Archive for Thursday, March 14, 1996


March 14, 1996


An inspirational author and motivational speaker makes his home near Lawrence.

Byrd Baggett was a hot shot when he graduated from college.

He hit the corporate world at full speed and worked hard to become successful, often forgetting the importance of a family and a life outside the office.

"I thought I was God's gift to mankind. I really don't know how my wife put up with me. I was egotistical and self-centered. Now when I look back, I realize how unhappy I was," the Texas native said.

But when three important people in Baggett's life suddenly died, he immediately learned the importance of living each day to its fullest. Now he hopes to pass on his lessons to business people with his inspirational books of quotes.

About five years ago, after much encouragement from his wife, Baggett began writing his first book. What culminated from his daily notetaking was a self-published book: "Sales that ain't brain surgery."

Shortly after finishing the book, Baggett, who was 42 at the time, was fired from his "comfortable corporate position."

Two months after losing his job, Baggett found a publisher interested in his book -- despite its lousy name and ugly cover, he said. The renamed work, "The Book of Excellence," was released in 1990.

It has since sold 100,000 copies in 10 languages, said Kathleen Hansen, a publicist for Rutledge Hill Press, Nashville, Tenn., the publishing company for Baggett's first three books.

The book identifies 236 habits of successful business people. It focuses on sales, Baggett's area of expertise. He worked as a sales executive for 23 years with Steelcase and Johnson Wax.

Baggett followed his first book with two others, forming a so-called business trilogy. "Satisfaction Guaranteed," his second book, gives inspirational quotes for quality customer service. Then in 1995, he finished "Taking Charge," a book that offers principles of effective leadership.

Each book contains brief passages that can be scanned quickly by readers.

"Everything I write and talk about is good common sense, but it is the basic stuff that we tend to forget," he said.

Baggett has already written five new books due at stores soon. The new topics include entrepreneuring and corporate downsizing.

Baggett, who lived in the Kansas City area about 15 years ago, decided to make Tonganoxie his new home. He and his wife, Jeanne, and their three children will move into their newly built rural home this summer.

From there, he will continue to run a restaurant businesses in Memphis, Tenn., write and travel to corporations to deliver motivational presentations.

Baggett spoke at a leadership conference last month in Kansas City, Mo. Included in the audience of executives was Don Shaffer, human resources manager of Crown Center.

"Byrd's beliefs are genuine and ... dedicated to making people feel better about themselves in order to do a better job of doing what they do," Shaffer said.

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