Why did you write a book?
I’ve had the desire to tell my story to a broader audience for many years. I wanted to pour into the world my experiences and what my parents had poured into me. I wanted to make a difference by educating, encouraging and inspiring individuals on a global scale with my thoughts, experiences and ideas. Additionally, I also felt there was a growing lack of respect and dignity in the world and I wanted to highlight just how important and impactful respect is in our daily walk through life. The book was a unique way to exhibit my approach to life by sharing my personal stories and lessons learned. Ultimately, my goal was to create a platform where I could use my voice and give back to the community. I have been extremely blessed and fortunate and it is incumbent on me to help others. They can use my book as a sort of roadmap to help them as they go through life.
What inspired the title of your book?
My life experiences and what I have seen taking place in the world inspired the title of the book. What About Me was designed to be a rhetorical question but also a demonstrative statement invoking thought, introspection and awareness pertaining the experiences of black men, black boys, People of Color, women etc. who feel they have been underrepresented and/or marginalized. The subtitle, Walking the Tightrope as a Black Man in America, is a direct function and correlation to my personal experiences in life and how I felt going through those experiences. Although the premise behind the title was personal, I also know there are others with similar tightrope experiences and situations. If I could provide some guidance based on what I had learned, this would be a benefit to others in their time of struggle.
What did you learn about yourself in creating “What About Me….Walking the Tightrope as a Black Man in Corporate America”?
I learned that my story truly mattered and that people wanted to know more about my journey. Additionally, I became intimately aware of the challenges that face an author. The focus, discipline and regimented thinking required to complete your project can be daunting. But you have to continually be true to yourself and your ideas as you place them on paper. I was able to do that and become even more acutely aware of my emotions and my overall feelings about life’s experiences and what I planned to do going forward in the future. I was able to overcome self-doubt, self-criticism and the other detractors that creep into your psyche as you seek to achieve your objectives. There was a certain explosion of energy and passion that burst from within me to drive even harder in every aspect of life. As I captured and codified information for the book, the more my interest skyrocketed on new and innovative things I could do by unleashing my resources, my skills and my talents. So, the unbridled energy and desires in my heart became manifest in the world.
What has been the most memorable response you have received to date?
I was greatly moved and extremely encouraged by comments from a lady in Toronto, Canada. She told me that my book not only spoke to people of color, but spoke to all people and that it was a great catalyst for conversation to people around the world. She stated the book, the documentary film and my conversations on podcasts are having global impacts on the way people think. One comment was, “you are educating all of us!” This was sensational to hear because it validated my ultimate vision and strategy.
What is the secret to your success?
My faith, treating people right with respect and dignity, extremely hard work, preparation, focus, positive thinking and a wonderful support system have been the keys to my success. I also learned early that I had to have a global view of life and everything going on in the world. The bigger your perspective, the broader and more compelling your narrative becomes. I have in the past and still to this day, looked to avail myself of big ideas, innovation, creative people of all walks of life and an ability to execute on my ideas. Recognizing I can’t do everything alone, I think you have to create a network of like-minded individuals and rally together to make fundamental changes in the world that help uplift people and make the world a better place.
How did you balance life with your high level career and raising children?
Over my life, setting the right priorities and focusing on the right things were always important to managing my work-life balance across, family, work and entrepreneurial endeavors. My faith and spiritual life created a solid foundation for me to flourish in the good and bad times. It was also imperative for me to establish time for myself to think, decompress and ponder life’s decisions. In a hectic world with a hectic schedule I also had to make time to exercise my mind, body and soul to ensure the health of total me. This is a critical requirement to ensure I can operate at the optimal level of performance especially with so many people depending on me.
What has been the most difficult thing you had to overcome?
During my career I’ve had several situations where I was treated harshly and they affected me emotionally, mentally and physically. I had to endure and persevere through faith and my support structure to overcome those experiences. It is very hard to understand how someone can purposefully mistreat you for no reason at all, but as I looked back on the situation it proved to make me stronger and gave me the inspiration to use my learned lessons to help others.
What is the significance of mentoring?
My personal thoughts about mentoring stem from the complex environments that exist today in corporate America and in many other areas that individuals have to navigate. First, I must state mentoring is absolutely essential. Mentoring is vital regardless of your chosen field or profession. Historically, black people and people of color did not have wide access to mentorship. However, there has been some improvement in this area, but there is still much work to do. This does not only pertain to the fundamentals of an individual’s position, but the politics and astute decision making required to survive and thrive. There are so many elements to mentoring that could have a major impact on a career. Choosing an educational path, choosing a vocation, career planning, career pathing, social navigation, office culture analysis, avoiding pitfalls and landmines, dressing for success, coping with mental anxiety and many other areas that come into play with mentoring. But most of all, the mere fact of providing guidance, support, a listening ear and wisdom can make a huge difference. This is why mentoring cannot be taken lightly.
With decades of successes, philanthropic work and now author, what is next for you?
I plan to build on this momentum with additional projects and programs. I am looking to speak to various audiences in person and virtually on all levels to share my thoughts on many aspects, from leadership and history, to diversity, equity, inclusion, perseverance, encouragement and inspiration. Additionally, I want to produce more films and additional books to educate, encourage and inspire all people. I envision partnering and orchestrating with a network of organizations through 5J Entertainment to not only promote positive images, but to uplift the human condition of individuals and communities that have been neglected or overlooked. There are so many lives that need to be exposed to the possibilities of a brighter future.
Where can the book be purchased
Have you ever felt unseen, unheard, misjudged, or misunderstood?
In What About Me: Walking the Tightrope as a Black Man in America, D. John Jackson, a Fortune 50 corporate leader with over thirty years of engineering and business leadership, shares a simple, powerful message: Your life matters. Your dreams matter. And you can achieve them, no matter who you are or where you’re starting out.
Through the stories and lessons of his own personal journey, Jackson proves time and again that what you say and do can change the trajectory of your life.
Written specifically for young Black men and boys in America today, What About Me speaks to, and for, all marginalized or underrepresented voices with a call of courage and perseverance.
However, this book is for all people to read and share as it also promotes positive energy, encouragement and inspiration.
When young Black men and boys are fully appreciated, when we all come together through stories of success and hope, this country will finally reach its true potential.
D. John Jackson is the author of the best-selling book “What About Me: Walking the Tightrope as a Black Man in America.” He is also a Fortune 50 leader and Vice President with global responsibilities that include strategic planning, engineering, data science, and artificial intelligence. A creative visionary, he’s an executive producer of documentary films, an author, a strategist, a futurist thinker, a lecturer, and a motivational speaker. His speaking topics are diverse and range from leadership and world history to emerging technologies, economics, and competition in the global marketplace.
He is also the founder of 5J Entertainment, a storytelling company committed to educating, informing, entertaining, and promoting positive messages in different forms of media for African American Men/Boys, People of Color, Women, and other marginalized groups. Its first film documentary, “What About Me”, explores the untold, unheard, distorted, and misunderstood stories of Black men in America. Learn more at http://5J-Entertainment.com/. D. John Jackson is avid supporter of the Arts and ardent promoter of STEM education.
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Twitter: @ DJohn jackson