Sunday, June 1, 2008

Dana Roc: The Dana Delivered! Interview

with Kam Williams

Headline: Delivering Dana!

Every Monday morning for the past several years I’ve looked forward to receiving via email the latest edition of Dana Delivered!, an entertaining, intelligent, unpredictable and uplifting e-magazine offering a generous mix of interviews, inspiration and personal introspection. I can’t for the life of me remember who first recommended the weekly newsletter to me, but it’s been one of my favorite escapes ever since.
The website is the brainchild of Renaissance woman Dana Roc. I never had any contact with her prior to conducting this interview. Yet, as a big fan of her journalistic writing, I felt like I had already come to know her and her family, at least virtually. So, I figured why not finally try to talk to this multi-talent I’d only admired from afar in order to share her success story with the rest of the world.
Born and raised in Madison, Wisconsin, Dana is the founder and president of DanaRoc.Com. In this capacity, she creates, develops and produces programs that empower people to be productive, powerful, successful and happy. The very versatile Ms. Roc has also been employed as an actress and model, appearing on television shows, in commercials and in print advertisements.
Besides running her own media empire, Dana leads seminars and educational programs for Landmark Education, an International Education Corporation. She has worked as an image consultant, and was a marketing director for AFIC Technologies, a software technologies company. She is a founding member of Comp2Kids, a thriving non-profit educational organization for children.
As for her personal life, she lives and works in New York City with her husband, Auguste and their daughter, Gussie.
To check out her website and/or subscribe to her newsletter, visit:

KW: Hi Dana, thanks for the time and thanks for creating such an entertaining website.
DR: Thanks for reading.
KW: Is Roc either your or your husband’s real last name? I don’t know why, but I suspect that it isn’t, because I remember once reading his saying, “You can call me Mr. Roc.”

DR: Roc is my husband’s last name and it is real. It’s French. He was born in Haiti. And the “You can call me Mr. Roc” comes from the fact that I marvel at his strength and I admire his resolve.
KW: What was your childhood in Madison, Wisconsin like?
DR: Well, if you are asking for me to literally comment on the geography, growing up in Madison was wholesome, fresh and homogenous. I was almost always the only black person no matter what I did, unless I was with someone in my family. My family has a very strong legacy of contribution in Madison. My great-grandfather, William Miller, was an attorney and served Governor LaFollette [Robert Marion La Follette, Sr who served from1901-1906]. As rare as it was rare back then for black Americans to have a law degree, it was rarer still that a black man would serve as an important aide to the governor. So, my great-grandfather had to pretend to be Governor LaFollette’s driver. That was the way it was back then. The Millers were very directly involved with starting a lot of community organizations like the NAACP and the Urban League. My great grandfather was a great friend of W.E.B. Dubois who used to visit him in Madison. The Miller House is a landmark building now and there is an exhibit at the Wisconsin State Historical society on William Miller and the Miller family.
KW: Where did you go to college and what did you major in?
DR: I went to Spelman College in Atlanta Georgia and I majored in Drama and Communications.
KW: How did you end up in New York City?
DR: I always wanted to live in New York, so I applied to graduate school at New York University because I felt like that was the best way to move to the city without any other real connections.
KW: Do you do Dana Delivered full-time, or do you have another job?
DR: Yes, I do Dana Delivered full time.
KW: I know that you’ve been together over 20 years. How did you and Auguste meet?
DR: We have been together twenty two years last March. We were actually married in 1992, but we lived together for six years first. I consider those six years no less important than the years we’ve spent together post “I do.” We met when I was in grad school. My roommate and I threw a party and Auguste came with a friend of mine. He thought the party was corny so he left after ten minutes – but not before he told me that he would definitely be seeing me again, somewhere soon.
KW: How would you describe your relationship?
DR: The brutal honest truth about Auguste Roc is that he is a man of amazing integrity and I have never, not for one minute, ever questioned his faithfulness, honesty or his motives about anything. I have however at times questioned what it is I have ever done to deserve him. Auguste Roc makes me better than I am. I love him very much and we have an incredible bond. Auguste and I work at having a great relationship because our relationship is important to us. “We” have never been an after thought for “us”. Someone asked me a couple of years ago “What does it feel like to have been with Auguste for twenty years?” I responded: “It feels like he is mine.” He is what I love most about my life.
KW: Do you ever have any reservations about writing about your relationship with your husband?
DR: Well, I don’t have any marriage drama to share with my readers, although I don’t for a minute take what I have, what we have built together, for granted. I am committed, however, to being honest with my readers. My life is not perfect. I struggle and I triumph. I laugh and I cry. I feel joy as well as pain. I think it is important to share all of that or risk boring people to death.
KW: How has having a child, Gussie, changed your life?
DR: Gussie is magic. She is one of the best people that I know and I believe that Auguste would say the same. We marvel at who she is and we are proud of who she is becoming. I think that one of the ways that Gussie has changed my life is that I have realized, as a result of my commitment to her having a great life, that I can always do more and give better than I ever thought I was capable of. Nothing is impossible for me when it comes to providing for her.
KW: Where in New York do you live?
DR: Downtown Manhattan.
KW: How many readers do you have?
DR: A lot and from all around the world.
KW: How often are you spotted on the street by a stranger who only knows you from your website?
DR: Surprisingly enough, I am recognized here and there every once in a while, usually when I am running late or reprimanding Gussie.
KW: How much are Auguste and Gussie involved with Dana Delivered?
DR: Auguste and I produce Dana Delivered together and I consult with him closely about the content. Gussie is also consulted. She is a wonderful writer and full of great insight. She publishes her own weekly e-zine with her own readership. It’s called The Gussie Gazette (Visit: ) Her weekly comes out on Monday morning as well, and she has never missed her deadline. She is a bit of a renaissance woman if I may say so myself. She is a brilliant writer, she has been studying ballet for eleven years and she plays the violin and the viola. One of the things that I love most about her is her profound sense of justice. She does volunteer work after school for an organization – Ubuntu Education Fund – that raises money to send children in Elizabethtown, South Africa to university. Most of these kids either have AIDS, have a parent or both parents who have died of AIDS, or are at risk to get AIDS. Ubuntu not only raises money for college but they also shepherd these kids through to adulthood to make sure that they get there. Gussie is passionate about doing her part to contribute to these kids who she feels deserve great opportunity.
KW: But Dana Delivered is much more than your family’s personal reflections on life. You also conduct interviews, suggest books and websites, give inspirational pep talks, post pleasant pictures, talk in podcasts and quote uplifting passages from others.
DR: Yep. Dana Delivered! has really evolved out of a response to a commitment to contribute somehow to other people. I have a lot of opinions and rather than gratuitously express them, I want to have them amount to something more than a venting session for just my benefit. Auguste and I are avid readers, he much more than I, and we often talk about what we read – compare thoughts and perspectives. Recommending books and websites just seemed like a natural extension of that. One of my favorite Dana Delivered features is Inspiring People where I get to interview amazing people. I love talking to people who are doing really cool things, especially when what they are doing is making life a little bit better or more interesting for somebody else.
KW: How would you describe Dana Delivered to someone unfamiliar with it?
DR: Dana Delivered! is an e-zine filled with interesting stories and fun tidbits delivered fresh to your email inbox first thing every Monday morning. Both entertaining and informative, Dana Delivered! is packed full of sound advice, inspiring perspectives, great original interviews with influential and successful people, insightful and interesting guest articles, regular columnists, recommendations and more. I handpick every bit of content to encourage you to live life out loud and to add richness and challenge to the way you live everyday. Dana Delivered! will introduce you to people and themes that are unpredictable, pique your curiosity, provoke a response, elevate your conversation, show you how to build on your successes and invite you to live life beyond what you think is possible. So, whether you want to obtain a new advantage, get a quick boost to the soul or just make a minor adjustment to your attitude, delivers!
KW: How do you pick who you’re going to interview?
DR: People who are interested in contributing to other people somehow, are my favorite subjects. I also love to talk to people who are blazing new trails and taking risks. Oh, and people who have failed miserably or who have overcome adversity are some of the most interesting and inspiring people to interview because of the kind of growth and poetic perspective that their difficulty invokes.
KW: What makes a good interview?
DR: People who are comfortable enough in their own skin to be candid and vulnerable. Nobody has it all together and anybody who tries to pretend that they do, is either lying or they are simply out of touch with what really matters. Manufactured perfection does not inspire anyone. Being open and honest about who you really are, what you struggle with, what you are afraid of, what you really think, allows people to connect because they can locate their own humanity in that kind of candor and generosity.
KW: How does it feel to be on the other end of an interview?
DR: Great! I am a talker and I like to search myself again and again for what I newly think.
KW: How do you pick what subject to write about each week?
DR: I try and write about something that is immediately relevant to my life because I feel that is my best shot at being honest and – being honest is my best shot at connecting with people.
KW: How much time do you devote to writing and how much to the other aspects of the website?
DR: Almost all of my time with the site is spent writing because I am fortunate enough to work with a wonderful technology team out in Seattle, Washington – Moment Media – and they handle all of the technology and branding stuff with the site.
KW: The Columbus Short question: Are you happy?
DR: Very!
KW: The bookworm Troy Johnson question: What was the last book you read?
DR: Motorcycle Diaries – again. I love the way Che Guevera composes his thoughts…beautiful.
KW: The Tasha Smith question: Are you ever afraid?
DR: I am always afraid.
KW: Is there a question no one has ever asked you, that you wish someone would?
DR: Well, the question is: Would you like a million dollars? And my answer is: Yes. Yes, I would.
KW: Who are you supporting for president?
DR: Are you kidding? Barack Obama! His candidacy has changed my life!
KW: To what sort of audiences do you generally give inspirational talks?
DR: People who are honestly searching for how to live a great life and who have run out of superficial quick fixes.
KW: What advice do you give to young girls who want to follow in your footsteps?
DR: Stay curious, ask a lot of questions and always say “Yes” to trying new things.
KW: How often do you conduct seminars and what do they entail?
DR: Not as often as I used to because the ezine is now front and center.
KW: How do you want to be remembered?
DR: I want to be remembered as someone who never stopped trying to learn and who never thought more of herself than she thought about other people.
KW: Dana, thanks again for the interview and for such an entertaining and reliably high-quality weekly e-magazine,
DR: Thanks for inviting me to talk.

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