This week let me introduce Jeff Kubiak!
Lessons from failure, motivation!
Jeff is a school principal who didn’t like school as a child, it’s what makes him a terrific educator!
It also gave him a unique perspective for writing his book, ‘One Drop of Kindness’.
Jeff says he’s had great lessons from failures, and it’s only inspired him to persist with his project and help more kids.
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Get Connected with Jeff!
Find Jeff’s website HERE
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Read Jeff’s blog HERE
Laurie: Hello writers. Welcome back to the Writer’s Way podcast. I’m Laurie here with Jeff Kubiak. Welcome Jeff to my show.
Jeff: Thank you very much. Honored to be here with you.
Laurie: Awesome. You have such a fantastic book and topic that’s timely probably all the time, but seems like especially now, but, um. Can you share how, like, who you are, how you got started, and then about your book.
Jeff: Yeah. I, um, so I’m, I’m, I’m Jeff Kubiak. I’m, uh, I’m currently an elementary school principal in Northern California and blessed to be an author. Um, a family guy. I have a wife and two wonderful children and happened to be in Hawaii at the moment with my mom and my sister. Um, my, my journey, you know, is similar to.
I, I think others, um, I didn’t like school. School wasn’t easy for me. Uh, it was frustrating. I got in trouble. I got suspended. Uh, I got bullied. I was a bully. Um, until sixth grade, I had an amazing teacher that kind of turned my world around and, um, you know, kind of through that, watching her and reflecting on how she was an empath and so compassionate and kind.
But, um. You know, I reflect on that a lot and that’s kind of what I’ve tried to do. And the story, my book, “One Drop of Kindness” is Gus’ story kind of through my eyes and how, um, I think it’s so easy for people to find kindness, but yet it’s not.
Laurie: Yes. Depending on your background. And I love the way you say, um, you know, you had that experience in school.
It wasn’t necessarily a happy place for you. And now as a principal, you bring that. To your job. You bring that every day. And what a great lens, you say you’ve been a bully and you weren’t bullied. You must really connect with your students very well.
Jeff: I, yeah, I believe like I can connect with all, you know, we, we’ve got so many kids in this world and especially at my school that struggle and that don’t find any joy in being there.
They don’t want to be there. Um, but then there’s others that would rather be there. Cause life at home is terrible. Or, and then you’ve got your group that loves school so much no matter what, right? And so I believe I can kind of connect and help those kids that are kind of our gate or the, you know, superstars, find ways to not be bored and continue, continue loving school and find challenges.
But then, you know, the kids, the kids that. Just everything is a struggle. You know, I, I’m with them and I, I get it.
Laurie: Oh. And I, I bet that appreciate, they appreciate that so much. Not every administrator has that kind of background or that kind of approach, I think so.
Jeff: Yeah. I don’t know. I think, um. I don’t click with every educator or teacher, I, uh, I push hard because I expect every teacher to embrace every student as we try to embrace every teacher and support every teacher and,
Laurie: Right, which is difficult.
Jeff: Yeah. Yeah. And you know, it’s, it’s not easy. And, um, I really do support all teachers, even though maybe my methods don’t portray that all the time.
Laurie: Oh, interesting. Your school sounds like an interesting place. It’s so true though. As you know, teachers are human too, and sometimes you get kids in your classroom that you do not gel well with and you butt heads, and that is such a difficult part. Or, or parents, parents of the students.
Jeff: Yeah, definitely
Laurie: We won’t go down that rabbit hole. Okay. Back on track. So you have this book, “One Drop of Kindness”, and um, did you write it years ago? Is it a fairly new thing? I know it was published in May, but how did that start?
Jeff: I started writing another book last summer, summer of 18. Um, it kind of encapsulated all my different failures in life and bringing other people into play.
And, just wasn’t feeling it. And then, um, I just started writing and I, you know, I, I’m, I’m a fan of blogging and I just decided like, let’s, let’s make an easy message for everyone to embrace. And so I just kind of started writing about this journey of a boy named Gus who is abandon. He struggles.
He’s not had it easy. And then kind of in his heart, it’s always been there and he finds a way to connect with others and be an empath and the kindness King.
Laurie: Oh, that’s nice. So when you wrote it, did you always know you’re going to self publish? Did you research traditional publishing or how did that choice happen?
Jeff: Well, it is actually traditionally published through a small, well at the time. So let me go back. So I thought I would, um, publish my own. I had no idea about publishing. Um, you know, talk to different people. Reached out and I threw the manuscript out to a lot. And that was another good lesson of failure, you know, just either, not getting a word back or just saying, Jeff, no thanks.
Or whatever. Right. Um, I’ll, I’ll never forget one, Jeff. This is not in my ballywick.
Yeah. That was it. Jeff. This is not my ballywick, so I have no idea what that meant, but obviously it didn’t work
Laurie: Because I’m from another century.
Jeff: So, um, I got in touch with, uh, Manny Froehlich and Sarah Thomas at EDU Match, and they had only done one children’s book prior.
Um, and decided to take a risk. I did too. And we kind of learned together, um, and navigated the world of illustrated children’s books and, um, got connected with an amazing illustrator and we began our journey. And so, um, yeah, it’s, it’s been exciting. It’s been a learning. It’s been frustrating, but it’s been, it’s full of fun.
Laurie: Yeah, it is. It’s, it’s fun to go through the process and learn what you have to learn. So did they. Did you have input, creative input into the illustrations and the book layout?
Jeff: Yes. So, um, the illustrator, Lily Maura, uh, she and I connected through a friend Rick Jetter, who’s written several different PD books.
Um, and yeah, Lily and I would, we would Skype, Google hangout, phone call all, all day, every day, just kind of trying to get my image of Gus and Truly in the main characters to match. What I felt, and I think she just nailed it. And, um, so everything that happened in the book was because it was the way I wanted it.
Um, Sarah was amazing with that and she gave me, you know, full, full rights to doing creative rights. And, and same with Liliana. We just worked so well together and made it work. It was great.
Laurie: Oh, that’s a nice experience, isn’t it?
Jeff: Phenomenal. Phenomenal.
Laurie: And so now who does the marketing?
Jeff: Jeff, it’s all me. It’s all me. So, yeah, and you know, I don’t, I love, you know, looking at people like you who have been so successful with all of your Mantra books and how people do things, but it’s, you know, trying to be a school principal and manage a family and do those things. And then. Right. And market books has been a challenge.
And so, you know, it’s pretty much truly social media and word of mouth. Um, I’ve probably donated 600 books. Um, I believe in the message so much. I want, I want it to be in every classroom, every school, every home. Um, because I think it’s something that’s so important. So, um, yeah, I give a lot of books away.
Just because I think that everyone needs that message.
Laurie: I agree. They do. Everybody needs to strive to be the kindness King or Queen. Yeah. So you’re giving all these books away. Did you do a bulk print run somewhere or did you buy them from the publisher?
Jeff: I buy them from the publisher at kind of at a low cost.
And then, um, but you know, I, I don’t make money on the book. I just make money on a message. So to speak in, in heart. Um, but you know, that’s a really while I’m in it. It is. You know, I just, same as a lot of publishers. We, we want people to see our work and feel our work and, and be able to share our work.
And, you know, if we can connect with one kid, then to me, I won, right? And if I change the perception or the way one person comes across to another and makes them. Able to reflect and be more kind than I win again. And um, you know, it’s cool. I’ve seen a lot of teachers write curriculum already and lessons based on my book, and it’s just that really just lights my fire up and yeah.
So on my website, you know, I have free downloads and stuff, and when you kind of look around and you see these drops of kindness in classrooms and throughout, it’s pretty cool.
Laurie: Oh gosh. That just must fill you with pride and joy and happiness and yeah. Yeah. It really is special when your baby and your mission and your message is accepted, and then.
They run with it. That’s amazing. Um, what was I going to ask you know? Oh, so, um, getting rent to advice. So you’re, you have a family, you have a full time job that, you know, it’s not a nine to five or you have a very full life. How, um, how do you, how do you, uh, what advice do you have? I’m stumbling over my words.
What advice do you have for other people that are like you and they’re thinking, there’s no way I don’t have the time.
Jeff: We all have time, right? It’s just where do we prioritize? So I get up at four and I kind of do my, I have like a little block of time that no one interrupts me. Four to five. I have my coffee and just, I just ramble.
I’ll either blog or just open a Google doc and just go. Um, so, you know, I’m blessed. Sarah’s taken another chance on me. I have another book in the works. Um, that’ll be out maybe in spring or summer. And then also my, um, books going to be translated into Spanish, “One Drop of Kindness” so I’m very excited about that.
That’s happening as we speak, but just people just need to, you know, what, what is more, if you have this compelling notion or idea. Then make it more important. Take out X or Y and eat. I mean, if you want to walk or ride a bike, you can talk into a phone or talking to your recording device. Um, you know, jot notes on your plane or on the train and you know, there’s, there’s always a medium or a way to do it.
You just have to find what’s important. And, you know, the word busy just kills me. It’s so overused, right? Like, I’m too busy. Well. Your priorities are how you want them and how do you want to share or spend your time. And so, you know, look at you. We were scheduled for something else. It didn’t happen. You got to go see your son’s game or spend time with them.
Laurie: Oh, yeah that’s right.
Jeff: Yeah. I mean, it’s just, it’s just, it’s how we want to make it. Right. And, Oh, I was talking to a friend, Dave Shermanoh yesterday about moments and if we live with the moments. And create those moments. That’s what it’s about.
Because tomorrow we might not have those moments, you know? Sure. I think the, the future writers or the future message bringers um, just get around to it and find a way.
Laurie: Find your moments.
then in one year from now, if we don’t, then you’re gonna look back and you know, I wish I woulda coulda, but look, think about the 365 days you missed out on.
Laurie: Yeah. And I think it gets harder the longer you put it off. You almost need some events to give you that kick, and if you don’t have something happen, it just gets harder and harder.
Jeff: Yeah, definitely, definitely
Laurie: To change your habits and your routines and breaking out of your comfort zone, right?
Laurie: What ha, what has been the most surprising thing to you on your journey?
Jeff: Mmm. My journey as an author?
Jeff: Okay. I the difficulty in selling books. And getting your word out there. You know, it just, I didn’t really think it was going to, you know, the world was going to buy it or whatever, but just there are so many amazing messages out there.
So many great books, so many great authors, and, you know, kindness is a big, a big a thing right now, but just, um, the difficulty of trying to get the message out there. Um, you know, I, I’ve been really intent on. Sending it to kindness advocates that I believe would like it. So I just, you know, I send it to, I sent my book to Ellen and Kristen Bell and Lady Gaga, Pink, Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, you know, just all these people and, um, why not, right.
And the, you know, so people like, uh. You know, Colin Kaepernick did a snap with it and Van Jones did a snap with it. And, um, I got, it’s through Arianna Huffington. I got an opportunity now. I’ve been blogging on her Thrive. And, um, so that’s been cool. Just having people say, Jeff, your book touched my life or a student’s life.
That’s all. It’s really worth right there, you know?
Laurie: Yeah. And I bet that keeps you going. Like that’s a, that’s a real go getter thing. Start sending your book to those famous people are, is that just how you are? Is that how you live your life? You’re just a go getter, like nothing’s going to stop you.
Jeff: Yeah, I try. I mean, I think. You know, I’ve, I’ve had so many different setbacks or side to side backs throughout my life that are just, if you don’t, just keep moving forward. And, you know, my wife is an amazing advocate and positive person and she really helps me stay grounded. And my mom’s always been supportive.
My dad was supportive, my sister’s amazing. And so when you have these people around you. It’s hard not to want to be a go getter. Um, and uh, yeah. So it’s just like. Oh, what, what does it hurt to put a book in the mail and send it to someone that might find it worthwhile? Right. Um, yeah. You know, I sent it to The Today Show, never heard anything back.
Whatever. Who cares? You know, I sent two books. Yeah. Big deal. Right. And so, um, you know, when you make about a buck a book, it really doesn’t matter anyway.
Laurie: You happy to share?
Jeff: It’s fun. Right?
Laurie: Well, and I love the way you talk about a lesson, a failure. So clearly you, you know, you take your lessons and you learn from them and you keep going.
And having that supportive network is so helpful.
Jeff: Yeah. Believe me, I mean, I’ve, you know, I’ve. I’ve wronged people. I’ve been wronged. I’ve made really poor choices. And the more you reflect and try to grow organically, and honestly, you know, those are the things that count. And you know, it’s funny, like, do you ever read your book reviews on Amazon or good reads or whatever?
Laurie: Yeah. I usually have to stop after a while.
Jeff: So it’s just kind of funny. But you know, one really resonated, it was maybe a couple of months ago, but, um, a kindness book should be written by someone kind, not a marginal person. So, obviously it had nothing to do with my book. Yeah, it was all about me.
So you know, obviously someone in my past that I didn’t do right, or I made a bad decision, you know, whatever. But it’s just funny. It’s like, okay, so that person took time to. You know, kind of crunch me down. Not the book’s message, but you know, that’s obviously there’s something going on, but it’s just, it’s funny, I do the same as you. I try not to read them, but
Laurie: I think what you really realize when you go through your reviews is that everybody has their own lens through which they see the world. And I, I’m guilty of just assuming everyone’s like me often. And then, you know. Why wouldn’t they? Yeah. You read the reviews and it’s like, how, where did that even come from?
That was so far from the intent and so far from what everybody else saw, but you know, it just, it’s just based on everybody’s life experience and they really, people really do see the world differently and there’s nothing we can do about that. So it takes guts to get the work out there. It’s really.
Jeff: If you can’t accept criticism or critique, then don’t put your message out. But if you are, if you’re doing it for yourself, then who cares what other people think, right?
Laurie: Or just don’t read the reviews.
Jeff: Yeah, we have a, we have a president that doesn’t care about what other people think. So why, why should we
Laurie: Well that’s certainly true. You can be President. Oh, that’s funny. So where can people find you and find your book?
Jeff: Um, “One Drop of Kindness” can be found on Amazon, Barnes and Noble. And then, um, I have my website, Jeffkubiak.com where there’s tons of free resources and free downloads. And, you know, I try, I try to do everything for free.
I. I think as authors, as educators, as people, we should share and support each other and with good ideas and good help and good intentions. So
Laurie: I agree. I think that’s fabulous. It’s so true. We’re, I’ll just look into, you know, fulfill our dreams in some little way, you know, big dreams, small dreams, whatnot. So,
Jeff: Yeah. But especially as educators, you know, like if you’re. Iterating something and making it better and let’s help each other. Don’t. Okay, Laurie, I’m going to charge you $6 because you made one of my lessons better. Not like that. We’re all serving kids, right? It’s as a servant. Why should I do anything except try to help you be better for kids? So I don’t know.
Laurie: I love that. Well, I’ll definitely share that. Your website and all your information.
Jeff: Thank you.
Laurie: Along with this, and
Jeff: I’ll share yours too, because your books are lovely. Absolutely. Lovely.
Laurie: Thank you. I really appreciate that coming from somebody who works with children and
Jeff: You know, like I said, I have eight hundred students and your books find a wonderful niche and everyone’s little heart, so that’s great.
Laurie: Thanks Jeff. Thank you. Well, thanks for taking time out of your vacation to chat with me. I’m glad it worked out this time and
Jeff: I’m cold looking at your background cause I see the snow and unfortunately it’s only 77 here Kauai, Hawaii.
Laurie: Thank you so much.
Jeff: Aloha. Thank you very much.