The key to a successful life: Do

Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 18, 2015

“The Little Book of Do!” by Kel Landis III. LINX, Great Falls, Va. 2014. 117 pp. $18.

By Deirdre Parker Smith

Kel Landis III is sharing his secret with the world as often and as loudly as he can.

This is it: Do.

Get up with an attitude of positivity. Don’t be afraid of what lies ahead. Make a list, set up a task, make that phone call. Just do it (with a nod to Nike).

Landis says the idea for his book, “The Little Book of Do,” has been cooking in his head for 10 years. At first, he thought it would be a business book about how to do, then he realized there are lots of those.

He made some changes, and his 2014 New Year’s resolution was to write, publish and promote his book. Because he’s a do-er, the book is out and he’s signing books, talking to people and staying busy.

“I love it. If I could, this is all I would do.” He is a partner in Plexus Capital, an investment firm he started after retiring from RBC Centura Bank. No rest for a doer.

“That little two-letter verb is the most powerful word in our lives,” Landis says. We wake up every day and what we do or don’t do determines our lives. “It really matters to us and our families, our workplace and the community. You should live a life where you achieve and do things.”

The book is all about action, step-by-step. “Sometimes you might get lucky if you do nothing, but really this is about how to do with an action bias.”

Landis says his father, who was his hero, got him involved in all kinds of things at a young age. He went on to help his town of Rocky Mount and then the state.

“The book is grounded in my desire to do something meaningful from what I learned and what I observed. … This is the trait you see in successful people. They do.”

In the book, Landis describes the physical tools one needs to get started. He’s a believer in lists and calendars on your smart phone and computer. “Those are the nails. The hammer is what’s inside,” what he calls PAD — persistence, attitude and determination.

Landis says all you need to start a task is inner strength. “When you’re fearful, just start it. Stare it in the face and start the task.”

Another necessity: Do what you say you’re going to do. “It’s amazing how many people don’t do that, Once you take it on, you have to do it. “

So be careful what you say yes to. “Be sure you mean it,” Landis says. He realizes that the people who say yes are the ones who will be asked over and over to do. “Just be careful. Say yes to the right things. Learn to say no.” He admits he’s not very good at that, so he wrote a chapter, “Don’t Overdo It,” to help people learn to moderate. He suggests asking for time between the request and the answer.

“If the answer is no, give a polite reason why.” Or give a modified yes, discussing what you can accomplish and what can’t.

“A modified yes or no that’s positive lays out what you can do. You have to have communication all along. If a deadline is slipping away, go ahead and speak up, say you’re going to miss the deadline. Don’t just let it pass and say nothing.”

The solution is planning and execution; mean it when you say it. “Almost immediately, your life will be more satisfying and you’ll feel better about yourself.”

The principle of do works in all areas. “The beneficiaries are yourself, first, but it impacts the workplace, the family and the community,” Landis says. A community, especially, benefits when someone decides to do something. “You can lead from the middle, the top or the bottom. It happens all the time.”

Landis thinks the state could benefit from more doing, especially in rural areas. He worries about the gaps between urban areas like Raleigh and Charlotte and small towns. “People need to do something” to help those communities.

Landis is busy doing now. He’s promoting his book and plans to set up a non-profit organization from the sales proceeds to help others. He wants to create Do awards, for anyone who does something great, for their family, their workplace or their community. “All they have to do in return is do more of it.”

His book is a Carolina Honors book, and is being sent out to students who want to attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, his alma mater. “I’m so honored,” he says. He hopes the young people learn that if they decide to do something with their lives, they can.” He hopes they benefit from the lessons he learned later in life.

Kel Landis III will be in Salisbury on Saturday, Jan. 24 to talk about and sign copies of his book, “The Little Book of Do,” from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. at Literary Bookpost, 110 S. Main St.