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The Promise of a Pencil: How an Ordinary Person Can Create Extraordinary Change Hardcover – March 18, 2014
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"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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Top Customer Reviews
As I said The Promise of a Pencil gives great insight on how to build a successful non-profit because Adam Braun doesn't simply focus on his call to help people. He focuses on fundraising, building a board, making connections, etc- all of the business and finance things that are glossed over in other books that I have read. He really focuses on the reality of building a non-profit.
I have only one negative thing to say about this book and it should definitely NOT stop anyone from buying this book but while reading this book I kept thinking to myself that he seemed extremely self-absorbed- the situations he was in were always about his thoughts, his feelings, his reaction and I kept wanting him to place himself in their shoes or comment on their pain. I kept reading and I am so glad that I did. I think it was written like this to show the massive changes that he undergoes and because this is a book about a guy who didn't ever think he would start a non-profit. It is about his story, his development into the man who created an incredible non-profit which makes education possible for even the most impoverished.
Whether you want to open a non-profit yourself or you are just interested in philanthropy- this is a book I would recommend for everyone.
Few can doubt Braun's natural writing ability, an ability that surely contributes to his novel's widespread success. The simplified vocabulary, defined voice, and followable plot make this book an easy read. Describing his family and educational background, his stint at Bain, and his complicated but successful journey to establish the many schools in Africa, Braun tells his story genuinely and without fluff. A couple sittings and you'll be finished!
In addition to his to ability to captivate readers, Braun offers words of wisdom that are not revealed at the end of the novel or left in between the lines. Rather, Braun communicates overarching messages periodically and directly, and the deliberate decision to express his ideas in this way makes his messages all the more powerful to the readers who want to "get something" out of the book and apply it in their daily lives. Forget sifting through pages of mysterious, ambiguous text. Each chapter is titled a different mantra. Mantra One is "Why be Normal," Mantra Two is "Get Out of Your Comfort Zone," Mantra Three is "Know That You Have a Purpose," etc. Within the chapters, he expands on these ideas in a straightforward manner. For example, Braun writes in Mantra Five before and after describing his CCF business card, "Purpose can manifest from so many different places, but it most often appears through the small things that enable us to feel connected to a broader whole." It is through this direct organization and communication of his ideas that he succeeds in spreading the meaningful takeaways of his book--well, some of them.
One of the novel's messages--the central one, to be more precise--is an exception. No matter how clearly he expresses his main theme, there is a flaw in the premise that deludes his purpose, and this error is most evident in the book's title. He claims to explain how an ordinary person can effect extraordinary change, but the story he tells is not of an ordinary individual. Ordinary people typically don't work at hedge funds at sixteen years of age. Ordinary people typically don't go to Ivy League colleges. Ordinary people typically don't work and network at one of the most prestigious companies in the world at twenty-two years of age. Ordinary people are not like Adam Braun. Without a doubt, many normal people have done the good that Adam has done, but to downplay the fact that one's opportunities are a significant determinant of just how easily one's change can become extraordinary was misguided. Though we wouldn't even be writing these reviews if he had never had passion, the education, experience, and wealth that Braun possessed were major ingredients for his non-profit success--ingredients that the significant majority of people do not have.
Can this book inspire someone to take action and make a difference? Definitely. His mantras are universal, his persuasiveness is undeniable, and his passion is infectious. I have no doubt that people have contributed to their communities as a result of reading this book. Reading the overwhelmingly positive reviews shows just how much of an effect his novel has had, and I don't seek to undermine that; I hope more people read his book. I do hope, however, that the readers who were extremely satisfied with and motivated by the novel and future readers excited for a guidebook-esque novel understand Braun's unique circumstances and either be realistic about the extraordinary nature of their goals or, if they pursue change as drastic as Braun's, know that their path may be a little longer and rockier than this novel might make you think.
My biggest takeaway from all of these philanthropreneurs is that they started! They didn't wait for the big plan, or the right connections, they just dove right in with what they had, and from there, with insane amounts of work, things happened.
Def will be supporting PoP but even more so, will be distributing copies to fellow treps to be inspired during the long nights and endless hours building a dream. Stellar read-