1. First off, what was your first thought when you heard Julie Chen saying your name as the winner of Big Brother season sixteen?
It was an unbelievable feeling. I knew my family was in the crowd and I had worked so hard to make it to the end. I went into the house to make a better life for my family, and at that moment, I knew I had accomplished my goal.
2. What made you decide to write this book?
I had numerous people suggest I should write a book about how I won Big Brother, but I didn’t want to write a book just because I could. I wanted to create something that could really help people—even if they had never watched Big Brother. This book takes the main components of undercover work, which are: observation, adaptation, and communication, and adapts them to work for everyone, both personally and professionally. This allows the reader to have the same success at work and at home that I’ve had using this same approach. Ironically, this is also how I won Big Brother.
3. What were the challenges you face writing The Undercover Edge?
There were many challenges. I love to talk to people but I’ve never been much of a writer. Sometimes I would know what I wanted to say but wouldn’t convey it correctly when I re-read the chapter. There were a few occasions where I didn’t feel I was providing information that was useful or explaining it in way that the reader would understand it. When those situations occurred, I would delete the entire chapter and start over. I never settled. I wanted every chapter to be something that would contribute to the overall approach, but also stand on its own. There was a lot of editing and re-writes, but I truly feel I accomplished that goal. If I hadn’t, I can promise you that it wouldn’t have made the book.
4. What was your writing habit when you wrote The Undercover Edge?
I’m a night owl by nature. I need it to be completely quiet when I write. So when my family was asleep, I would head down to the living room or the kitchen, grab a snack, and start typing. Sometimes I would write from midnight until my kids woke up. I would cook breakfast and then head to bed.
I had a general outline for each chapter. I would start with an overview about each topic and then dive into the details. I tried to support every tactic or technique I wrote about with actual examples to make the material more relatable to the reader.
5. On the subject of “sixth sense” from your book The Undercover Edge, give us an example of when you used it on Big Brother and which contestant was it?
The sixth sense encompasses a lot of different things. It’s a feeling based on rational thought, combined with the ability to process external factors logically. In most cases, that involves understanding human behavior. More specially, it involves understanding what is “normal behavior” for someone.
I remember a situation in the house where Caleb was telling us about how he attended West Point. Caleb was a confident guy and as he explained it to us, his body language was off to me. The facts supporting his claim were also inconsistent. I used those factors to come to the conclusion that he was being dishonest and immediately called him out on it. He eventually caved and told us that it was not true. It didn’t make the show, but the entire encounter is on YouTube. Don’t get me wrong, I love Caleb. He’s a great friend of mine. This was just one of those situations where he got caught and we all had a good laugh about it.
6. What would you want your readers to take away from reading The Undercover Edge?
Although I have years of experience and a lot of specialized training regarding undercover work and interview and interrogation techniques, the information in this book can be used by anybody. Whether you’re a college student looking to improve your interpersonal skills, an entry-level employee looking to build better relationships with colleagues and clients, a manager trying to find new ways to motivate your team, or just someone who wants to increase their social awareness, there’s something for everyone. If you really embrace the undercover approach, you will create a new way of communicating with the people around you that will increase your chances of success.
7. So have you now put the closet space project in your to-do task yet or is it still at the back burner (Pg. 90-91)?
Haha!! I ended up buying a portable closet from IKEA. It’s not as nice as a built-in closet, but it does the job.
8. On page 92 of The Undercover Edge you stated you love motivational quotes. Could you list your top three quotes that helped you become the person you are now?
Oh man… that’s tough. There are way more than three. But here are a few that I really like:
“Dream as if you’ll live forever. Live as if you’ll die today” - James Dean
“Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.” - Muhammad Ali
“Work hard in silence. Let your success be your noise.” - Frank Ocean
9. Besides your season’s contestants or the ones you are friends/acquaintance with, which Big Brother player would you like to sit down and get to know?
I’ve had the opportunity to meet a lot of Big Brother players. Although I’ve talked to him a few times on the phone and through text, I haven’t met Dan Gheesling in person in yet. We’ve tried to connect a couple times but it just hasn’t worked out yet.
10. Besides Cody Calafiore, who do you keep in touch the most from your Big Brother season?
I talk to a few of them a lot. I would say that I talk to Caleb, Frankie, and Nicole the most besides Cody. But I also talk to Brittany, Victoria, and Zach as well.
11. Can you give any update on your mentor and teacher Mr. Grenier?
Unfortunately I can’t. I believe he’s retired or changed schools but I can tell you that I use to visit him at the school he taught at when I was in high school. I know he was coaching college baseball for a while but I don’t know if he’s still doing that or just enjoying retirement. Maybe we’ll cross paths in the future.
12. Could you also update us a bit about Matt, the social worker that made an impact in your life?
Man, I really wish I could. I don’t even know if he would remember me. Our time together was short and he was counseling so many kids. I would love to see him again and thank him. Maybe this book will give me that chance. I left his last name out of the book intentionally but I still remember it so maybe I can track him down.
13. In one word describe how it felt holding the first copy of The Undercover Edge?
14. Now that you have finished with your first nonfiction book, would you tackle writing a fiction book?
Haha! I don’t know. I never say “never” but if I’m being honest, this book was the hardest thing I have ever done. My master’s degree was easy compared to this! I put so much pressure on myself and the level of internal scrutiny while I wrote this book was difficult, but ultimately allowed me to write something that I’m really proud of. I’m hoping that I have the opportunity to travel and talk about the book and help people utilize this undercover approach in their own lives. But down the road, who knows. Anything is possible…
15. What classroom reading recommendation did you recall reading as a student?
“Halfway Home” by Ronan Tynan. Really inspirational book. I strongly recommend it.
16. Last question, what has been the wackiest or unique gift a fan has ever given to you?
There have been a few things but I'd have to say the weirdest is probably a pair of women’s underwear. And yes, they were thrown in the trash…haha. But I do appreciate the love!
Anyone that is inspired to be and do greater things in their life should read this book. You truly wouldn't regret it. There are so many lessons that you can practice to improve on yourself. I really like to thank Derrick for sharing his knowledge and especially for accepting my request to answer my questions. Christmas is around the corner so here's a great (pre-order) gift idea for your family, friends, or anyone that comes to mind that might need a self-improvement book (especially those who are preparing for their new year resolution).
The Underground Edge: Find Your Hidden Strengths, Learn To Adapt, and Build The Confidence to Win Life's Game will be released on January 9, 2018 so you can pre-order it right now at Amazon or any book-selling websites. To know more about Derrick's book, go to his website: www.officialderrick.com/book/
Take care and I hope you all are having a beautiful, happy holiday season this year.