One of our frequent partners, Message Glue, is made up of husband and wife team Ken and Anna Boynton. Anna is a communications coach, and we’ve worked with her for the last six years on TEDx Seattle, as well as other events. Her husband, Ken, is the writer and creative side of the company, and he creates connected and compelling content. Recently we attended the launch party for Ken’s newly published book, Blip.
We've worked together on quite a few corporate events. But "Blip" is a personal project. How did it come about? In 2009 I had a close brush with death. I was part of the 2% that had an atypical reaction to the H1N1 virus. That fall was the big pandemic, and Anna and I both caught H1N1 while on a corporate event in Louisiana. In the 8 months it took to recover from kidney failure and sepsis, I had a lot of friends and clients ask what I would creatively “do” with the experience. That was also when we were rebuilding our lives and launching Message Glue, so I wasn’t really thinking of writing a book. But over the next few years, certain ideas began to appear, and I started writing them down.
How would you describe Blip? It’s a fable. A quick read about the life of the Earth and our very short time on it, and how to reconcile that and make it valuable. I started with a lot of ideas about time-wasting things we should and shouldn’t do, but then one day I woke up and thought, “It’s not about me. It’s a fable about the Earth.” So, the first half of the book explores human history, and the second half is about how one random human finds meaning in that history.
Is that "one random person" you? Not necessarily. It’s really a book about how much all of us have in common. So it could be anybody.
How have readers reacted so far? Well, so far I have five 5-star reviews on Amazon, and the other feedback has been wonderful. It’s a universal and timeless story, and it seems to inspire readers to share it with their friends and loved ones. I signed a lot of books for holiday gifts at our launch. But my favorite comment so far came from a friend who grew up in East Africa. He said, “These are my favorite words. Your book has given me 3 things: inspiration, education, and entertainment.” When you consider that it only takes about a half hour to read, that felt like high praise indeed.
Was your plan to make it a short book? No. I just wrote the story. But in retrospect, if you’re going to write a book about how short our lives are, it’s probably best to not take up too much of someone’s time to read it.
How does writing a book compare to writing keynotes and other communication? It’s always about the story. I’ve written songs, comedy sketches, poetry, videos, movies, newspaper articles, blogs, you name it. When the story is clear, the best way to tell it is usually pretty clear to me. In Blip’s case…it had to be a book. There’s something important and magical about a book. And we all wish for our blip to be important, and hopefully magical.