Today, I posted a review for "Humbled by the Journey" by Miguel “Mike” Benito Fernandez. As part of the review process, I also had the opportunity to do a brief interview with the author that I wanted to share.
MTG: I posted a review for your book today; tell us something about the book that is not in the summary. (About the book, time/place you particularly enjoyed writing etc.)
Fernandez: During the walk I had periods of not feeling well, it most have been the rapidly changing weather in the mountains. On particular day I could not take another step when I arrived at a small mountain top village after the sun had said goodnight. The scene was from the Middle Ages. Stone structures in the dark, a heavy mist, cobblestone streets and a church at the end of where my eyes could see. There was a small bar just before the church, with a wooden bar top, a couple of people standing and three tables occupied by other "pilgrims” like me. The bartender would call out to his wife in the kitchen for whatever the patrons asked for. I asked, "do you have a room for the night?" He did.
I stayed in this room, what seemed as an imaginary mystical place for two days, nursing a slight fever. The room was cold and humid. The only heat was the body heat generated from the patrons below. As I slept I heard the sound bagpipes and violins. Northern Spain and Southwestern France are more Celt than Iberian. It was here that I began to write my notes that become the book.
MTG: Why did you pick the Camino as your fundraiser as opposed to something else?
Fernandez: It seem appropriate to experience a simple life, one where all Pilgrims are equal. El Camino has been a place of pilgrimages for well over 1000 years. People from all over the world walk its trails for many reasons, asking for forgiveness or praying for a miracle to benefit a love one. I met some who had experienced a personal loss and sought solitude to heal or people walking because they wanted to lose weight. I chose it because it is a humbling place where I became more grounded to core principles when I first did it with my daughter. It just felt right for this cause.
MTG: Do you have a favorite book(s) and why? I know it’s often impossible to narrow it down to one, so just pick one (or a few) that is a new favorite or consistent “go-to”.
Fernandez: “The Boys in the Boat”. I like nonfiction books. This is a story about a young man who is abandoned by his parents. He lives alone through much of his younger years. He learns that in order to protect himself, he needs to be independent and not rely on anyone. He was a loner and an achiever. The only way he could afford a college education was to win a scholarship and he does with the university's rowing team. A rowing skull depends on each rower to propel their boat through the water and cut it as if it was cutting a fine line on a glass surface. They were a good team but did not become a great team and the winner of the Olympics until they learned to row as one!
He had to give all he was. Independent, self-reliant to be a team members. All he thought was important was given up to become great. There was no "I" in the team. It was the Boys on the Boat that became ONE.
MTG: What books are you reading now?
Fernandez: “Hemingway's Boat”. I have always enjoyed reading Hemingway and books about him. In 1999, I went to Cuba for the first time since leaving as a child. My principal reason for going was to meet his boat captain Gregorio Fuentes, he was 99 years old. He died in 2002 at 103. Today we are working to restore a sister ship of the Pilar built by Wheeler, who stopped building boats in the 50s.
MTG: What inspired you to write about your experiences?
Fernandez: My wife Constance. She is a native Michigander and knew very little about her heritage, her grandparents came from Croatia and Macedonia. She felt that my grandchildren and those who followed should know about the man who came to our great country as a child. But I rejected her suggestions for 10 years.
Then about two years ago, after my granddaughter successfully survived open heart surgery, I decided to do El Camino as a fundraiser for the benefit of families who could not afford care and particularly the same care that my granddaughter experienced.
MTG: Where do you usually find yourself writing?
Fernandez: Behind my home, by the sea wall overlooking Biscayne Bay in Coral Gables, Florida. Also at out ranch, near Havana, Florida. The name is totally coincidental.
MTG: What has been the biggest reward to your writing so far?
Fernandez: Sharing the story with young people. I have spoken at numerous colleges and Universities; just last night I spoke at the University of Michigan to over 1000 students. My style is more like a conversation than a presentation so there is a great deal of interaction and Q&A.
MTG: Give us three “Good to Know” facts. Be creative: first job, likes/dislikes, hobbies, favorite way to unwind – whatever comes to mind.
- I have never lived a balanced life. I have had both success and failure as the result of my commitment to anything I do.
- I love building things but not managing things. I have built 25 companies but always sold them after it stopped being fun.
- I love the sea!
MTG: Do you have any upcoming projects?
Fernandez: Another El Camino walk. It will be with my 11 year old and we begin as soon as he finishes school this May.
About the Author:
Mike Fernandez is the founder of MBF Healthcare Partners, a private equity firm that invests in healthcare service companies nationwide. Mike has been honored frequently for his business achievements, named Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year, and awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa, from St. Thomas University, a degree that acknowledges and celebrates his outstanding achievements as a humanitarian, leader and philanthropist. A gifted storyteller with a terrific sense of humor, he lives in Miami with his wife Constance and their family. “Humbled by the Journey” is his first book.
About the Early Childhood Initiative Foundation:
All proceeds from “Humbled by the Journey” go to The Early Childhood Initiative Foundation, a 501 (c)(3) focused on early childhood education, development initiative and "universal readiness" -- that is, making available and affordable high quality health, education and nurturing for all children between birth and age 5 in Miami-Dade County, population 2.6 million, Florida's largest county, with more people than 16 states. In doing so, the initiative works toward the social, physical, emotional and intellectual growth of all children so that they are ready and eager to be successful in the first grade and, indeed, in life. For more information visit: http://www.teachmorelovemore.org/ECIF.asp.