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My guest for Episode #209 of the My Favorite Mistake podcast is Shirley Novack, Owner and Interior Designer at her firm, S. Novack and Assoc.
She originally graduated with a degree in Laboratory Science. After marrying and having three children, she went back to school and has run her successful interior design business for almost 40 years.
As a first generation daughter of Polish/Russian parents, she has recently published her first book, a Historical Fiction novel called The Story Of… — This book is loosely based on the life of her father, a Russian immigrant…
In this episode, Shirley shares her favorite mistake story about being in the wrong place at the wrong time — taking a wrong turn in a van at Boston's Logan Airport and getting surrounded by Secret Service. We also discuss her novel and mistakes made running her interior design company, and more.
Questions and Topics:
- Not the only time she was suspected of being a terrorist?
- Was getting that degree as a medical technologist a mistake?
- Your initial message to me said, “still running my design practice trying to keep from making any more mistakes.”
- Do you have methods for trying to prevent mistakes? Or prevent repeats?
- Also said, “making mistakes is human, as long as I'm not the surgeon operating on the wrong appendage.” It’s good to remember that right?
- David Mayer, MD — Episode 70
- Dealing with mistakes that employees might make?
- Her “most expensive mistake…” in the interior design business
- Firing her officer manager of 20 years — why?
- Interior design mistakes that clients are driving??
- Is the customer always right?
- Tell us about the book… what inspired you?
- What’s a “Hybrid publisher”?
- Next book? – working on the next one…
Scroll down to find:
- Video clips from the episode
- How to subscribe
- Full transcript
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Automated Transcript (Likely Contains Mistakes)
Mark Graban (0s):
Episode 209, Shirley Novack, owner of an interior design firm and author of the book, The Story Of…
Shirley Novack (8s):
You Know, what My Favorite Mistake has to do with being in the wrong place at the right time?
Mark Graban (18s):
I'm Mark Graban. This is my favorite mistake. In this podcast, you'll hear business leaders and other really interesting people talking about their favorite mistakes because we all make mistakes. But what matters is learning from our mistakes instead of repeating them over and over again. So this is the place for honest reflection and conversation, personal growth and professional success. Visit our website at myfavoritemistakepodcast.com. To learn more about Shirley, her book and more, look for links in the show notes, or go to markgraban.com/mistake209. Hi everybody. Welcome back to My Favorite Mistake.
Mark Graban (59s):
I'm Mark Graban. Our guest today is Shirley Novack. She's the owner and an interior designer at her firm, S. Novack and Associates. She originally graduated with a degree in laboratory science, but after marrying and having three children, she went back to school and has now run her successful interior design business for almost 40 years. She describes herself as a first-generation daughter of Polish and Russian parents. She recently published her first book, a historical fiction novel called The Story Of…, And it's a book she says is loosely based on the life of her father, a Russian immigrant. So we will talk about that. A lot of things to discuss here today. Shirley, thanks for being here. How are you? Thank
Shirley Novack (1m 36s):
You. I'm great. Thank you for having me.
Mark Graban (1m 38s):
Yeah, well, I'm glad you're here. Thank you. There's a lot to talk about, but as, as we always do here, and you know, as you shared and, you know, initial messages back and forth, you know, you're aware of mistakes. It sounds like you're not shy to talk about them, but you know, the question we always start off with here is this, what's your favorite mistake?
Shirley Novack (1m 59s):
You know what my favorite mistake has to do with being in the wrong place at the right time? And I say the right time because if I can get a story out of something, it doesn't matter what I have to go through as long as it produces a good story. And this was a good story. As an interior designer, I had to go meet an airplane at Logan Airport in Boston to pick up a coffee table. Now, this was in the cargo area of Logan Airport where I had never been. It's like often no man's land. So I get there and the plane lands at five 30 and the table was not on it.
Shirley Novack (2m 40s):
I was told, come back at 7:30, it will be on that plane. So I go to leave the airport and I said, I'll go have dinner at the terminal and I'll come back at 7:30 as I go to leave the terminal. I really don't even know how to get out of there because as I said, it's off somewhere in the distance. Suddenly I'm stopped by a state trooper who holds up his hand, and as I'm stopped and whole entourage goes by of limousines and black vans, and then a big limousine with the American flag on it. And I figured, well, they know where they're going. I don't know where I'm going, so I'll follow them.
Shirley Novack (3m 21s):
So I fell in line behind them and all of a sudden they come to an abrupt stop and I look up and I'm at the end of a private runway. Air Force Two is on the runway. Oh. And I am surrounded by Secret Service agents. Yeah. And they're calling in my license plate. Now I am in the van with tinted windows.
Mark Graban (3m 43s):
Shirley Novack (3m 45s):
Yeah. So I'm trying to explain to them, you know, Hey, I'm just an interior designer, leave me alone. And I go to back up, but I can't, every time I try to back up my car stalls and they keep me there, and they were wearing dark glasses and they were calling in my license plate and I couldn't leave. Finally, the, the plane takes off and they all go into a building and I'm able to leave my car backs up. So I went into the service station at the airport and I tell the, the serviceman what happened, and he said, he checks out my car.
Shirley Novack (4m 25s):
And he says, there's nothing wrong with your car. He said, but do you have a cell phone? And I, at, in those days, I did have a cell phone, but it was hardwired into my car. And he said to me, I'll bet you anything, it's dead. Sure enough, the cell phone was dead. And he said, no. He said, there's nothing wrong with your car, but they have a device where they can stop you from leaving if you're in a stopped position. But if you had to be moving the, you know, they couldn't have stopped prevented you from leaving. But they were preventing me from leaving.
Mark Graban (5m 1s):
They disabled the van. He said they
Shirley Novack (5m 3s):
Disabled the van. And I thought, wow. I, now I'm a terrorist, but
Mark Graban (5m 13s):
Have you been able to fly since? I have, but, so I mean, you, you described eating in the terminal. This was clearly before nine 11 for you
Shirley Novack (5m 21s):
To be on. This was 19. This was the, we were in the middle of Desert Storm and it turned out that Colin Powell had, had been speaking at Harvard's commencement that day. Oh. And he was in the limousine, and he was getting on the airplane. And they clearly thought that I was gonna blow it up,
Mark Graban (5m 42s):
Shirley Novack (5m 42s):
But if you think this is the only time I've been suspected of being a terrorist, not so, not, so, a few years ago I went to Italy and I had a medication that had to be on ice. And I called the airline first and I said, look it, I'm traveling with ice packs. Is that gonna be okay? Yeah, no problem. So I get to the terminal, and again, I, everything goes through the, you know, the security and suddenly they stop. And I'm surrounded by TSA agents. This is becoming, you know, my life. They, they, when they looked at the ice pack through the screener, it looked like they were wires, but it was actually folds in the ice, and they were convinced there was a bomb in there.
Mark Graban (6m 31s):
Shirley Novack (6m 33s):
So they called the bomb squad and they took me over to a little area of the, of the
Mark Graban (6m 39s):
Terminal. I was gonna guess I'm picturing Yes. It always sounds like, it's like, yeah, there's some little room,
Shirley Novack (6m 44s):
A little room
Mark Graban (6m 44s):
Shirley Novack (6m 45s):
Room. And, and the funny thing is, is I know I'm not doing anything wrong, but they don't, cuz I look like a terrorist. And as they're very, very gingerly trying to open up this little blue bag, I was so tempted to just go, you know, boom. But, you know, I didn't No,
Mark Graban (7m 2s):
No, no, no. That would be a mistake that maybe sent you to jail.
Shirley Novack (7m 5s):
Yeah, that would've been, that would, but I did, I didn't do it because although I'm juvenile, I'm not that juvenile.
Mark Graban (7m 12s):
I'm glad you didn't, I'm glad you didn't do that.
Shirley Novack (7m 14s):
I know. And they were so apologetic, you know, they, they really were very nice. But I said, Hey, you know, I, I'd rather be safe than sorry. Sure. So that was another good mistake I made. But
Mark Graban (7m 26s):
I mean, I, I mean, I mean, what what interesting stories, I mean, you want TSA to find something that might look suspicious and check it out, that's more reassuring than something that slips through. I mean, tsa, I mean, this is, you know, the difficulty of that, of that job. Like, you know, there are different studies where TSA or the government Accountability Office or whatever will intentionally test. Like they will put through a suspiciously, they will put it through a, a gun or a suspicious looking item to see if it gets caught. And I know the failure rate I've read is very high of them not catching things. So it's, it's good that they did, I'm glad they, they didn't like Oh, yeah.
Mark Graban (8m 6s):
Or put you in jail.
Shirley Novack (8m 8s):
Oh, yeah. And it was another good story. So, you know,
Mark Graban (8m 12s):
So now back to, I mean, an encounter with Secret Service, I mean, did, did, did how were, were, were, were you inconvenienced or feeling scared? Like were they, were they sort of threatening or you're just They
Shirley Novack (8m 25s):
Would, they, they wouldn't speak to me. They
Mark Graban (8m 28s):
Wouldn't. Wow. That's, to me, more troubling than if they yelled at you, what are you doing? Right.
Shirley Novack (8m 33s):
Yeah. No, they, they were calling in my license plate, checking out who I was, and I, you know, I opened my window and I'm trying to wave at them and say, Hey, look at, you know, this is a mistake. I shouldn't have followed you, but Right.
Mark Graban (8m 47s):
Yeah. I mean, the way you were describing at first black vehicle, something with a flag. And I'm like, oh, that was a motorcade. Like, I mean, I realized where this, this was heading. Oh gosh. Wow.
Shirley Novack (9m 2s):
But I, you know, oddly enough, I wasn't, I wasn't afraid because I knew I hadn't done anything wrong. But it, it was, when I came home that night, I looked at my husband and I said, wow, have I got a story for you? So,
Mark Graban (9m 23s):
So, so lesson learned is yeah, if you, if you see someone that looks like a motorcade, just keep your distance. Don't keep your distance. Don't try following.
Shirley Novack (9m 33s):
Right. Yeah. Right. But, and, and, and then again, the table was not on the plane at seven 30 either, so of course, you know, part of the business. Wow.
Mark Graban (9m 45s):
So, so speaking of that business, so Shirley, I'm curious, you know, as it says in your bio, you know, you started off thinking about laboratory medicine and laboratory science, like, I mean, this would've been like working in a hospital or in a laboratory.
Shirley Novack (9m 57s):
Yeah. I was actually a surgical assistant for the first research team that operated on the unborn. We were the pioneers in fetal surgery, and that was at Boston University Medical Center. Wow. And they, it, it was, I had only had an associate's degree, but they wanted someone with a master's degree. And they hired me because they said my enthusiasm was overwhelming, and they had to hire me. And they actually sent me up to the University of Rochester Medical School to take a crash course in hematology. And it was the most amazing experience working with them.
Shirley Novack (10m 42s):
And then, you know, federal funding kept getting cut. So the research kept getting cut and low and behold. So then I ended up teaching instead.
Mark Graban (10m 50s):
And then, was that part of your pathway then? I was going to ask, did you consider getting that degree a mistake or going into healthcare? Like, was that a mistake? You clearly left healthcare. What? I'm, I'm curious what happened? Well,
Shirley Novack (11m 1s):
I ended up teaching the medical assisting program at a, at a, at a medical assisting school at a school in Boston. And that was probably my favorite thing in, in the whole world to do. I love teaching, but then I, I started having children and yeah. And that was it. You know, I, I was a stay-at-home mom for a while, and then I, I hired two interior designers to work for me. And long story short, they ended up hiring me part-time, you know, so was this
Mark Graban (11m 40s):
Enthusiasm again, they were impressive. My
Shirley Novack (11m 42s):
Enthusiasm. Yeah. Because I would go into their showroom and I would see what other people were doing, and I'd say, what are you doing? What are you doing? But I left them after three years, and I had a following and I said, well, if I'm going to do this, I'm gonna do it the right way. And so I went back to school and I took one course a semester for nine years, and I got my degree in design. But at that point, I was already established and yeah. And I, I was pretty, I was pretty well known in the Boston area and did show houses and all that other stuff, so no one knew I hadn't graduated yet.
Mark Graban (12m 21s):
Yeah, you could, you could get the job done.
Shirley Novack (12m 24s):
I got the job done. And in fact, my graduation was the same day as my daughters. So of course, I, I wasn't even gonna go to mine anyway. But she took precedent.
Mark Graban (12m 34s):
Yeah. So, you know, Shirley, you, you had said in, in initial messages back and forth, you said you're still running your design practice trying to keep from making any more mistakes. So, you know, I was gonna ask, like, do, do you have any methods that you use to try to prevent mistakes? Impossible matter of learning from them? You said it's impossible. Tell
Shirley Novack (12m 52s):
Me. Impossible. I'm still making mistakes. There's, there's no way. Because number one, technology has changed so much. I'm not as computer literate as I would like to be. However, I'm still doing floor plans the same old way with, you know, tracing paper in a pencil and, and I can't do it on the screen. It just doesn't make sense to me. But I'm semi-retired at this point. I'm, I'm only keeping a couple of my favorite clients and they keep me busy. Yeah. And now I'm writing books.
Mark Graban (13m 29s):
Yeah. Yeah. Well, so, you know, we, we talk about the, the, the, the book here in a minute. The book, again, I'm Shirley Novack. Our guest today is the author of a novel called The Story Of dot dot dot… I guess that's part of the title. Yeah. And we'll, we'll hear more in a minute of, of what that story is. But, you know, I, I was, I, there was one other thing you said in the message that I thought was worth exploring here. I'm just gonna read it for everybody that you said, making mistakes is human. As long as I'm not the surgeon operating on the wrong appendage, just reference back. I mean, sadly that does happen. For anyone who hasn't heard Episode 79, Dr.
Mark Graban (14m 8s):
David Mayer was not a surgeon who directly made that mistake, but he was a young anesthesiologist in the room when a surgeon cut into the wrong, incorrect side
Shirley Novack (14m 18s):
Mark Graban (14m 19s):
No. Of a patient that is a big Oh, no. And it's, it's, it's, it's, you know, in situations like that where we have to take the most care to prevent mistakes. I mean, like, what, what, what's the kinda mistake you might make? I mean, it's not life or death, no offense to interior design. Right. I mean, if you pick the wrong color, or, I mean, these are,
Shirley Novack (14m 38s):
The client doesn't, the client doesn't know that they think it is life and death. They think if their furniture isn't in by a particular date, it's my fault. And, you know, with the supply chain being the way it is these days, it's brutal. But probably the most expensive mistake I made was when my clients would move out of state, they would take me with them. And I had a client who moved to Seattle. And so you, you just can't go back and check your measurements.
Mark Graban (15m 11s):
Shirley Novack (15m 12s):
You know, it's that
Mark Graban (15m 12s):
Shirley Novack (15m 14s):
And we had a, a piece of furniture custom made for them that was mega thousands of dollars. And I read my numbers wrong, and I ate it.
Mark Graban (15m 26s):
Oh my gosh. Yes. You hadn't measured wrong. I mean, did you measure wrong or you somehow, like when you say read it wrong, what happened?
Shirley Novack (15m 33s):
I transposed my, my figures. I transposed what I was reading incorrectly. Yeah. And yeah.
Mark Graban (15m 40s):
Shirley Novack (15m 41s):
So I measured 10 times and cut once, you know, now, now.
Mark Graban (15m 47s):
Right. So learning from that, not that was Yeah. An expensive mistake, like that will certainly prompt a lot of learning and, and, and prevention for sure.
Shirley Novack (15m 58s):
Yeah. But, but basically, you know, paint can be changed. It's, it's just when you have things that are, are custom made. Another time I ordered a piece of furniture custom made from the West coast for someone in Boston, and the house was being built. All my measurements were correct. However, when the furniture came in, all the moldings had already been put up, and I needed about an inch more to make a turn, and they wouldn't allow me to take the molding off to do that.
Shirley Novack (16m 39s):
And all of a sudden, 3:00 AM I pop up out of bed and I said, I've got the solution. Yeah. This, this was another very expensive piece I was gonna eat. And I, I decided, well, the, the carpeting hasn't gone down yet. The flooring hadn't gone down yet. So we, we pulled the piece up from the basement through the floorboards. Yeah. And I had to hire like six people to do that, but it was a lot, lot less money. Yeah. You know, than eating that piece of furniture. Yeah.
Mark Graban (17m 6s):
Well, so with that piece of custom furniture, did you find another home for it? Or was it so Oh,
Shirley Novack (17m 11s):
No, no. We pulled it up through the floorboards.
Mark Graban (17m 13s):
No, I'm saying, but was this, was this two separate stories maybe? I I, I,
Shirley Novack (17m 17s):
No. One story. One story.
Mark Graban (17m 18s):
Oh, you did figure out how to make it work. Gotcha.
Shirley Novack (17m 20s):
Yeah. At three o'clock in the morning, I jumped outta bed and I said, I've got the solution, we'll pull it up through the floor. Because we just couldn't make that turn to get it into the bedroom. And they recently sold the house, and the piece went with it. I mean, there was no way to get it. Yes. Whoever bought the the house bought that piece with it. It, you know.
Mark Graban (17m 43s):
Well, okay. So you figured it out, but it was still something to learn from, to not create the risk of that Absolutely. Of that loss. Gotcha.
Shirley Novack (17m 50s):
I never did that again. Yeah. I never, but, but you know, still these, if you're good at what you do and you really care about your clients, you get up at 3:00 AM you know, with a nightmare. Like, what am I gonna do? What am I gonna do? And yeah. So right now I'm only working with the people that I've worked with for like 20 years and No, no new mistakes. Old mistakes. Yes.
Mark Graban (18m 16s):
So, as, as the, that's good. As as owner of the firm, I'm, I'm curious, like, how, how did you try to handle situations when an employee of yours made a mistake?
Shirley Novack (18m 28s):
I fired her. I've only, I had an office manager for 20 years who made a major mistake, and, and I, she had made a lot of little mistakes, and her answer was always, oh, well, oh, well, this was a major, major, major mistake and I wasn't gonna take Oh, well, didn't know. And I fired her, but that was the only time I ever fired anyone. Oh, no. I, I once fired a painter. My client came home and found him playing pool
Mark Graban (19m 8s):
Shirley Novack (19m 9s):
Mark Graban (19m 10s):
House. Sounds like a bad decision on the painter's part. Yeah.
Shirley Novack (19m 14s):
But, but I'm, I'm pretty easy to get along with, and unless you're really screw up badly, you know, I allow parameters. Sure.
Mark Graban (19m 24s):
I'm sure there's some cases where you can try to help someone learn and not repeat it, but maybe something like choosing the play pool in a client's house is just such bad judgment. Be like, okay, I cannot take that risk
Shirley Novack (19m 35s):
Mark Graban (19m 36s):
Shirley Novack (19m 37s):
Yeah. I'm only as good as the people that work for me or the people I refer. And I have had a celebrity clientele, which is very alluring to some people, especially when they're athletes. And I would come in and, and find my guy sitting at a table looking at a playbook.
Mark Graban (20m 0s):
Yeah. Like, ugh. Right. Bad judgment.
Shirley Novack (20m 5s):
Mark Graban (20m 6s):
Yeesh. Okay. So one, one last question around interior design, and then I, you know, we'll, we'll, we'll talk about your book. It sounds fascinating. How, what, I'm trying to think how to ask it. Like, interior design mistakes that a client might really be driving, like, they have some idea, and every ounce in your body says that's a mistake, that's a design mistake. How, gosh, how do you have to just, is the customer always right?
Shirley Novack (20m 36s):
No. How do they handle that? No, I won't do it. I, I mean, I don't have a style that's mine. Excuse me. I try to find out what the client is looking for and just steer them in the right direction and keep them from making mistakes. If they're adamant very, if, if they're totally adamant about doing something that I disagree with, I won't do it. Yeah. I'll say, go somewhere else. Mm. Because it's wrong. You're gonna be unhappy. And it's, it's not gonna work. Because in the end, I'm the one that gets blamed for anything.
Mark Graban (21m 13s):
Shirley Novack (21m 14s):
Yeah. I mean, you know, pe people will say to me, oh, you're so lucky. It's such a, such a great profession. You get to make everything pretty. And I'm like, no, no, no. The liability is unbelievable. You know, you, you have to know what is a retaining wall, what is, you know, where to put windows. What, I have one thing that does work in my favor, and I may have mentioned this, I have, I'm a sin, I have sin.
Mark Graban (21m 47s):
You did not mention that.
Shirley Novack (21m 48s):
Oh, okay. I'm a sin, which means that I, I can just, well, this is only part of it. Basically, it means that when I see numbers and colors and shapes and sizes, it all, I, I, my, my senses crossed, so I see them all as one. So like, number six is soft, number six is blue. But the other good part of this is, is that I can look at a room and instantly know what size to put, where, what I can just picture the whole thing together. And that's part of what I do.
Shirley Novack (22m 28s):
And I'm very fortunate in that respect.
Mark Graban (22m 31s):
Shirley Novack (22m 33s):
But I'm sorry, what? Well,
Mark Graban (22m 36s):
I, I was gonna ask about the book.
Shirley Novack (22m 39s):
Mark Graban (22m 40s):
The story of, you say, you know, loosely, you know, historical fiction loosely based on your father. What, what inspired you? You know, tell us, tell us about the book.
Shirley Novack (22m 51s):
I always had a book in me, and, but I never thought of writing until the pandemic hit. Anyhow, my father was born in 1904, karats Poland. And what makes his, the reason that there were three dots after the title is because so many immigrants came over from Eastern Europe at the beginning of the 20th century. They all have stories. So it's like the story of anyone, everyone, it's, you know, dot, dot dot. Right. My father, my father, my father's mother died when he was 12 years old. And his father, who was a tyrant, a horrible, miserable man, sent he and his nine year old brother to live in the care of a brothel.
Shirley Novack (23m 39s):
And he said, I'm going to America and I'll send for you when I get enough money. So my father lived in the brothel for three years. Wow. And during that time, he was raped by a Polish soldier.
Mark Graban (23m 51s):
Oh, okay. Shoot, crap. Sorry. That that went from Wow. To terrible really quickly. Sorry.
Shirley Novack (23m 58s):
But that part of the book is true. And so I had a lot of meat to begin with. I tried to make it non-fiction, but it, it, it just wasn't interesting enough. Yeah.
Mark Graban (24m 13s):
How this was something your father was willing and able to talk. It's
Shirley Novack (24m 18s):
No, I didn't find out about that till after he passed away. Oh. He was a family secret.
Mark Graban (24m 23s):
Oh, okay. Well, understandably so. Yeah.
Shirley Novack (24m 27s):
But using that as the baseline for my story, you know, my father does end up in America. There's a lot of, there's a love story involved that's fiction. And the Russian, the Polish soldier comes back into his life in America. And revenge is the word. It's Right. That's fiction.
Mark Graban (24m 49s):
Yeah. I'm picturing, I mean, it sounds like there's an opportunity to sell movie rights. I
Shirley Novack (24m 57s):
Mean, well, that's what I want. Anyone out there who wants to produce this, it's gotten great reviews. Yeah. I mean, it really has. I sent the book to one publishing company. They were a hybrid publishing company, and they said, we'll call you in a few weeks, you know, and they called me in three days and they said, we wanna sign you.
Mark Graban (25m 20s):
Shirley Novack (25m 21s):
And it's gotten mostly five-star reviews. I mean, it's been such a labor of love, and I'm loving this. Look it, I'm here talking to you,
Mark Graban (25m 32s):
Your enthusiasm for writing and your enthusiasm for your book. Now
Shirley Novack (25m 37s):
My enthusiasm, every morning I get up and I'm enthusiastic. Yeah. You know, it's, I, yeah. Life is to be lived. Yeah. And I don't know what I'm gonna do in my next career, but I'm not done.
Mark Graban (25m 53s):
Yeah. Well, and, and I, I normally would ask more questions about the book, but since it's a novel and we, you know, we don't want to give away too much, you know, we'll encourage people to go check the book out. I'll put links in the show notes to where Thank you can, can learn more. But 1, 1, 1 quick question for people who might not know what, what do you tell us what you mean by hybrid publisher? This might help people who are looking to write and they're trying to figure out what to do.
Shirley Novack (26m 20s):
Okay. Well, being my first book, and no one knows who I am, I couldn't just simply send it to Random House or Simon and Schuster, but I did not wanna self-publish. I did my due diligence and I researched and I found out that a hybrid publishing company is one that takes, they take a little money at the beginning to sign you. I don't know how all hybrid publishers work, but this was the Fulton Fulton Press. And they do everything from soup to nuts. They do the whole nine yards, and they charge you a little money upfront. And to me, it seemed like very little for what I got in return.
Shirley Novack (27m 1s):
And then they don't take a dime until you've made that back.
Mark Graban (27m 5s):
Shirley Novack (27m 5s):
So you basically have nothing to lose.
Mark Graban (27m 7s):
Yeah. Yeah. I mean, there's something to be said for getting help and assistance, you know, even quote unquote, self-publishing, it's a bit of a mistake to call it that, because if you're really doing it all yourself, I mean, odds are that the same person who can write can also edit and do a cover and proofread and, you know, do all the things that are required for, for the launch of a book. So yeah. We can find people to help. And, and, and, you know, the hybrid publisher seems more like hiring a general contractor. Yeah. If you were building a house as opposed to being the general con, like when I'm doing books, I'm basically the general contractor hiring different contractors then to work with me.
Mark Graban (27m 49s):
Some people don't have the time or the interest in, in doing that. So it is interesting to see how different models for help and different business models are out there.
Shirley Novack (27m 58s):
I will say, I did design the cover and my understanding from other people is that no publisher will let you do that. Most publishers will not let you do that. But I had a very definite picture in my head of what I wanted the cover to look like, and they allowed me to do that. They read my mind. I also had to approve every second that went into this book. So they could not, like, they would make certain suggestions, you know, regarding grammar or, and if I didn't wanna change, they wouldn't change it. Right.
Mark Graban (28m 34s):
Yep. It's your book. And Yeah, I mean we're, I've, I've done books previously through a publisher where there's always risk of disagreement around the cover, the title, the length of the book, the pricing. I mean, I think one advantage of whether you're quote unquote self-publishing or through a hybrid publisher is that you can maintain creative control, business control. They might be advising you the way you advise your interior design clients. They might say, Shirley, I think this is a mistake. But ultimately, like you said, it's it's your vision, it's your product, it's your name. Right. It's your family.
Shirley Novack (29m 9s):
Right. The interesting thing also, and I'm gonna put this out there if anybody knows the answer to this question, when I was in the fourth grade, I had a teacher, his name was Mr. Willett, John Willett in Boston. And he gave us, he gave us an assignment to write a poem about Spring. And he was so impressed by my poem, he made me read it to the entire school. And he took me aside afterwards, and he said to me, don't ever stop writing. You were going to be a great writer one day. And so the only acknowledgement in this book is to Mr. Willett. Now, when I was in the fourth grade, we were his first class out of college.
Shirley Novack (29m 52s):
So it's conceivable that he's still alive, but if he's not alive, you know, he must have family that is, and I've gone into the Boston School Department records. I've tried to locate him, but it doesn't go back that far because I was born in the Stone Age. And, you know, it's, they just don't have anything on him. So I went on Facebook trying to find Mr. Willett, and I still haven't found him, but I have had people get back to me telling me, Hey, I was in your fourth grade class. Yeah.
Mark Graban (30m 29s):
Well, I, I, I, so it sounds like you want to thank Mr. Willett very personally and very directly do
Shirley Novack (30m 36s):
That. I never, he was, and that he, he left quite an impression on me.
Mark Graban (30m 41s):
So surely it sounds like you're, I I, I hope you find the opportunity to find Mr. Willett. It sounds like you want to, if, if you could face-to-face thank you, acknowledgement for that encouragement and that spark that, or that, you know, recognizing the talent that he saw in you. Right.
Shirley Novack (30m 57s):
Well, you know what, teachers, teachers are an amazing group of people. I mean, it's, I don't think they get enough credit for their profession, and I don't think they realize that no matter how young their students might be, they can leave an impression on them that lasts for life. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I was only nine years old, and that was a few decades ago. Yeah. A lot of decades ago. But,
Mark Graban (31m 22s):
Yeah. Well, thank you teachers, and thank you, Mr. Willett, powerful impact. So you, you, before we wrap up, Shirley, you'd, so it sounded like you were alluding to the idea of writing again. You might not have another family story quite so compelling, but, oh,
Shirley Novack (31m 40s):
No, I've, I I'm into my second book.
Mark Graban (31m 42s):
Oh, okay. You're, you're already writing.
Shirley Novack (31m 45s):
Yeah. Good. Oh, yeah. I enjoy it too much.
Mark Graban (31m 48s):
Can can you tell us a little bit about it then?
Shirley Novack (31m 53s):
Well, I, I sort of took from the first book, it begin, the first begins with the death of the main character, excuse me. And then it follows his children. And that's purely fiction. It's purely fiction.
Mark Graban (32m 8s):
Shirley Novack (32m 9s):
But it has a lot of, I like murder in mayhem and blood and guts and stuff like that, so,
Mark Graban (32m 16s):
Yeah. Well, good luck with that. Maybe here's a final question. And are there any mistakes you can think of from the writing or the production of the first book that you'll manage to not repeat this time?
Shirley Novack (32m 34s):
I think that because my book was written during the pandemic, and it was supposed to be released four months earlier than it was because of supply chain shortages. So I, I think a lot of the marketing of the book fell short. Hmm. So I think in my next book, number one, I'm going to try to get an agent because now I can, since I've already been published. Right. And I'm going to try to let them do the marketing and handle that. Yeah. But I still want a movie. I still want.
Mark Graban (33m 13s):
Well, I hope that pans out for you too. So, you know, Shirley, congratulations on that first book. I'm glad it's been well received and you know, I know it's, it's all very meaningful to you. So we've covered a lot today. I mean, Shirley's encounter with the Secret Service, she survived that. She survived a TSA encounter and,
Shirley Novack (33m 34s):
Okay, I can add one thing to that. Yeah.
Mark Graban (33m 36s):
Shirley Novack (33m 37s):
I was once sitting with a mule on an airplane from Texas to Boston. My son you mean
Mark Graban (33m 43s):
A drug? A drug
Shirley Novack (33m 44s):
Mule? A drug mule who was sitting in between me and another passenger. How, how
Mark Graban (33m 50s):
Did you know it was a drug mule? Because
Shirley Novack (33m 52s):
His drugs exploded in his system. Oh. And he jumped over me into the aisle, and it was a pretty bad scene. So my flying experiences may be over,
Mark Graban (34m 7s):
Do not travel with Shirley Novack.
Shirley Novack (34m 9s):
Don't travel with me. It's the kiss of death.
Mark Graban (34m 12s):
Don't go near an airport with Shirley. My gosh. But that's
Shirley Novack (34m 15s):
Three for three. So
Mark Graban (34m 17s):
Did that person seem suspicious at all?
Shirley Novack (34m 19s):
Oh, yeah. He, he was, he was holding onto his seatbelt so tightly, and the woman next to him offered him her newspaper, and he just went, you know, no, no. So, and he was sweating profusely.
Mark Graban (34m 33s):
And, and you might think like, oh, scared to fly, but clearly not. No, no.
Shirley Novack (34m 37s):
He, he just looked strange. Yeah. And then, then all the police came on board. They had an ambulance outside and, and he happened to be sitting next to me. Yeah.
Mark Graban (34m 50s):
Well, Shirley, thank you for your stories there. Thanks for talking about, you know, interior design mistakes and your lessons there and talking about your book and publishing. We covered a lot. So thank you. Very, very interesting discussion. Thanks for everything you brought to the episode here.
Shirley Novack (35m 5s):
Thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate it. It was great meeting you.
Mark Graban (35m 10s):
Good meeting you. Thanks, Shirley.
Shirley Novack (35m 12s):
Thanks, Mark. Bye-Bye.
Mark Graban (35m 13s):
Well, thanks again to Shirley Novack for being a great guest today. Fun conversation with her. To learn more about her book and more, you can look for links in the show notes, or go to markgaban.com/mistake209. As always, I want to thank you for listening. I hope this podcast inspires you to reflect on your own mistakes, how you can learn from them or turn them into a positive. I've had listeners tell me they started being more open and honest about mistakes in their work, and they're trying to create a workplace culture where it's safe to speak up about problems, because that leads to more improvement and better business results. If you have feedback or a story to share, you can email me at email@example.com.
Mark Graban (35m 55s):
And again, our website is myfavoritemistakepodcast.com.