Perhaps the biggest obstacle to creating a wonderful life is self-limiting beliefs. As a result of these beliefs, most of which are not true, you hold yourself back from taking the necessary steps to create the kind of life you really want. The way you free yourself from these negative thoughts is by changing your perception of who you are and what it is really possible for you to do. Best-selling mom-and-son authors and co-CEOs who love to share global adventures and show how education through travel should be an integral part of any childhood are our guests for today’s Q&A. deborah hail and his son Jonah Seyum. Deborah was born in Sahel and grew up in Min-nesota. She earned her master’s degree from her in Washington DC and currently lives in Miami working as director of legal operations. At the same time, she’s growing her Tiny Global Footprints business, writing children’s books and inspiring them to travel the world. Jonah Seyum was born in Atlanta, United States. She is 8 years old and is learning in 3rd grade. He is an award-winning and young best-selling author. He loves reading books, spending time with family, and traveling the world with his mom. Jonah has been to 11 countries and is counting to visit more. The following is the interview of mom and son.
I appreciate this interview Deborah and Jonah. How did you start writing and publishing books?
Deborah- Our first trip was to the Dominican Republic. Jonah was then 18 months old. That trip was more like getting away from my busy daily life. He had a full time job and many demanding things in my life. However, I needed to get away from that life and take a quick family trip to the Dominican Republic. After that we went to Dubai, Eritrea, Cuba and then Thailand respectively. After visiting those places, we felt that going on a trip was something we would continue to do. It takes you away from your surroundings and my son was learning a lot from him. It was nice. So adventures and fun weren’t really something we would stop having. When we got back from Thailand, I printed out some photos from the trip and gave them to Jonah to show his classmates. He was in preschool then. When he went to his class, he told them what he did in Thailand with me. He explained each image very well. His teacher put everything in a kind of book and gave me back all the pictures with everything he said written underneath. I’ve always felt that people can get something out of it when you’re telling your story and I’ve always wanted to write a book. Aside from that, a lot of people started asking me how my journey went with Jonah, who was then a baby, basically a toddler. I had to explain to each individual I met all of our experiences. That was exhausting. So I came up with a solution: publish everything in a book and let other people know exactly what we did. However, my mentor advised me to publish it in a series of books. So we called the book series Jonah’s Global Footprints, which is Jonah going around the world and leaving little footprints of him. The books teach about the culture, the geography, and things about the particular countries we visit. The book was written in the form of questions and answers. That is, a little boy would ask questions about what he eats, what he does and where he is and the staff like that and he answers. So by reading the books, he is teaching other children. We also provide tips on the back cover of the book, such as what’s good for kids when traveling to that country and specific places to visit. Jonah started journaling when we traveled to different countries. It is the basis of his writing. Basically, we become the guide for parents and children interested in visiting the specific countries we have been to before.
When writing, what is your part and your mother’s?
Jonah: Even though I help with that, my mom basically fleshes out the story, because it would make it clear to the audience what exactly Jonah is after. For example, in the first book she was looking for an elephant in Thailand. The book series inspired me to write my own book on my own. So my part is to give my mom my perspective when we write it and my mom takes some ideas from my journal. She also helped to remind her of some moments, events and things that she forgot to remember. When I wrote my first book, my mom asked me about my passion. I told him I like sports. So my mom supported me to write about my favorite sport. At first I asked my mom how she would write it herself. So she helped me by asking me questions that can spark ideas.
So how did it come out?
The book is called “basketball or football.” In the book, I go back and forth to see which one I like best. In the book I explained why I like basketball, and I also said why I like soccer. So it was written until the last page. It was about comparing both sports. In the end, I came to the conclusion that I like them both equally. Keeping readers on track to the very last page was the best part of the book. So it went very well, I think.
How does it feel to work with your child?
Deborah- There are no words to explain. It feels wonderful. He feels as if he is giving her the opportunity to take responsibility for potentials that he already possessed. I also like it, because it is like my right hand since it helps me a lot with my commitments such as selling books in which it stood out. In advertising for the books, he goes to great lengths to convince people to buy the books by telling them, “I wrote this book with my mom. It’s worth buying,” and so on. I remember an event when we had a book fair, at that time I was a photographer. He sold all the books in six hours. He did an amazing job that made me very proud of him. We also do podcasting; and he’s very involved in that too. His talent came naturally and I have never forced him to do anything to make our job easier. I started it and he joined me excitedly. This job is very important to him because through this experience he is learning property, entrepreneurship, finance and business in general. He is learning business skills and life skills while he works with me. It feels amazing to see my son working hard with me.
Are there any upcoming books to be published?
Yes. We have already written two books. They’ll be posted when we get back to the US One of them is Jonah’s, “what does daddy do all day?” This book is about Jonah trying to figure out what his dad does at work. He uses many tricks to find out what his dad is working on. He eventually finds out about it when his father tricked him into saying she wants to go out and play with him, but took him to his workplace instead. The other book is “Fill my pocket with Nakfa in Eritrea”. Both are going to be published at the same time very soon.
Any final message?
Jonah- I want to inspire kids my age to write about what they love, because it’s fun.
Deborah: My message is for parents. Show your children the world by traveling. Ask them what they want to do, because we, the parents, are the ones who must show our children both the opportunity and the exposure!