About the Book
“One who diligently seeks good, finds goodwill.”
This ancient proverb sums up eleven exhilarating months of seeking and discovery. It all began when, not long ago, we saw a small cartoon in Barron’s financial news magazine. A father and his young son are watching the evening news on television, and the boy says to his dad, “Has there ever been good news?”
To us, it seemed more sad than funny that, with a steady diet of modern TV news, many young people might well have a pretty grim view of life, and yet, we knew there were good people all around us doing good things every day.
An idea was born. We decided to take a single year and travel the entire country, visiting every state in search of goodwill. We determined to interview randomly selected people from all walks of life and ask them about the good
things in their lives. We would give people an extraordinary opportunity to ponder the positive, then we would compile their words into a book called Looking For Goodwill.
Our journey began with little prior planning, but with abundant enthusiasm and an unwavering conviction that goodwill was out there in abundance. We were not disappointed. In fact, the breadth and depth of goodwill we discovered during our quest far exceeded our expectations.
Across thousands of beautiful miles, we sought and found wonderful people full of goodwill. In retrospect, we now marvel at how readily people trusted us and opened up to us so completely. When describing this great adventure to friends and family back home, we frequently were asked, “How do you get people to talk to you?” or “Aren’t people suspicious?” It gave us genuine delight to always be able to respond positively about the splendid reception we were receiving across America.
Everyone was so gracious to us. Our standard approach went like this: I, Scott, would smile and introduce myself: “I am Scott Price from Nashville, Tennessee.” We’d shake hands. Gesturing towards Pat, I would say, “This is my son, Pat. He just graduated in May [’03] from Lipscomb University in Nashville.” Often the person would warmly congratulate Pat. Invariably, Pat put out his hand and gave a friendly handshake accompanied by a friendly smile. Although Pat was born with spina bifida, his outgoing personality always seemed to put people at ease and allowed them to see past his wheelchair.
“We are writing a book together.” This almost always increased the intensity with which they were listening. “It’s called Looking For Goodwill. We are visiting every state in the Union and asking people about the good things in their lives and in their communities.” Often, we would tell them about the cartoon and confidently re-state our view about good people doing good things all around us. When we asked, “Could we interview you for our book?” no one turned us down. People seemed intrigued by the idea, and everyone responded positively when we asked for permission to record the interview. Not only were they gracious, they also gave us vigorous encouragement to continue.
One pattern we developed—as you’ll see from the book—was that Pat would do the interviewing and Scott would act as scribe. In the book, to make it clear who was speaking, we’ve stuck with referring to ourselves in the third person. It may seem a little strange, but you’ll under- stand our thinking. Please forgive us in advance for any confusion this may cause.
Our quest led us to all kinds of people. We intentionally did not set quotas or even keep track of young or old, male or female, race or ethnicity, or foreign visitors or American citizens. Although we kept a detailed journal about our new friends, their words, and the places we found them, we purposefully decided against keeping track of such distinctions. We were looking for goodwill. Guess what? It isn’t age, gender, or ethnically specific, but it is definitely out there! We looked diligently all across this great land and absorbed the goodwill whenever, wherever, and in whomever we found it.
As you’ll find as you read our account, we learned a lot as we went along. Our procedures evolved, as sometimes did the questions we asked. For example, when we first started, we hadn’t decided to get photos of all our new friends. We’ve regretted that, especially since we don’t have a picture of Jim Pankiewicz, our very first participant. We had actually purchased a new video camera in Nashville the night before we started our quest with the thought that we would film each interview. However, we were concerned that being on camera might make some folks a little uneasy or less forthcoming, so we never used it. We apologize if the accompanying snapshots fail to fully capture the joyous goodwill we found so abundantly in our interviews.
These people made us feel so good! We also found that occasionally some of our questions needed to be explained. Eventually, we honed our list of questions to:
- Is there a place in your state which you especially enjoy? What is your favorite place, and why?
- What is the best thing about your town?
- Of all the people you know, is there one who “stands out” for consistently doing good things? Who is it?
- Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet, or meet again?
- What is the best decision you have made? (These questions about “best decision” and “best thing” often precipitated the longest pauses, the most contemplation, and the deepest reflection. Pat explained that “best thing” differs from “best decision” because the best thing that has happened in your life may be something over which you had absolutely no control.)
- What is the best thing that has happened in your life?
- Do you have a goal which you still hope to achieve?
- If you had an opportunity to begin a new career, what would you choose to do? (This question sometimes struck folks as meaning, “What would you do now if you were beginning a new career?” To others it meant, “What would you do if you could go back in time and begin a new career?” Neither interpretation really concerned us because our hope was that the question would simply prompt some positive reflection.)
- Do you have a message of encouragement or words of advice for our readers all across the land?
Our notes from our process reflect that beginning with Inna Kourdeltchouk in Versailles, Kentucky, we concluded all of our interviews by presenting the person interviewed with a ten-dollar bill and asking each one to help spread a little goodwill. We requested that each interviewee use the money to do something good and we asked each to write and let us know how they decided to use it. We thought it would be interesting to see how a wide variety of people would choose to use such an unexpected gift.
(Occasionally, an interviewee would ask us if we had seen the movie Pay it Forward; we still have not. We were told that its story involves a somewhat similar effort to encourage others to spread goodwill.)
We loved the random process of selecting interviewees, and we have had our joy multiplied many times over by their thoughtful responses, and also by the varied ways in which the money was put to good use.
We want to share the story of our journey with everyone we meet. Not because of us, but because of the people we met
everywhere we went. We want you to get to know them and perceive the vast reservoir of goodwill in their hearts. One hundred six interviews comprise a relatively small sample in a nation of 295 million souls. However, the one hundred and six good-hearted individuals in this book are illustrative of the goodwill all around you. You don’t have to look far to find it.