great leader, and a pragmatist, and servant, and courageous, and strong, a great role model with a calm demeanor and a sense of humor.
Do you hope that Mr. Trump sees a copy?
I’d love it if he saw a copy and this book might actually work to his advantage, if he could answer the questions on the back of it! I wouldn’t be worried about discussing this work with him face to face or be ashamed of it because as I said there is nothing below the belt in, or on, this book. I feel as if I suspend judgement going as far as saying this is what we currently know of the candidate and his qualifications regarding the specific Presidential skills and qualities outlined on the book. I even went as far as selecting the most respectful and Presidential photo of the candidate I could find, and believe me I could have used much less flattering photos had I wanted to just humiliate or ridicule him.
In the first month your book was out, it rocketed to #1 on our BAM Publishing Bestsellers List. I’m curious as to how well your book is being received outside of BAM.
I think it’s very good and growing in locations where it is currently displayed on shelves. I have had a lot of success with independent bookstores and am even proud to say that my book is on display at the prestigious Harvard Bookstore on Harvard square. Utilizing the EBM (Espresso Book Machine) network with my self-publishing package offered by Books-A-Million helped a lot with this. With this feature I was able to tap into the independent bookstores tied into On-Demand Books and ask them if they would consider putting a copy of my book on their shelf if I paid for the initial copy, once that copy sells they will replace it with another and they incur no cost because I paid for the first copy, this was a no-brainer for almost all of the stores I approached as their profit margin was high for selling a copy and they assumed absolutely no risk. Still, even with such a great deal for the seller there was one independent bookstore which, although they technically already carried my book through On-demand and the EBM, was not willing to put a copy on display. This really disappointed me as I was a local author and they were the first bookstore I approached but it just goes to show you that not everyone will like what you create or want to help you.
Not everyone has your sense of humor in regards to the book. What would you say to those who may find the book offensive or divisive?
Then they’re Trump supporters! Just kidding. People who find this book offensive or divisive either haven’t opened it or do not have a sense of humor and both of those things concern me though I can do nothing about that, at the end of the day the only thing we truly have control over in this world is our own behavior. In regard to creating dissension or discord (divisiveness), I discussed earlier how I didn’t punch below the belt with this book and it was written in a way that suspended judgement and could actually work to his favor for the candidate. Finally, while I don’t think this book is offensive or divisive I am a bit of an iconoclast and relish being in that role, I suppose that’s one of the reasons why I tried to use humor to draw out serious discussion, reflection, and learning in this book project.
Spoiler Alert: your book is completely blank (obviously). What are some unique ways that a reader can use your book after the initial good chuckle they receive after purchasing it?
I’m glad you asked! I recently addressed this in a “top ten reasons to buy my book” list and came up with “it makes a great Poli-Sci notebook” or could be used as any school notebook really. Another one I thought of was “use it as a diary that no one would open” lol. Beyond that, it would make a great notebook of any sort and also a great collectible for someone who collected political memorabilia. This book would also make great party favors or a gift stuffed in a goody bag for the “other” candidates fundraising dinners, anyone have any connections?!
Are you planning to write any more books in the future?
I’ve got several more books in the hopper and many more book ideas I’ve written over the years. I’m currently planning one a year for the next three years with my next book being a business book focusing on innovative companies which have learned to exploit the marketplace doing what they have learned to do well for profit and at the same time explore the market, innovating and learning new things. The next book after that will be another humorous book and more creative and simple than the second book and the third will be another business book written from more of a macro perspective. I’ve compiled so much writing over the years that I don’t know if I have 120 chapters to one book idea, 12 chapters to 12 different books or over 100 different books which I have collected, I guess I will have to wait and see, thanks for the questions and keep smiling! Eric
Why America Should Elect Donald Trump in 2016 is available at booksamillion.com, and at both EBM locations in Birmingham, AL and South Portland, ME. For more information about the book connect with Dr. Zabiegalski on Facebook and Twitter. For more information about self-publishing your own book please visit bampublish.com.
Dr. Eric Zabiegalski is a graduate of George Washington University. He has been researching leadership, learning, and change for over 20 years. A retired U.S military veteran and former Air Force sergeant, Eric has been on all sides of the leadership fence from leader and manager to employee and servant and has practiced leadership and served leaders in some of the most trusted and challenging places in the world.
With an early professional history as a technical expert, Eric has gone from being a technical SME (subject matter expert) to being a people SME and considers the human mind and behavior to be one of the next great frontiers for discovery.
With additional interests in emotional intelligence, neuroscience, complexity , and ambidextrous organizations, Eric has been driven to finding the right balance of qualities, efforts, practices and behaviors in order to not only build better high performing and learning teams of fulfilled and healthy individuals, but also to create a better world in which to live.
Eric is married with a son and daughter and lives on the Western shore of the Chesapeake Bay close to Washington DC with his wife and Border collie.