CLIENT SPOTLIGHT: Mark Landiak – author, corporate trainer, all-around good guy
I also had no clue what it was (a disease) or how someone gets it (no one really knows, so I wasn’t alone).
Mark went looking for writer. He wanted to tell the story of how a healthy, driven, husband/father/businessman nearly died in the Grand Canyon and, later, on a suburban racquetball court at the whim of a debilitating ailment that made his heart rev like an Indy car fueled by Red Bull and nitro glycerin.
That was only half of it. Mark also had designs on sharing his message of healing and recovery that went beyond simply letting doctors and medication decide his fate. Being forced to the sidelines – literally (he loves playing soccer) and figuratively – for the first time in his life brought perspectives he didn’t think anyone hit on previously.
After we talked a couple times, Mark felt comfortable and confident enough to offer me the project as his writing advisor.
“I needed someone who could take my stories and help me transfer them to the pages of a book that would be fun to read, but also carry a serious and very personal message. I wanted someone with really good interviewing skills who could look from the outside-in and pull the ‘details’ out of me,” Mark wrote in a testimonial. “At the same time, I needed someone who could put some serious ideas down on paper in a humorous manner. Dan fit the bill.”
Did I mention Mark is driven? He wanted to turn the book around in eight weeks. I gently pointed out the ambitiousness of writing and publishing a book in two months – and this was before I co-authored two books that required nearly 19 months of writing time combined. Still, Mark and I designed a schedule to attack the book with the same aggressive approach he had taken to getting better.
We did 10 hours of interviews. I spoke with Mark’s children and friends. I saw him on days when he, admittedly, was struggling with his medications. I often circled into his cul-de-sac to pick him up for drives to Panera for conversations about the book, life and the meaningful silliness that we should all take the time to enjoy. My son, seven at the time, even got to hang out with the Landiak family chickens.
By November 2012, the book’s foundation had been formed, reformed and solidified. It’s title – “Getting Better.” Mark and I stayed in touch with some regularity after we agreed the book was ready to go. I edited and assisted with a rewrite of his successful “Beat Your Best” book. We exchanged e-mail pleasantries every so often. Usually, I’d ask if he had done the final sign off to have “Getting Better” released into the world.
Little did I know over the course of the last three years what Mark faced. The book didn’t digitally sit on a back shelf because of his inactivity, it was growing and evolving. Mark’s health roller coaster added new adventures to his story and view as a patient. Mark also went from being in the hospital bed to standing at the foot of it when illness struck his father.
I never faulted Mark’s timeframe for releasing the book – although I teased him recently that I’ve co-written two since we started on his – because it is such a personal thing for him. The emotion, voice and strength are so deeply evident in his words. He wanted them all to be just right. He didn’t want to miss anything – and stuff kept happening in his world that made it difficult to pick a moment to freeze everything for the book.
I’m pleased to be sitting with a copy of “Getting Better” next to my laptop as these words are being typed. Mark did it. He’s been pretty busy getting ready for its release and supporting the greater cause. Click the links to learn more about Mark’s “Climb for a Cure” and the Foundation for Sarcoidosis Research.
As we finished off a lunch meet up last week, he signed my book, “Here it is, finally!” Without seeing his face, I figured he smiled to himself as he wrote that. In the acknowledgements, he thanked me for listening to him ramble on for hours to get his words on paper. Really, the pleasure was mine to have worked with someone as genuine, thoughtful and humorous as Mark.
Voice and message are two ideas I stress personally, and through DanCamCom, all the time. Pick up “Getting Better” and you’ll see Mark in the text – not a writer’s impression of him. That’s how it should be.
Sure, you might not consider yourself a writer, but your thoughts, the way you say things and how you communicate to others are unique to each of us. Sometimes it just takes the right person to help make your words become their best, no matter where or how you use them.