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SPECIAL: Author Interview - Joanne Holbrook


Nicole (00:17):

Today we have a special author interview. I worked with Joanne earlier this year on her book, Your Passport to Parenting: Wisdom From Around the World to Help Build Happy Families. I've invited authors I've worked with over the years to join me in a new series of shows where I will be interviewing them as we talk about what their book is about, how the book has helped them personally or professionally, what it has done for them and where they are now. The thing I love about doing these interviews the most is really getting to know my clients and of course, sharing them with the world because honestly, I love them all. I'm definitely my client's biggest fan. So let me introduce you to Joanne Holbrook.

Joanne Holbrook is a mother of two and spouse of a United States army officer. She has lived and raised her family in South Africa, England, Germany, Australia, and across the United States. Born in South Africa and living half her life under the controlling Apartheid government, she began to yearn for a better understanding of cultures outside her world. This experience combined with the world travels that come with a military lifestyle, allowed Joanne to observe culture and parenting from multiple international perspectives and with a broader worldview. Joanne is an author, professional keynote speaker, parenting advocate and entrepreneur who through her friendships book and speaking events, shares parenting stories to help build positive value based families around the world. Please welcome Joanne Holbrook.


Nicole (02:09):

Hi Joanne. Welcome to the show.


Joanne (02:12):

Hello, how are you?


Nicole (02:16):

I'm doing great. So I kind of feel like I'm peering into the future because you are in Australia and I'm in the USA and it's Tuesday here and it's Wednesday there, right? Yeah. Wednesday morning here. So yeah, in the evening. Yes. Yeah. So I might call you to foretell my future.


Joanne (02:33):

Your future looks bright.


Nicole (02:37):

Oh, good, good. I may call you more often for that. Uh, so you, uh, you wrote a book, we worked together, uh, earlier this year and, um, your book, it's called Your Passport to Parenting: Wisdom From Around the World to Help Build Happy Families. So tell what was it that made you write a book like this?


Joanne (03:12):

Well, I was actually, I consider myself an accidental author. I never had a dream to write a book, but I had stories to tell. Um, so basically I, I, I was lucky enough to raise my children for the last 13 years in five different countries and five different States in the U S and every time we moved, my husband's with the military. So we move every 24 months, sometimes not months. And uh, I always landed up feeling like I didn't know anything whenever I moved anywhere and I had these children and I had to integrate them into the community. And I always felt like I was at a loss. Like I didn't know. And I found that the only way that I could be in the know and help my children was to ask other people questions. And through asking them questions and stories, I got gems coming out of these people from all around the world. You know, some of them were cultural, some of them were just a little old lady down the street.


Joanne (04:01):

Some of them were sort of mayors of towns and their families and all these different people gave me the most incredible advice. And I started sharing it with people as I went along and everyone would listen to these stories intently and years later they'd say, Oh my God, I still use that tip that you gave me from that story. So I, I assume an accidental author, cause my husband saw the book in me before and he said to me, why don't you just write these stories down for our children? That's all. And honestly that's how it started with me. Just making sure that I didn't forget them and that my children would have them. And then all of a sudden the stars aligned and met all the right people to help me write the book. And a year later I was holding it.


Nicole (04:45):

Oh wow. Well I did, I did watch the video of you opening the box and that was so exciting to see and your kids were so excited and that's just great. You waited for them to come home from school, which Oh my goodness, I couldn't do that.


Joanne (05:05):

It was good though. They were part of it. So I felt like it should, it should be the whole family doing.


Nicole (05:10):

Oh, Oh that's so great. So I have a bunch of questions for you about uh, about the process of writing the book and you know, everyone always wants to know what was the process like in writing it and what challenges and obstacles did you have as you wrote it?


Joanne (05:30):

I think deciding to start was the biggest challenge. That actual I'm going to do this moment took a long time. You know, I'm trusting everything around me that it was time. I think that was my biggest challenge cause once I got going and once I passed that moment of, you know, you know, who am I to write this? And you know, all of that I just went and I just flowed with it. And I struggled with some chapters that were really personal. Um, that took a lot of, a lot of work to get through that too. There were a couple chapters I really struggled to just open up because it's, it's very vulnerable sometimes to share, you know, on such a large platform. So yeah, I did struggle with that, but I did have an amazing team. Um, you know, I had you and a whole lot of other people that part of the team and um, that, that was, that was crucial for me just to have that. Yeah. Those people just going, you know, yeah, go, you know, you need to do this. You know, so that was, that was what got me through it. But I do think it was sometimes very vulnerable. Now I'm over that.


Nicole (06:40):

Oh, good. Good. Now you have the book and it's worth it. Right.


Joanne (06:44):

Totally worth it. Totally worth it.


Nicole (06:47):

So, speaking of that, I has, has the book, I know you haven't had it out for very long, but how has it changed your life so far?


Joanne (06:56):

It's taken me on a different focal point. Um, I was sort of going one way and back I said as an accidental author, so I'm learning as I go along. Um, but you know, I launched it a week before we all got locked down with the coronavirus. So yeah,


Nicole (07:10):

I felt so bad for you. I was like..


Joanne (07:14):

Yes, it had to get canceled.


Nicole (07:15):

Yes. I know you wanted to do a book release party and you had your wine and Oh gosh.


Joanne (07:22):

And you know, it's fine because if that's all I sacrificed that's fine. And, and I can pick them up later. Yeah, it has sent me now on a, on a more, um, online side, which I think is fabulous. Um, and now starting to put together workshops, figuring out, you know, tax forms and doing all that. I'm doing a tester workshop soon, you know, with all the content from the book. Um, it's sending me on a different path, which is fabulous. So it all worked out at the end of this whole, this whole pause on that side. But online now we can do anything. So it hasn't stopped it. It's just redirected it.


Nicole (07:56):

Yes. Yes, absolutely. Well, there you are in Australia in my tomorrow and we, we are doing a podcast here in the US and um, so yeah, it's, it's, um, it's been so much fun connecting with different authors all over the place. And so I, I know that, I mean, you've, you've lived all over the place and so you've gained this new perspective on how to raise kids from all these, these different places that you've lived. And can you talk to us a little bit about how children see the world and in different places or how, how you put that into your book?


Joanne (08:28):

Yeah. You know, one of my chapters is remembering imagination as, as a parent, because you, we were all kids once and for some reason, uh, a lot of us forget how it actually feels to be a kid. It's completely different to being an adult. And often when we become parents, we get so wrapped up in this stress and paying the bills and doing this and being productive that we actually forget that kids don't have any of that.


Nicole (09:02):



Joanne (09:02):

Um, and, and I think that that, that is something so important for us to, for us to remember. Um, you know, I tell a story in my book about a magic cupboard I had as a child and it was, um, this magical thing that was in my garage and I was only allowed to open it on a Sunday. If I was good, it would open then it goes bad at the key, wouldn't unlock. And you know, my, my dad made this whole. big thing and it had all my, all these toys that were like untouchable toys and, and you know, I went to see at the last, when I went home last in South Africa of where I'm from originally and it was a filing cabinet and I was devastated that this wardrobe of magical intensity that rocked my world as a kid. My six year old self just bought into this magic around this habit. And it was a filing cabinet. It is so bashed up and dirty. But you know, just made me see, we do not see the world the same, you know? And, and in the book I challenged people to actually remember just a moment of their childhood and most people can go back to a time that was happy and just, you know, and how did it feel and often say to people, you know, it was their time involved, was the temperature involved, was there hunger and involved? It's just, they're just in the moment and it's so beautiful. And if you can learn to parent from that angle from knowing that your child in the moment right now, they're not worried about anything else. It truly changes your parenting. Definitely valid now with coronavirus.


Nicole (10:38):

Yes, absolutely.


Joanne (10:43):

They just in the moment they're not stressed, they are fine.


Nicole (10:48):

and you're home with them now. And um, so imagine you're creating a lot of magical moments.


Joanne (10:55):

Yeah, I hope so. Yeah. When we lived in the UK, and this dawned on me the other day, I shared it in a talk I did a while ago and it was just so powerful was when we were living in the U K uh, we lived in a flood zone, which in the UK, the flood zones are crazy. They'll go up to the roof of the houses we didn't know and move in. And it was on a farm, a dairy farm, and the, the flood started coming towards the house. My husband was away. I had his two tiny little people. Um, and I was so stressed. They started putting hay bales around our house to, you know, trust up the floods every night. I didn't know if there'd be watching the house the next morning. I had to wait, I had to buy waders and wade the kids on my back through to the village, which was like a mile long to my car to get them to school every day. And it was, it was weeks of adverse and my stress levels where I couldn't even function, I had to be brought in a tractor when I had groceries because I couldn't walk the groceries through the floods. It was insane. I asked my kids the other day, my kids, not that they were, you know, four and six at the time. And I asked them the other day, my 13 year old, I said, what do you remember from that time knowing that all I could think about was panic attacks, freak out, stressed out all the time, not, not sleeping. And she said, Oh my God, that was the best time of my life.


Joanne (12:20):

Oh my gosh. Wow.


Nicole (12:22):

What? And she said, I had a river rat at that. My house. I had my, my Willie's on and I was jumping in puddles. It was amazing. We were waiting through the water. You'd give me piggy backs. We were laughing. She, she completely remembered a different scenario.

Nicole (12:39):

Oh my goodness. Wow. Yeah.


Joanne (12:44):



Nicole (12:44):

So now here you are with, with Corona virus and you know, it's uh, from your perspective, I would imagine that this is nothing compared to, you know, going through that or at least, you know, you went through that and you're strong enough to go through something like that. But, um, I do know because I helped you lay out your book too, that you, you have a worksheet in your book to help parents through stuff like this. Can, can you explain that?


Joanne (13:15):

Yes. I have some worksheets in the book that are just, you know, once you've read stories and, and, and all these things that people can just jot down whatever they're thinking, especially with the remembering your imagination section. Um, a few other sections, uh, you forget when you're not in the moment. So these just enable you to, to just focus your, your thoughts and then direct it to your family, right in that moment while you reading, while you're thinking, while you're feeling, you can just start it down and then implemented into your family however you want to be. You know, one of my tag lines on the books or a tagline on the book is there's more than one way to be a good parent. And I think that's my favorite thing on the whole book. That is the most important part of the book for me because it's just exactly how I feel about this book and about parenting. And it's just, there's more than one way you always learn.


Nicole (14:09):

Yeah. And parents have so much going on with her children right now. And can you recommend anything that you would implement in their lives to either help the families or their kids or what?


Joanne (14:25):

I think if I'd been asked that a lot, and honestly all I can recommend is just talk and listen and share. You know, often we don't have time to talk, listen and share that much in a family. Um, we always running around, we're getting kids to sports, we're getting them to school, we're trying to feed them, we're trying to do our own thing as well. And, and, and there's a lot of people coming in and out. And right now we have got this amazing to just listen to our kids, you know, hearing them, what are they actually let them finish a whole thought. Would that be not being know, but depending on that we've got to run. Um, I found that I did that a lot. Like, okay, talk to me in the car or walk and talk. You know, we cant stop. Um, but now we can, we can talk and listen and it's amazing to hear what they have. And this is also a great time for parents to share with their children who they really are because that's what kids need. They don't want to hear that the parents are perfect and they want to hear about your childhood struggles or your teen struggles. Or you know, if, if you have a teen who's struggling with a breakup, you know, share yours. You know, if you have a little kid who is struggling with their child at school or something, share your bully story or that's what they need and this is a great time to, to give them that, give them those thoughts. You know, maybe tell them about their grandparents, maybe tell them about um, you know, tell a story in the book where, um, I serve oatmeal for breakfast every morning and I always tell about my grandfather who was in world war one and how his grandmother, um, if he didn't finish his oatmeal it would put on the shelf and he'd have to eat it at the next meal because they were on rations. And just to bring some generational stories in to and be like, you know, you better finish your oatmeal. But other ones going on shelf and how she did it over two days and eventually he finished the same bowl of oatmeal because he knew he wasn't getting anything else. There's just a nice way to connect generations as well in different situations. And, and that...


Nicole (16:28):

I know because I've worked with you on this book, I got a little sneak peek before it came out. So I always love that when I get to lay out the book and read everything. And you do a lot of storytelling or you talk about how you learned through stories-telling. And, um, do you have any more to share about stories that were told to you about, about raising kids or, um, cause I know that's a lot of your book.


Joanne (16:58):

It is. And actually the woman who started me asking people these questions was in the UK. Um, she was my landlord and then she became a friend and then she became my mentor. She was a woman in her early sixties and uh, she was a magistrate and she said that when her kids were younger, she would come home from work and she would never lecture them. She said every day she would come home and say she should, the conversation of drugs would come up and she would bring a story home from work and she'd be like, I shouldn't tell you guys this actually that I'm not going to tell you. And the kids would be engaged, not going to tell us? Tell us, okay, this kid came into the courtroom today and he had been selling drugs and he got, and then she gave him, they gave them the consequences through somebody else's story. And then her kids were like, Oh, I don't want that to happen to me. So she never lectured. She just found a story either from her own life, from the newspaper, from the news, from her daily friends, from somebody that they knew. And she would implement the lesson through a story instead of a lecture. And she said that that was her number one, um, child rearing tip because she had incredible relationship with her adult children. And that's what I was drawn to was they, they had the most incredible adult relationship. You know, your children are going to be adults longer than they are kids. You know, you almost have to think about what are you prepping now for the next, you know, hopefully 50 years or so as adults together.


Nicole (18:23):

Yes, yes. Well, there's probably actually a lot of adults that could use some stories like that.


Nicole (18:33):

Okay. So if, uh, if parents took one thing from your book, what would you want it to be?


Joanne (18:41):

I would definitely, without hesitation, say to parent with the end in mind. Um, I, I gave a talk the other day, the business, uh, function and I was saying, you know, we, we start a business with the end in mind. Where do we want the business to go? What are our values, our objectives? What is our mission statement for the business? Uh, what is your one year, five year, 10 year plan? And when we have kids, we don't do that. We don't actually think what adult do I want to raise, you know, um, what I want to instill in them. And you have to do that from sort of a year old has to sort of be trickled and dripped into them. Um, over years it takes to grow a person to the values that, that new that you hold close to your family, whatever, those are, everyone's going to be different. You know? And just by having those, those, that, that forethought helps, um, it helps a lot of parents also don't parent the same. Um, someone I got, uh, an email from a reader who was like, this is great, but you know, my husband and our parents so differently. And I emailed her back and I said, you should parent differently. You know, in my family, I'm a complete, I have made a major in theater. I'm completely in that. I have a big imagination. My husband's an army, he's an IA Tech. We cannot parent the same. It's not possible, but our values are the same. And we know what the end in mind is. Our end in mind for our kids is the same that way. Even if you're separated or divorced, family, as long as the parents have the end in mind that is similar or the same, then, then it's much easier.


Nicole (20:21):

Yes, yes.


Joanne (20:22):

On the same lines.


Nicole (20:24):

Yeah. Even for, you know, for your relationship with your husband. I mean to have that as a a bond. I mean, that's a wonderful thing even to represent as, as a unit for your kids.


Joanne (20:37):

Absolutely. And, and you know, yeah. It's a very, uh, it's easy. I like easy sometimes. So as long as you just put it in the town at the beginning, the rest becomes easier. Yeah. I'm struggling


Nicole (20:48):

when they, you know, later years. Okay. So I'm talking about future plans. What are your future plans for your book or what's next for you and how are you using your book to, to move forward into that?


Joanne (21:06):

Well, it's only been out a month, so I'm still those keep on opening that I didn't even know there. So I'm going to be starting on nine workshops at some point. Um, and, and hopefully doing them face to face. I've been asked to do quite a few speaking events sort of before this happened, you know, face to face and speaking of that. So and um, yeah, so right now it's just about getting it out there. It's about just sharing positivity for parents, being a parent supporter more than anything. Um, yeah, that's what I am as a parent supporter. I don't really train kids. I help parents. The positivity that this can be cool.


Nicole (21:52):

Uh, I love it. Um, so anything else you'd like to share with our listeners today? I, I've asked you a lot. Is there anything I've missed that you just, you really want people to know about your book or about you or, um, even just, um, how to find your book or if you have a website or where is it on Amazon or...


Joanne (22:17):

yeah, it's on Amazon and um, it's on book depository as well, which is the UK and it's the world. It's the world's Amazon that aren't in the U S but uh, yeah, it's on eBooks. It's pretty much in most, uh, online stores. Uh, and hopefully I just spoke to someone on the other day about doing an audible version. So we'll see when, when that, yeah, when that happens. This year, hopefully I'll be recording that. And um, yeah, my website is and I'm pretty active on social media, on to put out videos sort of once a week on all these topics. Um, and I, sometimes I've started interviewing parents from around the world to see how different cultures, um, what other cultures can teach us. So I have coffee with parents once a week, um, on Facebook and Instagram. And on YouTube and it's all under your passport to parenting. So it's quite a busy social media page.


Nicole (23:19):

Wonderful. So, um, it all sounds like it's fabulous and I really do hope that you get to have your book launch party. I know you were really looking forward to that and uh, I'm sure...


Joanne (23:39):

yes, yes. I haven't even thought about that yet. That feels like it's quite far away, but it's all good.


Nicole (23:46):

Yeah. Yeah. Um, so I, it was really, it was a pleasure to have you on the show today and I wish you great success with everything you're doing. I am my, my client's biggest fan and you've been amazing.


Joanne (24:02):

I'm so grateful for all your, all your guidance the whole way through. Uh, well I'm so glad.


Nicole (24:09):

I'm so glad. Well, you have a beautiful book, a beautiful family and I wish you great success.


Nicole (24:16):

I think that's a wrap for today. If you're interested in finding out more about Joanne Holbrook, I will have her information over on my blog.

Joanne can be found at:

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