Doug Wead is a New York Times bestselling author, historian, conservative commentator, and former adviser to two American Presidents. He has written several books and his latest one is Inside Trump’s White House: The Real Story of His Presidency. Wead also served as special assistant to the president in the George H.W. Bush White House.

Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like? Did you have any particular experiences/stories that shaped your adult life?

I was born and grew up in Indiana. My mother suffered from what we would diagnose today as bipolar disorder. It has given me an appreciation for normalcy in relationships.

What is something you wish you would’ve realized earlier in your life?

It often takes just as much time to do something great as it does to do something unimportant. For example, it takes just as much time to write a book about the mayor of Indianapolis as it does to write a book about the president. So why not write the more important book? If I had it to do over again, I would have spent more time doing great things.

What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?

Leaders will say, “Don’t ever quit.” It was important for the British in 1940, when faced with Nazi invasion, but knowing when to move to a more productive project and stop trying to force something that won’t work, has been very helpful for me.

Tell me about one of the darker periods you’ve experienced in life. How you came out of it and what you learned from it?

I was heavily criticized and my life and family threatened over a taping scandal involving a president. It was much more complicated than it appeared to the public but I had to live with the perceptions as they were. I learned to assume responsibility, apologize, suffer the consequences, and move on.

What is one thing that you do that you feel has been the biggest contributor to your success so far?

Reading books and watching films. This is my fuel. One cannot write if nothing is coming in. If you read twenty books, one will start to come out of you.

What is your morning routine?

Hot chocolate, toast, watching the news, answering emails.

What habit or behavior that you have pursued for a few years has most improved your life?

Reading.

What are your strategies for being productive and using your time most efficiently?

Well, I don’t think I have been very productive. But having good agents, publishers, and subjects to write about has given me a good headstart.

What book(s) have influenced your life the most? Why?

The Bible. So much of Western Civilization, government, art, and politics are based on its passages and philosophy to life that one can hardly comprehend history without understanding parts of it.

James Clavell’s books have provided great entertainment and have helped me see the color and drama within various cultures throughout history.

Some, not all, of John Le Carre’s novels have given me an appreciation for the layers of nuance in the English language as well as a warning that things are not always as they seem in the world of politics.

Do you have any quotes you live by or think of often?

“When the truth is replaced with silence, that silence is a lie.” – a Gulag inmate.