I am a firm believer in surrounding myself with those who inspire, motivate, and uplift me. Without those three things, honestly, what is the point? I was drawn to Anthony 'AJ' Joiner from his daily 'make you go hmmm' kind of questions. He is an author, entrepreneur, radio personality, and founder and CEO of BLOOKSY.COM - the SaaS platform that uses artificial intelligence to help authors and academics write and publish faster. Wow! It's the perfect beat I needed to accompany the melody that has been playing in my head for so many years! Awarded as Entrepreneur of the Year by the Future Successors. AJ also hosts Tips & Tool every Tuesday on the #1 drive-time radio show! I could go on and on, but that would take the joy out of reading for yourself. So, sit back, relax, and get to know AJ. You will be so very happy that you did!
◆ How are you doing on this cold, yet amazing day?
Thanks for asking! I know it's cold outside, but I promised myself that I would be healthy so that I could walk my daughter down the aisle. So yes, it was cold this morning but I got my butt out and I ran. And I didn't even record it and put it on Instagram because it was too cold to take my hands out of my pockets and the little gloves were too fiery for me to tap on the screen so I just handled my business and came on back to the house.
◆ I am anxiously awaiting the moment when I finally start writing my first book. There has been a bit of procrastination due to an overwhelming feeling that I have absolutely no idea how to get started. Blooksy gives me hope that the process doesn’t have to be so difficult after all. Not only is it a modern approach to the art and fashion of writing, but it offers features such as live transcription as well as a virtual ghost writing assistant. As the founder and CEO of Blooksy, tell us why you felt this amazing platform needed to be a part of writer’s lives.
The top reason I had in mind while developing Blooksy was to really help speed the process up for writers. Aside from that, most writers have a hard time organizing their thoughts because they have so much that they want to share, that sometimes it can just come like drinking water from a firehose. Blooksy helps you to instantly organize your thoughts into chapters and structure them in a way that you can hierarchically view them.
Another reason is the process of getting your idea written out which is a challenge for most writers. But because you already know your stories, it would be so much easier if you could just speak your stories and directly have them typed out into the platform, which is why we added an Artificial Intelligence-powered voice-to-text tool, so that you can talk right into the software.
One more reason is the ability to collaborate. When writers are working on their books, they want their friends and colleagues to keep them accountable. They want to invite other people to do their work and maybe have the ability to edit it. We have a built-in collaboration in Blooksy which makes it super simple. And the biggest, biggest innovation is artificial intelligence. When you run out of ideas, you can just open the artificial intelligence and it will automatically create content based on the ideas that you want to talk about. And this works really well for nonfiction writers or experts who just got stuck and needed a kickstart for their content. Our artificial intelligence tool is named Aven – after my grandmother, Neva – who is an amazing storyteller. So, you can open up Aven and type in your idea and she will go out and write original content for you up to 12 paragraphs at a time. And this is why Blooksy was needed for all those reasons.
◆ There is something powerful when it comes to authentic creativity. Writing is certainly at the top of that list for me. When did you realize you had a passion for writing?
Great question! Well, I've always been a writer – literally since the 90s. But what made the difference was writing and deciding to share it with the world. What sort of put me on the map in Atlanta was somewhat because I was a comedy writer and people enjoyed my writing so they started to share with people. And this was back before blogging was a thing, right? So it was just being shared via email. But that passion for writing and then, more importantly, the ability to not be too embarrassed to share my writing with the world is what made a world of difference for me.
◆ I love the feeling of being swept away when I read a good book. If you had to choose three of your favorite authors, who would they be?
So my three favorite writers – well, I got to be honest because this is kind of a hard one. So, I guess we can go living or dead. Top of the list will definitely be Malcolm Gladwell. He’s such a thoughtful and clever writer that deconstructs some of the most in-your-face facts that you would never think of. I just love the way his brain works and the authenticity that he brings to storytelling. So, Malcolm Gladwell is definitely number one.
Number two will be Ryan Holiday. I love the work that he does and the way that he thinks about topics. I’m a huge fan of his.
Number three would be Mark Mason. I love his writing style and how funny he actually is.
So yeah, my three favorite writers would be Malcolm Gladwell, Ryan Holiday, Mark Mason. And I would just like to add Napoleon Hill – just because he was such a pioneer as related to personal development and some of the things that have really been impactful so Think and Grow is one of the bestselling books of all time. So, I will absolutely add Napoleon Hill to the list.
◆ As a published author, what have you found the most rewarding and challenging about the overall process?
The most rewarding part of being an author is definitely sharing knowledge. I have this weird obsession with sharing so soon as I read something or as soon as I’ve learned something. I obsessively want to share and help other people get that same understanding. So, that’s the most rewarding thing.
The most challenging thing is that I have so many ideas and most authors have so many ideas as well. It is hard to know which one to go with. Sometimes, I end up asking myself: do you do the thing that’s most financially beneficial? Do you do the thing that you care about the most? Or do you do that thing that people want from you the most? So, sometimes, those are the struggles that we deal with. It’s making the decision on how to move forward challenging because most authors have so many good ideas.
A good person can help you change the game, a great person can help you change your life. -Anthony 'AJ' Joiner
◆ Do you feel as though you have inspired other writers to take that leap of faith or simply just go for it?
For the last five years of my life, I pretty much dedicated most of my effort to get people cross the threshold of having an idea to publishing their own book. That’s why I also built my software platform. It’s something that I’ve been obsessed with because I know that everyone has amazing stories to share and you just need to take the time to listen. Most of those stories end up getting buried when they pass away or when they die, so, I wanna do my part by making sure that many of those stories are told even if it’s for a legacy book. This is my way of giving back to them so their children and their children’s children can understand some of the experiences they had in their life. It doesn’t necessarily have to be for their audience. Sometimes, it’s just something that you need to check off of your personal bucket list. Impact your family in ways that you don’t even imagine.
◆ You are preparing for a month-long journey where there will be no internet, no phones, and no electricity. What book are you packing that will keep you grounded and inspired?
I love, love, love this question! So, if I'm preparing for a month-long journey and I need one book to keep me inspired – it's probably going to be the Ego is the Enemy. That's by Ryan Holiday. And it deals with keeping your ego in check. If we left our own devices, our ego can have us, our minds will be thinking about things that are making ourselves the center of the world, when in all actuality, in my opinion, our job is to serve others and help them. We can help as many people as possible around us, it'll make our lives better, and our egos tend to get in the way of doing that. So I would definitely get the ego as the enemy because if I don't have any electricity or any power or anything like that, then my mind will probably go into overdrive thinking about things that I'll have no business thinking about. So Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday will definitely keep me grounded.
◆ Tips & Tool Tuesday w/ AJ. What types of tips and tools do you share and how can we tune in to listen?
So, that’s every Tuesday at 4:00 PM EST on the Willie Moore Jr. Show. If you go to email@example.com you can listen to it live there. Or you can go to ajsanswers.com. I have a repository of everything that I've shared. Well, not quite everything, but most of the things that I share, make their way to ajsanswers.com. So you can go there and check that out.
◆ You seem quite focused and determined, however, we all need time to reflect and relax. Outside of the world of business ventures and writing, what do you do to unwind and decompress?
I am usually out at a park, running, riding a bike, or watching football during football season, drinking a beer while watching the New Orleans Saints beat up on the Atlanta Falcons. No, seriously, I like to unplug, and watching football is kind of my downtime, and then relaxing in nature.
◆ I always ask this question. What would you tell the young Anthony ‘AJ’ Joiner?
If I had a conversation with young AJ, I would say learn as many skills as you can. And don't focus your skills around doing jobs. Focus your skills around doing things that you enjoy, and focus your skills around things that people will actually pay you for. And if you marry those two things together, that’s something that you enjoy and something that people will pay you for. And then choose something that's intellectually challenging, so that you can separate yourself from the crowd. Because if it's something that just anybody can get in and do, it'll be crowded very quickly. So, learn something that you can get paid very well for, learn something that you enjoy, and learn something that's intellectually challenging – because it'll thin out the people who are just doing things for a quick buck. And that way, it'll position you to be successful as you get later in life.
The other part is never stop learning. You should read everything you get your hands on and become a lifelong learner. Most people never pick up a book after they graduate college – I think more than 70% of people never read another book after they graduate college. Unless it's something to do with their job that's required, right? So just be intellectually curious. And never give up that curiosity to learn and get better and find things that you're going to do to reinvent yourself outside of just work-related stuff. Creative things don't back away from hard things. I could go on and on but I think that pretty much sums it up.
◆ At times, I have gone back to my early writing days and cringed at what I had to say, but I feel it is a rite of passage, therefore I will never get rid of it. Do you ever look back at your earlier work and wish you had changed anything?
I look back at my early work and I kind of laugh at the level of honesty and what would be considered politically incorrect today. But I loved that I was honest and my writing was reflective of where my mind was. I look at that and I'm grateful that I've actually evolved and gotten better. And I always cringe because it's so politically incorrect. And I think I put too many lol’s and things like that in my writing when those things were popular.
◆ In closing, leave me with your favorite saying or quote.
My favorite quote is by Miles Davis “When you’re creating your own sh*t, even the sky ain't the limit”.
What a pleasure. Thank you AJ for opening up and sharing a bit of your life, journey, and success! I am inspired by your creativity and passion!
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"This is how you do it; you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until it's done. It's that easy, and that hard." -Neil Gaiman