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A Talk with John Strelecky

Author of The Why Café

It’s obvious from the response of readers around the world that there is something about The Why Café that stirs people’s thoughts or emotions. What is it that readers are experiencing that makes them respond this way?

I believe that, at a core level, we all know we have the potential to do something amazing with our lives. We believe that we have some purpose beyond just the normal mundane tasks so many people find themselves doing each day. The question is: How do we do something amazing? What is the first step? I believe that one of the reasons readers are responding to The Why Café as they are is that the characters in the story learn that first step. The characters share their experiences and, in doing so, readers relate to them. Readers see themselves in the characters. And, through the protagonist’s journey, readers learn about that first step.

And what is that first step?

For the characters in The Why Café, and for me as well, the first step was asking: Why am I here? How can I make decisions that are meaningful, choose courses of action that bring fulfillment to my life, and experience the world in all the ways I want to experience it? To do that, I need to understand my PFE, my Purpose for Existing.

The analogy that I often use to describe living without knowing your PFE is that it’s like trying to leave for the vacation of your dreams without knowing where you want to go, or what would make it the vacation of your dreams. Do you pack the car with ski equipment, or a backpack with snorkel gear? Are you staying at the Ritz in the Caribbean, or a bed and breakfast on a mountain top in South Africa? Will it be cold or hot, do you need binoculars or reading glasses? Are you going to be spending ten hours on a bus, or three hours on top of an elephant? Imagine the futility of trying to experience joy on your trip if you don’t know the answer to those things. That frustration is what many people go through every day of their lives, because they don’t know their PFE.

So you want your reader to learn through the experiences of the people in The Why Café that there is another way to go through life?

Exactly. This planet, this life experience, can be so amazing. But I will tell you in all honesty that I didn’t always understand that. For a long time I lived in the midst of the frustration I was just describing. To speak to your question before, about why readers have such a strong reaction to the book, I think part of it is because I have been in the midst of wondering if the frustration of life was all there was to life. So when I write about that, I write from experience, and readers can tell that. And readers know that I don’t preach. I never say: “This is how you have to live to be happy!” or “This is how you have to live to be fulfilled.” There are billions of people on this planet and billions of choices for, to use my previous analogy, the “vacation of your dreams.” I don’t tell anyone what their PFE is. I just help them realize that they have one and that, when they live to fulfill their PFE, that life is the “vacation of their dreams.”

Does the Why Café really exist? Were you there?

I had a reader, a man who has been a professional photographer for over thirty years, write to me, asking me where the Why Café is. He said that it reminded him of his journeys down back-country roads looking for the perfect photograph. I like that image. And, for him, that is where the café is. That is where it exists. And for the book’s main character it is in the middle of the middle of nowhere. And for you and me it is elsewhere.

What piece of advice would you give to someone who was experiencing either the frustration that you described earlier, or who was seeking a more fulfilling life?

Every day I ask: Why am I here? Do I fear death? Am I fulfilled? And if I am not doing things that fulfill my PFE, if I have fear, if I am not fulfilled, then I know something has to change, and so I change it. Albert Einstein once defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Sadly, there are many people who, by Einstein’s definition, are busy each day perfecting insanity. My advice to them would be to ask yourself those three questions, and then change what needs to be changed so that you are fulfilling your PFE, you have no fear of death, and you feel fulfilled each and every day.

John P. Strelecky
is the international best selling author of “The Why Café”--, and a highly sought after inspirational speaker on; “How to Achieve Maximum Success with Minimal Effort.” His CD series of the same name has received rave reviews from listeners. A graduate of Northwestern University’s MBA program, John has served as a business strategist for numerous Fortune 500 companies. Through his book, CDs, articles, and appearances on television and radio, he has positively impacted the lives of millions of people. John can be reached through his website at, or by calling 407-342-4181.

Copyright 2006 -- John P. Strelecky International best-selling author of The Why Café