Speakeast with - Dan Kennedy

Author of Rock On trudges through a painful office

Dan Kennedy, author of Loser Goes First, will be at Wordsmith's Books with his latest book, Rock On, Saturday, Feb. 16. In Rock On, Kennedy makes the office fun again via describing the strange things going on around him, and inside his own head while working in the music industry.

What were you hoping your book conveyed about the corporate world? I really attempted to write humorously and with a fair heart about navigating through those little deals with ourselves as we move into adulthood. You start out saying you aren't going to change and you are going to keep it real. The first job you get you're like, "OK, I'm going to keep it real but they do want me to wear sweaters and button-up shirts." It isn't an easy transition to navigate for any of us coming from an idealist everyday life. You have to figure out how much of yourself do you set aside so you can fit into this corporate structure to succeed. It isn't an easy thing and I hope I didn't make it look like anyone who tries seems like a jerk, because I was right there wearing the Prada shoes going, "Yes, I think this makes me look like a sensible adult."

What do you think would have happened if you had spoken your thoughts while sitting through the meetings every day? If I am guilty about one thing while "Forrest Gumping" my way through a record-business job, it is that I never really spoke up or had the guts to say what was on my mind. In fairness to myself, I think that is how most people feel in office jobs. You never open up your mouth and say all you are thinking because success in a corporate environment in that level doesn't seem based in saying what you think. If you really want to go far, blend in, take popular positions on issues, play it safe and look like the other people. You can't really be outside the box. If you come in sleep-deprived, carrying an electric clipper in your backpack while seeking truth at any cost and powering down six DayQuils with your coffee, everybody thinks you should be out of there.

The most popular praise about your books is they are so relatable and the readers feel comforted to know someone else had the same thoughts they did. What is it like to know so many people can relate to you, and are you surprised there are more people like you than you think? I get all these notes from people in the music business saying they felt like this all the time. It is interesting nobody ever said what he or she thought; yet these companies are convinced they are tied to individualistic and creative thinking.

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