Last Friday, Morgan Elementary students participated in an assembly featuring the wildly popular young adult fiction series of Michael Vey written by bestselling author Richard Paul Evans.
In conjunction with the Books Rock! Tour, Evans’ friend and educational partner Doug Osmond visited with MES students to not only promote literacy but to share skills in how to succeed in life.
Osmond grew up in a very musical family. Son of Alan Osmond and nephew to both Donnie and Marie, Doug found a great love and passion for the power the music industry yields. Having said that, he has discovered there is something that is more powerful than music . . . books!
Osmond observed how every major change in the world, whether political, religious or academic, started with a book. In his life, he has seen the way history can be changed from the powers contained in the written word.
One example of this was Washington Irving’s biography of Christopher Columbus where the fanciful and erroneous idea that Europeans believed the world to be flat prior to the discovery of the New World was perpetuated. Consequently, this flat earth myth has been taught for many years to generations of Americans.
Noting the influence a book can have on society, Osmond decided to partner up with Richard Paul Evans in promoting literacy to the youth of today. For Osmond this is not only something that he upholds, he carries this focus into his professional life.
Finding his real passion as an entrepreneur, Osmond has had the privilege of founding several companies. Each time he establishes a unique set of rules for his employees. His first rule is, each employee must read at least one book a month. To some this may seem crazy, but just like working your muscles at the gym, exercising your mind while you are reading can help you make better decisions and help you think on your feet.
Coming from such a driven family, it is no wonder that his second rule is that each member must work really, really hard. He is no stranger to hard work and has seen “some awesome, awesome success” but also has had “some awesome, awesome failures.” It is through these failures that he has learned the most. He quotes the late Apple CEO Steve Jobs, “If you want to succeed more, start failing more.”
Osmond went on to teach the students, “Don’t be afraid to go after your dream. When you fail, pick yourself up and do it again.” This advice was vital to Richard Paul Evans.
Evans is an author with 23 consecutive New York Times bestsellers to his credit. He has sold a quarter billion dollars in print books alone. Yet he was turned down time after time as he took the first Michael Vey book to publishers. Being advised to throw the concept away, he tried Disney. Again the answer was no.
What helped him finally succeed was asking the right question—why, why not? This was answered stating that it didn’t have wizards, or vampires, or kids killing kids, all of the things children are reading about these days.
Fortunately Evans persevered knowing that great things come from originality. He continued trying to sell his manuscript and finally got it into the hands of Glen Beck. Beck handed the book over to his daughter, who is a book critic. She predicted Michael Vey’s future to be one of the biggest books of all time, and Beck signed on.
The first day of its release, the book sold out in three short hours—a pace faster than Harry Potter and the Hunger Games on their release dates. The book went on to take the No. 1 spot on the bestseller list. Currently the manuscript has seven movie offers. Two of the seven book series have been published with the third due out Sept. 10, 2013.
Hoping to help the kids succeed in their dreams, Osmond shares, “I know for a fact each one of you have a dream for when you grow up. Whatever your dream may be, I have learned a few keys or rules for success. I hope you use them. They work!”
Osmond shared the following principles of success with the students:
1. First: shut off the TV, including video games. It has been shown that the average American watches over eight hours of TV each day. The average millionaire only watches eight hours a week. Sponge Bob will do you no good.
2. Second: Read, read, read, read. “Readers are the leaders!”
3. Third: No entitlements—no one is entitled to anything in life. Beyond the basics of life—food, basic clothes (and no, not name brands), simple shelter and unconditional love—we should be willing to work for whatever we want.
4. Fourth: Work hard! Learn to love work. Life is a lot of hard work and if you learn to love work, you will love life.
5. Fifth: Don’t let someone else’s opinion of you become your reality. Dr. Seuss was turned down by 27 publishing companies. Walt Disney was fired and told he was unimaginative. Michael Jordan was initially looked over to play for his varsity basketball team and had to settle for JV. Rise from your failures and move on!
Osmond ended his time with the students by sharing this wisdom. “We live in the greatest country. We have freedoms to pursue what we want. If you want something bad enough, go get it. Don’t quit when things get hard. Anything is possible. Be who you are and stand up for something.”