Nelson Lauver is a man of extensive talents. An advocate for dyslexics, author, motivational speaker, and syndicated radio storyteller, he has made his life about words. As a child with undiagnosed dyslexia, he struggled with words. Nelson is a successful businessman, having learned outside the classroom how to work the world around him. He hired people to handle the reading and writing aspects of his various businesses. He didn’t become literate until his late twenties, and then he made up for lost time by making words his life, his living, and his calling. He speaks to audiences around the globe, even to NASA! His acclaimed book is given away for free to parents and teachers in the hope that his personal story of successes and failures can help adults engage with dyslexic children and spare them some of the hardships he overcame. You can find your free copy of his memoir at https://www.nelsonsbook.com.
You have written extensively about your life with dyslexia and how you overcame those challenges to become a successful author. To what do you attribute your success in moving past those obstacles?
N — Constant curiosity, especially about people and the desire to learn something new from them, and then share what I have learned.
What advice do you have for other authors struggling with learning disabilities?
N — I don’t think of myself as having a learning disability. I certainly respect the opinions of others who feel they have a learning disability. I think of myself as having a learning difference (I learn differently from others). With that said, there are upsides and downsides regardless of what label one puts on it. Tech has changed everything! There are many tech options for every individual reading and writing style. For instance, I prefer to read with my ears and write with my voice.
You have made a name for yourself doing motivational and comedic performances in front of audiences across the country. Is there any venue or audience that really stood out for you?
N — Yes, those who know my story know that I was an academic failure. I just couldn’t learn in the traditional brick and mortar schoolhouse, and the punishments at school were brutal, archaic, and downright criminal. My local school district couldn’t wait to purge me from the system. Eventually, new administrators replaced retiring ones, and things slowly started to change. Imagine my delight when I received the invitation to appear at my old school to discuss achievement and success with the students.
You have said that you believe dyslexics make excellent problem solvers because they learn to read society as a way around learning to read and write. Do you think this unique learning experience aided you in being a successful businessman and entrepreneur?
N — A study by the Cass School of Business found that 35% of American Entrepreneurs identify as dyslexic. This fact plays out over and over again in discussions as researchers try to discern why.
The “why” is pretty simple; by the time we finish with all things educational, we’ve had our bellies full of people telling us how to do things that don’t work for us. It’s good to be king — It’s better to be your own boss.
What do you think non-dyslexics can learn from the dyslexic way of learning?
N— That everyone learns best when they learn in the style that is best for them.
You have an impressive online presence. Do you have any marketing tips for writers looking to improve their sales or recognition?
N– It’s a business and nothing happens in business until someone sells something. My dad always said, “Selling is like shaving, you have to do it every day.” Sell!
You provide your memoir free to parents and teachers. What do you most hope your book teaches those interacting with struggling dyslexics?
N– That the only reason people with the dyslexic mind struggle to learn is because society struggles to teach them. After I broke even on my Memoir (10,000 or so copies), I simply started giving books away (at cost) in service of the true mission of the book. The e-book is 100% free. I owned a broadcast media company and because of the similarities, it was very easy and suited my needs better than using an outside source for publishing.
To date, I have sold, provided at cost, and given away somewhere north of 250,000 copies of my original book.
As an author of a memoir, is it difficult to put your private life out into the world? Do you ever find it unsettling to run into someone you have never met who knows such personal things about you?
N– What I find unsettling is not what I have shared, and always happy to discuss with a stranger, but what questions a reader may have but finds themselves afraid to ask… and moreover, why are they afraid to ask.
What was the moment when you decided that your life was interesting enough that other people would actually want to read about it? Were you just brushing your teeth one day and thought, “Wow, I am just a really fascinating person. I should write a book about my life”?
N– I never wrote a book thinking my life was interesting. I knew for a dozen or so years that I needed to write a book regarding my early life. Finally, I could no longer turn away; I had a duty to tell my story as a way of helping others. I gave it a great deal of thought and decided that if I were to undertake a book, It would be necessary do it right. If you want to write a book to become famous or because you are famous and you just want to hear yourself talk; best of luck to you. If you need to write a book because you feel compelled to help others, it will be necessary to cut yourself open and bleed onto every page of every chapter. Your blood must saturate your book if you truly wish for change. As hard as it is you must relive the experience to tell your story; best of luck to this type of author, as well.
What accomplishment or accolade makes you proudest?
I have a lot of plaques, awards, and citations for my “achievements.”
What I don’t have is even one award for any of my many miserable “failures.” Almost everything I do well is a direct result of learning by screwing up. I would be so happy to hang an award for “failure” as it has been my greatest teacher.
What can you tell us about speaking for NASA? Did you do any special research before that performance?
N– I have been a keynoter for NASA twice. They are lovely people, as I find all my audiences to be. The thing that struck me most about the folks at NASA came during my tour of the space station assembly area. I got to walk through a space station unit that had returned to earth, AND it had the same identical $39 microwave in it that I had at home. I figured the rocket scientist at NASA were either as down to earth as I am OR I’M AS SMART AS A ROCKET SCIENTIST!
Your book is ironically entitled “Most Unlikely to Succeed.” Why did you decide on this title versus others you may have considered?
N– The raw honesty that comes with adversity and the fact that we should never negatively speculate on the outcome of anyone’s life.
Do you have any advice for new authors hoping to become published?
N– Your best chance to become published is to become a publisher. It’s never been easier. Read “The Well-Fed Self Publisher.” As I said earlier, it’s good to be king; It’s better to be your own boss.
What’s your latest or next project?
N– I’m wrapping up another book about dyslexia and then moving on to a highly curious subject: the female soul. Stay tuned!