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UConn alumnus publishes teen self-help series, 'Grandaddy's Secrets'

By Ashley Maher
On February 10, 2014

University of Connecticut alumnus Daniel Blanchard has achieved a great deal of success since the days of his undergrad years. The author of a new teen self-help series, the first two books titled "Granddaddy's Secrets: Feeling Lucky and Granddaddy's Secrets: Feeling Good," talked with me in a phone interview, where we discussed the hard work behind his book series and his main principles for success.
DC: In what ways would you say your education at the University of Connecticut helped you with your future career as an educator and author?
DB: "A UConn education is very fortunate. It broadens your horizons and you are exposed to how different people think and behave. To be honest, it was a little scary! I wasn't the rock star like I was in high school being a successful high school athlete. UConn really represents the whole world and it really taught me that you have to work hard to create something special. Graduating from UConn is something I am very proud of. It was a great experience for me."
DC: What would you say your strongest personal trait is that led you to the successes that you have had today?
DB: "I would say my strongest trait is my ability to work hard. Many, many times I have thought that I haven't been the most gifted. But, I 've always managed to work very hard whether that means getting up early, or working late into the night. When I was young that hard work is what helped me become a great athlete, it helped me get my seven degrees and become a successful author and speaker. Putting in more hours and hard work on a daily basis, someone can become successful no matter what their upbringing was."
DC: If one of your students were to approach you with a problem or concern, what would be your ultimate piece of advice to them?
DB: "Rarely is anything as bad as it seems, especially for kids. Kids tend to worry and don't have the life experience behind them to realize things they worry about may not even happen, or be that great of a concern. My advice would be don't make [a problem] bigger than it is, you can be proactive in the meantime to better prepare yourself for problems when they do happen. In my first book I spent a lot of time trying to redefine the word 'lucky.' Lucky should mean hard work that leads to opportunity. When hardship comes about, they will be able to handle it."
DC: What was your main source of drive and encouragement to write a book series?
DB: "My students! Over a period of ten years, I had my students telling my I should write a book. I was never a good writer or a top student, to me it seemed like an impossible project that I would never finish. After about a decade of students telling me I should write a book, I thought maybe these guys are seeing something that I'm not. If my books help one kid, then I've done something good. I had no idea this thing would actually get published and now here I am, author of a couple books! My fuel for moving forward was my students!"
DC: Were there any tips you highlighted in your book that helped you get through your own personal struggles?
DB: "In all my books I talk about CANDI - Constant And Never-ending Deliberate Improvement! I created this acronym, which means trying to prove oneself by putting in the daily effort. People should always be doing something to deliberately improve every single day. You will be in a drastically better position than you are today by doing so. I am always preaching the CANDI principle."
DC: What are your future plans? Are there any more books in your future?
DB: "I have a third book for the Granddaddy series in the works. It's pretty much done. I just have to finish editing it. I've just started writing the fourth book for the series as well. I have six books in my head. I'll eventually have six books of the Granddaddy's series in total. On the educational side, I am writing a thesis on evaluating professional development for schoolteachers. Eventually, this will be put into book format and it will be a way for adult educators to evaluate themselves on how they are developing. "
DC: Would the book be of value to more people than just teens? Such as adults or kids?
DB: "I wrote the series for teens, but there have been quite a few times I've received emails from parents who have read my books and newspaper columns and said it's just as much for them as for their kids. It definitely fits for adults. Parents even have told me they share it with their younger children as well and read a little bit of it to them each night before bed. The success principles in the stories I write about are pretty much universal."
DC: Where can one purchase the book if they are interested?
DB: "Barnes and Noble, Amazon, - all major book retailers have it. I also do some speaking at annual teen conferences, so I am available for lectures as well."
Daniel Blanchard is currently a social studies teacher at New Britain High School and lives in Mansfield, Conn. with his wife and five children.

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