Alex Blackwell & Wife Mary Beth
Morty: Today I have the pleasure to talk to Alex Blackwell and he’s talking to us from Kansas City. Alex, thank you so much for being here. I’ve been really looking forward to having a conversation.
Alex: It’s good to be here, Morty. Thanks for having me.
Morty: Great. Let’s start out with what was the impetus to write your blog. What gave you the idea that you wanted to be writing this particular blog?
Alex: Sure! I tell people it really happened by accident. My wife went to graduate school back in 2007 and all the time that we had together in the weekends suddenly went out the window because she was spending her time going to class studying, writing papers.
I had all this time away from her that I had to somehow fill. Prior to that, I majored in English in college and taught English right after college and two years after that got into business. So I kind of moved away from English and writing literature over my business career and then felt a nudge to get to move back to it in the mid-2000s.
So she back went to graduate school, I said “What can I do to fill this time?” and also to rekindle that love I had for reading and writing. This is about the time that blogs came along. I said “Well, I think blogging would work for me.”
It’s a social commitment, you put a blog out there. I’m kind of obligated to put out a post on a regular basis so people wouldn’t think I fell off the face of earth. So it gave me that little push. That little motivation. That little goal to begin writing every day.
I thought I was just going to do it through her graduate school. That was back in 2007, this is 2014 and I’m still doing it. It’s a different blog, completely different format. But that’s how it started,really. Just having some free time, getting that itch to write again and then finding that right medium for me to do that.
Morty: So it started about seven years ago. You said you changed your format along the way. What did you start with and what made you change?
Alex: The name of my first blog was “The Next 45 Years” because I was 45 at the time. I was 45 when I started the blog. And its more about how do I plan to spend the next 45 years of my life. I can’t go back and redo mistakes. I can’t go back and bring back any of the past. But how can I move my life forward? So that was the reason for the title “The Next 45 Years”.
I made a decision then that I did not want to focus on productivity tips or white hat tips or anything like it. I’m not discouraging people who do because that content is needed out there. But I wanted to talk more about everyday inspiration. Reveal a part of my life in a semi-transparent way so people could be encouraged to know that other folks are thinking, feeling and believing some of the same things.
So I started with that nature, that mode. And lo and behold people started reading that, which I was thrilled by. That I was connecting and resonating with people. Then in 2008, I made the strategic decision to move away from “The Next 45 Years” and call it “The Bridgemaker” because I wanted the name to have a little bit more definition to people. It held more meaning. So I made that shift, better redesigned the blog and I haven’t looked back since.
Morty: Oh boy! Very exciting. What had been your background in personal development before then, if any? I mean, you’re writing a personal development blog, did you have any particular background in the field before you started writing?
Alex: None whatsoever. In fact in my first book “Saying Yes to Change”, I think in the first paragraph I say that I’m not a doctor, I’m not a fitness giver, I’m not an expert in any of that. I’m just an ordinary guy living life in the most ordinary way.
But I had a personal transformation happen to me ten or eleven years ago. My wife and I were separated. It didn’t look good. It looked like our marriage was going to end. I didn’t want that. But I knew that if I did want to save our marriage, it started by me changing. I had to grow into the person that I knew was living inside of me. But through being focused on building my career and through being focused on obtaining material possessions, I lost sight of what was really important to me.
By going through this personal development seminar over the course of two months, I got back that old me. That old me that said, “It’s not important the size of your house or bank account. What’s important is the love that you give and receive and share.” I learned new ways to communicate with my family, with my wife. I learned new ways to love my family and my wife. We were able to put our marriage back together. Just through that whole process of reawakening through a dark period of my life in 2008 to a much brighter period in life–true I don’t have any formal training but I think through just life experience and what I report on through my life experience, that gives me depth to continue with “The Bridgemaker”.
Morty: Very good, that’s exciting. Which course did you do that helped turn it around?
Alex: It’s a seminar called “Breakthrough” and it’s sponsored by Heart Connections Ministries which is based here in the Kansas City area. It’s over a two-month period and you just go in and you–it’s like some of the work that you do Morty. We erased old habits and we eliminated beliefs.
You know we build up a belief system about ourselves from since we were children. We believe that we’re not good enough. We’re not working enough. We’re not smart enough. We build up these beliefs.
So this seminar helped me really understand who am I at my core. How can I separate or eliminate this belief system that’s no longer working for me and take on new beliefs that are true or more authentic to who I am as a person. It’s really just acknowledging the need to heal. Acknowledging the need to change. Getting the tools to do that. Recalibrating a belief system, and replacing that belief system with the truth.
And the truth is that I am a worthy person. I am worthy to be loved. I am worthy to have my heart’s desire. I am worthy to go after my goals and my dreams. Before that, I didn’t think I was.
Morty: Very good, congratulations that’s exciting. It sounds like a really worthwhile two months for you.
Alex: Yeah it was. It was hard but it was worthwhile. I didn’t like it when I was going through it but I loved that I went through it.
Morty: That’s great. Who is your typical audience? Do you have any sense of what your demographics are? Men, women, young, old, et cetera?
Alex: Yes, I am by profession in the marketing field so I do look at analytics. That is important to me. So if I had to define who my core audience is, it’s…honestly, I have a lot of readers in Great Britain and in Canada and India. But my core audience is right in the US. It’s women between the ages of 35 and 55 with college education. These are women mostly who are professionals, who have families and I think are just looking to relate to other people who walk similar paths. And that is to get up, go to work, raise a family. And you know what, we do the best we can with the tools that we’ve been given in life.
Morty: Very good, thank you for that. Could you just put in a couple of sentences on what is the essence of your methods? I’m sure there are a lot of different aspects and different angles in your books and your blogs. Can you sort say what’s in common with everything you write?
Alex: I would say that my primary things that you would find in my blog are the things like forgiveness, faith, happiness, motivation and the power of love. And what I intend to do with my blog is to connect people who are looking to share their faith. Share some inspiration and celebrate their own personal change. I often say Morty that my blog provides a properly-sized window into my life. What that means is that I don’t reveal of course all the intimate details of what happens to me, but I try to reveal enough of my life so that people can see their life in it.
Because when you look in a window, you see your reflection. So I’m just trying to provide that look into my life so people know I get the struggles, the challenges, the goals and the dreams that they have. That they’re not alone with them. And they can find some inspiration perhaps by relating to other people who share the same thoughts, the same challenges et cetera.
It’s just a place for people to connect on things like forgiveness, the power of change, the power of love.
Morty: Got it, thank you. Since it’s the same thing but from a slightly different point of view, if somebody is trying to take a look at ten different blogs and trying to figure out “Which is the best one for me to look at?”
You may not be familiar with any of the others but is there any way you can talk about what’s unique about your blog? What you do to the best of your knowledge that other people don’t do?
Alex: Yeah I can talk about what I do because I think what other people do is great and they all have messages to share but what I do is I try to be as authentic as possible. I try to write from a true heart and from a very authentic place.
Like I said a few minutes ago, I don’t write posts about ten ways to save time in the morning. Or I don’t write about zen or topics like that. I take events that are happening in my life and share them in a narrative or in a story form so that people can relate to them. “Oh, I’ve thought about that before” or “I’ve had that experience or these feelings before. I guess I’m not alone” or “I guess I’m not crazy for thinking this”.
Morty: Very good and that absolutely does it. It obviously works, you’ve got a nice-sized audience. How many people read your blog to the best of your knowledge?
Alex: To the best of my knowledge, the people who read it are about a hundred thousand readers per month.
Morty: That’s incredible, that’s really exciting. That’s more than most books sell. You’ve got more people aware of your things than ninety-five percent of all books if not more.
Alex: It’s a commitment though. It’s time.
Morty: How often do you post?
Alex: I post twice a week. I post on Sunday evenings it goes out to my list on Mondays. Then I post on Wednesday evenings and that goes out to my list on Thursdays. You can count on it like the sunrise. Every Sunday evening, every Wednesday evening I post and it’s going to be in your inbox the next day.
Morty: Do you accept comments on your blog?
Alex: Absolutely. After all, a blog is a way for people to share thoughts and write their opinions.
Morty: Do you respond to them generally?
Alex: Every one. One hundred percent, absolutely.
Morty: That’s a bigger commitment!
Alex: Yeah (laughs).
Morty: Do you have long-term goal? I understand everything you’ve said about what you’re doing. Is it just “Keep doing what I’m doing until I get tired of doing it or retire or something?” Or is there something you want to achieve, some specific goal that you could say “Aha, I got what I wanted.” Or is it just keep going in the same direction you’re going?
Alex: I have a professional job outside of the blog. My goal is when I leave this job, to have my blog and my writing career sustain me through my retirement. So I’ve built the foundation. Number one, I love to write I like doing what I’m doing. But this is also what I want to focus and concentrate on and take to the next level on my retirement.
Morty: So are you working in the business which you started many years ago?
Alex: I work in a business, it’s not my personal business but yeah.
Morty: So you work on somebody else’s business, and this is your business on the side, that you want to build up so it becomes your business.
Alex: That is correct.
Morty: This is a little more philosophical but would you be able to explain what your mission in life is and how writing your blog contributes to it?
Alex: I’d say my mission is to see the good in everything possible out there. That’s a great question Morty and sometimes it seems so self-serving and arrogant to say but I really think my mission is to open people’s eyes so that they see more of what’s right with the world than what’s wrong with the world.
Because no question, this world can be a crappy place to live in. Sometimes life just sucks. There’s no getting around it. Close ones die and crazy things happen. I’m not trying to diminish these awful things that have happened to me, but it’s how we choose to reframe that and look at that and process that. I think that makes a difference.
I think my mission is–that no matter how crappy or how hard it is some times–to remind people there is still value. There is still kindness. There is still love out there for them.
Morty: Well I can see why you have a popular blog. I think we’ve covered all the specifics I wanted. Is there anything else you’d like the listening audience to know about you or your blog that might give them a better sense of why they are to follow you?
Alex: No, I just want to invite them to come and look at it. I always say that all are invited, none required to stay. So they can come and look at it. They can subscribe to it, they’ll easily see how they can subscribe to it. If they enjoy it, great. If it’s not their cup of tea, that’s ok because there are a million other blogs out there that might be their cup of tea.
Morty: What is the URL? I’ll put it underneath the audio link. We’re going to get it transcribed so the audio link will be transcript and right underneath that we will to put the URL. What’s the URL that people can visit?
Alex: Sure it’s thebridgemaker.com.
Morty: Thebridgemaker.com. Thank you so much, Alex! I really appreciate your time and I’m looking forward to getting this thing up there so a whole bunch of people can listen or read it and then check it out and see if it’s for them. From how you’ve described it, it sounds like it would be for a lot of people.
Alex: Thank you for the opportunity Morty and thanks for allowing me to share my message with your audience. I really appreciate it.
Morty: Thank you.