Listen to today's episode, "Teaching Kids that Mistakes are "A-Okay with Calvin Wayman" as Entrepreneur, TedEx Speaker, author and recent kids' book author, Calvin Wayman joins Dori Durbin to share how his own childhood, his kids, and his passion to empower others led to his creation of his own kids book, "Mistakes are A-Okay, Maggie Mae." In this episode, hear Calvin share:
* His desire to empower kids
* How adults lose being okay making mistakes
* A sample of his kids' book
* How he has seen his book impact his own kids
* The backstory and process of writing his book
* The value of having a kids' book in his business
* 2 reasons experts should have their own kids' book
Did you love this episode? Discover more here:
More about Calvin Wayman:
Calvin Wayman grew up in a large Fundamentalist Mormon family. He has 1 dad, 4 moms, and 44 siblings. (You read that right!) In 2015, he quit his day job to pursue his dream of working for himself. The quest for freedom led him to a much different journey than he expected--one where he began to question everything he ever knew. One day he realized that he had only one life. Why not make it a grand adventure? He ultimately left everything to live a life on his terms. Today, he is an entrepreneur, author, TEDx Speaker, YouTuber, and Adventurer--inspiring other trailblazers to escape "the script" and lead a life they love.
Buy his book:
More about Dori Durbin:
Dori Durbin is a Christian wife, mom, author, illustrator, and a kids’ book coach who after experiencing a life-changing illness, quickly switched gears to follow her dream. She creates kids’ books to provide a fun and safe passageway for kids and parents to dig deeper and experience empowered lives. Dori also coaches non-fiction authors and aspiring authors to “kid-size” their content into informational and engaging kids’ books!
Buy Dori's Kids' Books:
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[00:00:00.170] - Dori Durbin
Hello and welcome to The Power of Kids Books, where we believe kids books are a catalyst for empowering and inspiring change for your kids. And I'm your host, Dori Durban. How do you empower kids to take bigger steps towards their curiosity and their future dreams? You let them make mistakes. Making mistakes is an important part of everyone's personal growth and development, and yet it's something that most of us fear to the point of not taking action. On my show today, I am honored to have highly successful entrepreneur, TEDx speaker and author and just recent kids book author Calvin Wayman. Hear how Calvin's own childhood, his children, and his passion for empowering people led him to write a kids book, mistakes are AOK. Maggie may welcome Calvin.
[00:00:54.760] - Calvin Wayman
Hey. I'm very excited to be here. Thanks for having me.
[00:00:58.500] - Dori Durbin
Absolutely. I am excited about your book. I'm excited about what you do. You do so much. I don't know how you have time to write a book on top of that. Will you tell us a little bit about what you do?
[00:01:10.040] - Calvin Wayman
Yes. I mean, at my core, I'm an entrepreneur, so I like creating things. I like conceptualizing something that I want to exist in the world, and then I do it usually on a low level with super small micro businesses like social media management or I have a small sales agency, but I've also recently got into the more creative side or the arts. So I do a little bit of speaking, stand up comedy and of course, just wrote my first children's book.
[00:01:42.820] - Dori Durbin
It's so exciting you held it up, but it's called Mistakes are okay. Maggie Mae and can you tell us a little bit about it?
[00:01:53.880] - Calvin Wayman
Yeah. So you said a word at the intro, actually, that I caught. You said empowerment. That's a big passion of mine. So I grew up in a modern day American cult. It's actually been around for 200 years, and when I left it about five years ago, first of all, I reflected on what it took for me to leave, and I had to become individually empowered. And I also was thinking, like, what's a lesson that I want to give my kids so that they don't get caught into something like that, so that they can just live a long, happy life. And this idea of empowerment just really stuck with me. And I started to notice my daughter, who was three at the time, she was going to have a birthday turning four. She was already empowered. Kids are that way. Kids jump on things, try things. She's been trying to get me to cook chicken feet. I've never done that before. I don't know what she's thinking, but she wants to help me make stuff. She's already empowered. And I noticed that and I was like, that's interesting. Maybe as parents, we don't have to empower our kids.
[00:03:13.950] - Calvin Wayman
Maybe we just need reminders. And I started to think, well, where do we lose that? Where do we lose that childlike sense of curiosity and trying things? And I thought, I don't know, somewhere along the way, maybe we think that messing up is a bad thing. And I'm like, okay, that's the core idea of this book. My child, my daughter Belle, who the book is based on, she's already empowered. I just want to remind her to keep that. And so that's where the title and the court concept of the book mistakes are AOK Maggie May so that children keep that. It's a reminder for adults, too, as they read this book. Maybe they lost it somewhere along the way. It's like, actually, you know what? Maybe it's okay to mess up because that's how we grow. That's where we find our bravery, where we learn something new. So, yeah, that's kind of the inspiration. I'm moving.
[00:04:09.280] - Dori Durbin
I love it. I love it. That's perfect. Well, go ahead and share part of it with us. I'm desperate to hear.
[00:04:17.410] - Calvin Wayman
Okay, here's a snippet. There's four main scenes in the book. I'm going to read the last scene. I won't give the full scene, but I'll just start. Okay. That night, Maggie May went to her dance. Should I be showing?
[00:04:38.500] - Dori Durbin
You can show me. Sure.
[00:04:41.130] - Calvin Wayman
She was nervous and excited to give her first recital a chance. Now remember, her teacher Chrissy said, go do your best and just let it go. Having fun will take care of.
[00:05:00.000] - Calvin Wayman
At the rest. Maggie May started dancing, spinning round and round really quick. She got on her tiptoes to do her favorite trick. All of a sudden, Maggie May slipped to the ground with a thud. The room went silent. You could not hear fear of sound. I'm going to end it right there. That's just.
[00:05:32.890] - Dori Durbin
The cliffhanger I love. Put your main character in a position that could potentially disable her from being able to perform. And basically a position that most of us fear as our worst possible fear, which is performing and failing at the same time. Right.
[00:05:53.000] - Calvin Wayman
Is that intense running, everybody? Yeah. This won't give it away, but the next line is, after she fell, Maggie May was so scared, she sat there as everyone stared. And then there's a cool part of the twist after that that comes about that. Man, there's so many fun things about this that I just love. First of all, the character, Maggie Mae, it's actually my illustrator, was fantastic. She looks like my daughter. And what I love that I'm also excited about is whether my daughter's like, whoever buys the book, it's always going to say on the dedication page to Bell on your fourth birthday, love your pop up. I don't know. But it's just something that feels so good and fun for me that she has this. Whether she's four years old or 14 or 44, that was her book dedicated to her. And there's other nuances with the book with each character and everything. But yeah, this has definitely been a labor of love.
[00:07:07.690] - Dori Durbin
Was it more difficult than you imagined?
[00:07:10.970] - Calvin Wayman
Way more difficult. So I had written a nonfiction book back in 2016, and that took me a couple of months of dedicated focus and because I already knew what the book was. And so I'm like, well, this is going to be way shorter. I probably could get it done maybe just in a couple of weeks. I thought, naively, it was challenging. It was the better part of a year of consistency every day. Eventually, with the support of, like, I had defined a children's author that had written children's books and, like, help me understand, where should my brain be right now? Because every part of the book is original, like the concept, there's four other main characters in the book naming them. There's font things with each character that most people that read the book would never know. Like, each of the main characters that Maggie May interacts with, their names are Terry, Chrissy, Mary, and Donny. Those are all the names of my daughter Bell's grandparents.
[00:08:20.740] - Dori Durbin
[00:08:21.460] - Calvin Wayman
So it feels like they're friends in the book. But that's like a subtle nod to my daughter Bell's grandparents. Like, they're giving her a lesson in each scene and then rhyming it rhyming it was a challenge. So, yeah, it was a lot of detail.
[00:08:42.230] - Dori Durbin
It's funny because I think most people figure you can cram a lot into a kid's book, but in reality, most picture books are under 500 words for the most part. And it's, you know, it's it's hard to keep that under control when you have so many thoughts and ideas going through your head.
[00:09:00.570] - Calvin Wayman
Yeah. Yeah. I had to cut a ton. So there's, like, backstories that I created for each scene. I think at the bulk, I had somewhere between 3000, 4000 words and then had to get, as you said, get it cut under 500.
[00:09:20.390] - Dori Durbin
Yeah. And that's painful.
[00:09:22.220] - Calvin Wayman
And I didn't know that. So painful, but so satisfying. Once you do it, it feels like I haven't sculpted anything, but I just imagine, like, sculpting a statue and it's a lot. But once you're there and you see something that you were trying to communicate in 300 words and you do it in 30 words and you're like, okay. Yeah. And then there's other ways to create backstory. In fact, I'll give one little hint on that. So on the first scene, the character, Maggie May.
[00:10:01.130] - Calvin Wayman
Goes and hangs out with her best friend, Mary Moo. This is based on my daughter Bell's Grandparent Mary, who everybody knows is, like, the best cook ever. Like, everybody loves Mary's food. Okay? And I had this whole backstory of after Maggie Mae made a mistake during cooking that Mary Moo told this whole long story about how she used to make mistakes, too, and how that made her learn, and that's how she eventually became the town's best brick baker. None of that made it in the book. Like, none of the backstory could have. However, in the illustration, if you look back in the corner, there's a little plaque on the wall, and the plaque says, Town's Best Baker, and it has Mary moose name on it. That's, like, the backstory captured with one little image of, like, the whole thing. I conceptualize, like, that's how she got that plaque was this big award thing that she went through with judges, and she's made so many mistakes, thought she lost, that she ended up winning. So there's ways to still piece it in. And who knows? Maybe that's a whole story in and of itself in a different book.
[00:11:22.170] - Dori Durbin
That was my next question, actually, was, when you did go through and edit and cut, were you looking at it as potential next stories?
[00:11:32.830] - Calvin Wayman
That wasn't the intention. The thing that I think was super helpful, that's, like, an added benefit, because I think a question to have is, how do you know what to cut? And really, the way you know what to cut is you have to get crystal clear on the core idea. I knew the core idea of mistakes are okay, and especially when I knew the core ending, which didn't come for a little while, but that's what I read. I read the core ending of where she's now by herself, not with her friends, but by herself on stage, performing, and she makes a mistake, and what is she going to do now, right? Having that core idea, there's this whole thing in writing that's called Kill Your Darlings that's taking stuff out that you kind of liked. What you have to think about is, is this essential for the core idea? And if it's not essential for the core idea, cut it. It's not that it's not good. Again, the whole point of taking out the whole scene of Mary Moo telling her, telling Maggie made this whole story of how she was in this contest, and she made mistakes, but that's how she actually ended up creating bacon and blueberry biscuits.
[00:12:59.730] - Calvin Wayman
That's a fake dish that I came up with during this whole thing that wasn't necessary, and so it wasn't essential for the core idea. So I just cut it, and then, yeah, it's like, hey, yeah, maybe I could make a bacon and blueberry biscuits, like, almost how Dr. Suez has his green eggs and ham. Maybe there's something there, like some story that I could create with that one scene because that was a big chunk. It was a big chunk that I cut out, but I'm very happy that I did.
[00:13:33.930] - Dori Durbin
Maybe later you can get some stickers made up with her and just all her abilities to cook or something like that.
[00:13:43.590] - Calvin Wayman
Speaking of one other thing, that's also another nod to the story. Like she's walking away eating one of her bacon and blueberry biscuits, even though there's no mention of bacon and blueberry biscuits.
[00:13:56.570] - Dori Durbin
That just screams sequel to me. I'm sorry.
[00:14:03.050] - Calvin Wayman
It might be a prequel, but yeah, prequel.
[00:14:07.550] - Dori Durbin
So as you were writing your book and you're talking about pulling out the essentials, I know it goes back to showing your daughter that mistakes are okay. So let me ask you this. My fault, how has that enabled you to talk to maybe new audiences, maybe give you a different kind of hold on the business that you already had going? Has it opened doors that way?
[00:14:36.730] - Calvin Wayman
Yeah, so I'm already a speaker, and so it definitely opens doors for something like this. Being on other people's podcasts, I like to perform even at open mics. And so I've gone to open mics just in different cities, and said, I want to share the story that it is wrote for my daughter, Belle. And then, of course, people come up after and say, where can I buy that book? Or, I want you to come onto my show. Like, you should come to my school. I've spoken at some schools. So, yeah, it's the modern day business card, right? Where if you have that thing, it's better than a business card because those usually get end up in the trash. I don't know if you know the stats on that. It's like 95%. But yeah, like, it's just a thing that people are like, oh, that's the author of that book, and that sort of thing. So, yeah, and it's just the beginning because I haven't given any major promotional heavy push yet. Because the number one goal I had when I wrote this was, surprise, everyone, surprise my daughter, especially. Nobody had any idea that I was working on it.
[00:15:44.770] - Calvin Wayman
It was a big, fat secret. And so when she opened that up on her birthday, I was like, wow, that looks familiar. But honestly, what's been like? Because you're kind of in the vein of, like, what are the benefits of this? I'm seeing it. Just seeing her take it on, too. She's completely taking it on. Kids, grab a hold on. That's why, by the way, I make it mistakes are AOkay. And not just Mistakes are okay, because I'm making it fun to say I'm making it a thing. And so this has happened so many times since she's had this book that if she makes a mistake, she's like, Mistakes are AOkay, and fixes it. Case in point. Like, this is kind of funny, actually. We just had Christmas. We had the holidays, right? My daughter bell she was walking around with the Dr. Seuss book because again, I love Dr. Seuss. But she had picked it up by a page inside the book and she ripped out the entire page on accident. Yeah. And I was just like, oh. And I didn't do anything. I was just a parent. And I stood back there and watched.
[00:17:02.630] - Calvin Wayman
And she did the craziest thing. She went and grabbed some tape. I don't know if you can see this.
[00:17:09.080] - Dori Durbin
Oh, yep, I sure can!
[00:17:11.710] - Calvin Wayman
She went and taped the page back and taped the other side. And it was like, longer. And she the tape was too long after she hit it. And she went and found some scissors and, like, cut it. That was just a proud dad moment because it was like, oh, she didn't judge herself over making that mistake and think, oh, something's wrong. She didn't even ask me to help her. She just went and said, what's next? Oh, I made a mistake. No big deal. Mistakes are okay. How can I fix this? And I was like I was even like, if you were me, I'd be like, well, just it's just the COVID page. It's like, not that big of a deal. But in her mind, she was like, no, I'm going to fix that. So I'm seeing the benefits and my older son, who's nine, it's landed. And it's cool to see them live their life getting the lesson.
[00:18:16.750] - Dori Durbin
They probably feel comfortable bringing up things now with you when they do make a mistake because there's a conversation that's already happened. There's a really a tangible piece of evidence that they can make mistakes and that you're not going to get mad because you actually wrote a book about it. But also that there's that conversation that can happen very naturally where they can say, I made a mistake. And if they don't know what to do as they get older, especially, they can actually ask. The door is open.
[00:18:51.050] - Calvin Wayman
And that's what you'll see in the first few scenes is Maggie Mesa character is getting help. She's getting help from her mistakes. It's the other people telling her, hey, that's okay. I'm going to help you in this way. And then the final scene is she really takes it on herself and embodies it in a situation that is very frightening and scary.
[00:19:10.780] - Dori Durbin
Oh yeah, that's awesome. I think that's one thing that as parents, we want our kids to have this sense of independence and this ability to think through those issues, but we also want them to be able to come to us as having experienced all these other things in our own lives and be able to be at least a little bit of a sound source for them. And by spending that time not only with your book, but other people reading the book and using it in a way that is opening that door is really, really essential.
[00:19:47.610] - Calvin Wayman
[00:19:49.530] - Dori Durbin
So how do you envision this being used? If you were to give this to a parent and have them sit down, what would you say was the best way that they could use your book to open that door?
[00:20:02.610] - Calvin Wayman
Have you ever read any of Carol Dweck's work? She has a book called Mindset that's about fixed mindset or growth mindset.
[00:20:12.140] - Dori Durbin
I have not read it, no?
[00:20:14.950] - Calvin Wayman
Okay, so Carol Dweck is a researcher, and there's this amazing research on how people grow and excel when they're in a growth mindset versus a fixed mindset. They're solution oriented versus, oh, I'm just this way I can't change anything. I think that's what this book really is in its core. Carol Dweck's book is written for adults, and I didn't think about this until after I wrote the book. I was like, this is really growth mindset for kids. This is to not label themselves for what they've done or mistakes, because life, again, to grow, you must try things. You must take the step, you must make the attempt. Otherwise you're not going to learn from it. And it celebrates it in a way that, again, I think it does two things. I really think that my book, number one, inspires and celebrates kids for trying things and celebrating mistakes so that they can hopefully have that throughout life. When they get something wrong on a test or something, they're, like, not devastated, they can learn from it. But what I hope it also does is remind parents the same thing. Because, again, we sometimes need to remind her more than anything.
[00:21:39.460] - Calvin Wayman
Like, somewhere along the way, we started playing it to you safe. We started to think mistakes were a mistake or mistakes were a bad thing. They're not. And that's how I think we can stay young. And so what I really hope is it's a bonding moment with families to realize we can be growth minded together, we can learn together. And the way to do that is to embrace mistakes. That doesn't mean that you don't fix the thing after. Obviously, it landed just how, like, I didn't have to give my daughter a lesson. She just went and fixed it. That's there. We already have that. What I just really hope is what it does is approach it as, this is a mindset, a way to live, instead of staking our identity on making mistakes. And as a bad thing, this is just a way to be flexible and be growth minded so that we can learn and grow.
[00:22:39.810] - Dori Durbin
Yeah, I agree 100%. I think your book definitely covers that whole concept of being able to make those mistakes and grow from it. So you actually brought up a really interesting question in my mind, too. So most of us have something that we are pretty capable at or understand. I don't know that all of us call ourselves experts, but there are experts out there. And what are two reasons that you think experts should have their own kids books.
[00:23:11.310] - Calvin Wayman
Oh, man, I think I already mentioned it a second ago. Like, it's a modern day business card. It gives somebody a tangible thing that this is what I do, number one. Number two, the Internet did a lot of good things. It made regular people like you and I like, we can self publish, we can do all this stuff. But what it also did, it made a lot of noise. It's very difficult sometimes to stand out among the crowd of people. And if you have a book, if you're an expert and you have a book and you're talking about empowerment, if there's two people that an event is looking to book as a speaker or hire for somebody and like, well, here, both of these people speak on children empowerment, but one of them is an author. That's just how we're wired. People are more likely to pick the person that has the book because they've done the deep dive.
[00:24:06.760] - Dori Durbin
Yeah, I think you're right. It gives them just a little bit more of an expertise and an edge over the people that don't have it. I will say, too, I hope you've experienced the joy of having fans as a children's book author as well.
[00:24:20.840] - Calvin Wayman
Totally. Yeah, there's all of that. And again, I've told the story to a couple of different schools now, and I have like a slide show and then seeing it land with teachers as well as kids and then giving the teacher something to talk about in her classroom, like when kids accidentally spill glue or something like that. That's been very satisfying, too good.
[00:24:47.240] - Dori Durbin
Well, I'm sure there's another book in you that is just waiting to come out.
[00:24:51.790] - Calvin Wayman
There's a few that are percolating, as you mentioned at the front, because I'm a few things and there's children's author side and then there's business side. There's some books still there and I don't know when, but I do know that I want to write a children's book someday that is written with myself and my two kids with their input, and we talk all the time about it, like, what would the character do? What's the lesson that they're going to learn? And that sort of thing. I don't know if that's a year thing, a five year thing, a ten year thing, but there are definitely some more in there. So it's just like it's just slowly forming together.
[00:25:34.570] - Dori Durbin
That's awesome. And it does take time and the right motive to actually put it all together, but I think as a family, that would be amazing.
[00:25:43.250] - Calvin Wayman
Yeah, I think that'd be really fun so that they can see again, like, here's the whole creative process and then feel very involved with it.
[00:25:50.850] - Dori Durbin
And like you said, you end up with something that you're very proud of and had a real impact on other people's lives, too... very good. Well, with all of this information, I think what we should do is redirect our listeners to below in our notes. We're going to have all of your links. We'll have a link to your book, a link to your socials, and they can check it out themselves. And thank you so much, Calvin, for spending time with me today and talking about your book.
[00:26:19.450] - Calvin Wayman
Absolutely, you're welcome. Thanks for having me on. And, yeah, everybody listening if they have a book in them. Like, I mean, sit down and start.
[00:26:27.530] - Dori Durbin
Perfect. Perfect. Thank you.