Episode 34A – Doug Knust – Man Stuff

Doug came to writing his first book in an interesting way. He felt there was a need to instruct boys in lessons for men and spent years running a group that helped accomplish that. Many of the lessons are bundled in his book, Man Stuff.

This helpful book is targeted to young men and designed to give them many things to learn as they grow.

By day, Doug owns and runs a car dealership, but loves spending his free time with his group – which is called The Explorers.

Some of Doug’s recommended leadership books:

[Ttranscript]

Episode 34A Doug Knust Man Stuff

[Stephen]- Well to another episode of Discoverd Wordsmiths. We’re in a new year and starting with some really great books. Here’s the first non-fiction book of the year. It is written by Doug newest hero. He runs a group called The Explorers, which is a group for boys and he wrote a book called Man’s Stuff which has lessons. He’s taught to those boys as they grow up to be men and he’s been doing this for many years. So sit back check out Man Stuff. I would had really good time talking with Doug about it and if you like the podcast get his book, give us some likes pass it on to a friend. I hope people are finding books that they like to read and here’s Doug. Well Doug, welcome to the podcast and thank you for taking some time to talk to me today.

[Doug] – Well, thank you Stephen and I’m feel privileged to to be able to visit with you.

[Stephen]- Great. Well, I’m excited at first of all before we start talking about the book tell us a little bit about you who you are where you’re from some of the things you like to do besides writing.

[Doug] – Okay. Well, I’m I’m a car dealer Stephen. I’m a small town car dealer. I have a small Ford dealership in Winner South Dakota. I live in Chamberlain. I used to have a another dealership took a Chamberlain. I got a couple of NAPA auto parts stores got some real estate interests and whatnot. So I’m I’m would consider myself a small town business man, you know, the some of the things that I like to do. I’d like to golf. I like the sale. I like to hunt. I like to ride bike. I enjoy volunteering and working with with young men.

[Stephen] – Wow, that’s great and that we’re going to talk a little bit about is what helped inspire your writing.

[Doug] – Yes.

[Stephen] – So that kind of leads into it with what got you to finally say, hey, I want to write and start writing.

[Doug] – Well, I have had a a blog off probably for I don’t know why ten twelve years and it’s kind of of Stephen, it’s kind of a place where I went to blow off steam if I had a little frustration I would go off and voice my opinion there if I wanted to relax a little bit. I’d go tell a childhood story or some experience that happened to me and I found that to be somewhat therapeutic that combined with the the fact that in 2001 when my son was in seventh grade, I still started a middle school boys service club and and the idea behind that was to give these young guys an opportunity to be on a team even if they weren’t athletic some of these great athletes some of them had not a lot of athletic talent, but I felt like it’s important that these kids had a chance to be on some kind of a winning team and so we would have our meetings every morning, Thursday morning at seven thrity before school, which is pretty early if you’re a middle school boy when I say middle school I’m talking sixth, seventh, and eighth grade boys and so we would have our meetings at seven thirty every morning and discuss the activities how they were going to like raise some money or somebody that needed some help and and what not. Well sometime after 2011 I don’t remember exactly when it was I introduced this little segment to our half hour meetings called Man Stuff and first it started about five minutes long in a group of about ten minutes long and and in this little segment, I would just kind of go over something that I felt, you know was a skill or or something that I the young really needed to know to be successful and you know, everything from shaking hands to how to introduce yourself and whatnot and and the boys, Stephen the boys loved it. They just like it got to be like when they showed up at the meetings like what’s the Man Stuff today? What are we what are we doing for Man Stuff? And so, you know over the course of the meetings I I tried to have enough Man Stuff lessons, so I wasn’t repeating the same thing every year so it took three years worth of man stuff lessons because that would give them a chance to cycle through the three years that they were in the club. Well four or five years ago I started having some parents that were like really encouraging me to you know to maybe commit some of these Man Stuff lessons to a book and in I didn’t I don’t consider myself an author, I never considered myself an author but I did have all these notes that I had kept and used to talk to, you know, present the the demand stuff segment that each of these meetings and you know, I sold I sold one of my car dealerships and I found myself a little bit more time and I started thinking about you know, every year when the eighth when is the eighth graders in my in my organization move on they graduate from eighth grade or or move on to high school I presented him with a book and I always try to present him with a book that was a either a some type of inspiration for motivational or I found a few books that were just kind of related to this man stuff that I would that I would give each of them right a little personal inscription in each of them congratulate him and thank him and whatnot and I thought well wouldn’t it be cool if I could give each of these boys a book that I had written with their help that kind of would remind them of some of these of some of these lessons and so it was you know about a year ago little more than a year ago I said I’m going to try to do this I’m going to try to try to take these notes that I have in some home put him together into the form of a book and then of course COVID hit and I found myself with a little bit more time and this was just kind of a natural thing that helped me. I had started but the COVID kind of you know, poured the gas on the fire and it allowed me to kind of organize, organize my notes kind of assemlbe them into the form of a book and so that’s how the book came about.

[Stephen] – I love this and I swear this story it sounds like it could be a movie Doug, I mean picture have you ever heard of the old movie Follow Me Boys the it’s a boy it’s about boy scouts essentially know it had I can’t remember his name. There was a really at the time popular actor in it was in a Disney stuff, but Follow Me Boys sounds like your story

[Doug] – Sounds like something I should sounds like something I should look up and watch.

[Stephen] – Yes actually you should I would recommend it. It’s it’s a scoutmaster who spends his whole life as a helping these boys as they grow up and you know, and when he gets in trouble when he’s older and he feels like, oh nobody can help me it’s like all these young men show up to help them because they were all the young men he helped out her had a chance, you know, I’m sitting here going. Wow, that sounds just like it. You should look it up that

[Doug] – I will I’m making a note to do that.

[Stephen] – You wrote down all things that I think this is a skill that’s needed in today’s world. I was just talking about going to show my step-son how to tell tire pressure and fill up a tire without them using the thing. So you wrote down all these things and you had enough of them for three years worth and you said the boys were really receptive. It sounds like writing the book is just trying to reach a larger audience for you.

[Doug] – Well, you know, it isn’t even that Stephen. I gotta tell you that I have been amazed at how people have embraced this book because I literally as I post putting the book together, I was thinking I listed in the back of my book, I listed the 380 some young men who had gone through the Explorers this this that’s the name of this group had gone through the program and and kind of as an acknowledgement that they helped me write the book and my hope was that I could get a copy of the book in every one of their hands and I’d have something to go forward and you know to to give em young young guys as they as they finished the program going forward and I really never even thought about the idea of marketing the book to the public place and you know got some encouragement as I was doing this and and yeah, so that’s it it just kind of took off from there.

[Stephen] – That’s actually makes it even better because you weren’t thinking commercial you weren’t thinking making money, but the the need is there and I think the marked the audience in that type of thing is really out there I think there’s a lot more people with the same type of thing that in today’s world. It’s almost confusing. You know, I remember back in the eighties, you know, it’s like all I’m an eighties’ man I cry, you know that type of sentiment, you know, and we’ve lost a little bit of the hunter-gatherer the manliness thing I think sometimes it’s still isn’t needed thing in the world I think a lot of young boys grown into men they still feel kind of confused. I’m not not saying it off we have to go to completely separate gender roles and you know, I’m a man who look at me roar but you know, our culture used to have very set things, you know, the man did this the woman with this and I think sometimes that helps with identity itself and helps with self-confidence.

[Doug] – We we send very confusing mixed messages down to not just young men too young too young ladies as well and you know, I have thirty-four years of teaching religious education classes in my background as well. Most of it the you know, probably more than twenty-five years of it is teaching the Ten Commandments to eighth grade boys and so, you know in my goal when I do that is simply to take the Ten Commandments which were written, you know over five thousand years ago and try to put it in today’s American culture and believe it or not they are still very pertinent but you know, when you start teaching the Ten Commandments you realize off the mixed messages that that we send two kids and it’s it’s you know, that that masculinity thing, you know, this toxic masculinity term just drives me crazy. I don’t want to get too far off into the weeds on that but suffice it to say that a lot of young boys are confused and it’s not their fault it’s the messaging we’re sending them that confuses them.

[Stephen] – I agree and I think it’s great. It’s almost making it a little more black and white easier to understand having a book in the these are young men should learn about new I mean little things like should I hold this door open for this lady or is she go yell at me? Because she’s a strong independent woman who can do it herself and I say that because I’ve actually had a lady yell at me about that and I was so confused.

[Doug] – and there’s a chapter in my book about hold the door really so so you’ve nailed it. Yeah in my book I’ve broken it down there’s I think thirty-six chapters, thirty-four chapters, but there’s seven different sections. Ones on relationships and stuff and and it’s essentially dealing with people how to introduce yourself shaking hands looking people in the eye, you know, how how to help people just you know, the the bro hug one of them’s called the bro hug and the interesting thing about this particular segment is I had to kind of rearranged and change things a little bit because of COVID because I don’t know if the handshake will ever have the prominent role in our culture that it did prior to COVID but I do think a lot things that we get from a handshake will somehow have to be conveyed. So it has a place but I de-emphasized it a little bit because of the COVID but then I have a section on manners and stuff. I have a section on your body and stuff. I have a section on skills and stuff. That’s like how to tell a joke. How to cook a signature dish. How to assemble some qauilty tools for a life time, and then I have a section on leadership and stuff. I have a section on digtal stuff where I talk a little bit about the online you, social media some of that kind of stuff and then finally clothing and stuff. So those are kind of that the sections of the book and you know, each one of those kind of has its own pertinence to to today’s young man.

[Stephen] – I love that. I think it’s great cause like I mentioned we could talk about this more in the next section I was involved with scouts as an adult and I saw a definite need for something like that because it’s different than it used to be. We’ll getting the more things like that on the next part of the whole talk here.

[Doug] – Sure.

[Stephen] – Did you pulbish this yourself? Or is it did you get an agent with a publisher?

[Doug] – As you can probably imagine by hearing the back story the story Stephen, I took I took the shortcut okay, so to start with wage my daughter who does it for a living and she’s not a professional editor, but she does a lot of writing for a living. She was my editor. I’m grateful to the work that she did on my book. I think she did a marvelous job with the editing. I have a son who is a graphic artist and he designed the cover and the back cover for me and I took the path of least resistance I have few regrets along the way because of that but I just self-published on Amazon Kindle Direct publishing and I called was to get the book out as soon as I could so that I could give it to my eighth graders as they moved on to to high school. So I you know once I got a little momentum I just I want to get the book out.

[Stephen] – Okay, and I don’t think self-publishing is necessarily a shortcut cause there’s still a lot of work you have to do and it sounds like you were trying to make the book look like any book you’d see in the book store.

[Doug] – Yeah. I’m I’m very proud of the of the final product. I had I went into it knowing nothing. I learned a lot along the way down. You know, when when I say that I have some regrets I kind of I kind of wish that I would have made maybe had a publisher so I could go to some of the bookstore person present my book and you know, tell them how they can get it and what not, you know, and and of course when you’re when you’re with Amazon, you’re kind of stuck with Amazon unless you kind of hit the do-over switch, you know.

[Stephen] – Right and that was actually going to be my next question. What were some lessons you learned writing this book and if you wrote another book what you would do different. So do you think if you wrote some other book connected to this or not you would look at an agent a publisher or doing what would you do different?

[Doug] – I think I would self-publish again I just am not sure how long you know, let me let me just step up a level. As I said, I’m a small town business man and quite frankly the Amazons of the world are like direct threats to the people who run businesses in my community right the online just the whole online commerce thing is and so I don’t necessarily want to be that online guy. The flip side of that is, you know, somehow you got to get if you can try to sell the book to the public somehow you have to do that right, but I I would like to be able to support the small businesses and and be able to offer my product through them and so, you know, I I would probably self-publish but I do it in a manner where I control the distribution whereas I really don’t when I do it with Amazon, I mean Amazon controls the distribution. I’d like to be able to offer, you know, maybe offer if I had a second book if you bought the two of them, maybe there’d be a month or something thrown in or we’d give I’m a I’m a marketing guy. I mean that’s I’m a car dealer, right? So I see lots of different ways of doing it and Amazon pretty much steals your your ability to do any of that kind of stuff.

[Stephen] – Yeah. I totally agree I I we could probably have a whole discussion.

[Doug] – There’s there’s probably several podcasts just in that topic right there, but but but I will say that, you know my goal when when I went into this was to have a book that I could give to these young guys not only the ones that were in the program of the ones that have been through the program and and so, you know, that was the easiest way to get that done. Now I I see that there is probably not only a market but a need for the message that I’m trying to convey and and there was there’s probably a better way to get it out.

[Stephen] – Okay, so you’ve had some feedback and a lot of people encouraging you and a lot of the boys obviously helped shape the whole book through the years. What are some people saying that didn’t know you or that weren’t one of the boys what type of feedback are you getting from people that are received the book and discovering it?

[Doug] – You know the, now that I’ve gotten several times and it’s just probably really impacted me the most is the one that says I wish there was a book like this when I was growing up.

[Stephen] – Nice.

[Doug] – And that one just hits me right in the heart because that’s kind of what I want and and I have. The book is written in a very conversational style and it’s a conversation Stephen that’s not for an adult per se but for an eighth grader okay, and of course that that makes it I believe a little more inviting to most adults because often times books are written so that there are challenged to read I think everybody will find this a really simple read and that’s not to say it’s a simple message it’s just an easy read because I wrote it as if I was conversing with the young men that I work with.

[Stephen] – Some of the most popular books are young adult type books, but they’re red by thirty and forty year olds so you hit it on the head right there.

[Doug] – Yeah exactly. Yes, and so am I even though I wrote it for the young men and and a message that’s my intended reader. I’m finding that my market wage is there’s three there’s three segments of my market the most active one is grandparents, you know, and that’s very rewarding as somebody who’s a new grandparent myself. It’s really nice to see grandparents looking out for their young grandsons trying to help them. The second one is in, and the one that I that I need to do a better job of tapping is the single mother the the mother who’s raising his son and doesn’t have a male role model in the in the picture and they have an incredibly difficult job just making sure that they keep that young guy on the on the right path let alone trying to teach some of these lessons that nobody ever taught them in the first place right? Because they were they were young ladies and so I’m trying to find a better way to Market to that segment and then I have the young men and honestly young men don’t buy books for themselves, usually. It’s usually a gift you know, and so that that’s my ultimate market but it’s usually some kind of a trickle through to get it to them.

[Stephen] – Maybe for the second part marketing that’s a little something to talk about cause I’ve got kind of the same boat. I write middle-grade fantasy and you know, you can’t really mark it to the eighth grader you would have to market to the parents, but the parents aren’t home reading it. So maybe we’ll touch on that a little bit more.

[Doug] – I’m trying to figure out how to get a pop-up add on a video game I think that would be the way to the right market to those young guys.

[Stephen] – Yeah. Well, you need to start putting like a copy of your book in the back seat of all the cars when people test drive them family cars.

[Doug] – There ya go.

[Stephen] – So Doug, you’re a businessman first and it’s interesting that you’re a Ford dealer cause I made the comment that I haven’t seen a whole lot of Ford dealers around northeast Ohio as much as I used to it just seems there’s less of them for some reason, but do you have plans for a next book? Do you want to write more?

[Doug] – I have, not only the chapters that I didn’t include in the first book. I kind of took the ones that like to me seemed like the most logical first step but I but I hit about half of what I had. I’ve had literally twenty to twenty-five suggested topic some of which are just like why didn’t I think of that that was I totally left it out. When people read the book they they had been very rewarded by the fact that they feel like, well you do a good job of telling somebody how to do this, you know, and so, you know, there may be a a Man Stuff 2.0 more things of young man needs to know. I I’d like to I’d like to do that Stephen but I can’t say for sure that there will be because again I’m not an author I’m a guy that wrote a book. I’m a car dealer small business guy, you know what I mean.

[Stephen] – Which actually I love because it kind of shows today’s world you can write a book you can get it out there and people can love it and appreciate it even if thirty forty years agos the publishers wouldn’t have touched it.

[Doug] – Right.

[Stephen] – And that’s an important thing especially for a book like this.

[Doug] – Yeah. Yeah, I agree and and it it may be why so many people say I wish there was a book like this when I was younger because the publishers just never picked it up and ran with it, you know.

[Stephen] – Right. Well, I dunno I remember getting my kids a set of books. Dangerous book for boys and Dangerous book for girls and it was not quite the same not like lessons but things like things little boys do and things little girls do split it up but the funny thing is a lot of them were the same thing in the two books.

[Doug] – Sure. Sure.

[Stephen] – So I don’t know since you’re not an author first in your heart do you read much? Do you have any favorite books and authors?

[Doug] – I I love to read. I I travel. I Live sixty miles from one of my stores and a hundred miles from another one of my stores so I get plenty windshield time in I do a lot of audio books. I love motivational inspirational books. Malcolm Gladwell. I love Malcolm Gladwell I just think he’s got a a great way of taking kind of difficult research and putting it in main street language, you know, and then I like to do a little fiction. I like Michael Connelly like John Grisham. I have a a pretty long list of authors that I like. I I I do I do listen to thirty-five forty books a year so.

[Stephen] – Wow, nice. Okay, so do you have a section in your book on books that boys should read?

[Doug] – You know, I don’t have it specifically books that boys should read in my chapter on leadership I give ten titles that I think are great books on leadership, but you’ve just made a wonderful suggestion for another chapter in the next book if there is one.

[Stephen] – You know, there are definitely books I remember reading growing up in a lot of them things like Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer which aren’t as relevant to today’s youth but I think the sense of adventure and the just being a kid especially, you know, Tom Sawyer. He just loved.

[Doug] – Coming-of-age.

[Stephen] – Yeah. Yes.

[Doug] – Yeah and and I have to tell you I just finished a book yesterday called This Tender Land and I can’t even remember the author’s name off the top of my head. Just a great it was literally almost like a an extension of Huck Finn. It was it was a great book and I loved those coming-of-age type type of books. Stephen King Stand By Me is a one of my.

[Stephen] – I was just going to mention that, you read my mind.

[Doug] – It’s one of my favorite books. I just you know, it’s the things the young boys do they like to go out and discover and and whatnot and the adventures of a young man are just those are stories I love.

[Stephen] – So the ten books on your leadership what were some of those?

[Doug] – I know I got Dale Carnegie is in there. Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey. Developing the Leader Within You, John C. Maxwell. Extreme Ownership How the U.S. Navy Seals Lead and Win. Leaders Eat Last Simon Sinek. Good to Great by Jim Collins. Principle Centered Leadership, Stephen Covey. The Art of War. How to Win Friends and Influence People. Wouldn’t on Leadership by John Wooden and Stephen Jameson and Drive: the Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink. I do enjoy Daniel Pink’s books as well he’s got an interesting way of taking just a lot of research and making it interesting and and something that it can be easy reading

[Stephen] – Nice. Yeah, that’s a pretty good list. I’ll make sure to include some links to those books in the podcast episode and you are a small town business man do you have any local bookstores that you like to go to?

[Doug] – You know community of twenty-five hundred I live in life businesses and community of twelve hundred and thirty-five hundred and unfortunately, the there are no dedicated bookstores per se down. There are some kind of neat little shops that I have been able to get my book into but there’s not really any place where you could just you know, go and and pick out a book. Now our our community is fortunate to have a real nice library and so I think that that helps to replace that lack of a bookstore a little bit but yeah, it’s just really tough in a in a small community to to generate enough income with books, you know.

[Stephen] – Yeah. So this this would be a great way to do this part of the podcast but do you have any words of advice for any boys that might be listening that are thinking of writing a book?

[Doug] – Well, you know, the the first one would be just commit to it. I I I messed around for four or five years, you know kind of thinking in my mind how I would organize what I would do. I had already done all the work but you know, once I committed to it it was not it seems like you know reminds me of the old saying how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time and date and once I committed to it, it wasn’t that difficult, you know every every Tuesday, I’d sit down for a couple hours and I’d work on it and and pretty soon I I had a, you know, the bulk of the work the bulk of the work done. I’ve heard some of your other guests say this and I really think it’s true and that is to just write about what you love what follow your passion, you know for me working with with young men has been a passion going back to high school. I coached Little League teams in high school and so, you know, that’s that’s been a passion of mine so it’s been real easy to write about that and then you know, once you once you once you have a book took a little extra time before you dive in I wish I would have done that. I wish it had done a little pre-marketing. I wish I would have looked into the options I had for publication and and promotion in some of that kind of stuff and I think if you do that, it gives you a chance to make the best decision for the book or the product that you write.

[Stephen] – Great. Well, thank you Doug I appreciate you taking some time to talk to us about your book today and we’ll continue on in a moment with the second half for writers.

[Doug] – Sounds good. Thanks, Steven.

[Stephen] – Thanks Doug.

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