I get to meet some interesting people doing what I do. It’s definitely the best part of my job. Each event is completely different, the audience bringing their own ideas with them.
And at one of these events I met Nathan Kai.
Nathan was seven years old when he approached me at a MENSA event for gifted children. I’d been booked to speak about how to unlock your potential and overcome obstacles on the way to success. After introducing himself Nathan asked: “Have you written a book for children about how they can become the best they can be? I’ve been looking for one for ages, but I can’t find anything.”
“No,” I said. “But that’s a really good idea.”
And it was.
There are thousands upon thousands of self-improvement books for adults, each one offering a different perspective on how to maximise our capabilities and live more fulfilling lives. Children are incredible hopers and dreamers who can see a future full of possibility, a life without limits. However, there isn’t much out there to help them turn these dreams into reality. We all have the capacity to achieve great things and this starts by laying strong foundations - and children deserve this developmental support just as much as adults do.
Nathan thought about it for a little while and then came back to me.
"Can I write one with you?"
Like I was going to say no to that. Taking the initiative to think up a solution to his challenge and create an opportunity to make it happen, as well as his obvious eagerness to commit to this had me completely sold. This had the potential to have a HUGE positive impact and I wanted to be involved.
We had some fantastic discussions about what being the best version of yourself really meant and talked about the different actions, tools and advice that could help children achieve this. We both left our first meeting with a list of chapters that we would focus on and I couldn’t wait to get started. I spoke about many of these topics on a regular basis and I was super happy with my first attempt. The chapters read well, it was inspiring stuff and it was going to make a real difference to children’s lives.
I sent it across to Nathan to edit, hoping he enjoyed reading it as much as I had enjoyed writing it. Nathan did a spectacular job at editing – my pieces came back with lots of strikethroughs and constructive comments. The overall learning was good, he said, but the way it had been written needed a bit of work. One piece of advice really stood out to me:
"Children don't like being told what to do."
I don’t like being told what to do either.
When I re-read the text I saw what he meant. I’d been a little heavy handed with the ‘shoulds’ and ‘need tos’ which failed to clarify that success isn’t about following a set course, but about creating your own path. Instead of telling children what they ‘should’ be doing we explored the different areas they could focus on to help them with their individual journey to success.
It took us just under a year to finish our first draft and my speaking agent Diana suggested I went to The London Book Fair. Since we were both equally involved in this project I asked Nathan if he’d like to go too. If I’m totally honest, I was a little bit nervous about this. Getting myself across London is always a bit of a mission, never mind being responsible for somebody else. The goal for the day was to get to the book fair and back without losing him. I normally set myself much higher aspirations, but I was way out of my comfort zone on this one.
If you ever want to win at networking, take an eight-year-old with you. Nathan was brilliant. At each stand we visited he articulately explained why he wanted a book to help him become the best he could be, and how we had written one together because there was nothing out there. And unsurprisingly he was a big hit.
Mission accomplished. Not only did we both manage to get there and back without incident, but we came away with some really positive leads and a few conversations later we signed a contract with Button Books.
It’s an unusual pairing, but it’s one that works really well. Nathan offers a unique insight into the emotional wellbeing of children and important ingredients for success, and I bring my performance background to the table. Together it makes a really powerful combination, and we are both super excited about being given the opportunity to help children turn their dreams into realities.
Be Your Best Self is being released in September 2019.
Written by Danielle Brown MBE and Nathan Kai, this exciting new book for children is a recipe for success, happiness and esteem. It’s a comprehensive framework that encourages children to raise their aspirations and turn exciting dreams into a reality. It’s a thought provoking career tool, a vital people skills asset, a modern day confidence builder, an engaging life-hack, and it empowers children to make the most of – and create – opportunities to lead bright and successful futures. Opportunities that EVERY parent would want for their child.
Positive and practical, Be Your Best Self empowers children to be happy, be confident and become the best versions of themselves.