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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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“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
- Publisher : Scribner (March 18, 2014)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 272 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1476730628
- ISBN-13 : 978-1476730622
- Item Weight : 15.1 ounces
- Dimensions : 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #341,400 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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All three of the stars go to the people who built the schools, taught at the schools, funded the schools and learned at the schools, as well as the idea that we can do our best to attempt to make some good in the world, even if he did take it too far by looking down on those who decide to make those changes closer to home.
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.
Top reviews from other countries
His inspiration came from a child that when asked what he wanted most in the world, simply answered, "A pencil.". This inspired Adam to give up his job and start the charity with only $25. The book follows his trails and tribulations, successes and mistakes as Pencils of Promise growths to building over 200 schools.
The book is 30 chapters long, each chapter is quite short and is focused on one idea.
Some of my favorite parts would be:
Giving a speech but only one person turned up! But that person joined Pencils of Promise and played a very important part.
Getting out of your comfort zone.
Know that you have a purpose.
Importance of listening to other peoples' opinions.
"If an idea grows, it expands far beyond the confines of any one person's control. By limiting it to a single story told by a single voice, we strip it of its true potential. The role of the founder should eventually be to listen to the echoes of his or her initial words, and then encourage and amplify the most genuine among those you hear. The more I embraced this as my true role, the more I became inspired by the journeys of the individuals, families, and companies in our PoP community."
The importance of body language and speech
The greatest happiness comes from making other people happy.
Tips on speaking to large crowds.
"Weak speakers look down at the floor, good speakers look up but scan the room, great speakers make eye contact selectively , and exceptional speakers deliver every complete thought directly to one person in the audience, making that person feel like the center of the room-- and then they move on and do it again. We've all been in that position when a speaker looks right at you, and for a few fleeting moments your heart starts to race. You are locked in."
The importance of switching off email/phone etc sometimes so you can reconnect with people.
Adam giving a import speech not knowing his flies were open!
Importance of admitting mistakes.
Importance of how you deal with mistakes.
"I personally learned that failure is a necessary step toward achievement. In fact, it often accelerates it. The British Airways contest gave me confidence that we were on the right track, yet it took an international stumble to demonstrate that the biggest opportunities for growth are not found in the midst of success, but in the methods through which we address failure."
Nice quote from the end.
"A new chapter will begin in my life in the years ahead , one that includes building not just schools, but a family too. I'll be sure to teach my children the value of my mother's favorite word, integrity, the essence of Dad's Rules, and each of the mantras that title the chapters of this book. I'll tell them that the most direct route to happiness is through creating joy for someone else, and that change doesn't happen through hard work alone. It requires strength of imagination. It relies on that ability we each possess to suspend belief in the restraints of today to enable the possibilities of tomorrow. Most of all, I'll remind them each morning that we make a choice to bring positivity or negativity into the world, and that within every single person there lies an extraordinary story waiting to unfold."
Something I like about this book is the author is quite honest about the fortunate upbringing he had and how connections, family and other people have played a massive role in developing the charity.
This book is genuinely very inspiring and I recommended it.
When reading the book by the founder of TOMS shoes I felt I could a least in a way achieve something like him. With this book, it's all about a great education, a shed load of high level connections and I suspect quite a lot of family money, at least initially. I am not belittling what Adam achieved, he obviously had tremendous drive and belief and what has since been achieved is massive. But, I am saying, I think it's so far away from what people from small town nowheresville with a basic education and no connections could achieve. As I said when reading about TOMS, I thought I could do something like that. With this book, I just knew this was from a whole different level with it's high powered board members and people personally donating hundreds of thousands of dollars. So, as a story of great achievement this book is great, but, as a book to motivate me personally to do something similar, this just left me in the dust. I wish Pencils of Promise much continued success.
For me, however, it did not achieve what it seems to have set out to do. He talks about how 'anybody' can make a big change to the world and he focuses on how his bank account started with just $25. But, unlike his organisation's bank account, Adam's beginnings were far from modest. He was born in a wealthy area into a well connected, supportive family, which led him to be successful in sport, school, and work experience before he even started college. In following years he was lucky enough to have a variety of rare experiences through which he earned connections, skills, experience and insight into both the world's biggest problems and the world of big business (in my opinion the only entity with any real power to help).
Adam is a brilliant and inspiring man who has achieved an astonishing amount in his life for such a young guy. He just doesn't exemplify how 'anybody' can achieve great things since the book mainly describes his own successes and he had such an unusually great set of opportunities. On a more positive note, I believe there are many people in the world who do need to read this book. These people are skilled, hard working people with lucrative careers ahead of them who wrongly believe they can't have any meaningful impact on the world beyond themselves and their families. He brilliantly outlines how these people can turn their potential to help themselves into the power to change the world using his own life as a well-framed example. He shares which of his behaviours he believes led to the organisation's success as well as confessing his own mistakes and what he learned from them, giving an incredibly raw edge to the narrative. I think this book's substantial value lies in its potential to craft world changers from affluent, talented people like himself.
Those people are not just 'anybody' though, even if they may think they are, and it grates on me to hear a man, well aware of those less fortunate than himself, refer to people like himself as 'anybody'.
If it seems as though I'm focussing on a solitary negative, that's because it really is the only problem I have with the book. But it's a facet which leaves me, rather than feeling inspired (as I'm sure I'm supposed to), to feeling less hopeful about my own future than I was before I read the book.
It made me find a new appreciation for the education and lifestyle I have been lucky to have for free, for all the food that I have and the country that I live in. We have it so easy in countries like England and America, we don't even realise, this made me find a new perspective on life itself.
This book is more than telling its story of how Pencils of Promise started, it has a mantra on each chapter, which can be applied to our daily life. And if you're searching for your souls purpose in life, this may just give you your answers, whether it's for the organisation or not.
Adam Braun, you Sir are an inspiration.
Adam started with an idea, borne from a passion to do good, and just 25$. In just a few short years he has created over 200 schools and more than 15,000 children have access to education that they would not have otherwise had! What an amazing achievement! PoP's journey really tugs at the heartstrings... I can't tell you how many times I cried reading this, out of pure joy and emotion at what one man has made happen. Adam talks from the heart and his honesty and integrity shine through. I love the way he cares about every single person involved with Pop, and how he recognises that it has become much bigger than he, just one man with a vision. He allows everyone to be proud and take ownership of what they have created together.
A truly inspiring story, which if it resonates with you as it did with me, you'll never forget it.... and you won't want to!
Well done to Adam and everyone at PoP... for providing the means and hope for a better world for all....