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The Promise of a Pencil: How an Ordinary Person Can Create Extraordinary Change Hardcover – March 18, 2014

4.9 out of 5 stars 942 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"For anyone with a big dream to transform the world, this book will show you how to get it done." (Sir Richard Branson)

“A compelling and singular story filled with universal truths everyone needs to hear.” (United States Senator Cory Booker)

"A remarkably inspiring story that shares the essential lessons to creating a life of meaning, passion and purpose." (Deepak Chopra, Founder of The Chopra Foundation)

“A vivid, heartfelt account of the power of education and the ability of one person to impact the world.” (Wendy Kopp, Founder of Teach For America and Co-Founder & CEO of Teach For All)

“Braun takes you on a mesmerizing round-the-world adventure, while sharing the concrete steps necessary to turn your own ideas into reality. He has his finger on the pulse of what's next and when he speaks you should be listening.” (Keith Ferrazzi, #1 NY Times bestselling author of Never Eat Alone and Who's Got Your Back)

“A perfect step-by-step guide to building the life you've always wanted on your own terms. . . Start reading and don't put the book down until you're finished.” (Gary Vaynerchuk, CEO of VaynerMedia and New York Times bestselling author of Jab, Jab, Jab Right Hook and Crush It!)

"Braun's lessons are memorable, accessible, and powerful. This is a must-read, and a must-re-read, and a must-keep-in-view-on-bookshelf kind of book." (Jessica Jackley, Co-Founder of Kiva)

"[An] exuberant testimony to the power of idealism. . . Braun’s story forcefully presents the advantages of silencing the head andlistening to the heart." (Publishers Weekly starred review and Book of the Week)

"[Braun] skillfully weaves together his personal memoir and the professional challenges he faced... Informative and inspiring." (Kirkus Reviews)

“Braun combines his laid-back storytelling style with simple yet sage advice….The Promise of a Pencil is engaging, instructive and inspiring reading for anyone who wants to change his or her life, change the world, or simply feel better about humanity.” (Success Magazine)

"Braun shares his story of how he started Pencils of Promise, what he learned from Wall Street that has helped him...how he’s leveraged social networks to generate donations, and his best career advice." (Forbes.com)

"[A] page-turning debut." (MTV Act)

About the Author

Adam Braun is the Founder and CEO of Pencils of Promise, an award-winning nonprofit organization that has built more than 200 schools across Africa, Asia, and Latin America and delivered over 15 million educational hours to children in poverty. PoP was founded with just $25 and has grown under Braun's stewardship with his unique approach that blends nonprofit idealism with for-profit business principles. He has been featured as part of the Forbes 30 Under 30 and Wired Magazine's 50 People Changing the world. To learn more visit pencilsofpromise.org and adambraun.com.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner (March 18, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1476730628
  • ISBN-13: 978-1476730622
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (942 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #113,007 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Adam Braun is the Founder of Pencils of Promise, an award-winning organization that began with just $25 and has since broken ground on 250 schools across the world. He also is the creator of the "For-Purpose" approach to business and philanthropy, which combines for-profit business acumen with the best of social sector idealism. Braun graduated from Brown University, began his career at Bain & Company, and has been a featured speaker at the White House, United Nations and Clinton Global Initiative.

"The Promise of a Pencil: How an Ordinary Person Can Create Extraordinary Change" is his New York Times bestselling debut book, which shares his personal journey from high finance through more than 50 countries and explains the essential steps that every person must take to discover their own life of passion and purpose.

Richard Branson described, "For anyone looking to transform the world, this book will show you how to get it done."

You can find more information at www.adambraun.com.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This book is both a terrific story and a guide to making a difference in the world. Inspiring, thought-provoking, and deeply meaningful - Promise of a Pencil profoundly resonated with me and it will resonate with you.

Any one of the chapters - organized as stories telling 30 "mantras" - would be worth the price of the entire book- but together, well- this is a masterpiece, and a future textbook in how we can all make a difference in our short times on this planet. Two enormous likeable thumbs up!
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Format: Hardcover
This book is not only an incredibly quick read that keeps you glued to the pages until there are no more left to read, but it also keeps you wishing the story would never end!

The book is perfect for all ages in the sense that if you are a young person, it will inspire you to dream big dreams and pursue them with a relentless and undivided attention. If you are older, this book restores your hope in the current generation that is doing so much good in the world.

After reading this book, not only do I feel like I CAN do anything, I also feel like I WANT to go do EVERYTHING! Great Read!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book is a must read for all ages. Adam's (and Pencils of Promise's) story is captivating and is so riveting such that is makes you glued to the pages. The mantras are also great. In addition, there are also a lot of quotable quotes here that you can apply to your daily life. A truly empowering book!
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Format: Kindle Edition
This is going to be hard for many people to understand but once upon a time everything wasn't about ME! I think Braun has done a lo of good through this organization. However, I gave up halfway through because I just got tired that everything was about him. I wish more focus could have been on the kids, the parents and the other volunteers.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The subtitle of this book isn't exactly correct.

Adam isn't "ordinary" by any definition of the word.

Adam could have ended up ordinary. He was on a fast-track to make millions in corporate America, but with no real impact on the world. He could have been ordinary. Rich and ordinary.

But Adam chose a different path.

He chose to matter. He chose impact. He chose, quite intentionally, to make a dent in the universe by founding an organization that has built over 200 schools and is bringing education to so many who desperately need it.

In addition to being an innovator and leader, Adam is a great storyteller. The 30 mantras in this book are lessons told through interesting stories. They are instructive, insightful and human. Adam shows the good and the bad. The successes and the bumps and bruises as Pencils of Promise grew.

This book is an invaluable resource. There's no single playbook on "how to change the world" but this book should be required reading for anyone who wants to make their own dent in the universe.

Adam may have started as ordinary but along the way he became "extraordinary".

Have you?

Will you?
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Format: Hardcover
I'm not discounting the immense good Mr. Braun has done through his charitable, "for purpose" organization with my low review. I think it's awesome that he has used his good fortune in life to make the lives of others better around the world. There's a lot of people out there who take for granted and/or waste that good fortune, so what he is doing is highly commendable. I am just SO tired of books written by people who are NOT ordinary for "ordinary" people about how they can follow in their footsteps.

Mr. Braun is anything but ordinary. He comes from a privileged background, had a high paying job at a young age and powerful connections through friends and family, including Justin Bieber, who he knew through his brother. I'm sure if more "ordinary" people had access to these resources, many of them would already be doing stuff like this and writing their own books on how to do it.

Maybe if the book had been positioned more as a how-to guide for starting a charity or non-profit it would sit better with me. But self-help is hot and the man wants to sell his book, so I guess I can't fault him for that.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Braun's life story is certainly lovely, and it's hopeful for Wall Street dwellers who feel constrained and want to seek more meaning in life. However...the story can only appeal to an audience much more narrow than the book boasts. Braun grew up comfortably with loving parents who, despite their insistence that he had to work hard and finance himself, would surely capture him with a safety net if anything drastic happened after he quit his job to chase his dreams. Braun seems to have neglected to mention that much of his story involves luck -- his nonprofit would surely not be as expansive or popular it is today without Bieber's support and his idolizing fans panting behind his heels. I'm glad Braun is doing such good for the world. I believe firmly in Pencils of Promise and I think the organizations maintains beautiful ideals rooted in sustainable development and local growth from within. But I would not tell any average Joe Shmoe to quit a job to hunt down dreams. We have families to support, or ill parents to take care of, or friends in need, and not everyone can abandon the common route to travel and explore for oneself.
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