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If you read and apply only one self-help book this year, I recommend that it be Succeed on Your Own Terms.

Most books about success aim readers at impossible heights of accomplishment and then provide 6-8 rules that are "guaranteed" to get you there. Then the authors head off for lots of speaking engagements where they earn six-figure pay days. Those books reek of dishonesty . . . from their obviously ghost-written prose to their calm assurance that everyone can be perfect if they just make a few simple changes.

Succeed on Your Own Terms is a happy exception: The book's authors have instead helped over 25,000 companies to improve the effectiveness of their people. Herb Greenberg is an inspiration also for having developed the consulting firm, Caliper, despite having lost his sight. But he doesn't play that up unlike those who are seeking to cash in on your eagerness for success.

You are also freed from the world's definitions of success: "The biggest ever . . . " Instead, you are encouraged to connect with what feels right for you to be doing.

From there, the book is filled with dozens of mini-biographies of the mental processes that people have used to achieve what they define as success. I thought that these insights were worth 500 of those books that give you 6-8 steps. I was also pleased to see that the magnificence of the accomplishments was underplayed . . . rather than overplayed as is so often done. For example, the biography of Mugsey Bogues, the shortest NBA player ever, doesn't dwell on his height limitations . . . but rather on how he thought about what he had to do.

You'll probably find some of these people familiar such as Ben Vereen, Senator Barbara Boxer, Roger Staubach, Jeffrey Laurie, Michael Graves, Congressman John Lewis, Congressman Charles Rangel, Sonny Barger, Senator Debbie Strabenow, Governor Jon Corzine and G. Edward Hanway. But many of the stories of the "unknowns" are actually quite a bit more interesting and inspiring. I recommend the stories about Samuel Pisar, Rebecca Stephens, Daisy Myers, Angelo Chianese, Paul Schulte, Susan Magrino, and Elizabeth Elting.

By the way, the examples disproportionately favor those who have worked for social justice. If that's not something that interests you, you'll be looking in vain for material about Ann Coulter.

That said, the most useful material in the book comes in Part IV that deals with Defining Moments, Having a Lesson for Your Children, What Does It All Mean? and How to Discover Your Own Defining Qualities. This last material culminates in a very revealing set of 35 questions that I encourage you to ponder, answer and review your answers from time to time.

But one of the nice surprises of the book is that you can take a free assessment of your qualities and how you can improve your effectiveness based on the famous Caliper method. Be prepared to spend some time on this. It's not timed and you are told it will take about 90 minutes. I spent over two hours and felt the time was well spent. The report that came back neatly defined both my strengths and the things I need to do to make those strengths more effective. Nice!
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on August 12, 2006
Thee are a lot of how to be a success books out there. Most of them seem to fall into two categories: religious or business. Finally there is this one that is somewhere in between. This one says that you define success on your own terms. In fact the first three chapters pretty well lay out the plan:

Chapter 1 - You've Got to Know Where you Are to Know Where You're Going -- The single mother on welfare has a different starting point than the young man just getting his MBA from Harvard. That doesn't necessarily determine where you end up, but the starting point is different, which means the route you take is different.

Chapter 2 - First you Have to Define Success -- In the book there are interviews with actors, senators, NFL players, business leaders, social rights advocates. As the kids say, what do you want to be when you grow up.

Chapter 3 - Tapping Into Your Defining Qualities -- We all have strengths and weaknesses. By recognizing your own (both strengths and weaknesses) you can proceed without kidding yourself.

The collection of stories are stories of success. There are no stories of failure (what would you expect in a book with this title), but in turn, few of these people had a smooth ride to the top.

This is an encouraging book and a self-help book at the same time.
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on June 7, 2006
Reading this book will encourage anyone who is feeling a little lost in their career. We often get caught up in the same definitions of success and this book gives a much broader view of what success is. It also offers a very practical way of thinking about success so you can apply it towards your own life.

Buy the book just to take their special assessment.It's unbelievable how much feedback you get back. There's a special code in the book that allows you to take their on line assessment and these guys are real pros. Many top companies such as Avis, FedED and BMW use their assessment tools. I enjoyed it because it's a fun read as well.
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on January 10, 2007
SUCCEED ON YOUR OWN TERMS by Herb Greenberg and Patrick Sweeney is a book I'll want to

revisit often, if just to again read the story of Mugsy Bogues--the

shortest NBA player of all time.

He is just one of the many accomplished individuals interviewed

by the authors . . . they also spoke to actor Ben Vereen, Senator

Barbara Boxer, architect Michael Graves, and a wide range

of others from a variety of fields.

In addition, they then conducted a comprehensive personality

assessment on each person, attempting to uncover the defining

qualities that made them unique . . . all totaled, they came

up with a total of 19 qualities--including such ones as optimism,

resilience, empathy, persuasiveness, courage, creativity, and


I enjoyed the in-depth interviews, as well as the many tidbits

of information that were shared . . . among the many

that caught my attention were the following:

* If two people are climbing a mountain together, what is the

most important thing they need to get to the summit? Teamwork?

Cooperation? The right equipment? Training? All those things are

required. But what' most important is the mountain itself. You

must have a goal.

* Once, late at night, he was crying because the result from one of the

surgeries was worse than expected. Jose Luiz recalled, "An old man at

the hospital called me over and said, 'Boy, why do you cry? Look

around you. There are patients here who will only live a few days more.

Don't just sit here and cry. Go and see them. And see what happens.

Maybe you can help them by just being there.' It was a very simple

message, but it changed my life and I carry it with me."

* [Gov. John Corzine of New Jersey] "The simple answer is that

if I made another dollar, another hundred million dollars, or whatever,

it would not change any aspect of my life. I wouldn't feel better about

myself," he said.

Perhaps the most valuable part to SUCCEED ON YOUR OWN TERMS

was the offer that came with it . . . readers are offered the opportunity

to take a free, in-depth personality assessment that will then be

scored . . . the results can be used to discover unique potential and

strengths with the idea being that they can then help locate situations

that play to these natural abilities.
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VINE VOICEon January 9, 2007
There is a lot to like about the book, SUCCEED ON YOUR OWN TERMS, by Herb Greenberg and Patrick Sweeney. This is one of the best "success" books of 2006. Greenberg and Sweeney of Caliper, an international consulting firm, share their findings from countless research interviews of successful people, many famous and familiar, many others you've probably never heard of, but all who have obtained a high level of achievement in their respective fields.

The book is presented in four parts and twenty-eight chapters. Part 1 introduces the authors and helps give an appropriate definition of "success" and how everyone's expectations of success are different.

IN Part 2, the reader finds individual profiles of people and how they have found success in their lives. This is some very interesting reading and really helps to illustrate the many facets of success. I would consider this chapter the "meat and potatoes" of the book.

Part 3, for me, fell a little short. It starts off in chapter 23 pretty well, giving yet further insight into personal obstacles of interviewees and what they learned from their respective journeys. Chapter 24 really becomes filler material and really detracted from the overall accomplishments of the work here, but the pace soon returns in Part 4, "Defining Moments, Lessons, and Qualities and What They All Mean". I found this chapter to be the best reading of the entire book.

In summary, a valuable book that was overall, very enjoyable. There were, however, a few disappointments. The book has an overabundance of profiles of politicians, which was a huge distraction for me. It's difficult for me to find inspiration from people like Jon Corsine, Charlie Rangel or Barbara Boxer. Nonetheless, gloss over the parts that don't interest you and just read the rest. It's well worth the price of the book.
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on June 7, 2006
I read a lot of motivational books and this one is right at the top of the list. It weighs in more on the inspirational side than the how to side but it has a terrific self-assessment feature most books do not. The stories will inspire anyone who is looking for more direction in their life. There are many lesser known people profiled in the book along with some major figures like Ben Vereen, Barbara Boxer, John Lewis, JD Powers and Roger Staubach. I found all the lessons useful.

I've also heard the authors' radio show and it's quite good, as well. I think it's called "Winning in Business."
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on June 6, 2006
This book is a great read! For a self help book it's especially well written and easy to absorb. The wisdom that comes from it is plainly illustrated in a series of profiles that are quite compelling.

Read how Samuel Pisar survived the Holocaust and you'll see what I mean. Geoffrey Bodine - the Nascar driver - tells a very revealing story about competitiveness. Another favorite of mine was reading how pianist Joao Carlos Martins lost the use of one of his hands and still performed at Carneige Hall - amazing stuff. Each story describes a personality trait - by identifying with one or two of them you'll learn how to play to your own strengths.

Check it out....well worth the money and it allows you to take a free on line assessment of your own personality.
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on June 21, 2006
I always knew that there was something different about me, the way I thought...or worked...or even pursued a goal. After reading this book, "Succeed On Your Own Terms" and after taking the assessment, I now know what is different. I am succeeding on my own terms, not always playing with the rules that I was given. I think this is a must read for anyone who finds themselves slightly off center with the others in their world. The book provides inspiration, insight and a way to identify your strengths. And yes...understanding how one moment in your life can define your future.
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on July 14, 2006
We've all wondered what it is we could to make us wake up every morning and thrive. We see others around us who are successful, who love what they do. And if we're honest with ourselves, we all want that. Maybe some think they want the fame or the money, but I'm pretty convinced that we all want to find that "thing" that drives us. This book is chock-a-block filled with inspiring stories of folks from all walks of life who followed what we come to know as their defining quality of success. And we learn from each and every one of them. Herb Greenberg and Patrick Sweeney work for Caliper (Herb is the CEO) and Caliper has always conveyed the sense that it's more important to know what a person can do than what they have done. Now, imagine how that could transform the welfare lines. So forego whatever summer feel-good movie Hollywood is pushing. Buy this book. Heh, it's a bargain when you consider you get a free $200 personality assessment that may put you on your road to success.
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on April 15, 2013
I used this along with the advertised self test service to analyze the possibility of a move into a sales career. Based on these materials I decided a sales role is not my cup of tea. Now I need to find another way to make a robust living.
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