Passenger of the month: Author / Speaker MARK MATTESON

In my post, FLIGHT ATTENDANT PET PEEVE #3: YOU WANT ME TO DO WHAT? I mentioned a passenger, and writer, Mark Matteson, who wrote an amazing book, Freedom From Fear, so I decided to contact him and ask him a few questions about flying and writing – my two favorite subjects ….
Name? Mark Matteson
Occupation? Best Selling Author (that flunked High School English), International Speaker (who consistently got in trouble in High School for talking too much)

International speaker, what do you speak about – precisely? Building Trust, Improving Communication (Active Listening, Mutual Respect and Empathy), Dealing With Unhappy Customers, etc.

As a writer, I’d like to know what inspired you to write Freedom From Fear – how did that actually start, like when did the pen go to the paper? After the first book that I wrote, “Effective Communication” which was funded by a grant from the University of Washington and eventually won an award for Academic Excellence (9 people read it, NO, wait, 10, my mother!) I decided to research what makes up a best selling book? Why do people buy them? Why will they actually read them? What would cause them to give them to or buy for loved ones? Once I understand the causes of success, I set about putting together a story that hopefully would inspire people to change, grow, risk and realize their potential. It was something I had researched since I was 14 years old. After Freedom From Fear crossed over the 30,000 copies sold threshold we knew we had a winner on our hands. When it was translated into 7 languages, it was clear it had some legs and would be around a while.

What inspired you to write the next book? I received hundreds of emails from people all over the world wanting to know more about Len. So “Freedom From Fear FOREVER” was born.

What is that book about? It’s a fable of Redemption and Hope.

Advice for writers? Write about what you know the most about and what you feel passionate about. Pick a number of pages every day to write and write every day. (My own discipline is 3-5 pages a day or two hours, whichever comes first. It’s almost always the five pages.) Read novels or non-fiction that is better than what you are trying to write when you are writing. Reading is the creative center of the mind. It will influence the outcome. Hemingway had a sign over his typewriter to remind him of his writing mission: “Write as well as you can each day. Finish what you start!” Good advice from a crazy genius.

Ever write about something or someone you may have seen on a flight? Yes. The film with Johnny Depp as the author who wrote “Peter Pan” inspired me to write a children’s story about Alzheimer’s. My father was dying of that disease at the time. I wrote it to help children understand what is happening to parents or grandparents afflicted with it.

Miles flown this year? Average 200 days a year on the road, 65 presentation a year

Last flight? Scenic Madison, WI

Check it or Carry on? Both

Window or Aisle? Exit Row Aisle (I am 5’-19-1/2” tall)

Something to Drink? Cranberry Juice, shaken not stirred

Beef or Chicken? Spam…NO? Okay Chicken!

What exactly is in your carry on bag? Laptop, journal, book, client files, i-pod & Bose Headphones 2

Any packing tips/tricks? Carry some fresh fruit, Protein Bars & water

Describe your traveling outfit. Jeans, Sport Coat, Baseball Hat & White Button Down Collared Dress Shirt

Best or worst shoes to wear through airport security? Black Leather BORN Slip ons

Any airport routines? Arrive at least two hours before my departure time, slip into the Delta’s Club Room and answer emails, write an article with the Bose Headphones on

Best airline/experience? Meeting flight attendants with great attitudes and giving them a copy of one my books and seeing the smile on their face, especially after they have effectively handled a mean or irrational customer with aplomb and saying “You do know flight attendants are the heart and soul of the airline industry and are both underpaid and underappreciated. I am here to say you are AWESOME! THANKS for all you do!”

Nicest Airport? I am fond of smaller airports (like Sacramento, CA or Madison WI) They are reminiscent of a time gone by, what it must have like in the early 1960’s. (Think “Mad Men”)

Favorite Airport restaurant? I love a good Burrito

Hotel away from home? The Ritz Carlton, Amelia Island, FL and The Peabody Hotel in Orlando, FL

Favorite in-flight announcement? I am still riveted by the seat belt demonstration as one of my long term goals is to enjoy true mastery with that skill!

Book last read on a flight? Re-Reading “A River Runs Through It” by Norman McLean

Now finish the following sentences…

I can’t fly without my…My i-pod & Bose Headphones!

On my last flight…I actually slept for more than 20 minutes without being bumped by a passenger

This passenger I sat next to…in First Class was a musician, one my absolute favorite artists. Ellis Paul. Buy his “Translucent Soul” (any of his 11 albums are fabulous and if you ever get the chance to see him live, GO!) We have become good friends. He is a good soul.

I had this one flight…In 2004, I left for Chicago (O’Hare) the Speaking Engagement was cancelled due to a flood. I rebooked the flight back to Seattle, took a Limousine to Mt. Vernon WA and arrived at 7:00 PM in time to watch my oldest son Colin warming up for his Regional Winner to State, Loser Goes Home Basketball Game. He saw me come into the gym and broke out in a Chesire Cat Grin and asked, “What are doing here?! I thought you were in Chicago?” I smiled back and said simply, “Just win the game son!!” They did. It was the longest commute to a BB game and worth every minute! He had an extra-ordinary State Tournament and was offered a full BB Scholarship to UAF (Divsion 2)

If I could be anywhere in the world, I’d …Lake Chelan, WA at the condo watching the sunrise over the mountains with a cup of coffee and my laptop

When it comes to traveling, I wish…Passengers would have more empathy for fellow passengers and flight attendants

Why are/do flight attendants…so committed to making passengers happy, it’s such a hard job with so little respect or a simple thanks. I am not sure I could do the job with such grace

Next flight? Lancaster, PA to meet with my publisher to finalize the details of my next book, “A Simple Choice” This will be the book that gets made into a movie. One day very soon, I will be sitting on plane, watching the credits roll, smiling to myself when the screen says, “Story by Mark Matteson”


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