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What Should I Do with My Life?: The True Story of People Who Answered the Ultimate Question Mass Market Paperback – November 29, 2005
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Bronson is a gifted intuitive writer, the bestselling author of The Nudist on the Late Shift, whose thoughtful, vulnerable voice emerges as the books greatest strength and challenge. He describes his subjects lives along with the ways they annoy, puzzle, and worry him. He frets about meddling with his questions, yet once, memorably and appropriately, he offers a talented man a top post in his publishing company. While this creates the juiciness of his portraits, it also can make Bronson the books most memorable character and the only one whose story is not resolved. Even so, this remarkable career chronicle sets the gold standard for the worth of the examined life. --Barbara Mackoff --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
More About the Author
Prior to their collaboration, Bronson authored five books, including What Should I Do with My Life?, a #1 New York Times bestseller with more than ten months on the list. He has been on Oprah, on every national morning show, and on the cover of five magazines, including Wired and Fast Company. His first novel, Bombardiers, was a #1 bestseller in the United Kingdom. His books have been translated into 20 languages. Po speaks regularly at colleges and community "town hall" events. He is a founder of The San Francisco Writer's Grotto, a cooperative workspace for writers and filmmakers. He also serves as volunteer president of the San Francisco Vikings Youth Soccer League. He lives in San Francisco with his wife and two children.
Top Customer Reviews
He says he talked to nine hundred people, seventy or so in detail, and he includes the stories of fifty or so career-changers in his book.
Bronson does not offer a systematic study or a self-help book. That's important to get out of the way. As other reviewers have observed, you won't find plans or guidance for your own career move.
Instead, Bronson offers a jumble of anecdotes, unsystematic and uneven -- just the sort of stories I hear every day as a career coach. People seek new adventures. They weigh the cost (and there always is a cost). Sometimes they decide the cost is too high and they back down. Sometimes they leap and experience disappointment. And sometimes they leap and find themselves soaring.
Career-changers are hungry for guidance. Bronson's interviewees often sought his approval -- and his advice. He insists that he's not a career counselor but they asked anyway. This quest for help is typical during any life transition and underscores the need to be cautious about seeking help from whoever happens to show up.
And of course this overlap of roles can be viewed as a flaw in the book. Bronson admits lapsing from the journalist role. He gets so involved with his interviewees that the story becomes a quest, a journey-across-the-country story rather than an analysis of career choices. Bronson includes his own story, told in pieces throughout the book. This feature seemed to interrupt the flow: if the author tells his own story, we should be led to anticipate autobiography.
Despite these flaws, Bronson comes up with some sound insights into career change. He observes that people avoid change because of the accompanying loss of identity.Read more ›
How do people change from what they really want to do for a living with what they are presently doing. How do you reconcile your dream job with how you are still going to make the car payment? What is holding you back from changing? What fears do you harbor? How do you know what is your destiny? These are some of the issues that are addressed in this book. I use the word "addressed" carefully, because you will not find a nice "bullet point" summary of steps to take in this book. Life is not that simple and neither are the issues faced by the average reader of this book.
Everyone profiled in the book (50 people... I believe a total of 900 people were interviewed) made the critical decision to act upon their desire to change the way they earning a living. Real people and real decisions. Unlike Hollywood, not every story has a perfect cute ending. The process for change is extremely complicated and ultimately takes a lot of work. Self-doubt was common. But change they did. The people in this book are just like you and me. Bill Gates has no seat at this table.
Bronson does a careful job of covering all the different angles. There are people who rejected money to follow their dream ( including Bronson himself), then there are others who make a decision without the support of the their family, there are those who struggle for years to make a change and there are those who make the change immediately. Whether you are extremely rich/successful or just starting out you will be able to relate.Read more ›
The protagonist works really hard to make money and/or acquire power and prestige then there was a life changing event that made him realize that what's really important is such-and-such (family, leasure, helping people) and then he gives up the lucrative but empty profession and does something that they love or allows them to do what they love. If you are at a cross roads yourself it is quite instructional to see the various creative ways other people found happiness. Don't look here for philosophical epiphanies though - the central theses of the book however are mostly rather banal:
1) If people do what they really love as opposed to what society dictates is desirable and prestigious they will bring more energy and creativity to their jobs and productivity will rise.
2) Money isn't everything. Learn to live on less and you'll be happy because it will allow you to do what you love.
3) Work does not have to be fun. The important question is whether you find it meaningful and rewarding. If you believe in what you do putting up with gruntwork will be easy.
4) Surround yourself with people who share your values. You'll be happier that way because you won't need to compromise your values (eg by selling someone a widget you know they don't need).Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Huge disappointment. Still trying to figure out if the book is about him or his characters. His personal comments and excessive "chatter" were so distracting I had to put... Read morePublished 11 days ago by bgky318
The stories are very interesting and informative. It brings a helpful perspective to the subject.Published 1 month ago by RGregory
This is a well developed thoughtful balanced yet provocative work that offers reinforcement that ones own reflections are not mere fancy and demands focus on the question rather... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Jordan61
What Should I Do with My Life is patiently and compassionately constructed, and its characters are richly described. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Abner Rosenweig
I read this book ten years ago and decided to re-read it again this year. Bronson's insightful portrayal of others' stories becomes more profound after each read!Published 6 months ago by Lisa Farwell
Great stories but I did not find myself in them enough for the books question to open up some space around the answer for me personally. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Fiona
Great easy read. To the point about choices in our lives. Makes you realize we all have dreams and choices.Published 7 months ago by john boulos
Po Bronson is a storyteller. Here, he tells the stories of people from all walks of life as they navigate different career decisions. Read morePublished 9 months ago by JJP