Doug Slocum: Violent Positivity

On episode #232 of The Author Factor Podcast, I am having a conversation with nonfiction book author, Doug "Odie" Slocum. Doug, a retired Brigadier General, spent 35 years in the Air Force and Air National Guard. He commanded the 127th Wing to national acclaim and piloted over 4100 hours in America's fiercest fighters. Recently, Doug published his first book, Violent Positivity, sharing his people-centric leadership journey.

Doug Slocum and Mike Capuzzi

Violent Positivity, is a compelling read filled with inspiring stories and lessons. One significant reason listeners will find the book interesting is Doug's unique approach to leadership, which he calls "violent positivity." This concept emphasizes passionate, enthusiastic leadership and has proven effective in transforming stressed organizations into award-winning teams.

Doug Slocum shares his Author Factor

Unlocking the Author Factor: This Episode's Big Takeaway

The key author factor from this episode is the concept of "violent positivity" as a transformative leadership approach. Doug Slocum's book and his discussion emphasize the significant and positive impact that a people-centric leadership style can have on organizations, especially in high-stress environments. His dedication to caring for people and leveraging their potential through positive, enthusiastic, and supportive leadership principles ultimately turned a stressed organization into an award-winning one. This approach advocates for the organizational and personal benefits that come from empowering and prioritizing people.

Learn more about Doug Slocum by visiting:


Mike Capuzzi: What does it take to transform high stakes pressure into a groundbreaking legacy? Meet Doug Odie Slocum. A trailblazer with 35 years in the Air Force in the Air National Guard, Doug not only commanded the 127th Wing to national acclaim, but also piloted over 4100 hours in the cockpit of America's fiercest fighters, retiring as a brigadier general in 2019, Doug has just published his first book, Violent Positivity, which chronicles his journey of experiences and lessons that led to his people centric approach to leadership. Doug, welcome to the show.


Doug Slocum: Mike, it's great to be here. I look forward to talking with you today.


Mike Capuzzi: Yeah. And I feel like I've known you for a little while because I first read about you in Dom Slice, Tike's book, Single Seat Wisdom, which features stories of fighter pilots. You were in, I think, the first book, or maybe the second one.


Doug Slocum: No, it was the first volume. I believe that they were putting that together, and, yeah, I had an opportunity. I. One of. I believe it was 20 contributing authors to that publication.


Mike Capuzzi: Yeah, it was. Dom's a great guy. He's. He's had a big impact. He's shared some amazing stories. I've actually had one or two of the other fighter pilots that he had been featured on this podcast. But, Doug, I was. I was looking forward to your.


Mike Capuzzi: Well, first of all, then you and I connected because as you were writing and publishing, getting ready to publish your book, we talked, but it's neat to see it finally come to fruition. I know it only took a couple weeks, right?


Doug Slocum: Yeah. Oh, that's. Yeah, a lot. A lot. A lot of weeks.


Mike Capuzzi: Yeah, a lot of weeks.


Doug Slocum: And it did. The first time I ever held the proof in my hand, I was a little freaking out. I was surprised it actually ever happened. It seemed like it was taken forever, and it was like, wow, this is. This is kind of weird that I'm actually holding my book. Yep.


Mike Capuzzi: And it's literally hot off the presses, so congratulations. Thank you. But before we jump in there, Doug, again, an amazing history, background, level of service. Thank you for that. Obviously, you've done a lot for our country and for the men and women who serve. Can you share, Doug, a little bit more about your service and then what you're doing today?


Doug Slocum: Absolutely. And thanks for the opportunity to talk. You know, I was blessed. 35 years, you know, I got to fly fighter jets for 34 out of 35 years, which is just an amazing thing. But as part of all that, you know, I've worked with countries all around the world. I've traveled to all 50 states, worked back in Washington, DC. And then to cap off my 35 years, I was blessed to be, you know, to take care of the men and women of Selfridge Air National Guard base, we call Michigan's hometown air base, as kind of a pinnacle of all these different lessons was coming into this stressed organization. And that's by this time is when I had honed my leadership style that I call violent positivity.


Doug Slocum: And, oh, by golly, it works so well. We took the stressed organization and raised it to one of the best in the country, award winning and everything, by some very simple principles. And that's exactly why I wrote the book, is I wanted to share those.


Mike Capuzzi: So one of my questions to ask you today, because it's such a unique title, Doug, and I think for a lot of folks, they're not going to know exactly what you mean by that. So, violent positivity, was your brand out of teaching training when you were serving, is that correct?


Doug Slocum: Absolutely. That's what I called my leadership style. And it really is giving people the benefit of the doubt, organize, train, equip, motivate, get out of their way, and watch the magic happen. Sort of an approach to leadership, but it is also very people centric. It's always, as I said, fighting fighter jets. They're cool. There's a lot of great experiences, but my photo album, both in reality and in my brain, is always about people. The imprint that people leave on our lives, and that's some of the stuff I was able to do in the military, was some incredible opportunities at caring for people.


Doug Slocum: And that's really what the focus of the book is.


Mike Capuzzi: So since retiring just a few years ago, what are you doing today? Is this now part of. Is the book a big part of what you're doing and what you're looking to do?


Doug Slocum: It is certainly a part of it. One is just documenting the neat stuff that's happened in the past, because I think there's some great lessons that people can glean, you know, not just from my experiences, but it will help them discover what they can do with their experiences. You know, you go back to the title. I'd love to. The violent positivity. When I first looked at writing this book, I had talked to some big time publishers and all, and they didn't like the title. I'd actually changed it at one point, but the introductory chapter actually starts with italics. The phrase you can't do that in quotes.


Doug Slocum: And I said, that has driven me to do more things in my life than anything else is when somebody pokes me in the chest and says, you can't. But when the publisher said that, hey, watch this, I published this book, staying true to myself. That's what I call it. That's what the title of the book is.


Mike Capuzzi: That is awesome.


Doug Slocum: And when you look in the dictionary, the first time you see the word violent, you look at the top line. Keep reading down. And it talks about vehement, it talks about with enthusiasm, with energy. That's where I'm talking about. And it's enough of a little bit of disconnect in people's brain, I think. It catches people's attention. I always tell people that we're in the us military, we're used to blowing stuff up. Well, I'm going to blow up the idea of caring for people in a good way.


Doug Slocum: You know, I'm going to set it on fire. And so that's what the book's about, and that's why it has the title.


Mike Capuzzi: Thank you for that. I was wondering, but now that as soon as you say it that way, it makes sense, so it definitely encourages some intrigue. So let's. Let's talk about the book, Doug, and the journey that you've been on. And I facetiously asked you before we hit the record button, if writing this book, because this is, this is quite. I mean, this is not a short little book like I publish. If it was as challenging as flying fighter jets, and your answer was what?


Doug Slocum: Exceptionally challenging. And I consider myself, you know, a little OCD obsessed person, and you're trying to get things organized, because I, in the military, was traveling, teaching, and talking. This was my great opportunity in the military was actually in the world of safety, where I ended up traveling around the whole air force, around, even to other air forces around the world, and then into the commercial, different ventures. These principles that we used as fighter pilots, that if you use universally, whether it's in medicine, in manufacturing, and anything else, you get the best out of the people and most efficient. But I wanted to write about those principles, but it got really frustrating because I'm a storyteller, and I was trying to write about the principles and tell the stories, and it always seemed disconnected to me. So it was very frustrating writing the book when I realized that I need to tell the stories of how I got to doing it in the first place. So chronologically, I kind of had to flip it around. So a large part of this book actually looks like an autobiography and reads like an autobiography because I want to tell the stories of how I ended up in the position with these wonderful opportunities to be able to move the needle in the right direction.


Mike Capuzzi: Very interesting. I just actually interviewed a woman very recently. She wrote one of the few memoirs that I featured on this podcast, because it's not a style of book. But she said the same thing, Doug. She said, and she's a businesswoman. She said I had to tell these stories, and it turned into a memoir. She's already working on her second book, so I'm not sure if you're working on your second one yet. It really required that storytelling component to be able to share her wisdom, so.


Mike Capuzzi: Very interesting here you say that, and.


Doug Slocum: It’s, you know, it's always interesting. Just like public speaking. It's a little scary writing a book because you end up revealing a lot about yourself. There's a lot of stories. I kind of joke with people. You've read the book, you're gonna have nightmares. It's because of some of the insights and some of the things that have happened in life, and it's tough to share personal stories and be vulnerable, but I think that's part of the writer's experience.


Mike Capuzzi: Absolutely. When I was talking with her, I mentioned to her, for me, I'm a very. You know, I have an engineering degree, I think, a certain way. I'm in marketing and book publishing now. But I find it very challenging to tell those stories publicly. You know, like, for. To do what you were doing, to do what you did in this first book, that would be a real challenge. I could write a very tactical book, a strategic book, but when it comes to the art of storytelling, personally, that.


Mike Capuzzi: That's. That's something I have yet to do. And she challenged me on that. So let's talk about who you wrote the book for. Violent positivity. Who should read this book? Doug?


Doug Slocum: You know, that's a great question. I get asked a lot, and I actually have a hard time narrowing it down because it's a leadership book. It's a caring for people book. When you look at the COVID you think, oh, it's military, because there's a nice picture of me in front of an 810 there on the COVID But in reality, it is very. The applicability of the principles are wide. Even when I would travel and teach, the things that we did as fighter pilots, some of my most successful customers and all that were, like, accounting firms, people that worked in offices. So you can never reimagine the different applications of these principles. They are universal.


Doug Slocum: So there's not, like, a particular audience or anything in there. I think everybody, there's something that you're going to be able to glean on to, whether it's caring for people, whether it's suicide prevention. Heck, there's flying stories in there for the enthusiasts that like that type of stuff. I talk about how I became a Christian. I mean, all these different types of stories throughout, they get pretty personal. I talk about my family, near tragedies, and then I do talk about some of the tragedies of suicide that, like I said, I've experienced through the years and how I ended up running a national suicide prevention program as a result.


Mike Capuzzi: So is the book suited for, I mean, is it business leaders, entrepreneurs, just somebody who's either a military veteran that's looking at a new career? I know it's a challenge, especially when it's that has that breadth of information. But who would you encourage? If someone's listening to this, who would you encourage to get the book and more importantly, read it?


Doug Slocum: Well, to me, I guess one of the ways I would phrase it is people are always looking for how they can have an impact for their purpose. And I think this book shows the power that a single person can have an organization and with other people, whether it's the power of our words, leveraging the wonderful opportunities that failure presents to us as leaders, these types of principles that we can use to affect organizations, but more importantly, to affect people for the better. So anybody who's looking for what their purpose is, or if they're frustrated in an organization because they're not making a difference, you know, you can affect the culture simply by how you act. And I think that's one of the magic things, if you will, of violent positivity, is making, letting people know that they could have a purpose, they could have an impact. They're able to move the needle in the right direction and affect people's lives for the better.


Mike Capuzzi: So now, is the book pointing to, are you. Are you trying to be like, you know, speaking gigs, keynote speaker, coaching, consulting, or, you know, is it a book to promote Doug Slocum's next chapter in his life as far as providing service to others, or is it just sort of your gift to the world?


Doug Slocum: A little of all of those. I'm not really, you know, I actually did motivational speaking and teaching others to be motivational speakers. This book is actually an outcome of that, not the other way around. But I do believe that, you know, books, it gives a reference point, it gives some credibility. So when you are talking to a group and you can point to a book you know, that gives them a takeaway in a lot of cases. There has been talk with my wife, who's my wonderful editor. She's that by trade. She was asking me about when are we going to do volume two? Because this book stops when I retire.


Doug Slocum: So it stopped five years ago when I retired from the military. But you know what? Service, purpose and all that continues. So there are even more stories that come in the later years. So maybe that's a follow on.


Mike Capuzzi: It's interesting to see here. You say that because giving the monumental task. How long did it take you to write the book?


Doug Slocum: It was almost four years of work, and I struggled even starting it, and I didn't even. The four year clock starts when a wonderful friend of mine gave me the opportunity to just go up to. He called it a cabin. It was more like a house up in northern Michigan. And I just isolated myself for about a week. And between coffee, pizza, and a laptop, I got maybe the first 30 or 40 pages of what is now a 376 page book, I believe it is. But it got me started. It got the logic flowing in my brain.


Doug Slocum: It allowed me to isolate away from all those distractions, to get focused on what it is I needed to do.


Mike Capuzzi: Do you know a gentleman? He was a Marine Corps fighter pilot, Ed Rush.


Doug Slocum: I've not heard that name.


Mike Capuzzi: Check out Ed. So, Ed, strong Christian man. I've known him for a long time. I knew him right kind of as he got out of the military. Military. Now he's written a ton of books. He speaks all over the place. His dad was actually the head of the officials for the NBA officials years ago, and his mom, they actually did a movie about his mom.


Mike Capuzzi: His mom was a basketball coach at Immaculata College, which is right near me. They won a women's championship back in the early seventies, and they did an actual movie, a Hollywood movie about her. So Ed's a great guy, but he wrote a book. I think it was. I'm going to probably mess up the name, but I think it was 21 days to wisdom. And he did the same thing. He went out, I think it was in Colorado. He lives in San Diego, but he went out to the Colorado mountains for 21 days just to be by himself in this book, which has become a big time bestseller.


Mike Capuzzi: But he did exactly what you said. He kind of isolated himself, you know, quieted everything down and wrote this amazing book. So. Yeah, but he's a. He's one of your brothers in the fighter pilot world.


Doug Slocum: I kind of joke, if people ask me, you know, just they've never heard of it. They start talking. And I said, well, it was a book written, you know, by a fighter pilot when I'm referring to my book. So I kind of joke. I said, well, clearly it's a. It's a coloring book and a combination of that and sniff, you know, but.


Mike Capuzzi: You know, Dom tight did a coloring book. I think he's done a couple. Did you know that slice?


Doug Slocum: No, I didn't. But how appropriate. Yes, especially when our wonderful Marine Corps brother, and they always get the crayon jokes thrown at them. So that's where my synapse is connected on all that.


Mike Capuzzi: So, Doug, now that you've published this first book, four years, again, quite the effort, and I think your insight about traditional publishers, and we've heard that over and over again, it's one of the main reasons I've always self published. I've had good friends of mine, and a lot of times it has to do with simple things like book titles. You know, the author wants a certain book title, the publisher may or may not know better, and they want a different title. But is there anything that you learned on this journey that when it comes time to do that second book, you would do it differently?


Doug Slocum: Well, there was a lot of time and research, talking to the different publishers and different options. I have some folks that have contacted me that I've talked to in the process, that they've spent a lot of money in investing in a book that they were writing, and a lot of folks didn't necessarily have the money to spend, too. I think that the system is now set up very nicely that you can self publish. There's a lot of things that you can do where you don't have to pay somebody for those services. I have a technical writer as a wife, which was great. I've had some wonderful friends who are artists, photographers that all helped on the team of bringing this together. But I think that there's a lot of tools out there now that empower our authors to be able to publish without all that pain and administrative type of things, the people that intimidate people. So I guess one of my greatest lessons all this is it's much easier to be an author than people think.


Doug Slocum: Just talk to folks, you know, like you, like me. At this point, based on my brief experience, I think there's easy ways to be able to do that. And now, how successful I'm going to be, I don't know. I'm brand new, like you said. I think the books are still warm off the press. So we'll see how we go from here. So I'm still exploring it. I'm in the middle of the process if you will.


Doug Slocum: But I've got the book out there, and I'm stunned I ever got to that point. So this is all good.


Mike Capuzzi: Yeah. And listen, you know, who knows? There's been some, several guests on this show. Again, another one, Mace. Michelle Curran Mace. She, she was the Thunderbird pilot, so one of the few. One of the, yeah, she was in one of Slice's books, and I interviewed her and she self published her first book, which was written for young women to encourage young women who have dreams. But given her background and given the book, she got a traditional publisher for her second, a deal for her second book. So that might be something, you know, that might still be in your future.


Mike Capuzzi: And I do give it, you know, a certain level of credibility. There's still something to be said if you're published by a big publisher. Right. There's, you know, you're still going to be required to do all the marketing and all that, but there's still something to be said if, you know, a big publisher picks up your book and, you know, promotes it to whatever level they promote it. But that might still be in your, again, given your background and all that you've done, I would not be surprised to hear that in the future.


Doug Slocum: Well, thank you. I appreciate that. One of the things, just like I talk about in the book, is you surround yourself with smart people. I am not an author by trade. I did get to do a lot of writing in my capacities in the military. So I seek out wise counsel of folks like you and others that are in this business. And I use my ears very well so that I can learn lessons that others have learned without having to go through that hard path myself in most cases.


Mike Capuzzi: So it's got to be interesting that you served for so many years, you did so many things, and now you find yourself guesting on podcasting and doing the hard grind of promoting that book. What's that been like so far? Doug, what are you doing? And again, you're right, the books are still fairly warm from the press. What are you doing to get the word out about violent positivity?


Doug Slocum: Well, I would say that so far I've only technically done a soft launch. I have not even done anything that's going to take it outside of my network at this point. So I'm doing a lot of exploring, learning, listening, yes. Podcasts and everything else for a lot of people is a little freaky. But in my experiences in the military, I had the unique opportunity of the traveling, teaching, and like I said, even teaching other people to be public speakers at some point, which means I ended up in front of the camera an awful lot. So I don't get any prettier than what I am, but hopefully I'm at least a little bit articulate.


Mike Capuzzi: Yeah. Podcast guesting, I think, could be a fairly straightforward strategy for you. You know, keynote speaking would be something. I could see you doing that, but. So, Doug, as we get ready to wrap up here for your journey just culminated recently, so it might be a bit premature, but I'd still like to hear what it's meant so far to you. Maybe it's the writing part of it, maybe it's the, you know, the part that the birthing of that book. But what it has it meant to Doug Slocum to be a published book author?


Doug Slocum: You know, that is a fantastic question because I think it is the process. There's so much value in that. I don't want to use the word legacy per se, but I think there are lessons, there are things I want my daughter to know about. There are stories from the past that I think others can learn from. And once again, it goes back to that word positivity. There's a lot of folks I need to acknowledge through there. I said I learned my leadership style by watching people, and if I liked what they did, I mimicked it. If I didn't, I made sure I never did that.


Doug Slocum: So my leadership style has adapted through the years. If I use somebody's name in the book, it's always in a positive light. Now I say kind of tongue in cheek, say, if it wasn't in a positive light, I relegate them to a pronoun so they're not mentioned. There's nobody that's going to be offended by reading the book because I don't say bad things about any person ever in all of this. But, you know, it's that those lifetime lessons of, you know, what we're able to do here at Selfridge in Michigan with turning the organization around, making a difference for that base, for the lives, for individuals and so many, just one on one type of stories of being able once again, to positively impact people's lives. Going through this process of writing the book is a good exercise. It taught me a lot. It taught me a lot about myself.


Doug Slocum: I think, just like when you're teaching something, you have to tell those stories to put that down on paper. It's an interesting internalizing process of your life.


Mike Capuzzi: Indeed. For sure. It's one of those hidden benefits. I call it a benefit. It's until you go through it, it's an amazing thing. So. Well, Doug, thank you for your time today. How can our listeners learn more about you? Where's the best place to get violent positivity?


Doug Slocum: Well, I listened really well when they talked about it. So the first thing before I ever even had the book on the shelf was that's the website. There's the link to Amazon there. There's some videos. We do have a YouTube channel that I've made over 25 short video story segments. Once again, all with that title, violent positivity. And that website, one more time is


Doug Slocum: and everything you should want to know, you ought to be able to find or link to through that website.


Mike Capuzzi: Very good. We'll make sure we share that. Again, Doug, thank you for your time. Thank you for your service, and I appreciate all that you've done.


Doug Slocum: Mike. I appreciate it. You know, even the opportunity to talk with you today, it's my honor.