Monday, January 31, 2011

Mondays With Mike: Author & Motivational Speaker Richard Rowe

EVEN THOUGH I write fiction, much of what is found on my book shelf is non-fiction. So when I have the opportunity to pick the brain of an author who is also a motivational speaker, like my friend Richard Rowe, I jump at the chance. Rich served over 20 years in the U S Navy, living in Australia, Bahrain, and Japan while also visiting over 50 different countries. During this time he has sat down with people from all walks of life, including the Dalai Lama.

After leaving the navy, Rich ventured into the corporate world and worked for a Fortune 500 Financial company promoting better customer service, sales, and leadership through facilitation. He is the author of Is Your Life a Puddle or an Ocean? which is a look at how we create ripples in our lives based on our choices, and the upcoming Ferdinand Factor - are you the Alpha or Beta in Leadership? He has presented over a 1000 speeches and seminars nationally and internationally.

Mike: Welcome, Rich. Before we get into your writing, how did you become a motivational speaker? Which came first, the writing or the speaking?

Richard: Speaking was first – within my first 6 years of service in the Navy, I was asked if I had ever considered being a military trainer. I researched the job title and found it to be very interesting, so I applied and was accepted into military instructor training school. One of the primary focuses of this instruction was public speaking and after going to my first instructor training assignment, found out about the Master Training Specialist program. A four year intensive program that taught us about human behavior in learning and understanding the adult learner. After certifying under this program, one of the primary duties was motivational delivery of material and concepts – so my journey started and has now given me over 20 years of speaking experience, my largest audience was 5000 people.

M: What kind of audiences do you speak to? Corporate? Academic?

R: I speak to a large group of audience types; Corporate, non-for-profit, and academic. Some of the speaking contracts I’ve had come from; Principle, Wells Fargo, Prosperity Mortgage, MetLife, Shaman financial, Iowa Care Givers Association, US Army, National Nurses Association, Iowa Medical services, DMACC, Iowa State, Drake, UNC, Future Farmers of America, Future Business Leaders of America, several high schools. These are just a few over the last year. I speak on sales, customer service, leadership, relationship building and life improvement.

M: Let’s talk a little about your current book, Is Your Life a Puddle or an Ocean? Can you give us a short synopsis?

R: Is Your Life a Puddle or an Ocean? Explores the concepts of responsibility and human behavior, the book looks at how we learn as children and then carry our experiences into adulthood and how we treat others. It looks at the cause and effect of actions positive or negative we have on people around us and in return how it will affect us. Several examples are given on the ripple effect of each word we speak or action we create and in the end about taking ownership for our actions or lack of actions. My book has been the focus for leadership, customer service, sales approaches, and relationship building. It’s biggest punch is the understanding of the golden rule in our lives, not just saying it but living it.

M: Where did the idea come from? In other words, what motivated you to write it?

R: My motivation for the book was my travels around the world in the US Navy, I saw the worst of human action and the best so the book was my way of putting all these observations into a useable product. We can change a person’s life with a smile or destroy it with a harsh word. Seeing the faces of people in over 50 countries, I started to see the same persons; they may have spoken a different language but the human behavior was always the same. What I really found out was that we all have a responsibility to help each other, the golden rule; the book was my way of breathing life to something we all knew as babies but have forgotten as we journey through adult and young adult life. Maybe helping us take the golden rule serious; imagine what our world would be like if we really lived the golden rule every time we encountered a person – our relationships would be fuller and more purpose directed, and we would again understand the truth of our birth. Watch a baby in public, total acceptance of everyone they meet.

M: And your upcoming book, Ferdinand Factor - Are You the Alpha or Beta in Leadership? Can you give us a short synopsis of it?

Available as DVD

R: Ferdinand Factor is again taking a real world look at human behavior in leadership. We have all meet the Alpha leader, they take the role of leader on without effort and naturally surface in any organization or even family unit. Problems occur when the Alpha is not the positional leader of a group, like the manager, supervisor or even parent. The book looks at the complex but yet simple concept of leadership in our lives and if we are the Alpha personality or the Beta. Ferdinand the Bull was the concept I’ve applied to the Beta, in the book Ferdinand the Bull, bull ring organizers in Spain are looking for rage driven strong bulls to provide sport in the bull rings of Spain. They find Ferdinand the biggest and strongest of all the bulls in the land so they think they will have the best show for the ring but they didn’t understand that size and strength does not determine the heart or mind. Ferdinand was gentle and only wanted to play with the butterflies in the field not wanting to get angry or hurt anyone, he was the Beta. We’ve all seen the Ferdinand leader, promoted because of time in the company or a great sales record but never at heart the Alpha. My book goes into the concepts that being the Alpha or the Ferdinand (Beta) is good, the only condition is that the Ferdinand needs to learn effective leadership skills and the Alpha needs to learn how to apply instinctual leadership insight.

We see the Alpha – Beta structure in wolf packs, horse herds, lion prides; and my book outlines the connections of these relationships and how they relate to human behavior interactions and leadership. It also explores why conflict occurs in the work place because of the Ferdinand factor, Alpha’s exist in every origination but in many cases are not the positional leader so conflict is the result when leadership is challenged. How do you deal with it? We also see this same form of conflict in our homes with children wanting to become the Alpha and how we can deal with those moments when our relationships can become challenging because of the Ferdinand factor. Being an effective leader or parent is about understanding why something happens and being about to correct the behavior, just like the Alpha in a horse herd. My book opens the door to that understanding and takes a common sense approach to being a real leader by understanding ourselves and then those around us. This only scratches the surface of what the book we talk about but is a good start.

M: When will it be available for purchase?

R: It should be available in 2011.

M: Tell us something about your writing process, i.e. when do you write, how often, is it on a regular schedule or otherwise?

R: My writing style is journal driven. I record thoughts on both voice recorders or in a journal that I carry around with me. Observation is my best tool, and then I look back at my experiences and connect them to theorist or religious leaders past and present. After I have recorded a concept or observation I then begin to research the idea for valid facts to support the idea. It’s funny I have several journals full and find myself going back and forth through the pages, and pulling concepts from 20 years ago. One experience or observation sometimes brings my journal entry to life and it connects. I do shift to a regular schedule once my observations find a foundation.

M: How can we purchase your books?

R: Amazon, or from my web site; we will see more locations soon.

M: Any hobbies, besides speaking and writing?

R: Physical fitness and my children; I’ve missed so much of my children’s lives by being deployed in the Navy so they have become my every moment hobby now that I’ve retired. We will see what the future holds.

M: Thank you for your time. If you are interested in contacting Richard here is how to do so:;; or


  1. Sounds liek a very interesting and intelligent man. Thanks for the interview.

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