Written by JJ Barnes
I interviewed entrepreneur Dino Miliotis about his career, his motivation, and what inspired his new hit book, There Is No Box.
Tell me a bit about who you are.
Wow, I really hate talking about myself like that, it’s just always been difficult for me to describe myself as one thing.
Ok, here it goes, I’m a salesman, an entrepreneur, a void-filler for the marketplace, who always sees a glass half full. I’m a rebel, a risk-taker, an adrenaline junkie, who loves working with people and providing a service to fill their needs. I’m a speaker, a motivator, a man with an insatiable appetite to learn by doing, and for experiencing life to its fullest. I suppose I’m also an author now, but I compare it more closely to a storyteller. I’ve lived an extraordinary life and now I’m sharing my experiences.
When did you first WANT to write a book?
I’ve wanted to write a book since I was 21, right about the time I had to close my collector plate business. At the time, I wanted to title the book “shattered dreams.” Obviously, it reflected my mood at the time. I wanted to just write down my feelings, all that frustration and energy I needed to get out. But, I tabled the idea for a book because I started working for a vocational school chain instead. I found the company a great place to channel my energy because I quickly moved up the ranks, became a national sales trainer and helped to open up 33 more schools.
I was once reprimanded and called an ‘unbridled stallion’ by one of my managers, who didn’t like how aggressively I steamrolled over mediocrity. I took that as a compliment.
When did you take a step to start writing?
I remember the date; it was January 27, 2021. I was fresh out of rehab, under lockdown because of the COVID pandemic, and was lost about what to do next. I had all sorts of offers to get involved in various projects. I suppose it was flattering to know that had so many options, but nothing really resonated with me. I guess you could say my heart wasn’t in it. Then one day, feeling discouraged and lost, I was ready to do the unthinkable – take a drink again. I knew it was wrong, but it was just calling me, that bottle of vodka. Suddenly I received a text from a young kid who I met at a car wash a few years prior.
He’d approached me when I brought one of my cars to the car wash where he worked. He wanted to know what I did to become so successful. We ended up exchanging numbers and he texted me a couple of times looking for wisdom. Three years later, I get this random text telling me he’d like to have lunch with me sometime – he said my words had helped him before and he’d consider it an honor. Suddenly, everything came into focus and I realized sharing my experiences could help others. That’s when I actually started writing.
How long did it take you to complete your first book from the first idea to release?
It took roughly seven months to write and publish. I have no writing experience, nor did I have any book to model mine after. I figured it was my story; best to tell it my way.
What made you want to write There Is No Box?
I felt readers needed a story of hope, drive, determination and reinvention. COVID-19 had a devastating effect on me, like many others. If anyone else felt as lost and alone as I did, I thought they’d appreciate reading something inspirational.
What were your biggest challenges with writing There Is No Box?
It was writing something powerful, something I felt so strongly about, but didn’t know how to put my feelings down on paper.
What was your research process for There Is No Box?
The research was easy because it was, after all, my own personal memories. I first recorded myself, telling my story in chronological order… believe it or not, that alone took two weeks to record. Then I had to select interesting and memorable moments in my life that ‘made the cut’ as they say.
How did you plan the structure of There Is No Box?
I didn’t want to write a self-help book; I didn’t want to preach. This book was about telling a story that ultimately leaves you feeling inspired. I narrated the book in a way that makes the reader feel as though we’re reading together. It includes both the highs and the lows. I wanted readers to feel something, their reaction was a top priority. I wish I could be a fly on the wall to hear them groan when they reach some of the incredible lows and cheer when they get to the high points.
Did you get support with editing, and how much editing did There Is No Box need?
Not officially. I did have several people read the book throughout the process, mostly to gauge their reactions, and they would come back with suggestions. I focused more on what I wanted to say to my readers, instead of what a book “should” be. Did I mention I’ve never read a self-help book in my life?
What is the first piece of writing advice you would give to anyone inspired to write a book?
Make sure it’s something that moves you and write like you mean it. If you don’t truly feel the story you’re telling, your readers won’t either.
Can you give me a hint about any further books you’re planning to write?
I’ve been planning a second book since before I finished the first! I want to write a more in-depth sales-oriented book called, “Scrambled Eggs.” Why that title? Because you can’t make an omelet without breaking some eggs – and I like mine scrambled. It will go into more about my mentors and pulling back the curtain on sales strategies and mentalities.
I also really want to make “There Is No Box,” into a movie. Ideally, I’d be played by Matt Damon. That’s what I’ve envisioned since the beginning – no, seriously! I wrote the book like a movie because I think it would be fabulous on the big screen.
There are also other projects on the horizon, but I don’t want to give everything away. Right now, my goal is to truly connect with my audience – I want to get to know them.
And, finally, are you proud of your accomplishment? Was it worth the effort?
I am. I’m proud of the way I captured raw emotion onto paper and of the way writing it made me feel. It inspired me in a way that was truly magical. What I’m most proud of though, has been the way it has made others feel. For me, this experience has been priceless.