Best-selling author often visited here

Published 11:59 pm Friday, July 31, 2009

Ever notice how it’s the little things that tend to shape us into the people we are today? Andy Andrews did — enough to turn the premise into a New York Times best selling book entitled “The Noticer.”

What local residents may not realize is that some of those life lessons were learned right here in Andalusia, at the home of his grandparents, Mack and Edna Sawyer.

“Family is important to me,” he said. “My nana (Edna Sawyer) ran Edna’s Beauty Shop. That was a place where everyone knew where it was. My granddaddy (Mack Sawyer) played golf at the country club and was quite about town there.

“There were a lot of times back in Andalusia when I was a kid that the growing up shaped who I am today,” he said.

Andrews’ latest book is about how a man named “Jones” uses what he calls “a little perspective” and his talent of noticing things to hopefully inspire readers to take the first step toward a major life decision.

Andrews knows a thing or two about major life decisions. He lost his parents at 19 — his mother to cancer and his dad in a car accident a year later.

The timing was, “a bad situation made worse by my bad decisions,” he said.

Those decisions resulted in his becoming homeless, sometimes finding refuge under the Gulf State Park bridge.

Andrews said it was at that point that he knew he had to change the direction of his life and began to focus on the question, “Are there choices one can make to direct the future?”

He found the answer in a library, after studying the history of more than 200 great men and women, and realizing there are seven common denominators they each had in common.

His answers came in his first two books, “The Seven Decisions” and later “The Traveler’s Gift,” a book which was simultaneously on the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today and Publisher’s Weekly’s best seller lists.

His newest endeavor, “The Noticer,” is a book Andrews said “was really born of all my crazy things that happened after my parents died.”

“I had a mentor in my life — an old man named Jones,” Andrews said. “He told me that when God was passing out talents, he didn’t get any of the good ones.

“‘What I do is I notice little things that make a big difference in people’s lives,’ he said.

“(Jones) gave my life perspective. He said that perspective — it brings calm. Calm leads to clear thinking. Clear thinking to ideas, and from ideas we get answers.”

Andrews said Jones taught him that opportunities would begin to present themselves, once he began to think of himself as a person of value and he began to do things to show people his value.

“And that’s what this book is about, reminding people that you have to seek wisdom,” he said. “You have to find a value in yourself that you have forgotten was there. People will see it, too.”

Andrews has transitioned from being homeless to performing as a stand-up comic on “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson,” to becoming a nationally recognized inspirational speaker and author.

Andrews just calls himself a “second generation noticer” and said he has worked hard to instill that same quality in his children.

Andrews said his next-to-be-published book, “Return to Sawyerton Springs,” will touch on some of the experiences he had spending time with his grandparents in Andalusia.

“It hasn’t even hit the presses yet, but it should be out in September,” he said. “It’s going to be a major book. It is really kind of based on Andalusia and based on Dothan and Jackson (Ala.), where all my grandparents were,” he said. “It’s a story about a town where I grew up and the belief we need to go back to those values.

“I have really strong belief that if we get our children back to a principle-based lifestyle, not on things, we can have a much happier life and nation,” he said.

“We came through (Andalusia) recently and said this is a town we (as a nation should) want to emulate,” he said. “It’s big enough to have somewhere to go, big enough to take care of its own people, and small enough to notice people to catch them before they fall through the cracks.

“That’s what America should aspire to be again,” he said. “And that’s what my book is about.”

Andrews and his wife, Polly, have two children and reside in Orange Beach. “The Noticer” is currently sixth on the New York Times bestseller list.

For more information on Andrews, his life story or to order his books, visit