Ammishaddai Grand-Jean

UGA alumnus and motivational speaker Ammishaddai Grand-Jean’s new book, “Benchwarmer: what to do when you’re on the bench of life,” speaks to those who may feel as if they’re stuck. He refers to this feeling as “being on the bench of life.” (Courtesy/Ammishaddai Grand-Jean)

University of Georgia alumnus, motivational speaker and 2018-2019 president of UGA's Student Government Association Ammishaddai Grand-Jean’s new book, “Benchwarmer: what to do when you’re on the bench of life,” speaks to those who may feel as if they’re stuck — whether that be a result of quarantine or not. He refers to this feeling as “being on the bench of life.”

A good quarantine read, “Benchwarmer” provides clear and concrete steps on how to make the most out of your time on the bench and achieve your dreams and purpose. The book can be found on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. 

The Red & Black spoke with Grand-Jean to learn about his own personal experience of being on the bench of life and how it inspired him to write “Benchwarmer.”

The Red & Black: Since graduating from UGA, how has your career led you to writing this book? Has it always been a dream or was it a recent development?

Ammishaddai Grand-Jean: So, I never thought I would really write a book to be honest with you. I always felt like it was time consuming, but I think it was really the pandemic that kind of made it a reality [for me]. It was the fall semester of my graduate year, and I remember feeling the need of wanting to be in the game of life. I wanted to actually be working, do what I love doing and just live out my dreams, but I felt like I was stuck. I felt like I was on a bench. And at that time God gave me the idea for [“Benchwarmer”]. And so finally, after I graduated in May and was looking for jobs, I decided that I finally could sit down and actually write this book.

R&B: What does it mean to be on the “bench of life”?

AGJ: The definition of the being on the bench of life is when you feel like you're applying to medical schools, and they're saying “Sorry to inform you, but we reject your application.” Or you're trying to start a podcast, and you feel as if you're not getting enough views on social media. Or no one's picking up your story or no one wants to pick up your movie or whatever it may be, and you feel like you're stuck on this bench. You could even find yourself single, and you want to be in a relationship but you feel like you're never finding that right chemistry. So you find yourself on this bench of life, and you may watch other people live out those dreams. So, I would define it as that time of waiting before you actually can enter into your dream career or whatever that may be. [“Benchwarmer”] kind of answers the question of, “What do you do while you wait?”

R&B: Has there been a time in your life when you yourself felt like a benchwarmer?

AGJ: I felt like I was on the bench several times in my life, but one time in specific was when I was at UGA when I ran for student body president in 2017. I ran on a ticket and campaigned across campus, but unfortunately we lost. And that was when I felt like I was on the bench. I knew I wanted to be president and implement these ideas and initiatives, but I was kind of forced to sit out and kind of just watch. And in that moment, I did feel sour and kind of sad, but I had to tell myself “Okay either I can sit on the sidelines and feel sorry for myself, or I can actually learn while I'm waiting on this bench.” And so then I joined the administration that beat me. I worked with them and learned more about campus and building connections. And then during my junior year I was able to run for president again, and this time, I won.

R&B: As we live during a time when everything seems to be on pause, how do you think this book can help people during the pandemic specifically?

AGJ: I think this book helps them put their life into perspective, I think it gives them courage and helps them to not give up. But it also helps them to know that while they may still be waiting for a job, a relationship or an acceptance into medical school or grad school, there are things that they can do right now that can improve who they are overall. There are lessons to be learned while we wait. I think we're a microwave generation, meaning we want things instantly, but quality takes time and sometimes you have to wait for things you want.

R&B: How has the reception of the book been so far and what kind of impact has it had on readers?

AGJ: I've been very fortunate as a graduate from UGA because people have been very supportive, and I really want to thank the Bulldog family. By the grace of God, we’ve sold over 100 copies in less than two weeks. So the reception has been really great, and people have been kind enough to also leave reviews and really talk about how the book improved their life and improved their situation. One person told me that it's a book that she feels like she can read again and again during different parts of her life whenever she's feeling discouraged, and she feels like she needs motivation.

The Q&A has been edited for length and clarity.