For most of us, the toughest decision becomes what profession to choose in life. For A. Wayne Gill, the question was never what profession, but which to pursue first? Author, minister, entrepreneur, sought-after speaker and successful attorney, Gill exemplifies discipline, drive and charisma.
But, That’s Not All
The best part? Each of his virtues is God-given. His life represents what most dream of conquering, but fizzle out for lack of zeal or, perhaps, confidence. So what do you get when you have the will to succeed, inspirational grandparents and guidance from a heavenly Father? A man on many missions; that’s A. Wayne Gill. And, remarkably, he would be the first to tell you that his life … could be yours.
The Power of Words
Most give credit where credit is due, and Gill is no exception. His grandparents, who were merchants and successful business owners in Moneague, Jamaica, inspired him to become an attorney. At a young age, Gill tagged along with his grandfather on business trips, often asking questions, interjecting, and, as Gill puts it, “shooting (his) mouth off.”
One day his grandfather turned to him and said, “You know, you always have an opinion about everything. You should be my lawyer.” Gill paused. “That was it. That seed was planted in my heart and in my head. As a six-year-old, I had no clue what a lawyer was,” he laughed. “It shows what impact your words can have on your children, your grandchildren or people.”
Even with his life plan laid out before him, Gill felt this internal prompting to become a writer. He knew “some of the best lawyers are skilled writers.” That forethought determined his major in English at Trinity College. He then went on to George Washington University Law School where he graduated with honors.
A Willing Vessel
While practicing law, attending business meetings and organizations (which eventually landed him accounts with large companies, such as AT&T, Hilton Hotels Corporation and American Express), Gill sat on both sides of the isle observing corporate discussions. But something stirred inside him. Each meeting he walked away with scribbled notes tucked in his briefcase, many of them voices from his grandmother–how she would have responded hearing businessmen conduct themselves in those boardrooms.
And just like that, his first book idea was conceived.
Impassioned by a new project, Gill feverishly wrote a minority and diversity business guide that “didn’t take sides, that wasn’t yelling at anyone, that just laid out principles that would encourage business owners and corporations in their business practices.”
Through prayer and perseverance, Tales My Grandmother Told Me: A Business Diversity Fable was birthed in 2007. With a strong audience built from corporate and council connections, Gill sold thousands of copies to major companies like Office Depot, Burger King and Kellogg’s cereal–a huge success for a self-published book.
Ambitious in every sense of the word, Gill continued to follow this passion to write; he developed Bible study materials, e-books, and eventually, God placed a novel on his heart.
Motivated by a Jerry B. Jenkins writers’ contest, Gill pounded out a 60,000 word manuscript in thirty days–an unprecedented feat. Then, thirty days later, he edited his first installment of a legal thriller entitled, The Runner. But the work wasn’t finished yet.
To Self-Publish or Not?
Like any savvy business man, Gill researched the best avenue to pitch his book idea. He attended writers’ conferences where he spoke with some of the top authors in the country. He vividly recalls the moment he heard Jack Canfield, author of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, share his biggest regret: “That I didn’t self-publish.”
This confirmed which direction to, again, take his manuscript. “What I’ve learned is the whole publishing industry is experiencing a seismic shift in the way which consumers consume material. A lot of it is electronic,” shared Gill. He explained how writers can eliminate the “logistics middle man” from traditional publishing, granting the author a lot of freedom. “I wanted to explore the frontier of self-publishing, of owning my own rights and being able to do with the book what I want.”
In hindsight, Gill chose wisely. Office Depot approached him, asking him to highlight top principles from Tales My Grandmother Told Me for their corporate catalog. He tailored and republished this in an e-book version for customers to download. To add to this success, the book was featured in Fortune Magazine in October of 2011.
Because of his ability to alter the material for Office Depot’s needs, he said, “I have another tens of thousands (of e-books) going out all around the country. I could never have done that if I didn’t own my own work.” But he was quick to acknowledge, “I’m not knocking traditional publishing. Many people do well with it.”
Going the traditional publishing route, even a superbly written book may sit on a shelf. These days, much of the marketing is on the author, Gill noted. “If the author does not go out and sell the book, go to networking events, drag the books around in the trunk of their car, do something on the web, they’re really not going to sell any books. They’re going to end up giving one to their mother and their best friend.”
Having an audience is the key to success. In Gill’s case, he recognizes his fortune. “I had a bit of platform from being an attorney, and being involved in the whole aspect of minority business. I volunteered in those circles, being involved on boards of directors, going to the events, talking to people, going to seminars, learning, reading; it gave me enough of a platform and that is when I put the book out – it was timely.”
Inexhaustible Grace, Hope, Love
When asked about the message behind his newest book, The Runner (which debuted Thanksgiving Day 2011), passionate words rolled off his tongue.
“You’re going to see good people and bad people, but you’re also going to see redemption – that it doesn’t matter how far you fall. The Lord forgave right on the cross. God reconciles. God mends up the brokenhearted. God restores people.
God is interested in the person that is near God and the one that’s far off. He leaves the 99 to go and get the one. It is my prayer that this book would be a tremendous encouragement and hope to folks and that for those who do know God or are far from Him that it would actually pull them in.”
Speaking from the heart of a minister, Gill continued by sharing Psalms 126. “Those who hope in the Lord will never be disappointed. You can’t out run God. You can’t get away from the love of God. You can’t exhaust God’s forgiveness, His grace. God’s love is inexhaustible. That’s at the heart of The Runner.”
“I’ve always had those varied interests,” Gill admitted. “If I had a book in me – I didn’t stop until I at least pushed one out. I wanted to be a lawyer – I went for it. If I wanted to start a business – I went for it. At one point my wife and I, we started a church, we started the Life (for the disadvantaged), Oasis Compassion Agency. God lays it on the heart; I just enjoy the fact that one day when I lay my head on the pillow to rest I will know that whatever God put on my heart, I went for it.”
Gill admits that some may be intimidated being in the presence of success, that they could never attempt such accomplishments. Like any good motivational speaker, he challenged those doubting, “If you would yield to Him, then He will bring out your greatness in whatever way. He’ll use your life to bring glory. I am what I am by the grace of God only. The Lord says, ‘A cold cup of water to the least of these will be rewarded.'”
Whether developing a platform for writing, starting a new business venture, or learning a new skill, Gill believes there is spiritual return when we give.
“Jesus said, and it should be given unto you, right? Good measure, shaken together, pressed down running over. You hear that preached a lot with finances and money. But I believe it’s also in giving of yourself – by volunteering. I also believe that in so doing that, you learn a lot. You’ll widen your network. You’ll gain exposure,” he added.
Gill shared how he had a silent prayer as a kid that he would excel in many different areas. “Be careful what you pray for,” he chuckled. “My life is like the prophecy that came true.”
Gill’s message? “God uses everyone and has a plan if we would just yield.” Follow those internal promptings – because any believer can be that man/woman on many missions.
To read the first five chapters of The Runner, log on to: www.ironpillarmedia.com. A. Wayne Gill is the Managing Partner and CEO of Gill, Dion & Forsyth, P.A. and a recipient of numerous awards for his advocacy for minority business practice. To contact Gill, email: [email protected]
Dabney can be reached at [email protected]com