One of the authors of The Jekyll Island Chronicles, Steve Nedvidek, had the opportunity to be interviewed by the host of Joy Economics, Shani Godwin. Upbeat, inspiring and light hearted, Shani’s guests on Joy Economics are dynamic business leaders, sought after employees and everyday people from all aspects of business, community and life who want to redefine success on their own terms so that they can produce more wealth, happiness and success in their day-to-day lives.
You can read the transcript and listen to the interview below:
Shani Godwin: Hey there and good morning! We're back today with a new episode of Joy Economics: Creating Better Ways to Live, Work and Play. I am here with Mr. Steve Nedvidek who is the Senior Manager of Learning and Development and Innovation Specialist at Chick-fil-A, Inc. In his spare time, along a few friends and colleagues and some folks from SCAD, created and co-created a graphic novel: The Jekyll Island Chronicles: Book One. This episode is so important to me for several reasons. First of all, Steve is someone I would do absolutely anything in the world for. We worked together back at Chick-fil-a literally 20 years ago - I'm totally dating myself on air and I hate that
Steve Nedvidek: Now you're making us all feel old
Shani: Because if you saw me I don't look my age and I pride myself in that
Steve: No, no
Shani: Now I'm unmasking it for everybody
Steve: You do not. I will assure you that
Shani: Thank you! So, Steve and I worked together at Chick-fil-A back in the late 90s and we created some great, great work. I tell people I was a project coordinator at the time almost straight out of college and sometimes you just get these magical moments in time where you get to be paired up with someone where you're very yin and yang and I feel like Steve is such a big visionary and what a lot of people realize now or didn't at the time is I'm visionary too but I can actually lay down the train tracks to help the vision come to life. As his project coordinator, I got to work on some really fun, cool, legendary projects at Chick-fil-A, may I say. We created some good stuff.
Steve: We did. And you did a great job
Shani: Thank you, thank you. You are never where you are without the help of a lot of people on whose shoulders you stand. I'm excited to have you here today because when I see you I feel joyous inside because you just make me happy. And I'm honored that you would come on and be a guest today and not just help me talk about how to create joy at work and joy in your life by leaving your job and going and doing something entrepreneurial but really also how do you create joy in a space where you live, work and play every day. You've been able to do both - have a job that honors who you are and your gifts and also find space outside of work to create.
Steve: Well, you are very kind to say all those things and remember all of those things. For the listeners out there, I would do anything for you as well.
Steve: You've been one of those people in my life that I have just enjoyed being around. I've enjoyed watching your career grow, I've enjoyed you getting challenges, and of course, this new gig that you've got here - it's just amazing. So when you asked me to do this I was like, "Yeah! When? How quickly? Let's do this!" It's fantastic.
Shani: Thank you. Anyone who keeps up with kind of what's going on generationally I keep telling people I'm a generation x-er with a millennial trapped on the inside. So this being a new gig for me is right on time.
Steve: Awesome. I'm glad I chose the right word then.
Shani: Yes, you did! Gig is a great, great word. So I'm going to tell our listeners a bit little more about you. Mr. Steve Nedvidek joined Chick-fil-A in October of 1988 and has worked in a variety of roles through the years including film and video as a producer, a marketing consultant and program manager for the Kids Meal Program, local store marketing, retail licensing and creative services - which is where we were able to reconnect. In his current role he serves as a staff learning and development team lead as an innovation specialist who teaches, coaches and facilitates sessions that help staff members solves tough business problems. Steve is a native of Detroit, Michigan but grew up in the south. Having lived in North Carolina since 1971 he moved to Atlanta in 1988. Steve graduated from Windgate University in 1985 with a Bachelor's of Science degree in Communications and from Wake Forest University in 1987 with a Master of Arts in Theater. He has worked in the fields of radio, television and art direction. He currently serves on the board of directors at the Theatrical Outfit in Atlanta and on the Innovation Creativity and Entrepreneurship Council at Wake Forest University. As mentioned earlier, he is also - when he is not doing all of those things - the co-creator/author of the new Sci-Fi graphic novel series: The Jekyll Island Chronicles. I have a copy… it is phenomenal. I'm going to tell you a million times in this interview to go pick it up. It was first published in May 2016 through a Kickstarter campaign, I believe.
Steve: We began working on it through a Kickstarter campaign. We funded it initially through the Kickstarter campaign. So now it's on its own and Book Two is underway - we'll debut that at Comic Con and Book Three will be after that…
Shani: This is so amazing for me to even sit here and think about because it seems like just a year ago - a year and a half ago - you guys were raising funding for the first book and now you're on to Book Two and Book Three and more, hopefully. So, what I want you to do is help us figure out where the impetus for this book came from. What was stirring inside of you that lead you to want to create outside of a space where you were already allowed to create at work. Let's just hear your Joy Economics story.
Steve: I guess for me the idea of doing something like a graphic novel - and for people who don't know because there may be some people that think, "Graphic novel? What's that?" A graphic novel is like a glorified comic book. It's big, thick, heavy comic book - storytelling in comic book form. And they are all over the place! You can buy them at any Barnes and Noble or any retailer right now.
Shani: It's amazing - it's not even just the paper-thin magazine…
Steve: It's significant - you feel it and it's hefty.
Shani: It is.
Steve: For me, a lot of that had to do with growing up with my dad working in a factory - never graduated from high school but he was an excellent artist and he would draw at night and he would do portraits for people. So I learned from my dad at an early age how to draw and fell in love with comic books and mad magazines and continued to draw and draw and draw. Eventually that led to editorial cartooning which I did through college and after I graduated from college. Always interested in film, always interested in design, art direction. It was just always one of those things in the back of my mind where I thought, "You know, I love story maybe one day… maybe I'll get a chance to do something interesting like that. But for now, I have to pay bills and sell chicken and take care of a wife and three kids and a dog and have a mortgage and all the other stuff we look at from time to time
Shani: Right and that happens to so many people. It's like you have these ideas - I am blessed because I was able to activate an idea at a very young age. At 27 I started Communique-usa and it was scary but I wasn't truly leaving a lot on the table. I was leaving a salary on the table, I had just gotten married - he was supportive, I didn't have kids. I wasn't established and really anchored in my life and lifestyle at that point. So, there's so many people out there - I hear this constantly, "I would be doing this if I weren't doing that." That still takes a lot to wage your way through all of that and still find that golden nugget on the inside of you and bring it to life.
Steve: Yeah. Life is a series of choices, right? There are times when you're in the middle of something you shouldn't feel like - or at least I don't feel like that's it and that's all I can ever do. I've always been a believer that life was more of a marathon than a sprint.
Steve: So, you take that approach to it and know that there are going to be times in life that you are presented with things that just fall in your lap. Opportunities happen, and you grab them, you seize them. Then there are other times when - like people ask me all the time what's my favorite business mantra - my favorite business line. It's, from of all people, Milton Berle who was one of the fathers of television who said, "If opportunity doesn't knock, build a door."
Shani: Love it. Build a door.
Steve: Build a door. Your life is - you do what you need to do but you're also looking for opportunities and if there's not one… build a door.
Shani: I think that is so important to realize. I can't even remember who said this so I'm not going to attribute it or try to attribute it, but I heard someone who gave an analogy of your life is this long hallway and there are presents behind each of the doors and some doors we try to open, and they fly open. Some doors we push and they kind of open. Other doors we spend a lot of time pressing hard against and they are sealed and locked tight shut. A lot of us spend a lot of our time trying to press open the doors that really aren't meant to open and when we get to the end of our life we look back and see all of the presents we missed behind the open doors.
Steve: That's exactly right. With the book what's interesting is that our Vice President of Marketing used to say, "An idea might be like pushing a wet noodle up a hill." This book was one of things where its actually been one of the easiest things, one of the hardest, but one of the easiest things I've ever done because the doors have been open. Bam, bam, bam, bam, bam!
Shani: Right but I think that's when you know you're in the exact right place.
Steve: In the zone
Shani: In the zone, exactly. There's a paster - Paster Dave of Camp Grace - and he calls that the faith zone. So, we're going to take a quick break and keep going here. I'm about to bubble over with your story and just the enthusiasm that is in the room. So, I want to take a quick break and when we get back I want to hear more of how the story came to life
Shani: We're back! This is your host, Shani Godwin on Joy Economics: Creating Better Ways to Live, Work and Play. We are here today joined in the studio with Mr. Steve Nedvidek, co-creator of Jekyll Island Chronicles. I'm going to be laughing this whole interview because…
Steve: You can't even say my name!
Shani: I can't! I've known you for 20 years and I'm stumbling over, "Nedvidek."
Steve: And you're the first to have ever done that
Shani: Go figure. It's like, "Goodwin", "Godwin." It's like, "Godwin," it's very easy.
Steve: Shani G
Shani: Shani G, thank you. That sounds like a rapper - I have an inside rapper in me somewhere. Anyway, I digress. Before the break we were talking about opportunities. The significance of this episode is really helping our listeners who may have that thing inside of that they love, that they have been putting off for some time because life is in the way. Kids, wife, husbands, dogs, just things that come up. Real life situations that keep us tethered to our day jobs can sometimes squeeze out the life and the joy. And you have been so inspired, and I have admired you up close and from a distance because you've always found a way to find joy in the present. You were talking before the break about recognizing that life is a marathon not just a sprint and full of opportunities. I want you to continue talking to us about how you were able to make space for this book. You've got so many great things to say so I'm going to be quiet, so you can get them all in.
Steve: I do think that everyone is wired differently, of course. For me, the older I get the more I realize stuff about myself - stuff I wish I had known back when I was in college. It took me a while to figure out.
Shani: Funny how that works
Steve: It is!
Shani: It's good and it's annoying
Steve: It is annoying. So many wasted years!
Shani: Exactly! "I wasted 20 years of my life."
Steve: But one of the things that has become real clear to me at least in the last 10 years or so - relative to just Steve - is that I really do find joy in creating. I truly do believe that for me when I'm not creating - if I'm just consuming - I'm not a happy person. The world is pretty much set up to consume. Whether you are consuming entertainment at night after you get home. Whether it's consuming a sports program. Whether it's consuming a video games. Oh my gosh - the amount of time people spend doing things as a hobby, and I get that and it's important to consume, but I am happiest when I am creating. What I was finding in my job is I wasn't really getting a chance to create the way that I wanted to. I was certainly happy to be at Chick-fil-A and I've certainly had times over the last - 3 days ago was my 29th anniversary…
Shani: Wow! Happy 29th anniversary!
Steve: Thank you, thank you. But there are times during that journey that you're doing great and you're using a lot of your creativity and there are other times when you are managing and you're dealing with people and other issues. The more that I focused on the work, the more I was realizing that it wasn't allowing me to just do the creative things I needed to do.
Steve: I didn't want to not be excellent at what I was doing but I also knew that there was a part of me that just wasn't using - muscle wasn't flexing. So, I found that if I could carve off some time to create every night it actually helped me.
Shani: Right. I understand that principle because at Communique over the last two and a half years we've been growing so fast, I peeled out and carved out space to create audible voices as a blog. It's never about talking to people or inspiring people it's just a space for me to write because I'm a writer at heart.
Steve: And I've always felt like - creative people, especially - there is a reason why artists starve because they have to own their own vision.
Shani: And they have to do that thing that only they created
Steve: And there's an element of control in that vision for the artist because that's them - it's very personal. So, I was carving off time at night after the kids had gone to bed where I could just work on things at night. Whether it was working on paintings or building figure models. All the old models, monster models, superhero models from when I was a kid, I would repaint those and buy new and better models that are very tall and expensive
Shani: You know I'm smiling because having worked with you for over 20 years…
Steve: You remember some of those things…
Shani: In your office! He had the creative office full of comic… stuff…
Steve: Full of weird stuff!
Shani: But I loved it because I'm creative which is why I think we work so well together
Steve: And it's creative but it also calms me down. It just kind of sets me in a mood of feeling inspired and a mood of feeling, "I'm relaxed." I was at a point of time in my work where I felt like, "okay I've got to do something bigger and bolder." I'm the kind of person who watched movies all my life. I think like a movie camera. I see things happen in my brain - I process it like "here's a shot, here's a shot, here's a shot." I've developed stories over my life that I always wanted to remember like, "oh, that would be a really interesting story." And I just had this seed of an idea of, "that would be a really interesting story if I could ever do that." And then I had an epiphany one day that I could afford to do that because I had worked for so long - like, I don't play golf. And if I did, I would be very bad at it.
Shani: We would be on a team together.
Steve: That's right. We'd have a lot of fun! You know, I don't spend my money on other things like that. So, I could afford to have a hobby that could actually allow me to make something significant. Or make something of significance for me
Shani: Yeah so it was never about the money, it was about the joy.
Steve: Yeah, that's right. I knew a couple of other people that knew me well enough that if I talked to them about this dream or this idea that they wouldn't think I was crazy.
Shani: That's so important because there are so many people that will disparage or discourage or poo-poo your dreams or your ideas. It took me a long time I think I just came into awareness of it in the last 6 - 12 months. It's just because they can't see your vision. It doesn't mean it's not a good idea, they just can't see what you can see.
Steve: Yeah and they don't know what to do with that. They don't know what to do with that to help you with that. They don't know what they're supposed to do with that because it's so personal - it's you.
Shani: So, it's important - I hear in your story that you found the people you knew that could pour into your vision and your dream.
Steve: And people I had known for years and years going to church together and being friends together. When I started to talk to them about, "hey what about a graphic novel? What if we did something like that?" Both my friends Ed Crowell and Jack Lowe said, "we're in." And I knew they would be because they were like me enough to be just nerdy and crazy enough to go follow this because they had some of the same thoughts as they grew in their careers.
Shani: That's so cool when that happens - that synchronicity. When all of that comes together it really adds more fuel to your fire and build your confidence too.
Steve: Yeah! It holds you accountable to each other. It's iron sharpening iron. This was back in December of 2012 when we actually first had the conversation of, "what if we could actually do something like that. Would it be worthwhile?" So, 2013 came around and we just started working on this idea.
Shani: You just jumped.
Steve: We just jumped.
Shani: It was that simple.
Steve: It was that simple. We just had to say - well you check with your spouse - "Is it okay if I jump?" But it was fine because, again, we all knew that we were capable of more than what we were doing, and we wanted to explore that space.
Shani: So, when you look back on the reasons - now that you're able to reflect back because once you jump and you realize "oh, there is a life line out here and I'm going to be okay." Failure looks very different once you that that leap of faith. What is your perspective of those years where you were consuming more than creating? What are some things you would advise yourself if you could go back in your career? What would you do more of?
Steve: I think that there are times in your life - seasons of your life - where it's about other people. It's tough to carve time off for something that takes a long time when you've got three little kids running around the house.
Shani: Amazing kids! Who are adults and gorgeous…
Steve: They are amazing adults now and I'm so grateful and thankful for them.
Shani: Job well done!
Steve: Thank you. So, you have to prioritize things when you need to prioritize them. But as things start to change and as they start to get older and as you start to look for, "okay can I carve off a little bit of this and can I carve off a little bit of that." You start to realize you have more opportunities than you think you do. You just have to start thinking that way. Most of us don't have the chance or opportunity to think that way because go into the routine. Once life becomes a routine and it becomes that rut of: this is what I think, and this is what I do, then it's really difficult to jump that rut and do something else or try to do something additional.
Shani: Yeah, I call it the hamster wheel. I recognize it in myself and in others when you're literally like a hamster on this wheel that's running and running and the more you run the more it spins. When I recognize that in myself and I have to figure out a way to get off of it. I think what you're saying is you were intentional when you recognized that in yourself - you found a way to pivot.
Steve: Yeah and I find ways to pivot in different points in my career whether or not it was to work on editorial cartoons for the Marietta Daily Journal or do editorial cartoons for the AJC or just start painting but to do something. Do something to get you out of that rut and get you to create because that's the kind of being that you are.
Shani: Yeah so there is this key takeaway I'm hearing that is you don't have to chew the whole elephant you can just take a small bite and do something if there's something that's in you that's stewing and brewing and nagging you sometimes…
Steve: Listen to that voice.
Shani: You need to listen to that voice. And when you do you're able to shift and pivot and create something great. We're going to take a break and when we come back we're going to get into all things Jekyll Island Chronicles.
Shani: Hey there and we're back today on Joy Economics. I'm your host Shani Godwin and I'm here with Mr. Steve Nedvidek, the co-creator of The Jekyll Island Chronicles and we've been having a very engaging discussion about life and opportunities and how he was able to carve out space in his life for this dream of creating and using his talents as an artist and creative to really create a graphic novel and so I want to spend a little bit of time telling our listeners about this amazing graphic novel. We talked on the first segment about what a graphic novel is but help try to bring to life for us what this process looked like because it is so impressive. I'm thinking like comic books back in the day is probably what it sounds like on air and it's just very substantial, well put together book.
Steve: It's 172 pages and available on Amazon or on our website at: www.jekyllislandchronicles.com
Shani: I told you all throughout the show we're going to do that!
Steve: I'll keep doing it!
Shani: So, you got the idea - you got with some friends - colleagues who fueled the vision and made you accountable to each other. What happened next? How did this all come together because you've put together Book One, but you've got a lot more on the horizon.
Steve: At that point in just developing Book One - I mean we had an outline of stories - we had some characters and we weren't quite sure exactly where this thing was going to take place. Basically, Jekyll Island Chronicles is a story and it's fiction but it's an alternate history so it takes facts from history and weaves it into the narrative in some form of plausibility other things more plausible than some.
Shani: I call that enhancing.
Steve: Enhanced, yes. Enhanced history. It takes place between the wars - World War I and World War II. At that time on the coast of Georgia the industrialists were vacationing every winter at Jekyll island. Pulitzer, Carnegie, J.P. Morgan, Rockefeller all had houses in Jekyll Island. In fact, you can still go there today and walk through the Rockefeller home - Pulitzers burned to the ground, but those kinds of things are still existing. So, we thought, "wouldn't that be an interesting place - a Georgia place - where all of these industrialists were? What if we brought inventors in? What if we had an action adventure story that centers in Jekyll Island? What if we did all of this?"
Shani: Yeah and I want to slow you down just a little bit because you make it sound like this easy, over dinner conversation. Who knew all of that? Did you have to do research or how did you figure out the plot and the background and starting point?
Steve: I had the initial plot in mind with characters I had developed and had been thought of by - one character in particular was thought of by my son and me when we were on a walk up a mountain one day and I always kept that character in the back of my mind.
Shani: It's important again - because this is how your mind works.
Steve: I just find things and I file them in my brain.
Shani: It's fascinating too because I've just discovered this literally in the last two weeks - oddly at my uncle's funeral ceremony, that all of our brains worked very differently. This mathematician is telling me he just knows the answer and I'm like, "really?" Well that's why I can't do math because I see things written. I see a pen writing and you see movies.
Steve: That's right.
Shani: Very fascinating. And we think we are all thinking the same way but we're not.
Steve: Yeah, we're not. Not at all. I looked at some things in my life - my grandfather who passed away when I was a little kid actually came to America as an immigrant and served in World War I in the US Cavalry and that was his exchange for citizenship.
Shani: Oh, wow
Steve: And I thought, "huh. That's interesting. Grandpa was in the Cavalry. What would that be like?" I really was just drawn to this time. There were certain things about that time in the early 20s right after World War I. That's when Ed Crowell, one of our co-creators, said, "well that sounds a lot like Jekyll Island Gilded Age stuff." I went, "Jekyll island… I've heard of that. I've never been there before. I've been in Georgia for 25 years." He said, "You need to go there." So, I went there, and I started looking at all the stuff and starting thinking about these characters. The process of putting together the narrative took a while. It wasn't just an over dinner conversation, but Jack would chime in with an important piece of information and we'd go, "oooooh okay."
Shani: So the three of you worked together like pieces of a puzzle - you each brought a different angle…
Steve: We used index cards and put ideas on index cards and put them up in a room in my basement. We'd be sitting with our computers open looking for weird and interesting facts from that time.
Shani: Are they as visual as you are, or did you have more of a different…
Steve: I have a leg up on them in terms of drawing and visualizing stuff. We all have our own thing. Ed worked in the Reagan White House so he's a poly sci guy. He's head of the Georgia Motor Trucking Association. He thinks in terms of political science stuff. Jack would be an imaginer - he's the kind of guy that builds the Disneyland theme park in his basement. Experiential stuff, atmospherics. And me with art. So, the three of us coming together - we were always adding bits and pieces into the mix because we are coming at it from different directions, different places.
Shani: Well and I think all of that shows up in the book because it's a combination of those gifts in each of you that merged to create the book. Which is why I can't reiterate or express enough that it's not just a comic book because a graphic novel is truly what you guys have created and its really unique and different and fascinating and fabulous.
Steve: And 170 pages available on Amazon or on our website at www.jekyllislandchronicles.com. Anyway!
Shani: I love the shameless plug…
Steve: Getting back to the story - the thing that drove us in the idea of coming up with a book is none of us knew what we were doing. We had no idea. Here we are three guys in our 50s kind of going on this cottage industry type of exploration of this hobby and we don't know what we're doing. We starting thinking, "who knows how to do this?" And what we were able to do was approach SCAD in Savannah. The Savannah College of Art and Design has a program there called, "Sequential Arts." They're the ones that do comic book stuff and graphic novels. We approached them to do a project or actually partner with them on a project much like a business would. They bring in students, we have the idea and we work on it with them. We keep the assets, the students work they give us their expertise, we pay for the class and it's a collaborative thing. So, we did that with SCAD on this book project and they helped us visualize some of the things that were beyond me as an artist. They put together a pitch packet for us to use for production companies or publishers to be able to say, "does anyone want to buy this idea or print this idea?" So, that gave us a deadline so once we signed the deal with SCAD we knew we had to have all of our ducks in a row by March of 2013 and we knew it was all going to delivered by May of 2013.
Shani: Yeah, with a timeline you had some true actionable deadline. You could see a finish line.
Steve: Other than that, you're just sitting around a table pontificating and trying to think of things that are never going to be a problem. Here you have a problem to solve and you have to react to a calendar that's pushing you. So, deadlines are important.
Shani: Deadlines are very important. That's the beauty of the creative process - it's not just all creative. What I love about your story is it's very much like the way my book process came together. We get stuck a lot of times in just the creative part and we want it to be so perfect. But when you have a team it's just like a beautiful piece of music - everyone plays a different part. But together there's this harmony and this melody that comes together. So, Jack and Ed played their part - when I wrote my book, my editor lifted my words higher and made what I knew was good writing, even more beautiful. I was reading the manuscript like, "this is really good."
Steve: "I didn't know I could write this good!"
Shani: "I didn't know I could do that." And the graphic designers did more. We're going to take a quick break and come back and learn more of what this has produced in your life and more about who you are when you are not "graphic noveling". But before we go, I want to know from you, what's that one song that gets the creative juices flowing and you are in the zone.
Steve: There are so many but for me one of the songs that I can't stop listening to - I'll put it on and I'll listen to it over and over again is Hello, Goodbye by The Beatles.
Shani: Hello, Goodbye.
Steve: That song jazzes me, gives me energy. It's not their best, I get it but I just can't listen to that enough. That would be mine.
Shani: Well, Hello, Goodbye is going to take us out on our break but it's not goodbye - come back right after the break and we're going to learn a lot more about Steve Nedviek and what he's doing now.
Shani: And hello! We are back today on Joy Economics with our guest, Mr. Steve Nedvidek. He is the Senior Manager of Learning and Development, Innovation Specialist at Chick-fil-A, Inc. We have been listening today as he tells us his journey and his story of creating space in his work world in day to day life, so he could create and follow his passion, which led him to co-author a graphic novel: The Jekyll Island Chronicles. Right before the break we were talking about what that process looked like for you. What I want to learn now is for you to just tell us - this all just came together. You got the wherewithal, the inspiration, the idea and then eventually a deadline - that this had to get done in 2013. Here we are 4 years later and what's going on now with the Jekyll Island Chronicles?
Steve: So, after we got our deadline - after we finished the pitch packet with SCAD, we pitched it to our first publisher who was from Marietta. He loved it. He said if you'll finish the story I'll publish it.
Shani: And why wouldn't he love it?!
Steve: Yeah, why not? That was door open. We walked through that door. In order to get the thing published we needed funding. We set up a Kickstarter campaign. We blew that out of the water. Another door opened. Then we worked for another 18 months to get all of the art done. Graphic novels aren't like writing a book.
Shani: No, not at all.
Steve: You have to write the script and then you have to draw everything
Shani: And it's 172 pages…
Steve: …on Amazon.com. Anyway!
Shani: Did you get that?
Steve: Yeah! There's a lot of stuff that has to happen. Then you have to think about social media and how we are going to promote this. Then we went to Comic Con and we debuted it. We got a long-term book deal with an actual publisher of graphic novels - the fourth largest publisher of graphic novels in the country: IDW. It's one of those things again where the doors kept opening and we're like okay were just going to keep moving forward until we start getting doors to close. We're having too much fun.
Shani: Well it's this neat thing when - I call it a sit your butt down year like I kind of just sat my butt down and stopped trying to do stuff and these doors started flying open and next thing I knew I was on a radio show talking to you. It's this funny thing that happens when you get in that faith flow - that faith circle where you're really moving and activating those gifts and that thing that only you are here to do that the opportunities just find you. So, you guys have a deal?
Steve: Yeah, we have a deal for the next 10 years for us to continue to write these books. We're working on Book 2 right now. Book one did well - we had a second printing of it already. In fact, it's getting ready to be used in Jesup, GA down in Wayne County as educational material for history classes because its alt history and it helps kids learn and it's fun.
Shani: It's fun and engaging and maybe I would've remembered some of my history if I would've…
Steve: If you would've had something like The Jekyll Island Chronicles…
Shani: Something like that. Visual people learn differently.
Steve: Read the book and you'll learn more. We're also working on production considerations, so the publisher is putting in their catalog for television and film.
Shani: Let's pause here because you actually talked in your bio about how you had that film and TV background. I know that you did your graduate work at Wake Forest and you've been an extra on a little show that we all love around here that's a pretty big deal.
Steve: Yeah, if you want to see what I looked like, look at The Walking Dead Season Two Episode 12. Within the first three seconds I'm eating a cow and I get an arrow to the eye by Daryl. What's funny is people will call me or text me in the middle of watching a re-run of that and say, "were you on the Walking Dead? I think I just saw you!" Which is really disturbing to know that you look that much like a zombie in real life that people can tell who you are.
Shani: And we won't tell the Chick-fil-A cows about that.
Steve: No, thank you very much.
Shani: Shhh. Keep that to yourself. That's so fun - that's a fun fact. There are always these fun little nuggets about you that are fun to poke at and bring to the surface.
Steve: Sometimes I feel like I'm living a Forest Gump life.
Shani: Do you really?
Steve: I really do. I was thinking about that when I was waking the dogs last night like, "how in the world did I get the chance to meet that person or run into that person or talk to that person?" It's amazing.
Shani: You're right where you're supposed to be. You're always at the right place at the right time. Even when it doesn't feel like it. So, you have this 10-year book deal and you aren't doing this for money…
Steve: And haven't made any so far!
Shani: Right? I keep trying to tell people that a book is a door opener it's not a money maker. We'll keep that in mind for all aspiring authors - it's a great journey, though. What did you hope would happen once you guys finished this project?
Steve: Well we hoped we'd have a book and once we finally got the book we reacted in different ways. Jack, when he got his hands on the book was shaking - couldn't believe it was finally done. When I got my hands on the book all I could think about was all the work we still had to do. Not only just to promote the book and show up at Comic Con and have people dressed in cosplay - like characters from the book. We've got a character that's 8 feet tall and he walks on metal legs. The guys who built Iron Man are friends of mine and they built the metal legs for this character.
Steve: All that stuff is going through my mind. Okay… Book 2 and Book 3…
Shani: Do you remember what Ed did?
Steve: Ed was the one who brought the book over so Ed watched us react.
Shani: It is that moment that you're holding this thing that was in your head and it's tangible and real. It's a very powerful moment regardless of what your reaction is.
Shani: For you this had been - like you said, you just celebrated 29 years at Chick-fil-A. So, for 25 of those years that was just an inkling of an idea and you had no idea how it would come together.
Steve: I didn't even know I'd be doing this. I had no idea. But I knew that life was bigger than just my job
Shani: That's important because so many of us are defined by our jobs. Our job becomes our identity. We can't even introduce ourselves without saying, "Hi, I'm Shani and this is what I do."
Steve: Yeah, here's my title…
Shani: Right and we're not our titles. That's a lesson my dad taught me that I'm really grateful for.
Steve: That's right. Life's more than that. For me every time I see it it's just a reminder - a lot of people can talk about stuff and a lot of people can wish about doing stuff. But actually, do stuff. Actually, take the first step. Take the leap. Because once you complete that - and even if you don't, at least you tried. But once you complete that what you then have is not just a thing, you have inspiration. And what you have is a story that you can share with other people and hopefully inspire other people. Which is like what my goal in life right now. At work, I'm there to inspire people. With the book, I'm there to inspire people. At home, I'm there to inspire people. That's what I feel like at this moment in my life I need to be doing
Shani: Yeah, you found your purpose.
Steve: I feel like that's what I need to be doing right now.
Shani: You've always inspired me. I hope you know that by now. I try to remind you and say it from time to time. I think it's important to - as they say - give people their flowers while they are alive. When it's all said and done, when the books have been produced and the shows have been made and the career has ended and it's just Steve Nedviek at the end of the day - who are you without all of those titles and what matters most to you? Inspiring people, but what are the other things?
Steve: Making sure that I was the best dad I could be. That I was the best husband I could be. That I was the best friend I could be. All the roles in my life I'd like to make sure I didn't leave anything on the table. That I said everything I had to say. And that I hopefully helped someone along the way to get their journey going and be successful in what they did. When I look at you what's going through my mind is not the Shani that I see sitting here what I'm seeing is the Shani 20 years ago that showed up at Chick-fil-A and knowing what you were cable of doing and knowing that in your life great things were going to happen and to see that happening now and for you to invite me along for the journey - enough to just to this - the rose goes to you.
Shani: Thank you for that. You are truly one of those people who has inspired me but also been there throughout my career to give me an opportunity. We got introduced when I was a Project Coordinator at Chick-fil-A and unbeknownst to me we would go on and create some great projects and do some great work for that company, but then you would be able to cross paths with me again at Communique and now in my third life with audio voices and radio life.
Steve: Just don't forget about me when you get famous.
Shani: You don't forget me! I'm going to need you to help me with that production deal when I get my next book or two out. Before we go, do you mind telling us where we can find your book? I don't think you mentioned that to us at all.
Steve: Yeah that may have slipped. You can actually get it at just any every book store or order it at any book store. If you happen to be listening and live in West Cobb, the Barnes and Noble there has a bunch of them that are signed. The Second and Charles up there has a bunch that are signed by all three creators. And we've got our website: jekyllislandchronicles.com with links to Amazon and about 40 other places on web where you can go get it.
Shani: Again, is it thejekyllislandchronicles.com or jekyllislandchronicles.com?
Shani: Jekyll Island Chronicles with an "S".com. Steve Nedivek, I want to thank you as always it is such a pleasure, such a joy. I'm going to be smiling for the rest of the day here. Thank you for all you've done, thank you for all you do, thank you for all that you are and all that you have inspired. You are an absolute treat and pleasure and I am blessed to know you.
Steve: Shani you know I feel the same way about you. I'm so grateful for our friendship over these 20 years and watching you grow and develop along the way has just been one of the joys of my life. I really do treasure our friendship.
Shani: Thank you and thanks for joining us today on Joy Economics. That's a big 'ol group hug from all of us here in the studio!
Steve: Let the love fest continue!
Shani: Have a great day!