Kevin Guest does not recall the date his family’s lumber mill in Columbia Falls burned to the ground. A trusted employee had sparked the blaze while welding. But Guest, who grew up in Kalispell, remembers his father’s reaction.
“My parents were devastated, but because kindness and forgiveness were two of my dad’s core values, I don’t remember ever hearing him say anything derogatory about that employee,” he writes in a new book titled “All The Right Reasons — 12 Timeless Principles for Living a Life in Harmony.”
After the fire, Francis Guest and a partner rebuilt the lumber mill and carried on. The employee who inadvertently started the fire still had a job.
Guest’s self-published book, released in August by Inspired Solutions Publishing, describes how his parents, Francis and Venus Guest, purchased a piano before they bought a car. Music was essential to them, he writes, and it became essential to him.
During an Oct. 24 phone interview, the author said the Guest family in the Flathead Valley still has the piano at its Lake Blaine house.
A key life crossroad detailed in the book describes the circumstances when Guest, after prayer and consultation with his wife, Lori, and his father, decided to forsake dreams of a musical career to focus on business.
“Deciding to let it go was an agonizing choice for me, but I don’t have a single regret about the decision,” he writes in the book. “There were things I needed that were more important than making it big in Nashville.”
That doesn’t mean he abandoned music altogether.
The cover of “All The Right Reasons” shows Guest cradling a Music Man StingRay 5-string bass. The book’s foreword is written by Collin Raye, a country music performer for whom Guest frequently has played bass.
Raye writes, “You can feel Kevin’s goodness when you’re with him and, to me, that’s the greatest witness of the kind of man he is.”
In “All The Right Reasons,” Guest writes, “I have always had three priorities on which I’ve built my life: My first priority is God, second is my family, and third is my career.”
Today, Guest, 56, lives in Riverton, Utah, and works as chief executive officer for USANA Health Sciences. The publicly traded, multinational company, headquartered in Salt Lake City, develops and manufactures nutritional supplements, foods and personal-care products sold internationally.
In third-quarter results announced Oct. 23, USANA said it anticipates consolidated net sales for fiscal year 2018 will exceed $1 billion.
According to USANA’s 2018 proxy, Guest’s base salary in 2017, before a bonus, stock awards and other compensation, was more than $800,000.
Why did Guest decide to craft a book with the help of ghost writers Craig Case and Jennifer Beckstrand of Inspired Solutions Publishing?
Not to make money. He said he is donating all proceeds from the book to help feed starving children.
The inspiration to write the book came while holding a grandchild in his arms, Guest said.
He said he had been told, “If you don’t write things down about your life it will only take two generations to pass for your life to simply be a name on a family group sheet.”
He said he felt motivated to share his life experiences and values with generations to come and with others who might benefit from what he has learned, sometimes the hard way.
“I do believe there is a greater purpose,” Guest said. “I like to think of earth as more of a school than a home and that we’re here to learn.”
Bookstore shelves groan beneath the weight of self-help books. Examples abound of books that promise spiritual, personal or financial growth — or all three — if the reader will simply follow or adopt “7 Habits” or “12 Rules” or “10 Keys.”
Many such books simply re-package truisms that have been touted for generations as keys to a happy, meaningful life.
Guest said he hopes “All The Right Reasons” will stand out because it grounds the “12 Timeless Principles” in stories from his life or the lives of others and leans more toward practical guidance than preachy platitudes.
He said one of the book’s 12 principles that seems to have particular resonance for readers is the Dorothy Principle. It refers to the name of a cleaning woman at an unnamed college who was identified by a professor as someone students should get to know. The principle advises, “Nothing is more important than relationships.”
Guest’s description of living his core values and his recitation of the lofty principles that guide him might begin to weigh on readers whose lives have been messier or whose core values are less clear.
Yet Guest discloses on page 123 that he sometimes struggles with anxiety tied to what he describes as “negative self-talk.”
“I periodically work with a professional therapist who helps me recognize and challenge my negative self-talk,” Guest writes.
The Cardboard Keyboard Principle advises, “Choose to use positive self-talk.”
In an email, Guest said he hopes no one finishes his book “thinking I am a person who hasn’t struggled and made poor choices in my life.”
He added, “I have had to learn several lessons the hard way. I continue to struggle with anxiety and negative self-talk.”
About five years ago, Guest met Dr. Mehmet Oz. “All The Right Reasons” landed Guest an appearance on the “The Dr. Oz” television show on Oct. 17.
A week later, Guest estimated “All The Right Reasons” had sold about 13,000 copies. USANA is selling the book and it is available also on Amazon.com but Guest said he believes most of the sales to date have been through USANA.
Meanwhile, more than 10 years ago, Francis Guest died.
“When he passed away, it was a moment of truth for me to decide what kind of man I would be to carry on his legacy,” Guest said during the phone interview.
He said he believes his father would be simultaneously proud of the book and somewhat embarrassed by its personal revelations. He said that he, like his father, tends to be a private person.
“Exposing my personal life to the world was intimidating,” he said. “I also realized that I have been very blessed with a variety of experiences, any one of which could be life changing.”
And now Guest has heard from readers of “All The Right Reasons” that the book has been a blessing for them. One Montana man wrote that “All The Right Reasons” helped him choose life when dire circumstances had left him brooding about ending it.
“To make a positive difference in someone’s life is as good as it gets,” Guest said.
Reporter Duncan Adams may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 758-4407.