MARQUETTE - As he was doing a telephone interview with The Mining Journal early this week, best-selling author Jason Jennings was getting ready to travel to his favorite place on earth: The Upper Peninsula.
Jennings' latest best-seller, "The Reinventors: How Extraordinary Companies Pursue Radical Continuous Change," currently is near the top of the business book top sales lists around the country. It's the latest in a series of blockbuster books Jennings has authored, including "Hit the Ground Running, "Think Big, Act Small" and "Less Is More: How Great Companies Use Productivity As a Competitive Tool in Business."
Jennings' schedule is jam-packed with stops around the globe, but to him, there's still something wonderful about coming back home. The U.P. native - he lived in Newberry until fourth grade then spent the rest of his school years in Negaunee - built a dream house in western Marquette County and spends as much time there as his in-demand schedule allows.
Cover of ‘The Reinventors’ written by Jennings. (Submitted photos)
"I am anxious. We're getting to the U.P. this week and will do our planting," he said. "We'll come back in a few weeks to spend some more time. I love being there more than anything."
Jennings' center of operations is San Francisco, but he's on the go. A lot.
"It's pretty non-stop," he said. "I give about 80 speeches a year. It's usually 10 cities a month, eight months a year. In the month of June, I will be in New York, Washington, Denver, San Diego, Austin, Miami... I have already done 135,000 miles this year. I have been to the Mideast, to Asia and around the U.S. many times. Maybe that's the downside of all this, but on the other hand, think of everything I get to see and everything I get to experience."
"The Reinventors: How Extraordinary Companies Pursue Radical Continuous Change" by Jason Jennings
The book is in the top 10 of these major best-sellers lists: USA Today (money), The New York Times (advice) and The Wall Street Journal (business).
Averrable at many bookstores and online.
To check out an interview Jennings did with Fox Business, visit http://bit.ly/Mibo50
It's a schedule that suits him, Jennings said.
"After about six days at home, I go through withdrawal from smelling jet fuel. I may be addicted," he said. "But that smell when you're walking to the plane, that means I am going someplace, that I am doing something."
His newest book, which was released in mid-May and is already a best-seller, examines how businesses can adapt and stay vital when the rules of the game are always changing. Jennings looks at how once-profitable companies like Blockbuster, KMart and EMI fell apart while others like Starbucks, Southwest Airlines and Smithfield Foods found ways to thrive.
For this book, Jennings' writing process itself underwent a bit of reinvention.
"My writing process has four parts, research, writing, promotion and speeches," he said. "I am one of those rare authors who when in the research mode embraces that and when writing embraces that... My research journey was different on this one. Usually, I gather a team of four researchers and the process takes about 18 months. This time, I reinvented the way I research books because there was a faster deadline. I hired a researcher here, two in China and two in India and it reduced the time to about nine months.
"And I think it was better research."
Jennings' career itself has been one of reinvention.
"I started on the radio. That was a significant part of my life. Then it was radio station ownership, then consulting, then being the creator of audio-tapes and videotapes that sold many hundreds of thousands of copies. It was a natural move into books.
"So I have been constantly reinventing."
And being an author has been his dream. Always.
"My first dream of being an author was when I was 5 years old and in kindergarten in Newberry," he said. "I would walk home after my half-day of school and would stand in front of the store windows and look at what they had on display and knew I would live like that someday and it would be through books.
"I was always getting in trouble at the library, first in Newberry and then in Negaunee, because I was always trying to check out too many books," he said. "I was a voracious reader and would try to check out five books when the limit was three. Biographies were my favorite. I would eat it all up."
Author Jennings does enjoy book signings, which afford him the chance to talk to other avid readers. Will he be doing any book signings when he spends much of this summer in the U.P.?
"No one has asked me," he said with a chuckle. "But if anybody asks me, I would. I never turn down an interview and I never turn down a book signing."
Jennings, who said he reads The Mining Journal online every day no matter where on the globe he is, said he is enamored with Marquette.
"Marquette is a city that has embraced change," he said. "I talk about Marquette wherever in the world I go. It's one of the coolest small cities in the world. The people in Marquette, they get it. You have to keep reinventing."
Renee Prusi can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 253. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.