Behind the Pen – Michael Comer

Mike Comer

In my next blog in the Behind The Pen series, I share about someone I had the pleasure of working with for several years at The Hayes Group International. Dr. Mike Comer’s words help a variety of business leaders and executives in leading their teams and inspiring the next generation of leaders. Read on to find out more about his unique business writing, where he gets his inspiration from, and much more.

What do you love about writing?

Writing allows me to help others in their vocations and lives. Short articles, thought-provoking stories, or interviews with leaders is part of what I do as a leadership coach and consultant. Words can positively impact entire organizations while making a difference in individual lives.

How did you get into the writing world?

I started writing short articles as a consultant with emphasis on leadership and communication. In 2010, my colleague and mentor suggested that we write a book together. He had the idea for the concept, and I did the writing. The process took over one year because I was only able to write in early mornings due to a full-time work schedule and business travel.

What top two challenges do you find in writing?

The greatest challenge for me is finding time but like other pursuits, a writer must make the time to capture ideas and thoughts. Secondly, the challenge to appeal to a business audience who has a very short attention span is difficult. As a consultant, I need to get the ideas across in both an interesting and concise way.

Where do you find inspiration for your writing?

Most of my ideas come from news stories on my phone feed or reading biographies about historical figures. It is amazing the human concepts that transfer across history. I am currently finishing Doris Goodwin Kearns “Team of Rivals” book concerning Abraham Lincoln and his cabinet. The leadership concepts that are applicable to today’s business and political environment are amazing. Taking these concepts that transcend time and adapting them to today’s challenges is inspirational.

What is 1. The most challenging thing you’ve written and why and 2. The favorite thing you’ve written and why?

The most challenging thing I have written is my doctoral dissertation. It ended up being around 350 pages. The challenge was not the content as much as the format and the academic style. In essence I was following a certain academic format that allowed for creativity in content but not creativity in presentation.

My favorite piece was our book “Start with Humility.” The book had a story-telling component that featured interviews of six excellent leaders. Based on the stories, we extrapolated general principles that can apply to any type of leadership worldwide. The feel-good moment was when it was finished and published.

Do you have any tips to writers on conducting interviews and/or drafting interview questions?

With interviews, the basics are always key – short open-ended questions and use of silence.  I read somewhere that if an interviewer counts to 17 silently (not 17 seconds but a rapid counting to 17) that the average person gets uncomfortable with silence at 17 and begins to give more information. I’ve used it for both interviews and when facilitating groups and it works. Remember it is not 17 seconds, but a quick counting mentally to 17.

If you could give an upcoming writer, one piece of advice what would it be?

Practice your art. Take time to write on a regular basis.

Where can people go to see more of your work?

The book “Start with Humility: Lessons from America’s Quiet CEOs on How to Build Trust and Inspire Followers” (co-authored with Merwyn Hayes) is available on Amazon.



Dr. Mike Comer is President of The Hayes Group International, Inc. He has over 30 years consulting experience with Fortune 500 companies, government agencies, and non-profits in senior leader assessment and development (executive coaching), organizational and team development, and leadership program delivery. You can learn more at