Commercial cleaning entrepreneur Todd Hopkins has turned his writing hobby into a successful side career as an author of faith-based business books.
EXECUTIVE: Todd Hopkins is the founder and CEO of Office Pride, a Palm Harbor-based commercial cleaning company with franchises nationwide.
DIVERSION: Hopkins is the author of several inspirational business books that have sold hundreds of thousands of copies. His books include “Five Wisdoms for Entrepreneurial Survival,” “The Janitor,” “The Carrot Chaser” and, most recently, “The Stress Less Business Owner.”
ORIGIN STORY: Much like someone who discovers religion midlife, Hopkins discovered a desire to write after obtaining a degree in management in 1987 from the University of Memphis. He had just landed a job that required him to travel around to college campuses teaching leadership courses. It was at Minnesota State University in Mankato, Minn., where he crossed paths with Terry Davis, author of “Vision Quest,” a coming-of-age novel that was adapted into a movie of the same name.
That meeting occurred back in 1988, and though it would be well more than a decade before Hopkins published his first book, the nonfiction “Five Wisdoms for Entrepreneurial Survival,” he says his encounter with Davis “planted a desire inside me to write.”
CREATIVE FORCE: Hopkins points out that although he enjoys writing, he sees it as a means to an end. “I never took any creative writing courses — I'm terrible at spelling and all that kind of stuff,” he says.
“My real goal is not so much writing and publishing but to write and publish things that make a difference in people's lives and make them ask, 'How can my life be better?'” he says. “For me, the most fulfilling thing about writing is when someone reads it and says it helps them.”
SHOW, DON'T TELL: Though grounded in his Christian faith, Hopkins' novels come off as anything but preachy — and that's by design. He says he has always been a fan of easy-reading parables that draw you into the story — and keep you turning the page — while communicating powerful, thought-provoking lessons. Less tell, more show. And many of the lessons in Hopkins' books are drawn from his personal struggles, as well as other businesspeople he knows.
“The great thing about writing fiction is you can change it up but still be inspired by real-life experiences,” Hopkins says. “In my opinion, it's a little easier to write.”
STRESS LESS, LIVE MORE: Hopkins believes in the power of prayer and reflection for businesspeople to relieve stress, which he says is “killing people — it really is.”
That's the focal point of his latest book, “The Stress Less Business Owner,” which was published in December, 10 years after “The Janitor,” Hopkins' popular parable about a CEO who transforms his life thanks to six nuggets of wisdom given to him by a sage janitor.
BIG IN KOREA: Hopkins' novels resonated with readers in the U.S. and abroad. He says South Korean publishers got into a bidding war for the rights to “The Janitor,” which has since sold more than 600,000 copies worldwide and has been translated into 10 languages.
The book was so popular with South Koreans that his publisher brought him over for signings, seminars and a speaking tour in which he discussed the book, his business and his faith in front of thousands of people at churches throughout the country. A similar publicity bonanza was arranged for “The Carrot Chaser,” Hopkins' 2008 follow-up to “The Janitor,” so he jetted off to the Korean Peninsula for a second time.
KEEP HIS DAY JOB: Despite his literary success, Hopkins has no plans to pursue a full-time career as an author. Instead, he sees his writing as a way to help others while strengthening the organizational culture at Office Pride, which, since its founding more than 25 years ago, has grown into a nationwide company with dozens of franchisees.
“Writing helps communicate values,” he says, adding that it can be especially valuable for executives who find themselves leading rapidly growing organizations and need to establish a common culture. “Anytime [employees] have a chance to look under the hood and see how the leader ticks, that's a good thing.”