Interview: Elias Kanaris talks about Leading from the Stop
Elias Kanaris is an author, professional keynote speaker, executive coach, leadership trainer, and entrepreneur. He has been a regular keynote presenter. Elias talks to NZ Booklovers about his book, Leading from the Stop.
Tell us a little about Leading from the Stop.
Leading From The Stop was birthed out of a realisation that once Covid had hit us and we went into level 4 lockdown, our world seemed to grind to a halt. Everything stopped overnight. People were frightened, many living from pay cheque to pay cheque, unsure how they would survive. Yet,as we were going through this, I soon realised that we had previously gone through similar experiences with 9/11 and with the GFC (Global Financial Crisis). Yet somehow, despite everything grinding to a halt, we survived these events and got through them. That's when it became obvious that we needed to start 'Leading From The Stop' to help us navigate our way through to a successful outcome. And what better than the lessons that we learned back in 9/11 to help us do that?
What research was involved?
The research for this book covers nearly 20 years of conversations, website reviews and interviews.
Soon after we returned home, one of the passengers put together a website where we shared photos and stories about our experiences. This website (UA929.org) is still up and running today.
We have also put together a FB page where many of the passengers and locals have kept together and shared updates and thoughts over the last 20 years. In addition, there have been numerous articles that have been aired on TV that I have researched, including interviews of locals, such as Claude Elliott (former mayor of Gander (1996 - 2017), and Theresa Anoinetti (Secretary of the Salvation Army). I also participated in a series of interviews and had access to the transcripts of the recordings of other participants' interviews for a Masters Thesis that was undertaken in 2020.
I personally reached out to Claude Elliott and Thersa Antoinetti to get their perspectives on what happened to include that in the book, as well as one of the fellow 'plane people', Bob Smith, to get his viewpoint.
When I wrote the book, I also got a number of fellow plane people to review the book to ensure that the recollections and observations were accurate and relevant.
What was your routine or process when writing this book?
This book has taken me nearly two years to write and over 20 years in the making. I have lived through the experience and first started talking about it when I was involved as a professional speaker in an event in Stamford, Connecticut, back in 2014. That was when I started to piece together the roles of each individual and each group from a leadership perspective.
During 2020, when we were in level 4 lockdown, I started to build the structure for the book and have been working on that since April 2020 to produce what is now the final version of the book.
In writing the book, I set myself a daily schedule of when I would write and how many words I would write. The overall goal was to write 20,000 words for this book and to ensure that we got to that over a relatively short period of time (three months) from when I had completed the research.
I would also select a variety of playlists that I would have in the background when I was writing each day. Sometimes it would be rock music (I have a playlist called "Rifferendum 2020" on Spotify, which has 100 songs that have strong guitar 'riffs' that I would listen to), other times it would be whole albums (such as Pink Flloyd's "The Dark Side Of The Moon") which would take me back to a time that I was growing up in the UK.
Finally, I would look for feedback in the form of testimonials from people who could review the book before we finalised the editing. This came back from people that I knew (personal friends), people who were involved in the event (plane people, locals ('Newfies') etc) and people who were on random groups that I belong to (eg an Authors' forum on FB where 'random strangers' reached out to me). In all cases, it gave me a good feel as to whether the book was on track and the emotion that it was driving amongst the readers. One of the most common feedback related to the 'Time to Reflect' section at the end of each chapter, where reviewers said that the "reflective thoughts comments were on point not only in a leadership context but you nailed it relating to our personal lives" and the importance of creating margin!
If a soundtrack was made to accompany this book, name a song or two you would include.
I'm a real fan of rock music and the sound of the 70's and 80's. If I was to select a song (or two) to accompany this book, I would go for a Bruce Springsteen song ("It's Hard to Be a Saint in the City" or "Meeting Across the River") or a Steely Dan song ("Reeling in the Years" or "Rikki Don't Lose that Number"). Otherwise, I'd go for Pink Flloyd's "Time" from their 'Dark Side of the Moon' album.
If your book was made into a movie, who would you like to see playing the lead characters?
I'd get Merryl Streep to play the part of 'Mother Theresa', Tom Hanks would play 'Capt. Mike' and the late John Candy to play 'Claude Elliott'. Now, who would play me...? Wow... I would get Tim Robbins to play me. (I just loved him in The Shawshank Redemption!)
What did you enjoy the most about writing this book?
It gave me a sense of closure on the 9/11 experience. But it also has unlocked the lessons that we learned 20 years ago and made them applicable and accessible to today's struggle with Covid and other adversities.
It is my hope that this book can positively impact 1,000,000 households to help them find their inner resilience and leadership qualities to address any adversity that they are facing.
What is the favourite book you have read so far this year and why?
"A Promised Land" by Barack Obama. It is such an insightful book about leadership and inner resilience that it has completely changed my view on the former President of the USA and his family. I'm only halfway through the book and I really have to put aside time to read it (otherwise I would get lost in there and never get anything done!).
I have valued the openness of the book and the vulnerability that he has shown, but I also recognise the amazing strength that he had in finding the right people to surround himself with to take him to the pinnacle of leadership.
What’s next on the agenda for you?
Well, I'm back on the speaking circuit. I really didn't think that I would be speaking again, especially as Covid decimated the events and professional speaking industry. I had given up on speaking to audiences and had resigned myself to a lower profile role going forward. However, the interest in this book, both locally and in North America, where I'm receiving a lot of requests for interviews, has encouraged me to get 'back on the saddle' and to resurrect my speaking career. Let's see if it can help me to get to that 1,000,000 households now the book is out...