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Classic Productivity Stories: Author Will Jelbert on How His BlackBerry Helped Publish the Happiness Animal

FEATURE / 11.27.14 / Donny Halliwell
Will Jelbert, Author - The Happiness Animal

Will Jelbert, Author – The Happiness Animal

One thing I absolutely love about working at BlackBerry is getting to hear amazing stories about how our products help people get things done. When I originally heard how Will Jelbert used our products to help author a book, I was definitely intrigued. It wasn’t until I spoke with him that I discovered just how much he relied on his devices through the entire process to publish The Happiness Animal.

We’re launching the BlackBerry Classic shortly which is built specifically with folks like Will in mind – so I decided to ask him a few questions about his story, how he uses his BlackBerry devices and what he’s looking forward to most about the BlackBerry Classic.

Read the virtual interview below, and discover why Will is offering up his book at a special price for BlackBerry users via the Kindle App on BlackBerry World.

Will Jelbert Q & A

Halliwell: What does it mean to be productive?

Jelbert: “It means to connect well with resources, whether they be internal or external.  For me it’s the ability to connect easily and instantly to all resources (PDF , Documents, websites, Box, Spreadsheets) used in the creative process, through a single hub, and using that same hub to create authentic content, at every opportunity when inspiration presents itself.”

Halliwell: Tell me what it is about BlackBerry devices – you’ve used many  — that let’s you get so much accomplished.

Jelbert: “I think its ability to connect across platforms – especially using Documents To Go. Documents To Go is a favorite of mine. I can view editors’ feedback on one BlackBerry device and type up changes on another. I draft new content into the existing master document and upload it via the Box App instantly. Also the physical keyboard allows me to type quickly with my thumbs without having to look at the phone. The best content often comes in the bathroom on the train, or at someone else’s house. So I can take a moment, thumb type it out and email it to myself and then go back to whatever it was I was doing.

There’s something clean and precise about a BlackBerry. I dislike looking at a laptop screen all day, it tires me, but with the BlackBerry it doesn’t feel like I am working when I am being most productive. It’s not as tiring on the eyes and I can put it away in my pocket when I’m done, unlike a desktop screen that remains ever present like a Big Brother Camera  – an incessant reminder of obligation.”

Halliwell: Which keyboard is your all-time favorite?

Jelbert: “I liked my BlackBerry Bold 9930. Unfortunately, I was using it while kayaking in the Sydney Harbor and dropped it overboard. I could still see the screen light as it sank to the bottom. Since then my Q10 has been a refreshing upgrade, faster and with more features than its predecessors, but still with the quintessential keyboard.”

Halliwell: You told us earlier what Classic means to you. Why do you think the power of BlackBerry 10 in this familiar form factor speaks to people?

Jelbert: “We’ve always loved the keyboard but we have been longing for the evolution and speed of navigation we’ve seem from others who evolved BlackBerry’s invention of the smartphone and ran with touchscreens as the norm. I want a BlackBerry keyboard on a phone that’s faster and more feature-packed than the US and Korean competition. A phone we can depend on for making our work more efficient, rather than just a screen full of novelty apps. And that’s exactly what we get with the BlackBerry Classic.”

Halliwell: What’s the most creative way you’ve used a BlackBerry product, or combination of products?

Jelbert: “I used a BlackBerry Z10 with Documents to Go and an HDMI cable connected to a projector, with a 12 volt battery and inverter on a suitcase to project a series of messages and images of a penguin and a koala from my book onto the sails of the Sydney Opera House in April 2013.  The penguin and koala on my BlackBerry were visible to everyone around Sydney Harbor.”

Happiness Animal Opera House

Halliwell: As you start work on your second edition, what have you learned and how have you grown as an author?

Jelbert: “I’ve learned to write in stories, even when writing non-fiction. Incorporating a compelling narrative when presenting facts and scientific data makes it attractive to the curious people who stumble on my book. I’ve learned to tell own my story and be honest about it when presenting publicly. And to engage with my audience by asking them questions and by keeping my message as simple as possible.  I’ve learned how important it is to make the book as accessible as possible, and to have a great, honest elevator pitch that I feel comfortable using multiple times a day.”

Halliwell: Tell us about your writing and editing process?

Jelbert: “My book started with a concept: a simple exercise guide to muscles for happiness. From there I brainstormed on sticky notes everything I wanted to cover in the book. Then I grouped the notes into chapters, and then regrouped where there were overlaps. (I did this step four years ago). Then I took photographs of the grouped notes on my BlackBerry. That way I could carry around a complete breakdown of my book wherever I went. Then, about three years ago I quit my full-time job at Reuters and began researching everything I wanted to cover in the book. As a result, some of the notes were dropped and some were added, some chapters were dropped or merged.

As I researched I photographed sections of books I wanted to reference using my BlackBerry and drafted some of my own material as I did so , using emails I sent to myself from my BlackBerry so that each idea was time-stamped and then filed into an email folder (one folder per chapter). Once I felt I had enough material for a chapter I printed it all out and spread it out around my room. I then went and did another sticky note grouping, photographed it, then typed out a 1-page ordered summary for each chapter on the BlackBerry. This summary was the template for the first draft. I added more material on each draft so that I quickly went from a bullet point list to a complete chapter.

Once I felt I had worked enough on a chapter, I emailed it to two editors. They checked it for grammatical errors, style, voice, and overall compelling readability. They emailed back their mark-ups and suggestions for changes. I opened their edited word documents on my BlackBerry PlayBook as my reference and then typed up the changes on the master document using documents to go on my BlackBerry Q10.”

Halliwell: What tools enable you to be successful through this process?

Jelbert: “Markups on Documents to Go; did I mention Documents to Go?  Also, a high resolution camera so I can zoom in on my terrible handwriting on post-it notes, 4G LTE connectivity, The Box App, Facebook pages App, Facebook Ads manager App, a great web browser. Also, the BlackBerry Hub that gives me a single point of access for all my communication channels (contact-us emails from the book, YouTube Account emails, multiple email and social media accounts).”

Halliwell: How important is it to be “connected” or “always-on” in your world – how do you know when to tune out?

Jelbert: “My BlackBerry allows me to connect at lulls in the day so that by the time I get home, there is no need for me to sit down for a dedicated ‘work’ time at a laptop. For example I am actually writing this response on a BlackBerry Q10 from a bookstore in Manhattan during a quiet period of a book signing while I wait for customers to arrive.

Then when I get home, I don’t need to dedicate time sitting at a laptop to ‘catch up’.”

Halliwell: How do you make the most out of those moments when you just have to get work done?

Jelbert: “First I get myself a quad-shot latte in a good, independent coffee house (Don Adan Cafe in Sydney, DTUT in New York or Aviano Coffee in Denver). I go to these cafes for two reasons: 1) They serve great coffee that gives me an instant boost 2) They are packed full of other creative people, and the social proof influence of other people working around me in a high energy environment inspires me to work.”

Halliwell: Anything else for TeamBlackBerry fans out there?

Jelbert: “Happiness is being well or well being, whichever way around you put it. To be well, you need to exist well. To exist well, you need to connect well with existence. Happiness is connecting well with existence.

On the 12th of December BlackBerry users will be able to download The Happiness Animal for only 99 cents using the Kindle app available from BlackBerry World. The book is out now in paperback and Kindle versions and will be released next week on Audiobook. I recommend you try listening to the simple happiness exercises on the way to work on your BlackBerry. Connect well.”

Thanks, Will! The BlackBerry Classic is available now for pre-order. To read more from Will, get his book at the special offer above. Do you have an amazing BlackBerry story? Share it with us in the comments below.

Donny Halliwell

About Donny Halliwell

Donny is a Senior Product Marketing Manager at BlackBerry and Former Editor-in-Chief for the Inside BlackBerry blogs. There's no disputing, #TeamBlackBerry is awesome. I'm pumped to have the opportunity to talk with you and bring you the latest and greatest from Inside BlackBerry every day. In my spare time, I can be found helping entrepreneurs and startup companies grow their business. I spend the rest, obsessing over the auto industry, or enjoying music. Follow me on Twitter or Google+