13 Questions with Author David Essel

How Author David Essel Went from Inspired to Inspirational
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13 Questions with Author David Essel

If you flipped through a copy of GQ from 40 years ago, you might see a photo of David Essel. During his days as a health and fitness buff, he was featured in countless magazines spreads – but it wasn’t until he was asked to write an article about the subject that he really found his calling.

“I loved writing so much – unbeknownst to me – that I kept at it,” says David. “I started writing articles on a weekly basis, which led me to then explore writing my first book in the early ‘90s.”

During that time, David was a huge fan of things like the law of attraction; that if you put the right thoughts out into the universe, the universe must respond in kind. He travelled the world sharing what he believed – but then, in 1996, he realized something. Of all the celebrities and influential people he met over the years, not one of them ever said they accomplished their success through thought alone.

“They all work their asses off,” he says. “And I awakened to the fact that 80% of huge success in life will come from what we do on a daily basis, and 20% will come from our positive attitude. I apologize on a regular basis for misleading people, and now I have a chance to actually teach the truth about success.”

Now, David’s average – or not-so-average – day is spent writing, leading life coaching sessions, doing interviews, and celebrating his best-selling books, including  Focus! – Slay Your Goals.


Here’s what else David shared with us:

1. What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

Life advice: Go after the areas of life that are holding you back. That came after an interview with the founder of transcendental meditation, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, and it totally blew my mind and opened up a new avenue for personal growth.

At that time, I had been pursuing money, fame, and trying to impact as many people as I could on a daily basis…while avoiding the fact that I had an addiction to alcohol and cocaine. His advice? Go after that area of life you’d rather not attack and life will blossom. He was right.

Writing advice: The best writing advice I was ever given came from multiple sources, but they all were saying the same thing: Only write about what you have a passion for. Don’t ever write for money, or acknowledgment, or fame. Only write about topics that you personally have an outrageous interest in – a passion for – and writing will then never be a struggle. It’s true.

2. What’s your dream brunch date?

Oh my Lord, I could write a 77,000-word book on this answer. LOL. I would love to have a brunch date with Earl “The Pearl” Monroe, one of my favorite national basketball players of all time. In the world of literature and growth, I would also love to include Ram Dass and the author Richard Bach, as well as the author Paulo Coelho.

In regards to celebrities, Jenny McCarthy would be right up there. Even though I’ve met her and have been interviewed by her five times already, I would love to have an extended brunch time with her because I find her to be one of the most intelligent, compassionate, and funniest women I’ve ever met. And while this may sound contrite or common, I think including Buddha, Jesus Christ, and Mary Magdalene would round out the brunch date.

Could a brunch date be extended to be about 365 days of brunch in a row?

3. What’s on your bookshelf?

One of my favorite books by Richard Bach, Illusions, is there. Every book Paulo Coelho has ever written is there, Conversations with God by Neale Donald Walsch is sitting up there, as well as The Dummies Guide to World Religions, which I think is a phenomenal piece of work.

I also have 22 books by John D. McDonald, one of my favorite mystery writers of the famous Travis McGee series. And one of my best friends, Randy Wayne White, I have quite a few of his Doc Ford novels.

4. What’s your go-to meal or recipe?

This is funny because I really don’t like to cook, but when I have to – which is probably several days a week – I absolutely love to sauté tuna medium rare or salmon and cover them both with 10 ounces of freshly steamed organic vegetables.

5. What helps you get in your flow/zone?

The zone is really easy for me to reach because everything I do I absolutely love and have a passion for. When I’m going to do a counseling or coaching session, the minute the client comes on Skype, or on the phone line, or sitting in front of me…I’m already in the zone.

Whenever I start to write a book, I’m instantly magnetized into the zone, because I only write about what I absolutely love. I think the key to flow is that if you can find a way to do what you love on a daily basis…you’re never out of it.

6. When do you feel most alive?

Doing everything I do! Speaking, radio and television interviews, writing articles and books, my counseling and coaching practice, and playing tennis! I’m a water baby, so I spend a lot of time in my pool at home – where I do a ton of my writing, believe it or not, LOL – or when I’m on the beaches of Sanibel Island in Florida.

7. How close is your offline life to your online life?

Interesting question. I know the Internet and social media can take up a lot of our time, but the one thing I’ll never do is bullshit my audience. I posted recently about a very stressful experience that I am currently going through, that is pulling me in a lot of directions, including grief. I don’t try to pretend that my life is always perfect because it’s not. So maybe both my online and offline life are very very similar.

8. In real life, face-to-face interactions are on the decline as the world becomes more and more virtual every day. What are some ways you connect with your tribe? What do you do to ensure you’re having authentic face-to-face interactions regularly?

I’d say about 50% of my daily work is spent one-on-one with my clients in my office, so that’s face-to-face interaction. I also have a small group of very motivated professionals that I meet with every Tuesday afternoon and take them through a special guided meditation program that I absolutely love to do.

Other than that, believe it or not, I’m an extreme introvert. I really love and need my downtime, so I’m not a very social person. I don’t necessarily go to networking events or fundraisers unless I’m speaking at them, because I really value my downtime.

9. When you’re writing – what is your ideal setting? What does it look like?<

My last several books have been written on Sanibel Island in Florida, where I rented a beach house and spent two to three weeks secluded in order to have minimal interruptions. It works well for me at least, and I don’t like spending more than a couple weeks to write an entire book. To me, the most important part of writing a book is a very detailed outline, and once I spend a few months creating the outline, writing the book comes out super fast and super efficiently.

10. What are your biggest self-care tips?

Every morning I spend the first hour in prayer, gratitude, meditation, and journaling. I also have time during this self-care time to read something inspirational, whether that’s online or a book I might be holding in my hands. I think this is a crucial way that we should all start every day.

Then of course exercise, and I eat extremely clean; no sugar, no alcohol, no drugs or wasting time with television – other than the 20 or 30 minutes I allow myself every evening to watch an NBA basketball game LOL.

11. How do you handle failure?

That is a really good question. I think the most important thing about failure is to face it. Walk into it. Discuss it with a professional. I have a business coach and a counselor that I work very closely with, whether times are great or times are terrible. Failure is a part of life; I used to run away from it by using alcohol and drugs to numb my brain, but now I go into it. It’s not fun. Actually, it sucks. But it will minimize the time that the failure will be robbing hours and days from your life. So I head into it in a very passionate way, and writing is one of the tools that I use to deal with my mistakes and failures in life.

12. What’s your biggest success or achievement to date?

My dad tells my brother all the time that he thinks my greatest achievement and greatest success in life is achieving sobriety. He might be right. I think on top of that, my greatest achievements have been bouncing back from betrayal in love, which I’ve experienced several times, and bouncing back from financial failure that happened around 2008 with the financial market crash. During that time, in which I lost every penny to my name, I never once thought about going back out into the world of drugs and alcohol. I think that probably is one of my greatest successes in life.

And the last greatest success I would say would be continuing to write books for over 20 years without ever having hit a number one bestseller, or really getting a lot of notoriety for my first several books. Now, with three number one best-selling books, and hopefully a fourth coming out in 2019, I can tell you it’s all been worth it. But even without getting that notoriety, it still has been worth it.

For every author out there who is struggling or anyone who wants to be an author, my greatest advice to them would be to write because you love it, not to make money, but because it’s a passion that must come out of your heart and soul. Let go of the end result.

13. Tell us about a time of failure or rejection and how you handled it.

In the world of literature – and I’m laughing my butt off right now – my first major contract was with Hay House Publishing. I spent a complete year writing a book but never paid attention to the contract. I handed the book in, very proud of myself because I took a complete year off from work to finish the book, only to have it returned to me in 30 days completely rejected.

What was one of the reasons for the rejection? In the contract – that I did not read LOL – it said the book could be no more than 77,000 words. Yet the book I sent to them was exactly 144,000 words! So to get a book back after an entire year of writing and have a whole book rejected was very difficult, as anyone might imagine. After about 60 days of intense grief and frustration, I went back at it and the end result was a book 100% better than the first one I sent in.

Focus! – Slay Your Goals is available on Amazon in Kindle, Audible,  and paperback format. Learn more about David Essel’s unique journey, books, and specialty courses over on his website!

David Essel is giving away a FREE 30 minute one on one session to those who purchase and write an Amazon review by February 28th, 2019.

Looking for even more inspiration? We have a great selection of non-fiction books available in our Brookstore! Check it out here. 


Shannon Hodgen is a lifelong writer, DIY enthusiast, and homebody. She satisfies her need to put pen to paper–or, more accurately, fingertips to keyboard–as an agency copywriter, blog contributor, and freelance editor in Toronto.

Favourite Book: The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
Favourite Brunch Spot: Dirty Food Eatery in The Junction


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