Author Harris L Kligman: Second Chapters; How I Reinvented Myself In The Second Chapter Of My Life

An Interview With Pirie Jones Grossman

Pirie Jones Grossman
Authority Magazine
11 min readMar 21, 2022

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Ethics — Honesty, trustworthiness, responsibility — guide us along a pathway to deal more effectively with ethical dilemmas, helping us make decisions that create positive impacts and steering us away from unjust outcomes.

Communication — When communication is effective, it leaves all parties involved satisfied and feeling accomplished. By delivering messages clearly, there is no room for misunderstanding or alteration of messages, which decreases the potential for conflict.

Leadership — You can show great leadership by being able to make courageous decisions when faced with difficult situations. You will be able to lead your team effectively if you can deal with fear, uncertainty and doubt in making decisions.

Worldview — Making decisions that are not aligned with one’s worldview creates inner conflict. Aligning decisions with worldview provides inner harmony. As leaders, understanding worldview helps achieve harmony within ourselves, our followers and our organization.

Strength — Great leadership comes from being able to make courageous decisions when faced with difficult situations. You will be able to lead your team effectively if you can deal with fear, uncertainty and doubt in making decisions.

Many successful people reinvented themselves in a later period in their lives. Jeff Bezos worked in Wall Street before he reinvented himself and started Amazon. Sara Blakely sold office supplies before she started Spanx. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was a WWE wrestler before he became a successful actor and filmmaker. Arnold Schwarzenegger went from a bodybuilder, to an actor to a Governor. McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc was a milkshake-device salesman before starting the McDonalds franchise in his 50's.

How does one reinvent themselves? What hurdles have to be overcome to take life in a new direction? How do you overcome those challenges? How do you ignore the naysayers? How do you push through the paralyzing fear?

In this series called “Second Chapters; How I Reinvented Myself In The Second Chapter Of My Life “ we are interviewing successful people who reinvented themselves in a second chapter in life, to share their story and help empower others.

As a part of this interview series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Harris L. Kligman.

Born and educated in the “City of Brotherly Love,” the author left Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in his early twenties. For over thirty-five years, he interacted with various military governments and business entities who dominated the spheres of influence throughout the Far East, Africa, and South America.

​A linguist, a devotee to the Martial Arts (holder of a Black Belt in Hapkido, earned while living in South Korea) and a retired United States Army Intelligence Officer who is also cross-trained as an Infantry Officer, the author brings his varied experiences to his novels.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

I am the only child of first-generation Russian immigrant parents and was raised and educated in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I had the typical childhood — sports, dating and learning to cope with everything life had to offer. I graduated from Germantown High School and Temple University where I received a BS and MBA degree. I was commissioned as a Reserve Army Officer from Temple’s ROTC program.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my life, it’s to not be afraid of the responsibility that comes with caring for other people. Being caring allows you to have empathy for others and to live a life based on affection, love, and compassion.

You have been blessed with much success. In your opinion, what are the top three qualities that you possess that have helped you accomplish so much? If you can, please share a story or example for each.

There are a number of “qualities” that have helped me achieve success. Primarily you have to have “Drive.” Drive is determination to work harder than most and make sure you get things done. Another is “Self-Reliance.” You take on responsibilities and be accountable. A third is having “Integrity.” Having Integrity means that you live in accordance with your deepest values, you’re honest with everyone and you always keep your word. Integrity is a highly valued trait, especially in leaders. When you live with Integrity, you are more likely to be considered for important and leadership positions. During my civilian career I was a Vice President International of a twenty-billion dollar marketing company. Humble beginnings do not deter success. Only the lack of determination of the individual to succeed, inhibits positive progress.

As the South African political and social activist Nelson Mandela once said, “I never lose. I either win or I learn.” I have made this statement a core part of my character and one of the primary reasons for my success.

Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion about ‘Second Chapters’. Can you tell our readers about your career experience before your Second Chapter?

I was an Army Intelligence Officer, cross-trained as an Infantry Officer, retiring after a little more than twenty years of service. During that time I graduated from a number of military schools including the United States Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, KS.

My military career paralleled my civilian career which covered thirty-five years of international travel across three continents, — South America, Africa and the Far East. I am a linguist and a practitioner of the martial arts. A holder of a second degree black belt in Hapkido earned while living in South Korea for approximately four and a half years.

After retirement from the military and my civilian careers, I began the “second chapter” as an author of spy, adventure and mystery novels.

And how did you “reinvent yourself” in your Second Chapter? Can you tell us about the specific trigger that made you decide that you were going to “take the plunge” and make your huge transition?

My youngest son Rob asked me one day if I would write a short paper telling him what I did for a living and where I worked, since I was away much of the time — approximately sixty percent in any given year. I envisioned a page or at most two, and when I finished, I wrote a 370-page novel that has yet to be published. From that point I started writing fiction novels using many experiences, people I interacted with, and situations, both good and bad, that I had experienced. As I often told my son ,”I collected people like a circus collects animals.” I used these people, with certain modifications to fit the story-line in all of my six published novels.

I wrote my novels over a ten plus year period, and after they were read by friends and family, these manuscripts were relegated to a cardboard box. With the onset of the pandemic, Rob suggested that it might be a good time to resurrect these novels and get them published. Reading was certainly an alternative to boredom and the depressing news on TV. The rest, as they say, is “history.”

What did you do to discover that you had a new skillset inside of you that you haven’t been maximizing? How did you find that and how did you ultimately overcome the barriers to help manifest those powers?

I always liked to write. It was something that came easy to me. I had a wealth of experience from my military and civilian careers. All that I needed was “motivation, “ and that came from my son Rob who wanted to know “who I was and what I did to support the family. Once the first page was written in answer to his question, the writing continued over a ten plus year period.

How are things going with this new initiative? We would love to hear some specific examples or stories.

We have just published the 6th novel “Kill Alexis Markovic.” The primary character is a woman, an orphan and prison escapee who finds safety in the hidden chambers of Moscow’s Vikhino Railway Station. It’s here she grows into womanhood and her brutality becomes legendary. Recruited by one of Russia’s largest and most powerful crime families, she becomes the principal enforcer. She embarks on a mission to find out why the crime family is losing money in its American operations. Alexis then finds herself at a crossroad where she begins to question her obligations to the organization that created her.

I have known and interacted with a number of women both in the military and during my civilian careers. These women are courageous, they depend on themselves, they know who they are, they don’t show weakness or emotion, follow their intuition and don’t overthink everything. I married just such a woman — beautiful, determined, intelligent and accomplished. I use many of these characteristics for my female protagonists and antagonists in my novels, such as ,”The Profession,” “Her Father’s Daughter,” and “Kill Alexis Markovic.”

Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

If my son Rob had never inquired why I traveled so much of the time and what I did when I was away, there would never have been a novel, yet alone six, as we continue to publish my back catalog. And I also have to mention the pandemic, since that is the reason Rob suggested we publish these manuscripts. People were staying at home for the most part, and he thought that reading an interesting novel was a pretty good alternative to watching depressing news on TV.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started in this new direction?

There are two instances that come to mind. One was receiving a note from a female reader who thanked me for the interesting novel she read, “Her Father’s Daughter,” which gave her an insight to a time period (WW II). She stated that she was able to learn things that she previously was unaware of. I always include factual data either about places/countries, history, people etc., in all my novels which will transport a reader into that time period and bring facts/actual situations into the story-line which can educate.

The other was a video of a young boy about 4 years old thanking me for a children’s book I wrote entitled “The Original Alphabet Gang.” The young boy struggled with my name but he was able to say “Thank you Mr. Harris for the book.” This “made my day,” as the movie actor Clint Eastwood said in the movie “Dirty Harry.”

Did you ever struggle with believing in yourself? If so, how did you overcome that limiting belief about yourself? Can you share a story or example?

I never had difficulty believing in myself. I was always self-confident. I never compare myself with others — I was always my “own” person. I always dressed for success. I always thought and spoke positively. Negativism wasn’t something I dwelled on. I was always determined in my approach to school, sports, my military and civilian careers. I asked for help when I needed it, and I always tried to help others, believing that one act of kindness can change a person’s life forever.

In my own work I usually encourage my clients to ask for support before they embark on something new. How did you create your support system before you moved to your new chapter?

I never needed a support system. I was always my own motivator. Once I established a goal, I was totally committed to finishing/completing the task in the shortest amount of time possible, always with a positive outcome. Failure was never an option for me. However, when I did experience failure, I learned from it.

Starting a new chapter usually means getting out of your comfort zone, how did you do that? Can you share a story or example of that?

I was fortunate to be retired when I began my second chapter — writing fiction novels. I found myself in what I termed as the “downstairs dungeon.” A basement, where I was using an old computer with an outdated microsoft windows system, an old chair with a broken back and unsteady legs, okay lighting and determination to do what most people only dream about — writing and completing a compelling work of fiction.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my organization” and why? Please share a story or example for each.

Ethics — Honesty, trustworthiness, responsibility — guide us along a pathway to deal more effectively with ethical dilemmas, helping us make decisions that create positive impacts and steering us away from unjust outcomes.

Communication — When communication is effective, it leaves all parties involved satisfied and feeling accomplished. By delivering messages clearly, there is no room for misunderstanding or alteration of messages, which decreases the potential for conflict.

Leadership — You can show great leadership by being able to make courageous decisions when faced with difficult situations. You will be able to lead your team effectively if you can deal with fear, uncertainty and doubt in making decisions.

Worldview — Making decisions that are not aligned with one’s worldview creates inner conflict. Aligning decisions with worldview provides inner harmony. As leaders, understanding worldview helps achieve harmony within ourselves, our followers and our organization.

Strength — Great leadership comes from being able to make courageous decisions when faced with difficult situations. You will be able to lead your team effectively if you can deal with fear, uncertainty and doubt in making decisions.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

It would be a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people. It would be a movement of “Hope and Inspiration.” Hope is the unwavering belief something good/positive will happen. My organization would Inspire, stimulate that “Hope.”

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them. :-)

I would have liked to meet with the South African political and social activist Nelson Mandela. He was a very wise man. Among the things he stated was “Everyone can rise above their circumstances and achieve success if they are dedicated and passionate about what they do.” Also he said, “It always seems impossible, until it’s done, and one of my favorites is, “I never lose. I either win or I learn.”

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Readers can follow the latest book and audio releases by visiting https://www.HarrisLKligman.com. The website does a great job providing readers with a behind the scenes look at the characters, storyline and what is coming next.

Socially readers can follow me across Twitter, TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, Amazon, Goodreads and Linkedin. We post daily and are continually releasing articles and updates that keep our readers well informed.

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Pirie Jones Grossman
Authority Magazine

TedX Speaker, Influencer, Bestselling Author and former TV host for E! Entertainment Television, Fox Television, NBC, CBS and ABC.