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4.9 out of 5 stars
The Promise of a Pencil: How an Ordinary Person Can Create Extraordinary Change
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49 of 52 people found the following review helpful
on March 18, 2014
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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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on March 18, 2014
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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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on April 7, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
This story portrays the author's self definition search as he clarifies who he is and finds who he wants to be. It portrays his early childhood, teenage and young adult periods of development and how those periods reflect the influences he felt from family, friends, school and the travels he took which were mostly on his own to far away places in the undeveloped areas of Asia, South America and Africa.

Adam Braun, the author, experienced an above average upbringing due to his upper middle class parents and their drive to push him to a high income profession. Because he was good in mathematics he landed a job after college graduation with a Wall Street consulting and acquisition firm that pressed him and the others of his group to work long hours cracking out statistically based analyses to assist business organization clients improve the bottom line and absorb other organizations which resulted in achieving benefits to the clients and his team of consultants that accrue to US society's top 1%.

This exercise caused the author to find that he was less than satisfied and he tried to reach a sense of personal worth and meaning by using his off time to develop a vision he had for improving educational opportunity in parts of the underdeveloped world by funding and building schools. This was usually done in coordination with other Non-governmental Organizations (NGO'S) on site in the theater of opportunity and in coordination with the home country's Department of Education.

The strengths of this story center around how an individual of the author's generation can resist and overcome the prevalent materialistic attitudes and tech orientation of his times and peers to draw out the personal needs of many others feeling the same urge that he held to help others using their education, business and financial resources to reach the goal of building over one hundred schools.

The weaknesses of this story, and there are several, relate to the author's failure to explain many important principles of development and organization; and, he left out the many dangling questions about his organization's mission and operations. Specifically: Why did it become necessary to partner with NGO's having related missions, especially at the point of early entry into a target area in Asia, South America and Africa? How is the organization's educational development work to be sustained once a local beach head is established into perpetuity? What are the documented statistical results of basic early child education in the specific sites the Promise of a Pencil is operating in? Can there be standards for educational curriculum that are defined that will foster the ability of the program's students to move up the formal education ladder beyond the Promise of a Pencil program's resources? How can the cost of higher levels of education be funded for the students that succeed at the initial levels of education offered by Promise of a Pencil? Are there principles of of organizational development that might be parsed from the author's experience, both good and bad, that could be transmitted to others who may be reaching out to help similar levels of targeted groups offering different kinds of support and trying to find ways for their beneficiaries to stand on their own at some reasonably early point in time?

The author brushes over these areas with far too light of a brush stroke and is overwhelmed by his own persona--which detracts from the intent of his worthy message. He could have scoured deeper but comes off like he was in a rush, or his editors prevailed, resulting in knocking out the meat in many places, only leaving the skeleton for the reader to chew on.
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86 of 111 people found the following review helpful
on April 1, 2014
Format: HardcoverVerified 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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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on March 19, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I just finished reading this book after starting it from page one this morning. I could not put this book down. I was expecting a book about how a charity got started and perhaps some biography thrown in- but what i got out of it was so much more. What i did not expect was this epic adventure that has lifted my spirits and further influenced my faith in humanity and what one person can do with 25 dollars and start a revolution. With Adam's words in describing his adventures, stories about his family and the start and current state of his organization "Pencils for Promise" i felt like i was experiencing these things right along with the words on the page. This is an epic book on how to follow your dreams, get things done, experience life and not accept things that you are not happy with. This book should be required reading for all schools & businesses alike. There is something for everyone in this book and i cannot help but feeling inspired reading his refreshing words . i Highly recommend everyone pick this up. Thanks for a great read.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on March 19, 2014
Format: Hardcover
It's rare that a book is able to both provide such detailed how-to like perspective on how you start something, change something, or build something but also offers insight into the often ignored emotional, physical, and psychological ups and downs of this process. Adam's willingness to delve deep into his own experiences and really reflect is a benefit for the scores of people in this generation--and all generations who want to make the world a better place, but need to work hard to do it
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Format: Kindle EditionVerified 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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20 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on March 19, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified 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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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on April 12, 2014
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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on March 27, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Very few people are 'the change they wish to see in the world," but Adam Braun's remarkable story shows that he took the words to heart. In a world where "entrepreneurs" bring to mind tech companies being sold for billions of dollars, it's beyond refreshing to read about another type of entrepreneur, who uses their skills to create a company solving massive world problems -- in this case education. Adam also organized his chapters by mantras he learned along the way. But don't get me wrong, these are not cheesy self-help book mantras but rather real life lessons and observations any budding entrepreneur or socially conscious citizen can learn from and adapt for themselves. Highly recommend this read!
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