PP 356: Dr. James Kelley, Author of The Crucible’s Gift and Host of Executives After Hours Podcast

“Life is a series of subtle — and sometimes not subtle — mistakes and errors as you go along, and fortunately that’s where a lot of the biggest gains happen. It’s in those failures.”

James’ adult life has been filled with one failure after another, and we start this episode with a string of bloopers just to make an (unintentional) point! We chat about our mistakes, living abroad, our podcasting journeys, authentic conversations and more!

02:45 Perfectionism is a failure
04:04 Allowing space for failure and innovation
08:00 James’ biggest but best failures
11:42 A BIG sleep deprivation induced failure of mine
12:41 How James wound up in the Middle East
13:38 Don’t let your fear conquer you. Conquer your fear.
23:24 James’ podcasting journey
38:39 … and then his book writing journey!

Failures aren't always bad. Sometimes they provide amazing wins and progression. Listen as @kelleyjamesb and @thekimsutton discuss: https://www.thekimsutton.com/pp356 #positiveproductivity #podcastClick To Tweet

Resources Mentioned

Dr. James Kelley’s Books: The Crucible’s Gift

The Greatest Showman

Episode Transcription

Kim Sutton: Welcome back to another episode of Positive Productivity. This is your host, Kim Sutton, and I’m so happy to have you here today. I’m also thrilled to introduce our guest, James Kelley. James is, I don’t know why I’m having trouble with that.

Dr. James Kelley: You want me to take over?

Kim Sutton: James, you’re a podcaster. I’m just gonna throw your introduction over to you.

Dr. James Kelley: All right. Well, thank you for welcoming me. Thank you for having me on your show. I am Dr. James Kelley, or just James Kelley, if you will. And I am the author of the Crucible’s Gift: 5 Lessons for Authentic Leaders Who Thrive in Adversity, as well as a professor, a data for, and I’ve lived in the Middle East, just outside Dubai currently.

Kim Sutton: Yeah. Wow, that was really eloquent. Listeners, I have to tell you, this is the second attempt at this recording. It’s going to be amazing, even with bloopers. But talk about a transparent authentic view of the podcasting, or the podcaster and guest side of things without any editing. This has been a blast already. I’m sure some of the listeners are appreciating it. Because really, some of them have no idea how much editing really does go on behind the scenes, especially on my podcast. Just because there are those days when my mouth just doesn’t connect to my brain. I could blame it on the shortage of coffee. But even on coffee days, it’s there. In your bio, that only I can see, listeners can’t see it right now, said your adult life has been one consistent failure after another, which I’m sort of laughing about right now. And considering my bloopers, your bloopers, my tech failures last time. But I would love it if you would jump into that, and explain more to the listeners so they know just where you came from.

Dr. James Kelley: Sure, absolutely. Thank you. And thanks for the opportunity for me to be on the show.

Kim Sutton: So coming back, I had to put that out there.

Dr. James Kelley: As a podcaster, I’ve had those days, it’s not a big deal. So I think the failure comment for me is one of those things that happens often to everybody. And to those people who are perfectionists, they might think, well, this happened to me. But the fact you are perfectionist is a failure process because you’re the anxiety that you give yourself in failure, to me, is a failure. My life has been riddled with shortcomings, wrong directions, bad choices. You name, it has been there for me. But the consistent day that I had when it came to failure that I have is that I embrace it. And more importantly, I own it. I own it all the way to the bank. And if it was a treasury bill, it might be worth some money someday. But I own it.

Kim Sutton: I like that. Yeah. How much are those bills worth? When they become valuable, just please let me know. But I’m just gonna be quiet.

Dr. James Kelley: No, no, no, it’s your show, do what you want.

Kim Sutton: I’m just thinking about how much money we make off of failures, because we just keep on pushing forward. And it’s those mistakes.

Dr. James Kelley: How do you mean that? How do you mean like all the money? Are you trying to take my Tito metaphor and run with it?

Kim Sutton: I am sort of, yeah. But I’m thinking about, look at post-it notes. The post it notes weren’t actually supposed to be posted notes, they were trying to design an adhesive for who knows what function. And what they wound up with was the adhesive that is now used on post-it notes, or sticky notes as some people might know them.

Dr. James Kelley: But the only reason that happened is because the people at 3M allowed there to be space one day a week for failure.

Kim Sutton: I love that.

Dr. James Kelley: Right? They were one of the first companies in history. I think this was back in like the 50’s, 60’s? I can’t remember exactly the time frame, but it wasn’t like the 80’s. It was 50, 60, 70, somewhere in there. But that organization said that, if we’re going to keep pushing forward, we need to have space to let our people innovate. And then that’s what happened. I don’t mean to cut you off.

Kim Sutton: Oh, no. Look at it, it’s going both ways here. But that is so true. I mean, leaving the space for innovation is so important. I never thought about the fact that being a perfectionist is actually a failure on its own. I’m a recovering perfectionist, and I used to get so stressed when everything wasn’t going my way. Even when I launched the podcast a year and a half ago, I would get so stressed if I had a blooper.

Dr. James Kelley: So what happened? What was the transformation?

Kim Sutton: I got tired of seeing perfect pictures on social media. I didn’t realize I was tired of it after I launched the podcast. But there were some people who I noticed only ever showed the beautiful side of life. And I’m going to put quotes around beautiful. Because personally, I think that the days that my kids Sharpie marker their face are just as beautiful as the rest. And I think that those failed Pinterest cakes are just as beautiful as the real Pinterest. So if I’m going to do my job on the show, and if I’m really going to represent my life and how I’ve gotten through it all, and how I’ve gotten to where I am today, which is not where I want to be tomorrow, or in a year, or five years because I don’t even know what that looks like yet, then how is it fair to hide what we do experience on a daily basis? Because I thought I was really screwing up, James, I always thought I was doing something wrong because my life didn’t look like that. But in fact, I’m doing everything just how I should. It might just look like it’s been colored with a green Sharpie marker.

Dr. James Kelley: I think the big thing there is that you’re choosing to embrace versus put up the facade, if you will, of the whole process. Life is a series of subtle. And sometimes, not subtle mistakes and errors as you go along. And unfortunately, that’s where a lot of the biggest gains happen is in those failures.

Kim Sutton: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. Here’s another podcasting fail. I have a cat hanging from the blinds right now in my office. I thought I had gotten all the cats out of my office. They come out of the closet when I’m not looking. He’s literally hanging there. He’s okay guys. He’s not choking or anything, he just wants out. And yeah, so take us deeper into your journey.

Dr. James Kelley: Okay. So let me ask what that means. What does that mean? I say that coming back to you because I feel like as a podcast host and a guest, people often, I ask that question, who asked that question, asked me that question. I find myself thinking, well, part of my journey. Do you want me to describe a particular failure? I’m not trying to be sassy by any stretch of the imagination.

Kim Sutton: Oh, it’s okay. I like it. Yeah. Yeah.

Dr. James Kelley: I just wanna get more direction.

Kim Sutton: What are some of your best failures? I need to say it best. And then how did you wind up in the Middle East?

Dr. James Kelley: Okay. Jeez, best failure. That’s like asking which kid do I like the best. Which all parents have.

Kim Sutton: I know. Don’t lie about it. We really do. I know I have two out of the five.

Dr. James Kelley: Don’t tell anybody. I filed bankruptcy in my late 20’s, that was a big failure for sure. I made a lot of poor choices. I thought that I could manage certain aspects of my life that I couldn’t manage. Like I thought that I could go back to grad school and own a Land Rover. Well, I can’t do that because I’m not making any money, and I had too much pride to sell a car before I moved. Or another massive failure was getting fired from a job for reasons that were kind of out of my control. And at the same time, I’m sure I set up the circumstances to be less than desirable at the organization. I was working at a company in San Jose, and I moved there from Portland, Oregon, and took over an office that was already dysfunctional. And when I was hired, I was told that I’d never do any more sales calls. I was going to manage the office. What I found out when I got there was that the sales rep actually hadn’t worked for about six or seven months. And for various reasons, this individual could not be fired. And so I ended up getting into several fights with my boss and saying, find all your sales calls. So my attitude was already kind of poor at that point. And so one day, I got an email from someplace. This is 2000, 2001. I don’t know if you’ve ever had this happen to you, but it’s an interesting email with a link. You know you shouldn’t click on the link, but there’s something about it that drives curiosity. So you clicked on the link anyways.

Kim Sutton: Just a few times.

Dr. James Kelley: Yeah. So that’s what I did. And within an hour, I had knocked out the complete network of the company and shut down, something like 20 offices with a virus. So fast forward about a week, I came to my office and the door was locked, and my keys didn’t work. And I was laid off/fired. But it was kind of a blessing. I ended up moving to New York, getting my MBA coaching water polo for a few years. For me,it was fine. Your egos hit a little bit, and your pride. But at the end of the day, you find that there’s always sunshine on the other side. So those are just a couple of my failures, and I could go on for probably a little bit longer.

Kim Sutton: Oh, my gosh, I just got to share. I have done all of that. Although I didn’t file bankruptcy. And I don’t know at this point if that was a good idea or a bad idea.

Dr. James Kelley: Yeah, go ahead.

Kim Sutton: Because I should have filed. If I had listened to all the people who told me I should have, I would have filed bankruptcy eight years ago. But I decided to just do my best to take care of all the debt. And I had to admit, that’s probably the better choice, and let the rest roll off.

Dr. James Kelley: Yeah. Probably that’s the better choice because you have probably more pride and more appreciation where I felt trapped and just kind of thought, well, this is the easiest path forward.

Kim Sutton: Had I had, quite honestly, the 2500 to file bankruptcy, which I think is sort of funny, actually. I’m going bankrupt because they don’t have any money. I can help you with your bankruptcy if you pay me 2500. The credit cards have already shut me off because I haven’t paid. I started my first company in 2005 while I was already working a full time job. And I was sleep deprived. I was designing schools, I was an interior architect. And in my sleep deprivation and trying to do too much, I had accidentally on the finish schedule, listeners, if you’re not familiar, for every single room in a school, there was basically an Excel chart that would say, what was going on the floor? What was going on the wall? Like the pink color, what was going on the ceiling? In my sleep deprivation, I put the wall colors on the ceiling, and the ceiling color, white, on the walls. So there were red ceilings, blue ceilings, yellow ceilings, and that’s how the contractors painted because they didn’t want to question.

Dr. James Kelley: At least it made for a colorful school.

Kim Sutton: Oh, it did? Definitely. Yeah, it was an elementary school.

Dr. James Kelley: Yeah. I think that’s perfect for elementary school.

Kim Sutton: Oh, yeah.

Dr. James Kelley: So how I ended up in the Middle East is that I was a professor in Philadelphia, and there was just an opportunity to take me and my four kids to live in the United Arab Emirates. And I thought, it’s not permanent, it’s a temporary thing. And for my kids, there’s probably no better experience in their life than to go live someplace completely different. And so that was kind of one of the biggest, I think drivers. That I want an opportunity for my family to experience different things. Last summer, we went to Portugal for the summer, and lived on a beach for six weeks. I am pretty sure that we lived in the US, we would never do that. It’s not something that you would think of. But when you live overseas, the world’s your oyster. And so you’re more willing to explore the unknown when you’re out of your comfort zone than when you’re in your comfort zone. And so that’s kind of one of these philosophies that we’ve kind of come up with in our family is don’t let fear conquer, you conquer your fear. So lean into it when you’re a little bit scared. Not the physical fear, but the emotional fear. Be a little bit vulnerable. Don’t be afraid to try something that’s new or different. And my kids don’t totally adhere to it. Don’t get me wrong. But over time, you hope that they embrace that philosophy when they have difficult choices to make in life. And they keep hearing the same thing again and again.

Kim Sutton: That is so interesting. I don’t remember, it could have been in our first attempt at this chat for all I remember. But I remember somebody saying, or reading it somewhere. If something scares you, that’s what you have to do. Maybe I even sat on a movie.

Dr. James Kelley: I believe it.

Kim Sutton: But it’s a lot easier said than done.

Dr. James Kelley: Totally. But I think I’m thinking of all the choices. And you can’t ever regret the choice you make. But think about all the choices that you’ve made, emotional choices that you’d made because you were scared of the alternative. But if you take yourself out of that moment of choice and reflect on it now, you may have made the other choice because you can see two steps down the road how that choice may have bettered you as a person who gave you a different opportunity, or whatever. But often, we sit there, thinking to ourselves, okay, we’re the moment of choice. And that’s really scary. What if it doesn’t work? Or what if I’m judged? Or what if, what if, what if? And you what if the crap out of yourself besides saying the positive what if. What if it does work? What if I do get a better opportunity? What if I learn from this? Often, we like to be stones or boulders in our own place and not kind of shake ourselves up to do something different.

Kim Sutton: Right. My husband and I almost sabotaged ourselves because we were both scared. Actually, I don’t think I’ve showed this or shared this on the podcast before. We actually broke up for three months shortly after we started dating. He was scared of something good.

Dr. James Kelley: That’s something normal, probably. Whatever normal is, that’s totally a definitional thing.

Kim Sutton: Yeah. And we had met each other on Craigslist. I was looking to see what jerks were out there, but he was actually looking for somebody. And then I found him and realized, oh, my gosh, he had previous wives who had cheated on him. And he was convinced that the only way I could actually be real was if I was cheating on him too. So he broke a date and put an ad up, thinking that he would catch me looking for somebody else. But when he broke the day, I was like, what the heck. Because it was something that we’ve really been looking forward to. So I looked back on Craigslist just to see if he was cheating on me, and I saw the ad. And of course, I didn’t want to hear anything about it, I’m just doing it to see if you were actually looking for somebody else. So yeah, so he was scared of something good. But I realized, no, we were supposed to be together. And it scared me out of my mind to be pursuing somebody. But now, look at us. Eight years later, three more kids.

Dr. James Kelley: That’s awesome.

Kim Sutton: Out of every mistake, comes something interesting. Kim always says something better, but something interesting.

Dr. James Kelley: Yeah, yes. That’s awesome.

Kim Sutton: So in our last chat, you were talking about how a lot of your community or the people around you are expats like yourself. Maybe this was not on what was supposed to be our recorded portion, so I apologize if it was off the record and we can delete it. But I didn’t realize how economically beneficial it could be for some people to live abroad.

Dr. James Kelley: Oh, well, it’s not like that for every country. I’ve lived in Australia, and I’ve lived in Japan, and now the Middle East. Australia doesn’t have the same type of agreements, if you will, or packages for work as they do here. So here, they realize that there’s a perception issue. And so most expats, this is kind of like the last place they want to go. But in this particular country, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, the norm is to pay for your housing, pay for at least one or two of your kids’ education at a private school, pay for your trips home every year, pay for end of service leave, they all have their own packages. 

So the idea is when you come here, families that typically have two parents working full time and one or two kids in school full time, absolutely make a killing in this environment. They just crush it, full stop. And that is the benefit of being here. You kind of get trapped a little bit. Because as you start making a lot of money and saving a lot of money, it is tough to leave. Because when you go back to your home country, your income and savings gets cut in half straight away. So for most people, if they start making a lot of money and they can deal with the nuances of this country, they end up staying 10 years or so. But when they’re done, if they’ve saved enough, they’ve saved maybe a half million dollars in 10 years, if 2 million, it just depends on the family. I have friends that have been here five years, no kids, both work and have saved roughly 700,000 US dollars.

Kim Sutton: It blows my mind that they’re making millions of dollars every year.

Dr. James Kelley: No, they’re making exactly what they probably would make in their home country, but there’s no tax. There’s no income tax. Whatever you make, you keep. So that’s a huge savings. But there’s other expenses here. They tax you in other ways here. But overall, if the circumstances are correct and good for you and your family, it is a beneficial place to work. There are a lot of Americans at work here. Who both parents work, all the kids are in school, and they’re saving money to buy a vacation home in the States, or to pay off their house, or buy a house, whatever it is, but they all have some sort of agenda. They’re all working towards it quite handsomely.

Kim Sutton: Wow. So how long do you see yourself saying, therefore, or do you have any idea right now? If you see yourself leaving anytime soon, where would you like to go next?

Dr. James Kelley: So two very good questions. One, there’s a couple of factors for how long we stay here. Factor one is how well my book sells. That’s a big factor. And factor two is, I just recently worked on getting certified in this concept called appreciative inquiry. And it opens up a lot of doors to do different types of consulting or facilitation, things like that. So if those two things take off sooner than later, we’ll move back probably next year. If not, then the year after. So two years max. For us, four years is enough. We’d like to kind of get back. Living here is not beneficial for me from a speaking standpoint. It’s not beneficial for me from a consulting standpoint. So that is one of the driving forces. That I’d like to do more speaking, I think that I’m a fairly good orator, so I’d like to do more speaking. And I would like to have the opportunity to help more people. And where we currently live is a little bit outside of Dubai. So those same opportunities don’t really exist for me here. The next year, the year after are kind of the two things.


Kim Sutton: Yeah. I can imagine it would be harder to get a paid speaking gig when they have to fly you from Dubai to the States.

Dr. James Kelley: Yeah. In fact, recently, I emailed to be a keynote and I had to pass it up because of the timing. I’m in the state at one point next October for an event, but the keynote was two weeks later. Well, I can’t stay in the US for three straight weeks. I have my family and I have a real job, so I wasn’t really willing to fly here, or fly to the US, and fly back twice in two weeks because that’s just a suicide run to do that.

Kim Sutton: Yeah, it is. How long is that flight? I’m curious. I know it depends where in the states you go. But what does a flight like that normally look like?

Dr. James Kelley: Yeah, absolutely. So if you go direct from Abu Dhabi or Dubai, and you fly into New York or Chicago, it’s really not that much different. By the way, if you go either in New York, Chicago or Seattle, the reason is that you just fly up over the Arctic. And so it cuts the distance down. And the average flight is about 14 hours if you go direct. Maybe 15, depending.

Kim Sutton: Oh, my goodness.

Dr. James Kelley: Yes. So it’s a long flight. It’s not particularly pleasurable about halfway through. So yeah, that’s why I’ve actually recently decided that I will always break up my flight. Because with kids, it’s a great way to get them out of the airplane so they don’t go nuts.

Kim Sutton: Yeah. And I thought a five hour flight to San Diego from Ohio was difficult.

Dr. James Kelley: It’s funny, I used to think the same thing totally. I’m like, oh, my God, I can’t wait to be on this flight for five hours. And then when I moved to Australia, every flight was 12 to 14 hours. One flight was like 15, 16 hours in the airplane at one time. It totally changes your perspective when you start having to do these long haul flights. Five hours, that’s one and a half movies. Easy peasy.

Kim Sutton: Yeah. That gives a whole new perspective. Oh, wow. Okay. Someday, I hope to experience that, but I’m okay if it’s not today or tomorrow.

Dr. James Kelley:  Yeah. That’s awesome.

Kim Sutton: I would love to hear more about your podcasting journey and how you got into that.

Dr. James Kelley: Yeah, sure. Absolutely. So when I first started my podcast, which was three years ago, it was called Brave Endurance Wellness Podcast. And the goal of that was to interview all the executives, CEOs, to consultants that were in corporate health and wellness. And so for the first 70 episodes, that’s what it was called. And I interviewed the CEOs, pretty much all the major wellness providers and all the top consultants. But what I found is that it became limiting. So I was hearing the same thing again and again, and I wasn’t particularly interested in learning more about the space. So in Episode #70, I pivoted and changed the name of the podcast to Executives After Hours. 

And the reason is that my podcast is really predicated on people’s journey. The slogan that I have for my podcast is that I care about who you are, not what you do. Because who you are defines what you do. And so I take my audience on a journey with executives from where they’re born, what their failing dynamics were, challenges they had, and then we end up where they’re at currently at the end of the podcast. But the aim is not to ask about tactics, strategies or whatever. It’s to have a genuine conversation with leaders around the world about their personal journey. And so on April 5 this year, I joke and say, I concluded my season 1. 

My Season 1 was three straight years of podcasting and so I’m taking a break until September. And in September, I’m going to take a little bit of a different pivot on the podcast. So instead of interviewing just any CEO, or any executive, or leader, I’m going to be a bit more targeted. What I found that happened is that when you have a podcast called Executives After Hours, you probably should speak solely to executives. But I found myself kind of, as you know Kim, probably there’s a lot of companies out there that send you guests now. And so I started just kind of accepting whatever guest I had without being selective to what the aim of the show was.

Kim Sutton: Yep, I hear that.

Dr. James Kelley: Yeah. I found my listeners started to go down, and I was taking the easy route. And so what I decided to do starting September, which if your audience is listening, I think is a pretty cool thing. We’ll see how it goes, though, what I think is cool, and reality doesn’t always match. I’m going to start doing Executive After Hours by city. 

So for example, and I’m going to do it by seasons. So season 1, or Season 2, I guess, would be Executive After Hours Dubai.Where I’d go to Dubai, and I would interview between 7 and 10 CEOs. And then I would get at least half of them to sit down at a round table to have a conversation. And I’m gonna video these interviews so I can put it on my YouTube channel. And I’m also going to distribute it all at one time, like a Netflix series. So I’m going to drop it at one time. And then I’m done for 6 to 10 weeks, and then I’ll fly to another city and I’ll do another set of interviews in that city over a three to four day period. And then I’ll come back and edit, and put them back up and drop another series. So season 3, so forth and so on. 

So right now, tentatively speaking, my first season will drop probably mid September, and it will be Copenhagen, which I know is a bit random. But I’ll be the Executive After Hours Copenhagen to start. And if that goes well, then I’ll probably do London. And then I’ll do New York or Philadelphia, and I’ll kind of work my way around. I’ll just pick a city and curate the CEOs that want to talk to me, and try to get as high as I can, or as large organization as I can. And then just basically do it by seasons by city. And I think that’s kind of a unique way to do what I was doing before, but be very targeted to where I’m going.

Kim Sutton: I love it. This is gonna date me, but I was a high schooler when MTV is real world first launched.

Dr. James Kelley: Yeah, me too. Me too.

Kim Sutton: Yeah. So when you started describing it, I was thinking it’s like the real world for entrepreneurs, maybe not the wickedly cool spaces that they live in. But I think it’s a fantastic idea, and I love how it’s targeted to cities.

Dr. James Kelley: Yeah, it could go well. If you think about the bigger picture of it from a marketing perspective, Kim, the idea is that I grow my global footprint. So as I do this over a year, I’m now meeting CEOs all around the world. One of the best benefits of a podcast if you enjoy it and you have a particular talent for it, is you actually make fairly deep conversations and an hour. And for many people that I’ve interviewed, they remember those conversations. And so it holds a fond place in their heart. So for me, as I start to kind of develop my speaking and talk about my book, it allows me to open up doors that maybe weren’t previously opened, if you will.

Kim Sutton: Oh, absolutely. So how did you choose Copenhagen as your first?

Dr. James Kelley: Yeah. There’s these guys, I’m part of a strategic team at my university. Looking at the university for 2030, they hired this firm called Copenhagen’s Futures Institute. And the guys that come out and run it are from the US, even though they live in Copenhagen. So the aim is I’ll use him as my leverage point, and he’ll introduce me to some CEOs and executives, and I’ll ask them. And so that’s kind of how I chose it because he understands what I’m trying to do. And he listens to a lot of podcasts to be honest with you, so it makes it easier to sell him on the idea when he appreciates the process.

Kim Sutton: Oh, I love that.

Dr. James Kelley: Yeah. I just want to get one season off the ground and see how it goes. It’s well received, so I’ll dive deeper. If not, I don’t know if I’ll keep doing it. I enjoy podcasts, but it’s a very competitive market as you know now, Kim. And the market gets cut up every single day by 10 or 20 new podcasts. Now, most podcasts don’t get past episode 10 or 12.

Kim Sutton: Yep.

Dr. James Kelley: But what’s happening is that more people with more power and influence are starting podcasts as well. And every time they do it, it kind of sucks a little bit away from you. Because as human beings, I only listened to, regularly, seven podcasts. That’s it. I don’t have time for anything else. When you don’t have time to keep adding great podcasts, it’s tough to break into the sphere of people who are listening to podcasts. Now, the great thing to us is that there’s only something like 20 million people who listen to podcasts regularly. It’s a population of 300 million, so there’s still plenty of growth in the market for it in the US and globally for that matter. I mean, in the Middle East, no one listens to podcasts, no Arabic speaking because it’s not popular in Arabic culture yet. So there’s so much opportunity in podcasting globally. Over the next 10 years, it’s going to grow exponentially. So my aim is, and it’s kind of in my personality, when you think about everything I’ve done is I tend to be more globally focused anyways at the end of the day for no other reason, just having lived around the world. And so the aim for me is to grow my brand globally, and hopefully it sucks a little bit into the US at the same time.

Kim Sutton: Well, it’s not the most exciting place in the US, but the Dayton Cincinnati area has some pretty amazing CEOs.

Dr. James Kelley: Yeah. I’ve interviewed one, particularly out of date. So I actually got my degree, undergrad degree at University of Dayton.

Kim Sutton: I forgot about that. So you know where I live? I mean, not the correct location.

Dr. James Kelley: Yeah. It’s 2135 East 7th Street, right?

Kim Sutton: Yes. It blew my mom’s mind a little bit when I told her that she needed to read a book by Clay Mathile who was the former CEO, or the former owner of Iams, a pet food company. And he sold to Procter & Gamble almost a decade ago, if not a decade ago, for hundreds of millions, if not more. And when you look around this area, you don’t necessarily see it. I’d love to know if you agree. Especially, you don’t necessarily see money, you see a lot of blue collar. But there is money around here. There’s a lot of really successful CEOs and entrepreneurs living in the area, just with a lot of the manufacturing and blue collar. Sometimes, it can be harder to see.

Dr. James Kelley: Yeah. Dayton’s an interesting city. Most of the wealth may not live directly in Dayton, most of them probably live in one of the suburbs of Dayton. But yeah, now, there’s plenty of money in every city, any major or minor city, just have to know where to look for it at the end of the day.

Kim Sutton: Absolutely. Flying in actually from San Diego a few weeks ago, it’s always interesting what you see from the air that you don’t see when you’re driving down the road. I was like, wow, I didn’t know those houses were they’re. Not in my backyard, but wow. I’m gonna have to figure out the road that goes there just to drive by in like and look. So I have to ask, what do your kids love most about living abroad?

Dr. James Kelley: Good question. I don’t know if they know what they love most. If I want to be honest, I don’t know if they’ve had a chance to reflect on it. What I will tell you I think will happen, and I could be wrong. We were actually talking about tonight’s dinner, my son has started to pronounce his T’s, very British like. So typically, when the British talk, they say Saturday. The T is very, very hard to hard T. When we say Saturday, they say Saturday. And so that subtle difference. We were talking about when we come back to the States, people are gonna make fun of them because they think he’s going to be trying to be different. But people don’t understand that when you’re around a culture, you start to pick up their habits. 

And so at different times of this conversation, you probably have heard me in my sentences on a high note, like how are you doing? Where are you going? Today was a great day. That’s some of the inflection that you start to pick up with people around you who are from other cultures. And so one of the things that my children will probably understand when we come back, there’ll be most likely 11, and 9, or 10 and 12 is the nuances between cultures and the appreciation of the difference, not the magnification of the difference of people. One of the things that I pride myself on is teaching my kid that there is way more in common amongst people in the world than there are differences. But we tend to focus on what we’re scared of, not what we’re alike.

Kim Sutton: That’s really deep for them.

Dr. James Kelley: I’m hoping that as they move into matriculate into public schools in the US, that they will look out for the kids who are different. They will stick up for the kids who don’t necessarily fit in because they know what it’s like, they’ve seen it, they understand it, and they will have compassion for them to appreciate the differences and look at the similarities.

Kim Sutton: Lately, we’ve been watching The Greatest Showmen in my house. Have you seen that?

Dr. James Kelley: That’s a great movie. I just watched it on the way back the other day from the States. Yeah, what a great surprise. And that’s exactly what I thought. By the way, Kim, I know where you’re going with this. I know, that’s exactly what I thought. I’m like, we’re watching that movie when we get back. I thought that was amazing.

Kim Sutton: Yup. My four year old, we were watching it yesterday. I took control of the TV, which drove my four year old and my three year old twins crazy because they always like to choose the same Disney movies over and over. Okay, so yesterday morning I was like, we’re waiting for my husband to wake up. One of us gets to sleep on each weekend day. I was like, okay, we’re going to turn this on. And my four year old said to me, she asked, why did the witch give him an apple? At the beginning. I don’t want to give away anything to people, but the woman is not a witch at all. No part of the movie is mythical, mystical.

Dr. James Kelley: Yeah.

Kim Sutton: She just looks different. So I had a really awesome conversation. I’ll be out with a four year old about how people who are different are not bad, and they’re not evil, but they’re just different. And then we went through each of the people in my family. One of my twins sort of grows to be sharing on the podcast, but he gets boogers a lot. Okay, let’s just put it that way. But he calls him [inaudible]. He put the art in their [inaudible]., which is not how other people say it. So it’s sort of like the T or the raising at the end. So my husband actually calls him, he says, Hey, [inaudible], what do you want? Which all you psychologists out there, I know, that’s probably not the healthiest nickname for a child, but it’s just what happened. Whatever.

Dr. James Kelley: I think we’ve lost sight of growing our kids’ character.

Kim Sutton: Yeah. It was an awesome conversation. There’s other characters in the movie that she was really intrigued by. And if you haven’t watched it yet, you definitely have to watch it.

Dr. James Kelley: It’s a great movie if you want to teach your kids about tolerance and accepting the difference, it’s just phenomenal.

Kim Sutton: I had no idea how amazing it was going to be because one of my coaches had recommended A Million Dreams, like the song right at the beginning. And I got hooked on that song. And then I got hooked on the rest of the soundtrack without even seeing the movie. Yeah, because the songs are really amazing as well. If you need inspiration in your life, just go to YouTube and find any of The Greatest Showmen soundtrack. This is not meant to be a whole like, go buy it, go listen to it. But really, it’s just so empowering. I want to jump back to you though, what are you most excited about at this very moment?

Dr. James Kelley: So for me, not to self promote, but it’s my book. I’m really excited about my book. I’m really excited by the people who read my book. I’m really excited for people who recommended my book. I’m really excited about the notes that I’m getting about some of the antidotes in the book for people who read it. So right now, my current excitement meter is off the charts for the book. It’s like being on a roller coaster, about a thousand miles an hour. So yeah, that’s probably where I’m currently excited about.

Kim Sutton: What did the journey of your book look like? How long did that take you?

Dr. James Kelley: I’m a bit of a status that it took me eight weeks to write the whole book first draft. So the book is 180 pages, 190 pages. And yeah, I knocked it out in like seven to eight weeks. So I was pretty driven, if you will. And I actually wrote the book in Portugal in a coffee shop over a six week holiday. And then a little bit before and a little bit after,

Kim Sutton: Oh, my heavens. The universe keeps on sending me just nudges, including more than a few people on the podcast that I’ve chatted about how they’ve written their book, and how it didn’t take a year and a half or 10 years to write it. I’ve had my book in my brain for two years now, so thank you for just another nudge.

Dr. James Kelley: Yeah. I think what it comes down to, for anyone who writes a book, it’s about just gaining down, it’s about being committed, and it’s about not nitpicking at the early stages. Because as soon as you get it down, it becomes easy to transform, change, delete and add in. But for me at least, getting the first sentences down is painful every single time. You have to find a method for your madness, whatever that is for you. 

For me, it was recording every single chapter and then transcribing it. So I record it, and then transcribe it, and then wordsmith it. And so that was a very fast process for me, which is how I was able to write the book so quickly. But for other people that wouldn’t work, if they don’t like to speak into a mic, they like to write. For someone who likes to write, it might take them 10 weeks. Depends on the person. But for me, I was also motivated. I mean, I had a goal. I wrote it out when I was 33, and I said I’d write a book by 43. I’m 43 now, so I did it, I fulfilled it. And yeah, I encourage you to do it, but manage your expectations on the sales side of it. I think that often when you write a book, we all think we write a bestseller. But the problem is that not everyone who reads the book thinks it’s the best seller. Not everyone knows about the book. So yeah, there’s so many challenges to selling the book writing. The book is actually not the hard part. Selling the book, that’s the hard part.

Kim Sutton: Well, it’s the same as a podcast. Almost a lot of us have those grand dreams when we launch our podcasts of making it new and noteworthy, and then being on the top list. It’s the same as writing a book and having the dreams of being, I’m not going to use Amazon bestsellers, because there are systems around that. But being on the New York Times bestselling list, or bestseller. No, I don’t really have any expectations for sales, but this is just the idea that’s been nagging at my head. And actually, thank you for bringing up transcribing. Because just yesterday, I looked up, I had no idea that I could use my Macbook. Okay, that sounded bad. I know how to use my Macbook every single day. I didn’t realize that I could open up pages and actually dictate right into it. Because my hardest part is just looking at the white for my book. I can look at white for anything else and know exactly where I’m going with it. But looking at the white for my book, it’s like an eraser. It just saps whatever I was just gonna say.

Dr. James Kelley: Oh, totally.

Kim Sutton: Yeah. So thank you. That was huge.

Dr. James Kelley: You’re welcome.

Kim Sutton: And thank you for coming back again. I want to know where listeners can find you online, where they can buy your book and where they can connect with you.

Dr. James Kelley: Yes, sure. Can I say a little bit about the [inaudible] a better sense of what it is?

Kim Sutton: Yeah.

Dr. James Kelley: So I want to try something out on your audience and see if it works to describe my book. I was thinking about how I could describe it in a way that would resonate with them, so I’m going to go with this. And if it fails horribly, just let me know. So all right. So I would ask anyone who’s listening to grab a pencil or pen and find a blank piece of paper. I will wait for a count of 4. 1, 2, 3, 4. Okay, good. 

Now, what I want you to do is draw a circle. And inside that circle, I want you to write the word crucible or adversity, and that is the starting point. Now, just to give you a sense of the book, the book was written by me interviewing about 140 leaders across the universe, different industries, different levels from a fortune two company all the way down to entrepreneur. And what I found consistently for the leaders who I thought were most authentic were the leaders who embraced their adversity moment, or adversity moments. But that wasn’t enough. So take that circle, and outside that circle, almost like a bull’s eye, do a second ring around it. So now, you’ve got one inner circle and then an outer circle that’s surrounding the inner circle, and divide that in two. And in half of the circle, self awareness. And then the other half, we’re gonna leave that blank for a second. Now, leaders that I saw who really embraced the crucible really spent time trying to understand who they were, what that circumstance was, whether it was divorce, or death, or job loss, or if it was going back to school and getting a degree, whatever it was for them that was one of their adversity moments. They took time to reflect and add to that reflection. We’re going to actually add one more circle around the outside of the ring. So it’s going to be a ring, and then another ring, and then a circle. Hope that makes sense. So like a bull’s eye, if you will.

Kim Sutton: Yeah, I get it. I’m actually doing it.

Dr. James Kelley: And then the third ring, you’re going to divide that into three. So we have three separate parts. And what I found out is that those who had self awareness grew their compassion. That’s one of the three. Develop their integrity, that’s another one. And really learn to value relationships. And so out of this you’ve got, I’ve got this adversity, what do I do with it? Okay, I got to grow my self awareness. What does that mean for me once I grew my self awareness? I start to realize that living with compassion not only towards myself but towards others is really important. Not only psychologically but just for humanity. And then you learn that, you know what? If I started living with more integrity, be more honest showing up, when I’m supposed to show up, and how I’m supposed to show up, and has a psychological impact on those I’m doing this with, and then I start to realize that through my adversity when I grow my self awareness is that relationships are really important, what I call relatableness. But if we go back to the circle stuff, awareness, the leaders that developed this and grew this concept had what’s called a learning mindset or a growth mindset. And that’s it goes in the other half, on the other side of self awareness. 

And what’s fascinating is if you pretend that there are two arrows on that inner circle, self awareness and growth mindset, go on a circle, chase each other, if you will, like a tail. What you find is that leaders that embrace diversity constantly are evolving through self awareness and growth to increase their compassion, to increase their integrity, and to increase their desire to have meaningful relationships. So in the book, I discuss what this looks like with the leaders that I interviewed and through the lens of my world. How I was raised, and some mistakes that I made, some trials and tribulations. And so that’s the book in its sense, The Crucibles Gift: 5 Lessons From Authentic Leaders Who Thrive in Adversity.

Kim Sutton: Wow. I love all that.

Dr. James Kelley: That does work? Does that description work for you?

Kim Sutton: It’s amazing. Can you write the description of my book after I get it done?

Dr. James Kelley: I’ve been trying to find a way to describe it. I feel like I get the audience engaged. It might help.

Kim Sutton: I was even thinking about my own adversity and how I could see compassion. I could see the integrity, I’m sorry, I forgot number three, but I was just so enthralled.

Dr. James Kelley: The relationships, the value of relationships.

Kim Sutton: Absolutely. I mean, this podcast won’t be here. And just like you were saying earlier in the conversation, the relationships that have been built just from the podcast alone, huge. Yeah, yeah. Wow.

Dr. James Kelley: So that’s the book. It’s available on Amazon, Kindle version, as well as a Paperback book version. You can also go to my website, www.drjameskelley.com, that’s D-R-J-A-M-E-S-K-E-L-L-E-Y.C-O-M. Or if you want to just simplify it, just type The Crucibles Gift, it should come up there as well.

Kim Sutton: Fabulous. And listeners, the links will be in the show notes in case you can’t write them down right now, which you can find at thekimsutton.com/pp356. James, this has been amazing. I’m so happy and grateful that you came back for a try two because it was like, oh, definitely worth it is what I’m trying to say. My mouth is working better than it was this morning, but it’s gonna get into my brain.

Dr. James Kelley: Okay, thank you so much for having me on your show. I really appreciate your time, your energy and willingness to engage in this conversation.

Kim Sutton: Thank you so much, and you are welcome. Do you have a parting piece of advice or a golden nugget that you can offer to listeners?

Dr. James Kelley: Wow, great question. So I kind of said it early on in the show. So my passie nugget always with people is, don’t let fear conquer you, conquer your fear. And for those of you who have a little bit of apprehension about the book, just go to my website, click on The Crucibles Gift and you can get the first chapter for free of the book.