Morty: Hi this is Morty Lefkoe with another edition of the weekly podcast, Conversations with Top Personal Development Bloggers. Every week we have a conversation with a blogger who has a slightly different take on personal development. There is so much valuable material being offered by personal development bloggers. This is the best place to find out which ones might provide you with just what you’re looking for. What’s unique about each blogger, why they started writing their blog, how their personal experiences inform their writing, why you ought to be reading their blog, and more.
Morty: Today I have the pleasure to speak to Don Dulin who writes a wonderful blog. And the name of your blog is?
Don: Breath Optimism.
Morty: Breath Optimism, that sounds exciting. So thank you so much for being with us Don. Where are you today?
Don: Thanks for having me, Morty. I am from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Morty: Wonderful. So let’s get started as to how this thing started to begin with. What was the impetus to start writing your blog to begin with? How come you decided that blogging was something worth doing?
Don: Well I actually have another blog, a personal finance blog that I started back in 2010. And I really enjoy writing personal finance articles and interacting with readers and other bloggers about personal finance. And so as time gone on, and I became interested in personal development and positive thinking, I decided to start up another blog, Breath of Optimism, and started talking about positive thinking and personal development to other readers.
Morty: Okay. So what made you decide though to start that blog? Was there a particular precipitating event or just a gradual thing as you got more interested in personal development? Was there any particular thing you said ÒI think IÕm going to start writing about thisÓ?
Don: It was actually more on a whim that I just decided one night, I was thinking about starting another blog. And I was trying to think about what I’m interested in that I’d like to write about. And I always knew that I was interested in positive thinking and personal development. And on my drive home from work one night, I just thought I’m like, you know what I’m just going to do it. And when I got home I started it up and the rest as they say is history.
Morty: ThatÕs an inspiration. I think that’s the case in many cases. There’s a friend of mine, Terry Tillman, who was about to write a book called The Calling. And basically what it was is that people felt called to do something. So we interviewed a lot of people in personal development, and spiritual growth, etcetera. And there was like this calling that was just this, this voice, this sense that this is what I got to do.
Morty: I totally understand what you’re talking about. How long you’ve been writing your blog Don?
Don: I actually started my blog January of 2013, so about a year and a half now.
Morty: Okay. So you’ve come pretty high, pretty fast.
Morty: You’ve gone pretty high on the Alexa ranking in terms of your audience in just a year and a half. What are you doing to promote it? That is, how’d it grow so fast?
Don: I’m doing a couple of things. I’ve guest-posted on other personal development blogs. I made it a point to contact and be seen, be actively seen on those other blogs as well. And then I also, with the ability of knowing a lot of personal finance bloggers, usually when they start talking about mistakes that they made with their money or trying to improve their finances, I’m able to spin it into a personal development way and so I’m able to comment on those blogs as well to grow traffic from other areas.
Morty: Got it, very good. What’s your background? And you say you’ve been interested in personal development. And you’d been involved in it, what’s your particular background?
Don: Well I actually don’t have a psychology degree or anything like that. It’s more just personal experience. Back in 2007, 2008 I ended a relationship. It ended really badly. I was in the job that I didn’t like at all, it made me miserable. And I was just stuck in this negative thinking pattern and I didn’t like my life and I didn’t look forward to waking up in the morning and doing anything really.
And I was that way for probably about a year and half, to two years almost. And my sister gave me a book on CD, I don’t remember what the name of it was but it was basically the idea of your thoughts become things. And as I listened to that, I slowly changed my thinking pattern and my outlook, became a more positive person and as the years went by I ended up landing a job that I loved, I met another amazing woman who I married last year.
Morty: Oh congratulations.
Don: It’s just grown since then. It’s just been a total life transformation for me. So it’s more personal experience than actual educational learning or anything like that.
Morty: I see. So you got a bunch of personal experiences that you’ve been able to draw on.
Morty: Regarding work and relationships, great. Do you have any idea what your demographics are, who you write for, who your typical audience is and your readers are?
Don: Yeah so right now, I attract a little bit more female than male demographic. I think the last time I checked, it was something like 54% to 46% female to male. And the average age is around between 30 and 40 years old. And that I guess more like 30 to 50 in that age range. But I don’t write for that age group or anything. I more just write for anyone who’s looking to become a better person and live the best life that they can.
Morty: Good. Do you know at what percentage you have in the United States and outside, or any particular countries outside the US, particularly in Europe?
Don: The majority is the United States. I don’t know the exact percentage of breakdown.
Morty: Okay very good. Okay. How often do you post Don?
Don: So right now I post roughly three times a week. Mainly I write articles on Tuesdays and then I have a full-time writer. Her name is Rachel who posts on Thursdays for me. And I like having her write because she is a stay-at-home mom and she writes a lot about finding the little things in life with her children that make her think and enjoy every day.
I think a lot of people overlook some of those things and I like just her perspective on those things. And then on Sundays, I actually post a list of inspirational or motivational quotes, and I decided to do that because going back to when I was in the job that I hated, Sundays were the worst day of the week. Because I knew I had to go back to work on Mondays. And I didn’t want to do it.
I hated Sundays with a passion and I ended up finding some quotes one Sunday that made me think differently. It made me feel better about life and the situation that I was in. So I decided just to post every Sunday, just a handful of quotes that hopefully if anyone else is going through that same situation, that they can find enjoyment or motivation or inspiration out of those quotes.
Morty: Well wonderful idea, I got it. So you write one blog post, one with quotes, and then you have somebody else do a blog. You actually have three postings a week.
Don: Yeah. And sometimes I have a carnival of positive thinking that I’m trying to get off the ground. And basically that would just be blog posts from the personal development world that I find interesting that I post. Right now, it’s usually every other Saturday but I’ve been having issues with the hosting company that helps me with that so it’s not been posted in a couple of weeks now.
Morty: Okay fine thanks. What would you say is unique about your blog? The one that you write specifically. There’s so many people writing in the field of personal development. Everybody has their own voice but is there anything you could point to that’s specifically unique about your voice, your approach compared to many others?
Don: I think they’re two things. First is that everything I write about mainly comes from personal experience. And then secondly, I try to break down the things that I write about into bite-sized chunks. So that readers can actually act on what I’m talking about.
A lot of times it’s easy just to write a broad blog post and it’ll be too much for someone to actually implement in their daily life because of how busy we are with life. So I think by breaking things down into smaller bite-sized pieces, it’s easier for people to just grab a hold of it and start working it into their daily life.
Morty: Got it, thank you. Who influenced your thinking? Do you have any particular role models, and that book you read years ago? Or any other books or workshops you’ve taken that have particularly influenced you?
Don: Probably the biggest influencer is actually Lou Holtz who is the former football coach of Notre Dame and South Carolina. I didn’t know he does a lot of inspirational speeches and everything like that. But IÕve realized that over the years I think I have all of the books that he’s written, and they’re just so good. There’s so much information that you get from them and you learn. So I would say that he’s probably the number one person that has influenced me.
Morty: Very good, okay thank you. Do you have a long-term goal for your blog? You started it sort of on a whim but now you’ve been doing it for a while. Is there any goal, like of something you’d like to achieve with your blog?
Don: As of right now, there’s not a specific goal that I’m trying to achieve. I just want to get the message out there for as many people to find it that you can take control of your life by changing your thought pattern and your beliefs and changing them to a more positive thought process.
Morty: Okay. Do you accept comments on your blogs?
Don: Yes I do.
Morty: Do you generally respond to them?
Don: I think that’s a great way to help build up a relationship and to keep readers coming back. So I make it a point to always respond to comments.
Morty: Good. Do you have an overall mission for your work as opposed to the blog where the blog is one of the ways in which your vision for your life or mission for your life?
Don: My mission in life is to just be the best person that I can possibly be. So I try to grow every day as much as I can. And my goal is to really live my passion out in life. I don’t want to be doing a job that I’m not happy with or stuff like that. I want to be the owner of my life for lack of a better word. And just do the things that make me happy and that I enjoy.
Morty: And the blog is just one manifestation of that for you?
Morty: Got it. So basically the essence of your messages is how you have been doing this for yourself and how other people can learn from you, what you’ve done, what you’ve experimented with, what’s worked, what hasn’t worked.
Don: Yes exactly.
Morty: Basically your blog, that is just here’s what I’ve done and take from it what you can to improve your life.
Don: Right. And then I also expand at times into other areas as well that I’m learning about and as I learn, I want to help others learn as well.
Morty: Can you give an example of that of some other area you talk about?
Don: Recently been talking about leadership. I’m more of an introverted person so stepping out and being a leader isn’t something that I’m very comfortable with. So I’ve been doing a lot of research on how to become an effective leader and how to lead people, not just in the workforce but also, just in general life as well.
Morty: Very good. What’s the single most important thing you think you’ve told people that’s made a difference in their lives?
Don: I think it’s that if you focus on negative things even if you don’t realize it, you subconsciously will always seek out more negative things. And if you can just change your thought process, to a more positive one and focus on the more positive things in life, then your thoughts will change to be more positive and you’ll see the better things in life.
And the one example that I tend to give a lot is getting stuck in traffic. You can’t control that you get stuck in traffic on your way to work. But you can control how you react to it. Don’t look at it as a negative that you’re stuck in traffic.
Try to find the positive out of it. Maybe you get to listen to your favorite radio show a little bit longer or it gives you a couple more minutes to think about the project you have to do at work. Or you can call your wife or spouse and tell them that you love them or something like that. Just find the positive in any situation and you’ll see a change in your life.
Morty: I totally understand and agree with that. One of the things that we do is help people get rid of those negative meanings. A way to dissolve those negative meanings to make it easy to create positive ones. So that makes a lot of sense. So what is the URL for your blog? How would people find this?
Don: So my URL is just www.breathofoptimism.com
Morty: Okay so finally, is there anything else that I haven’t covered that you’d like our audience to know about you or your blog for them to think about? Everybody who is going to be seeing this are either my readers or readers of other bloggers and they’ll have a chance to find you, then they say, ÒHmm of all these other people, should I taste some of these other people, should I check into them, what do they have to offer?Ó So is there anything you haven’t said yet that you’d like to tell people so that they would say, ÒHmm, this is a guy that I ought to know more about, that I ought to start reading.Ó
Don: I would say pretty much everything I already said is that it comes from personal experience. I’ve recently started up a e-course, 30 Days to Positive Thinking that is designed to help people go from negative thinking to positive thinking in 30 days. And it’s just a handful of lessons to help them change their thought pattern over the course of 30 days, and to take control of their life.
Morty: So you have some courses that you’re offering in addition to your blog.
Morty: Okay. And is there anything else you offer when people come to your blog and they get your three a week or is there anything else that you have available, one course, anything else?
Don: No just the blog posts and the course for right now.
Morty: Well thank you very much. It sounds fascinating. I spent a little bit of time looking at it and I was intrigues in following up more. I was wondering what all those quotes were when I saw those list of all the quotes that you had there which looked interesting. Well I thank you so much.
What we’re going to do is get this transcribed and get it up in the next few weeks. And I think that my readers and the readers of a lot of other blogs would be very interested to find out about what you’re doing. It sounds exciting. And you’ve obviously struck some sort of a cord because you’ve got an incredibly big audience for such a small amount of time.
Most of the bloggers that I have talked to so far in this field had been around for at least three, four years, many of them five, six years. And you’ve gone pretty high to the top of the list of favorites in a very short period of time. So thank you so much for your time. That was a great conversation. I hope to have the opportunity to talk to you a little bit some more in the future. And in the meantime, good luck with your blog.
Don: Thanks a lot, I appreciate it, Morty.