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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Provocative and focused collection of essays
This is the most provocative book I've read in months. The ideas contained in the essays are persuasive and it's a fun, well focused read. Ideally, I'd like the book to be longer than 30 relatively short essays (hence 4 stars, not 5) but the quality bar is super-high and everything is well written in Scott's energetic and personal style, and a does a great job of making...
Published on November 4, 2011 by Amazon Customer

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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars An OK book, but falls below expectations
Scott Berkun self-published this work rather than going through a publisher, claiming in his forward that he did this not out of dislike of his regular publishers, but rather because he planned to publish later works that "no sane publisher would touch." Unfortunately, Berkun failed to note that Mind Fire was in fact one of those books that no sane publisher would...
Published on September 15, 2012 by Wanderer


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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars An OK book, but falls below expectations, September 15, 2012
By 
Wanderer (Who cares where I live?) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Mindfire: Big Ideas for Curious Minds (Paperback)
Scott Berkun self-published this work rather than going through a publisher, claiming in his forward that he did this not out of dislike of his regular publishers, but rather because he planned to publish later works that "no sane publisher would touch." Unfortunately, Berkun failed to note that Mind Fire was in fact one of those books that no sane publisher would support.

I'll be upfront and state that I am a part-time fan of some of Scott's other works. I took a few gems from his disjoint and highly unorganized first edition of his project management book and I generally liked his second offering, his probably best recognized book on the Myths of Innovation. That said, not everything he writes is good, and some of it genuinely has the feel that it was written for the sake of writing something about a subject, rather to express truly new ideas or inspiring thought. You can find many of examples of this in Mind Fire, even though it is purportedly plucked from some of his best blog postings of recent years.

If you read his blog and check his site, you will see that he offers himself up with a paragraph stating, essentially, "You pick the topic and I give a high energy talk about it..." or some such. This is exactly the kind of thing I'm calling him out for in his writing, because I believe that's exactly what's going on, writing for the sake of it, not because of a passionate interest in the topic or having a genuinely new contribution to existing knowledge or understanding of it. This kind of writing looks and feels like what you expect when you assign an essay topic to students, rather than letting them write about what they wish, namely that you get people running up the page and word count, but not really saying anything new or meaningful. There's no real passion, no substance. It's a somewhat stark irony that in a book entitled "Mind Fire", you have a collection of essays in which a good share of them have a distinct lack of fire.

Is there some good stuff in here? You bet. Worth the cover price (or digital) price? Probably not, especially when all the content is available freely on his blog. Berkun claims heavier editing and polishing was done on these entries, but I found typos in several places, so I doubt it was scrutinized to the degree he claims, which is unfortunate. I also wish there had at least been some original content here, something exclusive to the book perhaps, but there's nothing of the sort.

In the interest of keeping this review brief, I'm going to close by saying that this book disappointed me, not just because of the quality of some of the content but also because of the ridiculous claims that this was self published as a trial run in self publishing, rather than the obvious fact that no real publisher would have touched it. The fact that Berkun is a published author and couldn't get his own people to push this one out should have been a huge red flag and I unfortunately ignored it. Yes, there are a few gems in here, but if you're a follower of his blog, you've already seen them. I don't see any reason to purchase the book if you're a long time fan, but new readers might get a smidgen of value from it, hence giving it 2 stars rather than 1.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Provocative and focused collection of essays, November 4, 2011
This review is from: Mindfire: Big Ideas for Curious Minds (Paperback)
This is the most provocative book I've read in months. The ideas contained in the essays are persuasive and it's a fun, well focused read. Ideally, I'd like the book to be longer than 30 relatively short essays (hence 4 stars, not 5) but the quality bar is super-high and everything is well written in Scott's energetic and personal style, and a does a great job of making you take a step back and think/reflect. The essays are short enough that even if one of them isn't your thing, you're pretty quickly on to the next one.

To give examples of essays they include topics like "How to give and receive criticism", which describes how criticism isn't just about your own views and a perspective and a single correct answer, but also about thinking how different people will interpret the thing that's being criticized. Many of the essays tend to be motivational such as "The surprise inspiration of death" or "How to be passionate".

As the author discloses, the essays in this book can also be found on his blog, but either because of the editorial work that's gone into the book or because of simply reading it on my Kindle rather than a webpage I found it a much more engaging experience than hunting around on the web.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it. If you're into the writing style of Malcom Gladwell or Michael Lewis then it's a reasonable bet that you'll enjoy this, and it's sufficiently short and focused that it's a very easy book to get through.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Un-put-downable!!, November 6, 2011
This review is from: Mindfire: Big Ideas for Curious Minds (Paperback)
Just finished reading the free ebook (the author offered a free download from his site for a limited period). I haven't read any of his other titles, nor his blogs. But this book was so interesting that I read it in a single sitting. Many times during the book I found myself mentally agreeing with him, specifically when he talks about the role of effort in innovation, or the fact that innovation is really a combination of other innovations that preceded it, or the distinction between "work creative" and "personal creative". It also contains very useful gems such as how to offer criticism and how to take it, and many other things to improve the quality of one's life at both work and personal life. The writing is fast-paced, witty and from the heart. If you are in a field that requires innovation, this book has many useful insights that you can use right now.

Thank you, Scott Berkun, for compiling your essays into this great book, and offering it free (otherwise I would never have read it and never known what I was missing). I plan on reading your other books as well now.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Scott Berkun Can't Actually Say That, Can He?, January 24, 2012
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This review is from: Mindfire: Big Ideas for Curious Minds (Paperback)
What's unusual about this book is the incredible directness of the author's ideas. Reading most books, you need to work to translate the author's text into your internal voice. Scott Berkun in this book manages the art of speaking directly into my brain: no need to work hard to translate what he means: it's crystal clear.

Example: the opening line of "How to Detect Bull****" is: "Everyone lies: it's just a question of how, when, and why."

That's not to say these essays don't make your brain work. The author is mostly tackling tough issues, and rips away the veneer and the nice stories we tell ourselves to rapidly get to the core of the issue. These are ideas you can use, if you're willing to go along and break your normal patterns. And, these essays are short enough that you can go back and reread them. Yes, he really did say that. Hmmm, interesting!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Smart, Kind of Pretentious, Not Very Useful, August 22, 2012
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This review is from: Mindfire: Big Ideas for Curious Minds (Paperback)
Mindfire makes a big title promise - big ideas for curious minds. In my opinion, Scott Berkun falls far short of that promise. A better title would have been: Very Well-Written Essays by Someone Who is Smart and Pretentious.

In all fairness, Scott Berkun has talent. He writes very well and has a very good explanatory style. With a different subject, I imagine that he would be absolutely brilliant.

However, the only thing he explains in this volume is how he is smarter than everyone else. The first few essays are cute; the style is a little refreshing. The second few essays start to be irritating; this guy really thinks he is brilliant. By the 10th essay, I was bored - with only 20 more to read.

My biggest disappointment with this book was that it wasn't at all useful. The idea behind reading BIG IDEAS is that they will be useful. These ideas were not exactly big and were not at all useful. Well, not unless you wanted to worship at the altar of Berkun's intellect.

I'd recommend watching this author (he's a good writer), but I don't recommend this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worthy Thought-Leadership..., December 26, 2011
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This review is from: Mindfire: Big Ideas for Curious Minds (Paperback)
I was drawn to this book after reading Scott Berkun's terrific book titled Confessions of a Public Speaker which may be the best book that I have read on public speaking...so, Scott had set a high bar for me. This book title (Mindfire) was inspired by the writings of Emerson who "often referred to the creative mind as a fire and wrote about ways to ignite the mind." First Wow: Scott has written over 1,500 essays and articles over a 10 year period (wow) and had handpicked 30 for this collection. (See full list of topics below). Second Wow: While he used O'Reilly Media to publish his earlier books, he published this book himself. He explained that he "wanted to publish books in the future that no publisher in its right mind would release. Therefore, I must learn to do it myself." For his first attempt at self-publishing, this is remarkable work.

If you have followed Scott's blog, you won't find a lot of new ground covered here, but it has been nicely re-packaged - it is tighter, it has been "pruned and polished." Scott is smart, self-effacing, honest and authentic in his writing style which invites deeper thinking and discussion of topical issues. His essays are persuasive and fun to read. This book is hard to put down. It does take you on a quest for personal discovery, inspiring you to think and at times act differently.

I was torn between rating the book a 3 (wanting deeper exploration of fewer topics; no new ground covered for a follower of his blog) to a 5 (a number of "aha" moments; 5* thinking, writing and energy) so I landed on a 4.

Here is an excerpt from one of my favorite essays: Can You Be Great With Grace? (Essay #20).."I've read many biographies about people who qualify, and it turns out being driven often makes people hard to like...Perhaps true greatness, or a truly great person, is someone who does the right things for the right reasons without expecting grand rewards. They don't do things 'to be the best' or 'to be famous' or 'to be a legend.' Instead they sacrifice those ambitions in favor of simply what people around them need. They want to be great only through being useful to those they care most about, regardless of how little acclaim they get from the whole wide world for it....It might be that the dedicated policeman, the passionate history teacher, the devoted great mom/dad, the wonderful uncle, are the people who are truly great, because they add value to the world for its own reason. While anyone can make a billion dollars, they know only they can raise this child, teach that student, support this community, or help that friend in times of need. And unlike the worldly kind of greatness, spread wide and thin across thousands of people, it might only be humble greatness that runs deep into people's hearts and memories, to inspire them for the better, forever."

The 30 Essay topics include:

Part 1) Gasoline: (1) The cult of busy; (2) Wants vs. Beliefs; (3) How to be a free thinker; (4) How to detect bulls***; (5) Should you be Popular or Good?; (6) There are two kinds of people: complexifiers and simplifiers; (7) Are you indifferent?; (8) Does transparency matter?; (9) How I found my passion; (10) How to be passionate

Part 2) Sparks: (11) On God and Integrity; (12) Hating vs Loving; (13) The surprise inspiration of death + Bonus: Your quota of worry and how to shrink it; (14) How to make a difference; (15) Why you must lead or follow; (16) Why the world is a mess: a theory; (17) The size of ideas; (18) Book Smarts vs. Street Smarts; (19) Why does faith matter?; (20) Can you be great, with grace?

Part 3) Fire: (21) How to give and receive criticism; (22) How to learn from your mistakes; (23) How to keep your mouth shut; (24) Creative thinking hacks; (25) Dr. Seuss and wicked constraints; (26) Why smart people defend bad ideas; (27) Why you are not an artist; (28) How to convince anyone of anything; (29) Attention and Sex; (30) A strawman for everything
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars You're all kidding, right?, January 28, 2013
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This review is from: Mindfire: Big Ideas for Curious Minds (Paperback)
I can't believe all the enthusiastic reviews I saw for this book. It is full of truisms and sophomoric reasoning. The level of philosophical literacy is near zero. Whenever the technology industry purports to offer us an intellectual, the dreary result is usually something like this. I wish I'd returned this title in time to get my money back.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Many Short Life Lessons, November 1, 2011
By 
dt (Alpena, MI USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Mindfire: Big Ideas for Curious Minds (Paperback)
I truly enjoy and appreciate Scott Berkun for the amount of effort he puts into each project he engages. I have been a reader of his titles for several years and even incorporated The Myths of Innovation into coursework at the college I used to teach at. What I especially appreciate about the way he approaches a subject is how he is willing to personally hang out his own neck and provide examples of how the concepts have played in his life and work. For instance, although I've only heard of one or two bands in his discography, I am now familiar with the music that inspires him through his creative process.

While some of the thoughts expressed were reused, I felt that there was enough new content in this book to justify it's place on my bookshelf. I believe that Berkun provides a number of short and simple reminders in the series of essays that we all need to reflect upon from time to time. I see this book as an excellent resource for a recent graduate, or the person who needs to gain gumption to make a move to their next career or life opportunity.

In addition, I found myself in awe wondering as to what other resources Scott Berkun has on his website that I should incorporate into my classroom to help the creative student, manager, or contributor of the future.

Honestly, my only criticism of the title would be the typesetting. I felt there was a great deal of white space. In the electronic edition this seemed wasteful. In the print edition I imagine the white space to be of great benefit in journaling thoughts and inspirations of a particular essay.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great reminder of all the things I've learned from Scott, April 1, 2013
Since I used to read Scott's blog a lot around the time Making Things Happen: Mastering Project Management (Theory in Practice) came out I knew I would be re-reading a lot of these.

Surprisingly though, going through these essays was a great refresher.

Over the years I've internalized the lessons from a lot of the essays like "Why you must lead or follow" and forgotten where these ideas came from even though they have shaped the way I work today. Having all the essays collected in this book has given me a great opportunity to revisit the original ideas and see how they fit with my current opinions.

A great read that will really get you thinking and also a great gateway to Making Things Happen: Mastering Project Management (Theory in Practice).
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book, June 27, 2014
This review is from: Mindfire: Big Ideas for Curious Minds (Paperback)
Great book!!! With his short and to-the-point essays, Scott tells his thought-provoking ideas as if he's sharing some of his worries with his best friend, which makes this book unique and interesting to read.
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Mindfire: Big Ideas for Curious Minds
Mindfire: Big Ideas for Curious Minds by Scott Berkun (Paperback - October 26, 2011)
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