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  • What about Bob?

    This website features the work of Bob McKinnon. He is a writer, designer, podcast host, children’s author and teacher. What unites all of his work is the desire to help others move up in life – just as others have helped him.

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  • America's Dreaming

     

    The cover has just been revealed for Bob’s next children’s book!  America’s Dreaming tells the story of a child whose simple dream is to feel welcomed and seen.

    Now Available for Preorder
  • Three Little Engines

    New York Times’ best seller Three Little Engines, a  modern retelling of the beloved classic Little Engine that Could, is now available in Spanish!

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  • NPR Special Program

    On the 50th anniversary of The Piano Man, Bob interviewed Billy Joel to discuss his contributions to our ideas of struggle and success in America.

    The Piano Man at 50
  • New Series

    Check out Moving Up in Communities, our new  series sharing stories of innovation and advancement in communities across the country. This series is supported by the journalism nonprofit Economic Hardship Reporting Project

    Fast Company Moving Up in Communiities
Three Little Engines

From Bob McKinnon comes this modern retelling of the beloved classic, Little Engine that Could, that asks young readers, “How does your journey differ from others?” It also serves as a thank you letter to all the parents, teachers, role models, and even strangers, who help to clear the storm or pull the tree trunk from their track.

Available in your favorite bookstores.

How did you end up here?

Have you ever asked yourself this question?  Or wondered why your life turned differently than you expected or from others you know.  On this site, you’ll find tools, writing and podcast episodes that explores this question and others.  Watch Bob’s TEDx talk to learn about his journey and the science behind how we see our lives and those of others.

Children’s Books

I think I can, I think I can, I think I… can’t?  What’s an Engine to do when even believing in yourself won’t get you to the top of the mountain? In this modern retelling of the beloved The Little Engine That Could, The Little Blue Engine and her friends attempt to reach the town on the other side of the mountain, but they quickly realize that not every engine is on the same track, and they all face different obstacles in their journey. In Three Little Engines author Bob McKinnon asks young readers: How does your journey differ from others?

While paying homage to the beloved classic, author Bob McKinnon acknowledges that although positive thinking and confidence are important, they are not always enough to help you succeed. In many instances, success requires a helping hand. This book is a gentle introduction to the idea of socioeconomic mobility and inequality in America. Heavily inspired by his own experiences, McKinnon teaches the youngest of readers how to recognize opportunity and inequality in the American Dream, and, most importantly, how to extend a helping hand to those on different tracks of life. At its heart, Three Little Engines is a thank you letter to all the parents, teachers, role models, and even strangers, who help to clear the storm or pull the tree trunk from your track.

Three Little Engines is now a New York Times best seller!  Order your copy today from your favorite online bookseller or your local bookstore:

 

What is Your American Dream Score

What is Your American Dream Score?

Spend five minutes taking this quiz, and you’ll find out what factors were working in your favor and what you had to overcome to get where you are today. At the end, you’ll receive an overall score and a personalized summary of the results (and probably a big dose of pride and gratitude).

Newsletter

Pre

We spend so much of our life in preparation for something else. We prepare for school, work, meals, projects, vacations, for the day ahead.

Recently, among the many things I’ve been preparing for is the launch of my second children’s book, America’s Dreaming, which comes out June 4th.

Of course, we had to prepare the book for publication, prepare the marketing and publicity plans to get the word out, as well as preparing for launch events, book store visits, school visits and so on.

Much of this preparation is critical so we can encourage pre-ordering the book, which leads to pre-sales. The pre-sales send signals to other booksellers and the publisher which can pre-determine the future success of the book before it ever even hits the shelves. Pre-sales are often a predictor of how much support the book will continue to receive from the publisher and bookstores.

Are you seeing a pattern in the language?

The prefix “pre” means before. Many people love the idea of “before.” It builds anticipation before something we’re looking forward to. It can help prevent a bad outcome. It can help us pre-conceive an ending that suits our fancy.

At the same time, too much time spent in the world of “pre” can be paralyzing. It can cause anxiety, delay outcomes, and decrease our pleasure. We are always preparing for something rather than being in the moment and enjoying it.

Here is a case in point. Yesterday, my box of author copies arrived in the mail from my publisher, Penguin. Being in the moment, would be opening the box with my family and genuinely experiencing the excitement of holding my book in my hands for the first time. Alternatively, it has become common to use this moment as a means to boost pre-sales by capturing the excitement to share on social media. This can often require multiple takes of recording this “spontaneous” moment.

It is ironic that the word present also contains the prefix “pre.” Its original Latin meaning is “before being.”  Under this definition, I suppose it suggests that we should get out of our own head or sense of being. To just be in the moment before thinking about it.

According to Google N-gram Viewer which measures the use of words in print over time, the use of the word “present” has declined by 50% since the 1800. By comparison, use of the word “prepare” has remained steady.

Maintaining a healthy balance between preparation and being present is tricky. One, admittedly, I have not always been successful at striking. To prepare is to give us the illusion of control. To be present is to relinquish it.

If you were already planning on buying my book, please consider pre-ordering it now for the simple reasons listed above. But this will be the only time I ask you to pre-order it. If you happen to see something posted online with me opening my box of author copies, know that it was the first take and that’s my authentic reaction.

And if you catch me, your friends, your family or yourself getting too caught up or bogged down in preparation for anything worthwhile, remind them of the other “pre” word – present. In doing so, you will be giving them a real gift.


See all posts from Moving Up Mondays blog

Monday Morning Notes

Delivered to your mailbox each Monday morning, these short notes offer an opportunity each week to reflect on who and what contributes to where we end up in life. Readers tell us it’s a great way to start their week on a positive note. See the latest note below:

Pre

We spend so much of our life in preparation for something else. We prepare for school, work, meals, projects, vacations, for the day ahead. Recently, among the many things I’ve been preparing for is the launch of my second children’s book, America’s Dreaming, which comes out June 4th. Of course, we had to prepare the …

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Attribution with Bob McKinnon

Attribution is a podcast, where people from all walks of life, reflect on who and what has contributed to where they ended up. Our hope is after each episode, you feel a little more inspired, grateful, or supported, then when you first hit play. Check out the latest episode below:

Episode 29: Random w/ Mark Rank

Mark R. Rank is recognized as a foremost expert on issues of poverty, inequality and social justice. To date he has written 10 books on a range of subjects, including an exploration of the American Dream and  a new understanding of poverty and inequality. In this episode, I talk to Mark about his latest book, The Random Factor which looks at the role of luck and chance in shaping the course of our lives. It was a fascinating discussion, one I was lucky to have. I hope you enjoy. 

Show Links: 

Mark R. Rank

The Random Factor

Poverty Risk Calculator

Your American Dream Score