When Casey Ryals, a Gainesville businessman and church worship leader, speaks with those who are feeling lost or frustrated in their workplace, he likes to pose the question, “What’s your next wise move?”
“I feel like a lot of people are asking some version of that,” Ryals said. “People think the answer is changing industries or jobs, but what I’ve realized is that it’s about changing my direction and the way I lead myself. It’s not: ‘Where is the best industry or job?’ But, ‘How do I actually lead myself through my day?’”
After constantly speaking with people who have experienced both anxiety and disillusionment with their jobs, Ryals said he decided to pour his advice and personal experience into a book.
Juggling his time with his wife, Alli, and their three daughters, as well as his two full-time jobs as an insurance manager at Farm Bureau Insurance and co-owner of Ryals Brothers, he slowly put his thoughts on paper.
“I’ve laughed and said, ‘I’m the only person who has ever written a book while playing Go Fish,’” Ryals recounted. “Sometimes my kids would be like, ‘Daddy, it’s your turn.’ And I’d say, ‘Let me finish this sentence.’”
After around two years, his first completed book, “Last to Least,” was born. The self-help, motivational piece was published on March 18 by C Grant & Co., a company based out of the Chicago area. It is now available to purchase on Amazon.com. As of Thursday, March 25, Amazon labeled “Last to Least” as its No. 1 new release in the education workbooks category.
“Last to Least” has been endorsed by Daniel Pink, a New York Times bestselling author, former Gov. Nathan Deal and Carol Burrell, president and CEO of North Georgia Health System.
“In the business of health care, prioritizing needs and resources can be tricky,” Burrell’s statement reads on the book’s back cover. “‘Last to Least’ will help you stay focused on what matters most — for your community, your brand message, and your long-term bottom line.”
Deal, who has done business with Ryals for several years, noted on the cover that the book will, “help you acquire and keep clients while making your community proud you are there.”
In “Last to Least,” Ryals breaks down his own method of becoming a successful businessman for those struggling in any career field. Five years ago, Ryals and his brother, Joshua, purchased a dump truck and started a paving and grading company. In two years, the operation grew into a million-dollar business. And, for the past six years, Ryals said his insurance agency has been the No. 1 in production in the company.
With both jobs, Ryals said he maintains the same mindset. This is where the inspiration for the title and message in, “Last to Least” comes into play.
Instead of approaching work with the idea of climbing to the top in a desired career, Ryals recommends becoming the least important person in the workplace and making the customers and community the most important.
“It’s going from myself having the last word, to myself being the least important,” he said. “It’s learning to lead myself by forgetting myself. I don’t care what kind of work you do, sharing insurance, writing articles. If I’m keeping in mind the customers I’m serving and the needs of the community, my productivity goes through the roof.”
Ryals said this doesn’t involve letting customers take advantage of you, but instead focusing on those who truly need your service. He encourages people to not let one person take away the energy that could be used toward serving the community.
Ryals said his book’s target audience is anyone uncertain with their career’s future and those who feel unengaged or unproductive at work.
“I think the answers they find will surprise them,” he said.
In every leadership book he’s ever read, Ryals said one message has remained clear, “You can’t learn to lead others until you first learn to lead yourself.” With “Last to Least,” the author said he wants his readers to not only realize this, but develop confidence in the path before them.
“What I would hope comes out of this is that we learn to steer ourselves into an uncertain future with courage,” he said.
For more information about Ryals and his book, “Last to Least,” visit lasttoleast.com.