Interviews

MEN OF VALUE INTERVIEW : MICHAEL LEPPERT By James Riordan

Michael Leppert is a great example of someone whose values have shaped every aspect of his life. His strong priority toward family directly led to his success, when he and his wife Mary began homeschooling their son, Lennon. “My son was born in 1987 and my wife and I chose for her to quit her job and stay at home with him. She nursed him and we practiced the family bed, so we were all together at night. We read aloud to him every night and spent a great deal of time with him one-on-one. He sat with me at the piano and listened to my music as well as regular music on record and radio. As time passed, this close relationship was so satisfying to us that we began to teach him how to read and we talked with him a great deal. We chose to homeschool him, because I had a very negative experience in Catholic schools, but I agreed with the Catholic academic approach and my wife agreed with me and we wanted to avoid having him exposed to the negatives of being around whomever the school decided he would be around. We view this as having insulated him from society in general, rather than isolating him. As we became more immersed in homeschooling, we found that the majority of the Founders of the United States were homeschooled. Colleges in the Colonial Period did not accept prospective students who did not already have the basic academic skills and these were taught by the parents and then, by a tutor hired by the parents, if necessary. My wife started a homeschool newspaper publishing business and ultimately, I quit my regular job and came home to work on the newspaper. My wife had been teaching him academics for the majority of the time, but when I began staying home, I also then began to teach our 8-year-old son.”

ML2LinkSuccess is often about recognizing a need and then creating something o fulfill that need. Through homeschooling their son the Lepperts realized that, at that time, there were not many ways for people who wanted to homeschool their children to connect or to learn about products and services which could help them in their efforts. By starting  The Link, the Lepperts gave homeschoolers a way to connect and share their ideas and also provided an avenue for products geared to assisting homeschoolers to be advertised. Each year The Link grew in subscribers and advertising revenue until it became the most successful homeschooling publication in the United States. The Lepperts expanded their vision into holding conferences around the country and that too was a success. And it all came from trying to live out their values in a time when many have forsaken them. “I am a firm believer that each family is its own sovereign unit—a little country within the larger country,” Leppert says, “and the culture of a family should be a combination of the cultures of each parent—not from the society at large. I also believe that all parents should raise their children themselves and homeschool them as much as possible. Humans are mammals and mammals raise their young until they are ready to live independently of the parents. That is the nature of humans and families should live in that way. Parents should be the teachers of brushing teeth, tying shoes, eating with utensils and then, reading, writing, mathematics, etc. It is a natural progression.”

Leppert is also a very accomplished musician and  composer and has had many songs published and recorded. Last year he was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award from his native Kankakee Area Music Awards. He currently live in the Los Angeles Area where he and his wife began their homeschooling newspaper and raised their family. He believes that it is important to teach independence to children as well. “George Washington had a difficult time getting the Continental soldiers to maintain orderly discipline because they were all self-employed and not used to taking orders from others. That is the basic atmosphere of homeschooling—our children grow up not getting into line, not simply blindly obeying the commands of others, and that is how we parents intend it to be. Our children can work well with others, because they have a fundamental respect for others and themselves.”

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Leppert in his rock n’ roll days
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Leppert playing a Sitar

Leppert defines freedom as follows: “I define freedom as being responsible for my actions and their effect on others and myself. I do not want to encroach on the rights of others, nor do I want others to encroach upon my rights. I do not need a government to tell me what to do. I have faith that others can self-govern successfully as well.”

Many people who try to live by a certain set of values often find themselves hindered by modern society which emphasize compromise. “I am not certain how my values have limited me in life choices,” Leppert notes. “A few years ago, I could have answered that I was not selfish enough, commercially, to achieve some of the goals I had then. Now, I feel that I am exactly where the Lord intends for me to be; that every step was leading to this point in time and that I am fulfilling my purpose on earth, so my values have made this possible, not limited me.”

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Leppert is an avid hockey player

Like many Christians, Leppert looks to Jesus Christ for “inspiration, patience, insight, love and courage. I also look to the lives of the apostles for their obedience and courage. I read C.S. Lewis and hope to gain from his writing some of his amazing ability to reason and communicate his way of thinking to others clearly, and teaching them to do likewise. I read books written by Michael Berg and his father, under the umbrella of the Kabbalah. These books have given me a great deal of insight and usefulness in overcoming my shortcomings and faults, with a Godly viewpoint. These are other men whose lives have inspired me, like the aforementioned George Washington. He was amazing for his faith over the 6-year Revolutionary War, against insurmountable numbers, a lack of money, arms, food, clothing . . . virtually everything necessary to win, and yet his faith in God carried him through these massive tests to ultimate victory.  I also have friends who are believers and we talk at various times about issues we confront as Christians and I feel that I have the guidance of the Holy Spirit. I believe that all Christians who desire to be guided by the Spirit, and listen to the guidance, will have it.”

Leppert shares the belief of many Godly people that our nation has been “sinking deeper into darkness. The main problem is that Americans are much too herd-minded and not independent people. The Founding generation were self-reliant and self-governing, independent thinkers and doers. That is how they were able to create the United States. They were beings of Light. Shortly after that generation died, the forces of darkness once again encroach-ed on the atmosphere of grace the Founders had created. That darkness has grown since then—the 1840s to now. If the majority of families were like mine and the other homeschooling families I have known personally, the nation would be growing in Light and liberty; independent thinking and self-governing. This herd-minded situation is the problem and not being herd-minded is the solution. I don’t expect that to happen, because those who are concerned about the good opinions of others are not going  to suddenly become self-governing and independent thinkers and doers. Of course, if God chose to infuse the country with His Grace, anything that is good can happen. Without such a mass miracle, the best thing families can do is be as independent as possible and stay under the radar of society. Evil and darkness permeate all aspects of life, but individuals and families can stay away from the evil by keeping to them-selves and maintaining the Light in their lives, and quietly disagree with the status quo.”

Michael Leppert is a person worth listening to as he has based his life on his values—a true man of value.

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The Author

James Riordan

James Riordan

Rare is it that any author will have one of his books described as the definitive work on a particular subject, but such a distinction has been bestowed by critics on no less than four books written by James Riordan. The New York Times Bestseller Break on Through, Riordan’s biography of Doors lead singer Jim Morrison, has not only been called “the most objective, thorough and professional Morrison biography” by the Times Book Review but also named as one of the Ten All Time Best Rock Biographies by Amazon.com. Riordan’s The Platinum Rainbow (written with Bob Monaco) was called “One of the best how-to books ever written” by the Los Angeles Daily News and “The ultimate career book on the music industry” by Recording, Engineer & Producer. Critics described Riordan’s The Bishop of Rwanda as “one of the most important books you’ll ever read.” and The Coming of the Walrus, Riordan’s novel about the 60s as “the definitive book on the era” and “a hilarious tale of a harrowing search for the greatest truth of all”. With the release of A Well Thought Out Scream and Madman in the Gate, Riordan pushed the boundaries again with poetry/song lyric books that contain hundreds of stunning, beautiful and poignant images from artists and photographers from all over the world. In the summer of 2013 a new edition of The Coming of the Walrus was released to rave reviews followed by The Kill Switch. The author of thirty-three books, James Riordan’s career began in the music industry where as a songwriter, manager, producer and concert promoter he worked with several well known artists. In 1976 he began writing a newspaper column, Rock-Pop, which he later syndicated. Riordan soon became one of America’s premier rock journalists with articles reaching millions of readers including those of Rolling Stone, Crawdaddy, Circus, Musician, and newspapers like The Chicago Daily News and The Kansas City Star. His reputation for relating on a one-to-one level soon led to interviews with George Harri-son, Bob Dylan, Fleetwood Mac, Frank Zappa, The Doobie Brothers, Kenny Rogers, Barbra Mandrell, Crosby, Stills & Nash and countless others. His first book, The Platinum Rainbow (written with Bob Monaco in 1980) became the largest selling book ever written about the music business. The guide to “succeeding in the music business without selling your soul” was praised by Variety ,The Chicago Tribune, The Los Angeles Times, The Las Vegas Sun, The Minneapolis Tribune, Billboard, Record World and many more. The Platinum Rainbow became an industry-wide phenomenon and interviews with James Riordan were aired on over 1200 radio stations and numerous television talk shows. Next Riordan collaborated with Pulitzer Prize winner Jason Miller on a mini-series for network television (The Irish) and a movie of the week for CBS (Bless Me Father). In June 1991, William Morrow & Co. published Break On Through to outstanding sales and reviews. Riordan worked as a consultant on Oliver Stone’s film of Morrison’s life, The Doors, which led to his writing Stone’s biography. Published by Hyperion /Disney in December 1995, Entertainment Weekly called STONE “an unflinching biography... enough spectacle to fill a month of daytime-TV talk shows.” The New York Post said reading the book was like “the sensory overload of watching all of Oliver Stone’s movies back to back.” Riordan was interviewed by Inside Edition, People Magazine, The Tom Snyder Show, and many others. From 1997-2000, Riordan created and co-starred in a local television program, Kankakee Valley Prime Time, which won six Crystal Communicators, three Tellys, and earned Riordan a Chicago/ Midwest Emmy Nomination for Writing the program. In the summer of 1999, James Riordan wrote, directed and starred in Maddance, an hour long dramatic project which won Crystal Communicators for Drama, Writing, Acting and Directing. On April 9, 2000, James’ 16 year old son, Jeremiah, was killed as a passenger in an accident that involved three drunk drivers. Shortly after this, James founded Make it Stick which works to warn teens of the dangers of substance abuse and publishes a magazine distributed to high school students. In 2001, he founded Jeremiah’s – A Place to be Yourself to give teens a place to hang out away from the dangers of drugs and alcohol. Force to close by its incredible growth rate, Jeremiah’s was recognized as one of the fastest growing and most successful teen centers in the United States. In 2004, Toastmasters International named Riordan Communicator of the Year for Central Illinois, the YMCA gave him their Service to Youth Award and the United Way named him the Outstanding Volunteer of Kankakee County. Returning to writing, Riordan went to Africa to write The Bishop of Rwanda, (with an intro by Purpose Driven Life author Rick Warren). In November of 2006, Harper Collins released a new edition of Break On Through followed by The Coming of the Walrus (Image Workshop) in December and The Bishop of Rwanda (Thomas Nelson, Inc.) to rave reviews (“Powerful …plumbs the depths of God’s forgiveness and finds no bottom – Publisher’s Weekly). In 2011, he won the Pledge For Life Harold Award for his work with area youth. In the summer of 2012, Lee and Shane Stanley (Gridiron Gang) optioned Maddance as a feature film followed by Apothecary Films optioning The Kill Switch in 2013 and Omni Films optioning Final Service to film in May. Riordan joined the staff of the Mancow Syndicated Television and Radio show in January of 2014 and is now seen and heard across America on a weekly basis. His biography is included in Who’s Who in Entertainment , Who’s Who in Poetry and Contemporary Authors of America. James Riordan – Works Books The Kill Switch, novel with Andrew Dahlmaine, Stonegate Ink, 2013 The Coming of the Walrus, Trade Paperback Editn, Image Workshop 2012 Springboard To Heaven ( Jojo Sayson Adventure), Image Workshop, 2012 The Elijah Collection, novel collection with Bill Myers, Zondervan, 2011 The Well Thought Out Scream (Poetry/Art), Image Workshop Press, 2009 Madman in the Gate (Poetry/Art), Image Workshop Press, 2009 The Deadly Loyalty Collection, Forbidden Doors, Zondervan, 2009 The Ancient Forces Collection, Forbidden Doors, Zondervan, 2009 The Enemy Strikes with Bill Myers (Elijah Project series. Zondervan, 2009 Deception with Bill Myers (Book 2 Elijah Project series. Zondervan, 2009 The Bishop of Rwanda (Finding Forgiveness) Thomas Nelson, March 2007 Paperback Edition May, 2012 The Coming of the Walrus (What Really Happened in the '60s) IW, 2006 Break on Through (The Life & Death of Jim Morrison), Morrow, 1991. (New York Times Bestseller, Published in 5 languages, Hardcover, 5 Paperback Editions, Harper Trade Paperback November, 2006) Stone (The Controversies, Excesses & Exploits of a Radical Filmmaker), Disney/Hyperion,1995. (Published in 3 languages, Hardcover, Paperback Edition). Making It in the New Music Business, Writers Digest Books, 1987, (Second Edition, Revised and Updated 1991, Two Hardcover Editions) The Platinum Rainbow (How to Succeed in the Music Business Without Selling Your Soul) 250,000 copies with Bob Monaco, Swordsman Press, 1980, Twenty-Three Editions, Revised 1988) 25 Year Anniversary Edition, 2005 Capture the Wind (Microphones) w.Tom Lubin, Literary Mouse Press,1989 Private Biography of Russ Kalvin, founder of Kalvin Corp., 1990 Private Biography of Steve Stefano, founder of Joico Hair Products, 1993. Mystery of the Invisible Knight (Book 2 in the BloodHounds Series) with Bill Myers, Bethany House,1997. Matters of the Heart (The Life & Times of Edgar Cullman), Culbro, 1997. The Curse (Book 7 Forbidden Doors) with Bill Myers, Tyndale, 1997. The Undead (Book 8 Forbidden Doors) with Bill Myers, Tyndale, 1996. The Scream (Book 9 Forbidden Doors) with Bill Myers, Tyndale, 1998 The Ancients (Book 10 Forbidden Doors) with Bill Myers, Tyndale, 1999. The Cards (Book 11 Forbidden Doors Series) with Bill Myers, Tyndale,2000 Films Final Service, co-written with Gary Moore and based on his book, Omni Productions, to be filmed in May, 2014. Maddance, Writer/Director/Lead Actor, Search Engine Films, Simmcomm, 1999. (Winner of 4 Crystal Communicators including Best Drama, Screenplay, Director, Male Actor – Austin, TX.1999) Performance (The Life of Ingrid Bergman), Screenplay, Lancit Productions 1998. Returned to Author when film division closed)Rewritten2009 Shadowdancers, Story & Screenplay, Story with Bill Myers, 1997 Dr. Babylon, Story 1996. Air Guitar, Story & Screenplay, 1994 The Platinum Rainbow, Story & Screenplay, 1993 Television/Video Kankakee Valley Prime Time, Writer, Director, Producer, 1997-2000. (Nominated for Midwest/Chicago Emmy for Writing, 1998, 3 Telly Awards, 4 Crystal Communicators 1998-2000). Angels Among Us (The Amtrak City of New Orleans Train Disaster, Co- Producer, (Telly Award, 2000). River Valley Sports Authority, Producer, 1999-2003. I Hate The World (Hypnoises Music Video), Writer/Director/Producer, Crystal Communicator for Best Music Video Concept, 1998). The United Way (Video) Crystal Communicator for Best Video for a Charitable Organization, 1998.

If it isn't money and it isn't fame and it isn't sex... then what... God?

— James Riordan, 2000

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