on May 16, 2012
I don't normally write book reviews but feel I have to share my view. I was really, really looking forward to this book. Danielle created a lot of hype around it, did tons of interviews, had her soul sisters (Kate Northrup, Marie Forleo, Martha Beck, Kris Carr) do enthusiastic endorsements, and so on. From the Fire Starter testimonials on her site I really thought this book would change my perspective on things and bring in radical shifts. Sadly, this was not the case.
My main problem with Fire Starter Sessions is that it lacks a clear focus. It touches on a hodgepodge of topics - mostly short 5-6 page chapters on dealing with fear, facing forward, handling doubts... - but doesn't delve into any of these topics with much depth. The overall effect is very blog-ish and soapbox-ish. It's as if she has combined years of self-help reading into her own sort of précis. The problem with the précis is that it doesn't offer anything new or ground breaking - it's a rehash of what others have said and done before.
The worksheets are also a bit inane. I was too bored to fill out questions like:
* I think that most people are:...
* I believe that life is:...
* I hold the opinion that:...
* I'm the kind of person who:...
* I relate to people who:...
Perhaps if you're completely new to the game - a drifter, a wanderer, someone with no ambitions, someone who has never read a self-help book in the past - this might be a good 'follow your passion' catalyst. But it wasn't much of a revelation for me.
I got this book based on the Martha Beck endorsement. I just recently started reading Beck, and she, well, sets me on fire. It's become clear to me that I need to find a passion and make it happen, so this book seemed perfect for me.
It's okay. I think I like Danielle LaPorte, although I'm not even sure of that. I don't love the soulfully sassy persona so many women in this genre seem to cultivate -- like it's way too expected at this point. LaPorte definitely has that persona. "I'm a smart, feminine, playful innovator with a soulful business who makes spiritual ("cellular") connections everywhere I go! And this is how you can be like me!" I *do* want to be like that, but I'm not sure it feels so original here.
I think LaPorte has good ideas and a good grasp of what she's selling, but I don't find her exercises or worksheets compelling. Not that they're bad, or pointing me in the wrong direction, but they don't necessarily feel relevant, or fire-starting, for me.
I think if you *know* specifically what career path you want already, this might be more useful. She starts with a few exercises related to finding that, but so much of the book assumes you have a dream and a vision, I think it would be more useful if you need motivation help rather than visioning help. Most of her examples, too, talk about people who need motivation help rather than visioning help, so I'm guessing this is where her strength is.
So yeah, if you have a vision and need help developing the faith and motivation to just make it happen, this is probably a good fit. If you're looking for help in developing that vision, this probably isn't the place to start.
on May 13, 2012
First of all, I respect Danielle LaPorte and her work. She runs a good blog and has a certain aura of confidence. She's also a good wrangler and event coordinator, and the fact that Amazon is awash with 5 star reviews during the week of her book launch is testimony to that.
I bought the book out of curiosity and to see what all the hype was about. Here is a list of the pros and cons.
PROS: Compared to other self-help books the writing is light and refreshingly brisk.
CONS: Despite what other reviewers have said, the graphic design isn't great. Anyone with an eye for kerning and proportions can see that the layout is a DIY job that could have benefited from a more professional touch.
CONS: While the writing style is fluid and fun, the tone can be quite snarky. Whether she's berating guided meditations for the word "possibility" or saying something like:
"Here's my favourite misuse of holistic positivity: 'There's no such thing as a mistake." Ah, yes, spiritualized justifications of poor behaviour and human weakness..."
The book has a certain "holier than thou" undertone that leaves a bad aftertaste, especially from someone in the "wisdom-broadcasting business", as she calls it.
CONS: The book purports to be a SOULFUL and PRACTICAL guide to success, but falls short of either.
If you're looking for an irreverent guide to business success, works like Dan Kennedy's No B.S. Wealth Attraction for Entrepreneurs are packed with useful tips and actual practical advice. And if you're looking for a spiritual guide to affluence and cloud-parting 'aha' moments, then works like Creating Money: Attracting Abundance (Sanaya Roman) are brilliant.
This book straddles the line between the 'practical' and 'spiritual' but doesn't give you a wholesome meal of either. The main themes are ones we've all heard before:
* Follow your dreams
* Conquer your fears
* Act now
* Want what you want, etc.
It's not that I think she doesn't have something valuable to say. It's just that others have done it before, and better.
Added to that: Danielle wrote about gunning for the New York Times Bestseller List as the gold medal in the publishing field. It was her 2012 vision. She didn't make the list and wrote a blog article on the corruption of it all. This blind pursuit of fame and fortune for its own sake seems hollow, especially if you've just written a guide for people to "create success on their own terms".
In the end, I would be less dissatisfied with the book if it was positioned with more clarity. This book is a 'call to arms' or manifesto to find your passion, targeting people with no direction in their lives. It may be useful for:
* Former students who've just graduated and don't know what to do with their lives
* Housewives who are playing with the idea of taking on a vocation
* People finding themselves in between jobs
If you're someone stuck on the couch, this book might be a useful PEP TALK. But for people who are farther along in their journey, this book comes across as fluffy and elemental.
As self-help books go, this one doesn't go far. LaPorte's message - a very short and simple one - is to find out what you love - I mean, really REALLY REALLY LOVE - and pursue it with insane passion until all barriers fall and you live the life of your dreams. In there are lots of little tools and quizzes to tease out what you love, even if it's not immediately self-evident to you at first; and to work out your strengths and weaknesses, and so forth. This kind of thing is hardly unique to this book, and it's a matter of taste as to whether you will benefit more from this author's or another author's approach. Obviously, if you don't go to the minor trouble to get your head around the actual work, there will be no benefit whatever.
This reviewer's isses with the book concern the style. LaPorte isn't really a self-help author and certainly no psychologist or the like - she's a very energetic cheerleader, kind of the mom of a cheerleader who's trying to stay hip and with-it by copping every current catch word and phrase that seems current today. The language and style gets old, real old, and real fast, too. Without lots of quotes, it's hard to describe - suffice to say she considers herself a very clever wordsmith, she stays ultra-topical, and her turns of phrase, once you see what she's trying to do, are tediously predictable. "I love me some Suze," she says of Suze Orman, by way of telling us first how she disagrees with some pointless point of Orman's. The whole book reads like it's been dictated by an updated Valley Girl on bennies.
If you like Danielle LaPorte's style, and obviously plenty of people do, you may get something out of her presentation; if you prefer motivational and self-help and career books written from a more sober and evaluative point of view, you will most certainly not. There are countless books that are topical and helpful that will be of greater use than this self-indulgent linguistic peacock display.
I was a little taken aback by all the 5-star reviews of this book. I think it has some good points and parts of it are inspiring and helpful, but at the same time it is written in a style which will appeal to a specific audience-- and probably turn off many others.
Let's start with the layout. The writer uses various font sizes to call attention to certain words, quotes, chapter breaks, etc. Some of the fonts are huge and meant to look artistic, but I suspect many will find them distracting and unnecessary. It reminds me a little of people who write online comments or send emails that are all capital letters-- I don't need to be yelled at. I think the writer is trying to convey energy and enthusiasm and hit you with the power of certain words-- I get that, but somehow it doesn't come off as professionally as it could. And the "energy" just seems fake or contrived-- like one too many energy drinks have been consumed. Maybe it just needed a better layout artist.
Now, the actual content. The overall content is divided into three parts: Mojo, Moxy, and Results. Each chapter-- called a session-- ends with a worksheet. Throughout the book, the message is clear: normal is boring; follow your passion; you are a genius; take risks, etc. This can be inspiring stuff, and I particularly liked some of her worksheets-- the one on "core desired feelings" was revealing, and the one on "burning questions" would be very useful for someone looking to create a better elevator pitch or summary of what they do. But after awhile, the endless enthusiasm (and the not-so-subtle putdown of anyone who isn't as "cool" as the author) gets a little tiring. And while many of the chapters might be helpful for someone in the very early stages of defining their business, I suspect one would need to move on quickly to a book offering more down-to-earth and practical advice-- words which would clearly not appeal to this author.
All in all this book was like a rich dessert-- enticing to look at but too much to stomach after a few bites. I kept wanting to tell the author, it's OK, you don't have to be "cool" and "hip" all the time. It's OK to be real- because a lot of the content is good. The hyper text and language isn't necessary. Try some decaf.
One reviewer quoted in the book calls it the "bad ass Artist's Way"-- no, it's way too flashy, without the insight or depth. The journey you take on the The Artist's Way might be mellower and more subtle, but I suspect more fulfilling in the long run.
Quick summary: According to Danielle LaPorte, success comes through being true to your desires, principles, and capabilities. If you develop a clear awareness of what you want, what you're passionate about, and what you're best at, you can't help but do well ... as long as you make peace with your anxieties, eliminate time sinks, and, of course, put in the work. No single element of LaPorte's message is new, but she pulls in ideas from a broad array of sources, illustrates them with personal stories, and expresses them in her own unique (and somewhat histrionic) style. Less a career guide than a building-your-life-around-your-work guide, the book is oriented towards but not exclusively aimed at women, especially those with an entrepreneurial bent.
Pros: Many readers will be refreshed by LaPorte's brash, self-consciously feminine, New Age-inflected voice, which stands out in a genre dominated by authors who strive for professional detachment. At her best, LaPorte uses bold declarations and idiosyncratic language to shake readers out of well-worn ways of thinking about themselves and the world. Rather than advising readers to "build on your strengths," she declares "Being well-rounded is highly overrated"; in suggesting that readers should follow their hearts and not their resumes, she asserts that "Competency is overrated," and "Normal is boring." She wants to talk about "superpowers" rather than strengths, and "most sacred desires" instead of objectives. LaPorte adds value by packing the book with practical suggestions and genuinely inspirational anecdotes and quotations. She also provides a set of worksheets that, at least in theory, should help readers begin to make use of the book's core lessons.
I particularly like LaPorte's approach to personal objectives. She argues that the key question the reader should ask herself is: "How do [I] want to feel?" There may be things we think we need, like money, power, a house, a fast car, free time, etc., but we want these things, she says, not for themselves, but because we want to feel a specific way. We want to feel secure, unstressed, challenged, loved, recognized, respected, valued, etc. "First, get clear on how you want to feel," LaPorte advises, "Then, do stuff that makes you feel that way." Some people will respond, "What I really want to feel is ABLE TO PAY THE BILLS," and that's legitimate, but there a lot of different ways to pay the bills. One hopes.
Cons: At her worst, LaPorte comes across as a needy, self-indulgent woman. It's tough to imagine another author kicking off her book with this declaration: "I want to be your favourite [sic] pyromaniac of clarity, love-fuelled [sic] ambition, and results. I may not know you, but I love you already." She devotes considerable effort to selling herself and building up the reader's opinion of her. Those who think a self-help book should be about the reader not the author will not be impressed. Over the course of the book, LaPorte's linguistic flamboyance grows tiresome. There are only so many times an author get away with phrases like "unmitigated, unapologetic stupendousness," and sentiments like "Everyone has some form of genius to rock." Likewise, the book's bold graphic design, while striking at first glance, quickly gets old. The provided worksheets deal with key topics but are poorly conceived and may only suit a minority of readers.
Bottom line: LaPorte's passion is attractive, but her over-the-top rants and her focus on herself can be maddening at times. My reluctant conclusion is that the book has much more in common with a roller-coaster ride than a drive down the highway: it may propel you up into the air, and it may plunge you down steep grades, but, while you may feel exhilarated when it's over, you end the ride almost exactly where you began.
First, a disclaimer: I've got a preview copy, so there may be minor differences between this review and the final product in April. It seems pretty complete, both in content and formatting, so it probably won't be all that much different, but just in case, there you have it.
That said, I'm a long-time reader of White Hot Truth, and have the Spark Kit, which is the $150 program on which this book is based. If any of you are also readers, and are wondering if this book is different enough than the kit to be worth buying, I'll tell you right now: it's worth every penny. In fact, it might actually be better than the Spark Kit (sorry, Danielle...), since it seems to go in much more depth in a few practical areas.
If you haven't seen the original Spark Kit, know this:
There is no way you can read this book and *not* start taking action. From the preface chapters that give you permission to start making your own way to your dream to the last pages that give you the bottom-line secret to success (it's simpler than you'd think, but harder than you can imagine), every step between your life now and the life you want to live is spelled out with a raging spirituality and enlightening practicality that the author's known for. You'll burn, but it's a good burn. A clarifying fire. One that reminds you who you really are.
The Firestarter Sessions is separated into three sections: Mojo, Moxy, and Results. MOJO deals with who you are and what you want. MOXY covers productive dreaming and the often-hard parts that everyone faces once they know where they want to go. RESULTS takes all the dreaming and planning and puts it to work, redefining everything from marketing to your relationship with money, and sends you off to do the work you were put on this earth to do, that only you can do. Each chapter (there are several in each section) has not only the clear, soul-full writing and perceptive advice that LaPorte's known for, but also has worksheets to help you take that knowledge and make it your own. Apply it to your own journey. Take everything to the next step. It flows so easily that it's easy to forget you're building a kind of explosively powerful fire under your own tailfeathers.
As if that's not enough: The Firestarter Sessions is more than just a book. The preview copy I have is vague, with notes about what's to come -- but the FSS *experience* is multimedia. There looks to be an online component to enhance the content within. From a forum to video content to a downloadable version of the worksheets in the book, all the fires don't go out when you close the cover at the end. There's even instructions on finding or starting your own Fire Starter Groups locally, to find other people who want to take their own paths to what they've always wanted.
I can't recommend this book (and experience) highly enough. Preorder it. Buy an extra one to give to a friend. Pick up enough to share with everyone you know who needs more passion and permission to build a life that's made just for them.
I know the Fire Starter Sessions was supposed to pump me up, and inspire me to change, act, learn. However, I just felt more and more uncool reading it. The author is super awesome, and she knows it. And we know it. It's no exaggeration. Damn, even her son is cool.
But for some reason, I read this book and began to feel inadequate. It's hard to explain, except for this: at night, when I read before going to sleep, I kept wanting to avoid "the book that made me feel bad". Finally I took it off my shelf and replaced it.
on January 1, 2014
Danielle LaPorte has been beating this same drum for years now. This is old material of hers, and frankly if you ever read a few of her blog entries you've read the material in this book. I was disappointed with this book as I thought she would go into more depth and/or bring different material into this book than I had found years ago on her blog. She didn't.
However, I do think Danielle has a good message to deliver, and I think that she is a spiritual, intelligent person. I just don't find her to be quite as brilliant in this book as her resume would lead you to believe. [Really - check out her resume - it is amazing!]
One way to decide about this book is to go to her blog and check out the archived blog entries leading up to the publication date of this book - you'll find all the contents there (with the exception of not so inspiring exercises that she includes in the book).
I was not familiar with Danielle LaPorte's WhiteHotTruth.com blog before reading my preview copy of her book. I had no idea what I was in for. This is an explosive guide, sort of a really economical coaching-in-a-book with multiple sessions (16 in all), one that is passionate, intense, and effective. I worked my way through the book, which is laid out in a wild format with varying fun font sizes (but easily read), perfect for doing the included worksheets and for taking notes and writing your dreams in the margins (I did a lot of this). The book explores how to thrive no matter what your life situation--how to dream--all written in the author's entertaining and intense and to-the-point style. I have read many coaching books--I am a certified life coach--and this is a great one!
The author explores familiar topics like being authentic, doing what you love, "cheap easy" versus "quality easy", core desired feelings, life balance (not) etc. but in a really fresh new way. She puts together information from many other teachers and coaches in a format that packs maximum impact and really motivates the reader to make the changes they long for in their lives.
I felt as though I had been coached by someone talented enough to set my soul on fire--and I am now empowered to move forward.