Michael J. Kerrigan

Character Building Project

As many of you know, I have been working on the Character Building Project for a longtime. It is a rewarding mission but now I could really use your help in getting the word out about my just published third book, Restoring Character in America (RCIA.

The book’s message is simply that sound moral and intellectual virtues lay a foundation with other good habits that lead to building good character. My call to action is to mobilize individual citizens to help restore character in America.

Several sponsors have committed to help us get the message out by distributing books for free to teachers, parents and coaches. In order to for larger numbers of books to be freely distributed, thirty more Amazon reviews must be posted this quarter. For those not familiar with the process of posting reviews on Amazon, just tell me how I might be in touch with you.… Continue reading

The strategy for selling Restoring Character in America involves no advertising but does require: a word of mouth campaign, choosing a Blue Ocean approach, teaming with character experts, making one thousand true fans, collaborating with character organizations and foundations, speaking engagements and  better understanding the use of Facebook.

The first strategic problem was to solve how I might alert readers to my character message, without having a budget to advertise Restoring Character in America (RCIA.) In solving this problem an illustration of how difficult it is to qualify the response to advertising came to my mind. The quote attributed to John Wanamaker is, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”

Leaving the horns of an advertising dilemma, I opted for my version of a concept known as the “Blue Ocean Strategy”; that is, instead of… Continue reading


In the last several posts, I have assessed the progress of the Character Building Project site and shared lessons learned in publishing three books on character. In my last book, Restoring Character in America (RCIA) I gained a deeper understanding of character as a result of working with scholars, community and corporate leaders. Also I greatly benefited by exchanges about the state of character in our culture with the readers of my site and notes from my friends on Facebook.

In making this assessment, the question arises if readers appreciate the decline of character in our culture, does the site and the book serve the purpose of doing something about that decline? Most readers would agree, the essays of the four character exemplars in RCIA, clearly explain how character is being restored from an educational, military, corporate and community perspectives. In addition, information about combating the decline has been… Continue reading

For many years I have studied the Pareto Principle**, the commonly quoted management rule, which states that 80% of the work is done by 20% of the people. The hypothesis is that 80 per cent of results flow from 20 per cent of causes, and sometimes from a much smaller proportion of powerful forces.

The 80/20 Principle asserts that a minority of causes, inputs or effort usually led to a majority of the results, outputs or rewards. Taken literally, this means that, for example, 80 per cent of what you achieve comes from 20 per cent of the time spent. Thus for all practical purposes, four- fifths of the effort—a dominant part of it—is largely irrelevant.

The reason that the 80/20 Principle is so valuable is that it is counterintuitive. We tend to expect that all causes will have roughly the same significance and that all customers are equally valuable.… Continue reading


The answer to this question is in two parts; why Amazon Reviews are important and serve an important purpose, as well as the approach I sought in seeking reviews of my three published books.

My research into the topic of reviews demonstrates when you distribute your book through Amazon; getting reviews may be the single most important thing to determine your book’s future success. Amazon is king in publishing books. It’s where authors go to monitor their book’s success, and it’s where readers to go browse and buy. Authors should use Amazon to their advantage. Every major publishing, every editor, asks their authors to have all their friends and colleagues preorder their books and write reviews. Online reviews are the modern media world-of-mouth; they’re immensely powerful and can have a huge affect on how your book is perceived

Amazon reviews serve a few different purposes. Reviews can:

Among the lessons I tried to learn in publishing three books on character is the importance of the book’s cover. Research supports the adage that, “You Can Tell a Book By Its Cover.” In the first two books, I followed the advice of my publisher who offered five suggestions:

Placing the photos of those profiled in each book.

Making sure a large number was also on the cover. For example, 10 Characters with Character and 7 Warriors with Character.

Including the word “Character” in each title.

Carrying on the red, white and blue patriotic color scheme.

Including one of the better testimonials on the book’s cover.

After reading a 2008 article in Psychology Today… “Why You Really Can Judge a Book by Its Cover,” I felt prompted to go beyond psychology research in order to consult with other authors. Their common reaction was…”Of course you can judge a book by… Continue reading

Restoring Character in America was the hardest of my books to publish. The first book, Politics with Principle was written from my 30 plus years of experience as a Washington Lobbyists. The second, Courage in America was a natural outcome of gaining the trust of the wounded warriors and just guiding them on their story of successful rehabilitation.

The idea of Restoring Character in America did not come easily to me. I read endless books, articles, and visited numerous web sites on several character related topics. Initially my plan was to write a book about our law enforcement heroes. I thought this would be a logical extension of the heroic qualities of the wounded warriors I knew. I had already reported on the wounded warriors traumatic loss, their vulnerability in rehabilitation, then their comeback, the final triumph of successful rehabilitation and transition to civilian life.

In my opinion, our country… Continue reading


Courage in America began as part of my service project as a member of The Knights of Malta, a Roman Catholic service organization. As part of my “work,” I visited wounded warriors at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington D.C. The results of those and subsequent visits to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda Maryland provided the opportunity for me to select wounded warriors who already have, or were in the process of successfully overcoming traumatic injuries. My mission was to understand the character traits that enable some of them to turn their adversities into successful recoveries, while others did not.  Courage was clearly present in the successes.

Marine Corporal Todd Nicely**, was the first of the seven warriors I was to profile. Todd challenged me to write his story. I replied to Todd that given your serious injuries the story could be depressing. Todd replied…… Continue reading

When I launched the Character Building Project site ten years ago, I began my research in the character genre and continue to do so, with Malcolm Gladwell’s 2008 book Outliers  in mind. Gladwell’s rule is that 10,000 hours is the magic number to gain expertise in a subject.

Three years later, Wheatmark, Inc. published my first book… Politics with Principle: Ten Characters with Character. Before choosing Wheatmark I had interviewed several other independent publishers as I was not seeking an advance, knew I wanted to control my own intellectual property and wanted to work with people I trusted that could guide me through the publishing process

My first step was to seek the advice of my wife (a scientific editor for the National Cancer Institute), my valued clients who I had represented for many years and the opinions of those in politics I respected. All recommended… Continue reading

Adam on the Road to Recovery

Recently, I have been absent (with leave) from posting articles on this site because my neighbors and I hosted an event to support the recovery and rehabilitation of Adam Williams’s traumatic injuries. The good news is that Adam is making a miraculous recovery and the reception raised over $30,000 to help Adam and his family defers huge medical expenses.

As many of you may know, I have been working on character building for over ten years and have just launched my third character book, Restoring Character in America (RCIA.) At this stage of the project, having dedicated 10,000 hours to studying character education, we are generating growing interest in citizen participation in character building, sold over five thousand copies of my first two published books,…  Politics with Principle: Ten Characters with Character and Courage in America, have almost 700 loyal followers who… Continue reading

I have taken time away from posting articles as our Glenmore community has been raising funds for my friend Adam Williams, who recently sustained a C5 fracture while diving for a volleyball in shallow water.

This interlude has provided me the opportunity to think more of the goals of the Character Building Project, the reviews on Amazon of my latest book, Restoring Character in America, and the connection of both to my work with supporting entrepreneurial ventures.

The first connection among the three, all are involved in selling ideas. The web site’s mission is to help build character and the lessons learned from the reviews on Amazon made clear readers believe the goal of Restoring Character in America is a noble but daunting quest. In the start up world, all entrepreneurs begin with the idea of solving a problem that meets market needs. Yet even good ideas are not enough… Continue reading

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Courage in America has been aurally transcribed for the visually impaired, thanks to Volunteers of Vacaville, California. Tel: 704.448.6841 ext 2044.