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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pearls of Wisdom
This book is a follow-up to Gill's "How Starbucks Saved My Life" which was published in September 2008. Anyone who read and enjoyed that book will probably like this one as well.

Michael Gates Gill was born into privilege and had an abundance of material things as well as doors of opportunity opened for him because of who he was and his family connections. He...
Published on December 7, 2009 by Holly

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Boring, Repetitive and Lacking Inspiration
Even though I loved How Starbucks Saved My Life and have read it three times, it was hard to make my way through this book. Gill tries to squeeze all he can out of a relatively boring life--these stories seem like the ones edited out of the original manuscript of the first book. There's just not much here, and what is written is repetitive and boring. The fact that he...
Published on June 13, 2012 by Mediaman


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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pearls of Wisdom, December 7, 2009
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This book is a follow-up to Gill's "How Starbucks Saved My Life" which was published in September 2008. Anyone who read and enjoyed that book will probably like this one as well.

Michael Gates Gill was born into privilege and had an abundance of material things as well as doors of opportunity opened for him because of who he was and his family connections. He went to Yale because he was a legacy and his first job was handed to him by a friend from Skull and Bones. He never had to go through a job interview or get things the way "average" folks do. His life was filled with mover and shakers both in New York and Washington D.C. He worked hard at his job and sacrificed his family to get ahead and it all fell apart when he was in his late 50's. He lost his job, lost his family and ended up working at Starbucks since there were no other job opportunities. His story of is fall from "high" places and yet managing to land on his feet and finding out he was much happier after losing everything comprises the story told in "How Starbucks Saved My Life."

This new book takes all the lessons he learned through his life experiences and boils them down to 15 life lessons that he shares with the reader. Some chapters will resonate with some people more than others, based upon where the reader is in his/her life journey. What an opportunity for us to look at someone else's experiences and learn from them without necessarily having to go through the same thing (which is what he talks about in chapter 1). He bares himself and talks about where he made mistakes and where he did things well with an honesty that is refreshing. There is a lot of wisdom in these pages and I enjoyed the book from beginning to end.

Here are the chapter/lesson titles:

Listen - To Others Who Have Suffered and Survived
Listen - To Your Own Heart to Find True Happiness
Leap - With Faith
Let - Yourself be Helped
Look - With Respect at Every Individual You see
Learn - From Your Children
Learn - From your Father
Learn - From your Mother
Lose - Your Watch (and Cell Phone and PDA!)
Let Go - And Let God
Laugh - with New Insight
Live - Each Day with Gratitude Like It Might be Your Last
Late Bloomers - The last of Life Can Be the Best
Less is More - Lose All Your "Stuff" and Find Freedom
Love - The Ride and Let Your Light Shine
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Boring, Repetitive and Lacking Inspiration, June 13, 2012
This review is from: How to Save Your Own Life: 15 Inspiring Lessons Including: Finding Blessings in Disguise, Coping with Life's Greatest Challanges, and Discovering Happiness at Any Age (Paperback)
Even though I loved How Starbucks Saved My Life and have read it three times, it was hard to make my way through this book. Gill tries to squeeze all he can out of a relatively boring life--these stories seem like the ones edited out of the original manuscript of the first book. There's just not much here, and what is written is repetitive and boring. The fact that he tries to turn every tiny insignificant event in his life into something inspirational makes it even more difficult to read.

Gill doesn't have to convince us that his life changed when he lost his advertising job and ended up working at Starbucks--he already told us that in the first book. But he rehashes much of it here, giving a few more specifics and making himself a bit less saintly than in the original. He then runs out of stories to tell about himself so he uses a chapter on his kids (mostly spoiled elitist types), his dad (a rich guy who spent the family inheritance and gets credit for "saving" Grand Central Station), his mom (a terrible story about her final day alive), his advertising colleagues (why would anyone want to go into advertising after reading Gill's books?) and his friends (more elitists who the author claims are all kind-hearted rich people). There's a whole chapter on the wonderful Barack Obama and how Gill helped his daughter campaign for the president, whose rely-on-government politics seem to conflict with Gill's message of independence and self-empowerment (Gill should have left that chapter out). He even takes a chapter to tell us all about his Starbucks co-workers interests. Seriously. Seriously boring. And on the last three pages of the books he names his coworkers and coffee shop guests! Yet he gives us no reason to care about any of these people because there are almost no interesting stories about them.

While I appreciate his quoting of scripture throughout the book and believe his Episcopalian faith is genuine, there is nothing solid here but a bunch of bland postive-thinking cheerleading. When he starts the book by saying he wrote it because he couldn't find anything else like it in the bookstore, we now know why--it's the poorly-edited rambling thoughts of a guy who had one good story to tell in his original bestseller but has nothing else to really talk about. Instead of reading this book go back and reread How Starbucks Saved My Life, which is one of the most inspiring books ever.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rags-to-Riches Story with Hopeful, Helpful Lessons, January 13, 2010
How to Save Your Own Life...provocative title, isn't it? Michael Gates Gill isn't indulging in hyperbole - in his latest book, the author of How Starbucks Saved My Life: A Son of Privilege Learns to Live Like Everyone Else shares insights and valuable life lessons that will help others survive, even thrive, in what might appear to be the worst times of their lives. Gill lost just about everything: his job, his wife, and his health - yet he discovered real happiness within himself. In How to Save Your Own Life: 15 Lessons on Finding Hope in Unexpected Places, Michael Gates Gill shares the lessons he learned and shows how to apply them.

One of the points that really struck me came in Lesson 3: Leap...with Faith. Gill is talking with a Beverly Hills psychiatrist who tells him that one of the biggest problems she sees, counseling young people, is that they have no problems. Gill asks her to explain. She tells him that their parents had to struggle to the top, themselves. But, having survived the "mean streets" and having achieved success, they want to protect their children and shelter them and make sure they never experience such "tough times" themselves. But what they are doing is making their kids afraid of the outside world. Gill realizes that this has been the case for him, all his life - and that had he been thinking, had he not simply taken a leap of faith and accepted a "low status" job offer with Starbucks when the chips were down, he would still be passively unable to cope with his unfamiliar new world.

Michael Gates Gill was a creative director at J. Walter Thompson Advertising. At age 53, he was "invited out to breakfast and fired." Like many professional men and women, he had defined himself largely through his job; he writes, "I was devastated to have my reason for being - my sense of self - taken away." Later, his wife left him. At 63, Gill was diagnosed with a benign, but potentially life-threatening, brain tumor. He had no health insurance. And just when things looked truly bleak, he was offered a job - at Starbucks.

"With a desperate kind of courage, I said yes," writes Gill. The next year of his life brought a transformation: Gill learned how important it is to listen, to share experiences, to stop being a slave to his watch or his PDA, to treat everyone - no matter what their station in life - with respect and kindness. He writes of the importance of learning, not only from our parents, but also from children. And he writes of the importance of trusting in God, knowing when to "let go...and let God." Gill discovered the value of laughter, which he calls "a gift of mental health we can grant ourselves at any time in our lives. . . . It is crucial not to let serious concerns keep you from experiencing the miracle of every unfolding moment."

Gill's happiness is like a ray of hope - or a friendly hand extended to anyone who is experiencing the hardships of a tough economy. How to Save Your Own Life: 15 Lessons on Finding Hope in Unexpected Places seems to say that maybe we don't need all that we thought we needed - the prestigious job, the fashionable clothes, the cool sportscar, and the trappings of social privilege; maybe what we need most is to have ourselves back, and to rekindle the sense of joy in ordinary experiences.

Gill currently lives in New York within walking distance of the Starbucks store where he works, and has no plans to retire from what he calls the best job he's ever had.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Kind of boring and not as inspiring as his first book..., August 21, 2011
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I loved his first book and found it very inspiring and an easy read so I was eager to read this book, his follow up, but I found this book to be very boring and it was harder to get through. He talked too much about his parents and I didn't find his parents interesting or their stories, however I did enjoy the chapters when he wasn't talking about his parents.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Learning to Live, August 3, 2010
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Everywhere you go these days you see people chasing down what they consider to be 'the good life' with long working hours, omnipresent technology, ethical lapses and perhaps, underneath it all, a sense that maybe it's not all good. Michael Gill, son of writer Brendan Gill, was born to privilege and became a workaholic. Success is what he understood. He was golden until the day he was fired from his high-powered job, saw his marriage disintegrate and was diagnosed with a brain tumor. With his life in shambles, he took a job at Starbuck's on impulse and a year later recognized that he was finally a happy man.

He documented the process in his first book, "How Starbuck's Saved My Life" which apparently struck some responsive chord in his readers, many of whom asked him to give them the benefit of his experiences. How could they weather personal and professional disasters? How could they turn their frantic and often empty lives into something rich and meaningful? So Gill followed up with "How to Save Your Own Life," fifteen lessons on how to find what's really important in your life and go with it.

I have to admit that much of this book seems like common sense, but as I often say, common sense is fairly uncommon these days. Treat everyone with respect, Gill tells us. I say, well of course; you get back from people what you put into them. But other lessons are not so obvious: Get rid of the stuff that weighs you down. Life isn't about what you own. And make leaps of faith. Instinctive acts are sometimes the greatest indicators of who you really are and what you should be doing with your life.

I can't help but feel that this is one of those books that everyone can benefit from. Gill doesn't really do more than remind us of what's truly important about life, but it's remarkable how often we need to be reminded of those very things. As such, I really do recommend it, particularly for those who are feeling that there's a whole lot less to life than they once believed. It's all still out there; we just have to know where to look for it.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Life-Changing, June 14, 2010
By 
Sandra Kirkland (High Point, North Carolina United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
At the age of fifty-seven, Michael Gill lost it all. He had been born into a wealthy family, educated at Yale, a happy marriage with four children and a prestigious job at a top advertising agency. Then the bottom fell out. He was fired from his job. His marriage fell apart, and he lost his house and his possessions. He then found out he had a brain tumor. Depressed and desperate, he started turning his life around when one day, in a leap of faith, he said "yes" to a job at his local Starbucks. The story of how he regained his life was told in the bestseller, "How Starbucks Saved My Life."

As a follow-up, Gill has now written a book telling others how to reinvent their lives also. The book is broken into fifteen life lessons. These are items such as learn from your children, learn from your mother, learn from your father, etc. They extol the virtue of slowing down and taking the time to experience the small things in life and learn to gain pleasure from them. Gill feels that the simple life is the more desirable life, and that he is happier with nothing than when he was rich and powerful. He now knows that family and relationships are the prime motivator of a happy life rather than money and possessions.

Readers who are looking for ways to change their lives will enjoy this book. The chapters are short, and each illustrates a specific lesson with points from Gill's own life and experiences. At the end of each chapter is a section on how to apply the lesson to the reader's own life. This book is recommended for self-help and memoir readers.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Nothing that hasn't been said before, February 18, 2010
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With the plethora of self help books available, it's very hard to find anything offering any genuinely "new" information on how to be happy, how to improve your life, etc. Likewise, the number of memoirs published is so staggering it's difficult navigating them. Having said that, I will admit I did not read "How Starbucks Saved My Life." Perhaps if I did I'd have had a slightly different perspective. But I really doubt it. Though "How to Save Your Own Life" is well enough written, containing good advice, I just found myself unimpressed. I was left feeling underwhelmed, glad I'd gotten my copy of the book for free and hadn't bought my copy.

I am not saying this is a bad book, just that it's not a glowingly good one. I felt it had nothing new to offer me, but then again I've read far too many self help books, and feel there's nothing here that's really all that novel. It's worth paging through, but I wouldn't necessarily consider it a "must read."
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It's Repetitive. Oh, and Also, It's Repetitive., December 8, 2009
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I was torn between giving this two stars or three stars. I ended up being generous sheerly because the author is likeable. But I do feel like this suffers from "unnecessary sequel-itis." There just isn't enough material here to justify a second book. Actually, it reads more like a visit to a nursing home with slightly senile relatives who keep telling you the same stories over and over while you have to just smile and nod and pretend you don't remember that they just told you the same story 15 minutes ago.

My eyes glazed over after the first chapter. I'm not sure how many times Gill made the point that he felt more successful as a Starbucks barista than he did at his advertising job, or the pride he took in cleaning the bathroom and serving others. I got it. "Now, let's move on," I wanted to say... but there really wasn't anything to move on to.

There's nothing particularly new or insightful in any of his advice ("ask for help when you need it" and "live each day like it's your last" are entire chapters), and it's stuff most of us have been taught since we were kids. I'd say that it needed better editing, but the problem is that the editor didn't get much to work with here; the whole book would have been about 25 pages long if you cut out all the repetition and the remedial boxed "How this lesson can help you" silliness at the end of each chapter.

All in all, I can't say I recommend it, unless you've already read everything else there is on Amazon and don't mind spending several hours reading what should have been condensed into a magazine essay.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting personal story, cliche format, December 18, 2009
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The author has an interesting personal story. Born into a blue blood family, educated in the Ivy League, a member of Skull and Bones, he became a high ranking executive in an advertising department ... only to lose it all, and find redemption of sorts while working at Starbucks. Working at Starbucks, he learned the joys of serving others, so much better than manipulating them as he did back in his days with the advertising department. And now the author plans to show you how to turn your life around.

While the author's background is interesting, I find the overall story in this book to be unconvincing. The author claims to have lost it all at around 50 when he lost his job, but if he was born into a blue blood family and was a high ranking executive for decades then one would think he had a large bank account, property he could sell off, investments to fall back on. I find it disingenuous that what saved this man was a job as a barista at Starbucks. I find this story as unlikely as the possibility that "Rich Dad" actually exists. Kiyosaki has admitted that the ostensible rich dad of his stories, Rich Dad Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids About Money-That the Poor and the Middle Class Do Not! , is in fact a myth. Just as rich dad is a myth, I believe the idea that Starbucks saved the author's life is a myth as well.

The other issue I have with this book is the issue I have with the entire self-help genre. All self-help materials basically say the same thing, and they have the same format. It's something like this: the life of the author fell apart; the author thought all hope was lost; the author found some hope and some cosmic secrets, and now he/she will share them with you. I'm reminded of what Oran Canfield, son of famed "Chicken Soup of the Soul" author Jack Canfield, writes in his memoir Long Past Stopping: A Memoir. Oran tells his father, Jack Canfield, that he doesn't believe self-help and human potential books actually help people, that all they do is give the reader a temporary high ... which eventually wears off ... and then the reader is back for more.... (Ahem, "How to Save Your Own Life" is, of course, a sequel.)

There are certainly some good ideas in this book, but none of them as I can see it are very original. It's all just the basic lessons we learned as children, to be kind to one another, to not pass judgment on others, etc. And the author does have an interesting personal story. But I found nothing in this book that can't be found elsewhere; I found the story unbelieveable, and overall I did not enjoy the read and therefore cannot recommend it to anyone.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Can a Leopard Really Change His Spots?, December 6, 2009
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Michael Gates Gill has written a follow-up to his bestseller How Starbucks Saved My Life. In a nutshell it is a continuation of his theme: a child of wealth and privilege, he is ushered into an Ivy league school and then into a well-paying job as a New York advertising agency that he held for decades. When he is pink-slipped in his late fifties, the spun sugar edifice of his life starts to collapse and we are entrained into his current challenges, which are myriad. We are told that he embarked on an affair upon losing his job (I'm guessing it was not his first affair, though) and fathered a child with his mistress. He works part-time at Starbucks and finds that serving "guests" changed his outlook and perspective. He simplifies his life, spends more time with his baby and his older children from his first marriage. He deals with a slowly growing acoustic neuroma with "watchful waiting", in large part due to his lack of health insurance. In short, the story has a lot of elements and his viewpoints from his turned-upside -down life that would make for compelling reading if it was not so treacly and preachy. Some elements strike me as slightly patronizing and hard to believe from my perspective. The boxes at the end of each chapter highlighting the take-away message and how to apply it to your life were incredibly annoying. If you like this type of thing save your money and watch repeats of "The Waltons". I guess at my core I really don't buy that Michael Gates Gill has become a new man. I think that's pretty damn near impossible, and if someone is truly destitute they can't live in Manhattan, have an office visit with a neurosurgeon if you have zero insurance, buy a plane ticket on the spot to attend a funeral, and go on speaking engagements to promote their new book. I'd buy a latte from Michael Gates Gill, but he can keep the advice.
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