Q&A with CEO and Author, Thomas Hill III
Recovering Leadership: Musings of an Addict Leader
by Christina Hicks, 4 minute read
Recovering Leadership: Musings of an Addict Leader is more than just the story of Thomas Hill's recovery. His book paints a picture of the pathway to addiction, the journey to recovery, and challenges readers to create a life that is energizing, healthy, and purposeful.
Q: You had no desire or plan to write a book, but shared your story time and time again. Why did you ultimately decide to write your story?
As I went through the process of recovery, one of the things that we do a lot is to tell our story. That’s part of the twelve steps of recovery. It’s sharing the message of hope so that other people can change their lives, too. We tell our story by talking about the way things were, what happened, and the way things are now. I started doing that, and eventually, I started getting pressure to write a book. There is something permanent about a book. I really wasn’t interested.
Last fall, Dr. Nathan Mellor, CEO of C3 Brands and President of Strata Leadership, invited me to be a keynote speaker at a leadership forum on the topic of creating healthy communities for our people, and the cultural impact we have as business owners and organizational leaders. After I agreed to speak, Nathan said, “But you really should have a book.” I don’t know why, but at that time, I decided to stop fighting it. At my first book meeting, I learned we had two months to write the book for it to be ready in time for the event.
Every time I told my story, Kimray’s story, and the miracle opportunity to come back and do it differently–people responded. The more times I told these stories and the more responses I got, I began to realize that whether I want to or not, I have a sacred duty to tell my story because it does impact people.
Q: Writing a book is a pretty massive undertaking. How did you manage to write this book in 60 days?
I had a great team! I could not have written the book without Robert Greenlaw, my executive administrator, and my author coach, Christina Hicks. Robert is a student of people, and that’s something I aspire to be better at. In the places I got stuck, he helped me find my way. I had to write a certain amount every day or every week, or we weren’t going to finish.
Christina encouraged us to create an outline. This was not my style of writing, but she helped me understand the benefits of planning for the book in this way. The outline was fantastic! Robert and I wrote the outline together. Because the outline was there, I was able to write the first chapters and then the final chapters. The hardest part to write was the middle.
Q: The day before the official launch of the book, you provided a copy to each of your employees. What do you hope to accomplish by providing team members with a copy?
I think the goal is two-fold. First, we talk all the time about open-book management, why we do it and what it means. If you’re at Kimray and don’t understand what we are trying to accomplish and what we are about, how can you participate? How can you help? Lots of people at Kimray don’t know Kimray’s story. The book has some history of Kimray that ended up being part of the fabric of who we are, so I think it’s important for people to know those things. By the time I came along, all we had transmitted at Kimray was what we were and weren’t going to do, and I didn’t understand why. So, I completely misinterpreted it. It’s a fantastic lesson for everybody at Kimray.
Everyone at Kimray is a part of transferring our legacy to the next group, the next generation, the next person that walks in the door. I can’t tell everybody at Kimray every story and explain every value. We all must take ownership of our story and pass it along to others.
Second, there’s the reality that an organization will behave in a way that is consistent with the organizational belief system, which is heavily influenced by the belief system of the organization’s leadership. So, I think it’s important that people understand where I’ve come from so they can understand the person I am today and why I lead Kimray in the manner that I do.
Ultimately, I hope readers will see something about themselves and think “Maybe that’s something I need to deal with before it interrupts my ability to live the life I want to lead.”
Q: This book is now available worldwide. How do you feel about releasing it to the masses?
During the writing process, I had a number of moments of existential crisis. I think everybody feels that way at moments or maybe a lot of their life. When you embark on something that is going to be extremely revealing and transparent, I think it’s natural to have these moments.
I’m getting more comfortable with it because that’s kind of how I tend to do life. I really don’t go backward. Whether you did the right thing or the wrong thing, whether it was successful or it ended up being a mistake, you process it and move forward because you can’t go back.
Q: Having gone through this process, what advice would you give other authors who are considering telling their story?
You need a team. Obviously one can self-publish these days, but working with a publisher and having the objective view that team brings is critical to creating a valuable product.
You also need at least one other person who is familiar with your story or theme to help you fill in the gaps you inevitably leave because you are too close. This person can edit the parts that are difficult and help you see the manuscript from eyes that are not yours.
Like anything else worth doing, it is going to be hard. Acknowledge that up front, create a schedule, and stick to it. Not so much a “so many words before 10 am everyday” kind of schedule, but one that is defined enough to keep you from getting too far behind. The outline process helped me a lot because I could write different parts of the book if I got stuck on a particular part.
Finally, what interests readers is when someone tells his or her story in a transparent and authentic way. You don’t have to “present” yourself. Just be honest.
Recovering Leadership is available at Monoclepress.com, Amazon.com, and in audiobook format on Audible.com
Read more from Thomas Hill III in his weekly blog Recovering Leadership
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Parts of this interview were previously published in the May 2018 “Red Iron,” a monthly publication for Kimray team members and shareholders.
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