- Hardcover: 208 pages
- Publisher: HarperOne; International ed. edition (April 14, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0061735191
- ISBN-13: 978-0061735196
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 175 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #105,326 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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What I Wish I Knew When I Was 20: A Crash Course on Making Your Place in the World Hardcover – April 14, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Seelig, executive director of the entrepreneurship center at Stanford's School of Engineering, presents a thoughtful, concise set of observations for those making the unsteady transition to adulthood. While the majority of her advice is intended for would-be entrepreneurs, her accessible lessons should come in handy for those in any field, as well as those still trying to decide on a field. Culled from her personal experience as an entrepreneur and teacher, as well as the stories of entrepreneurs and students she knows, Seelig avoids (and at times dissects) cliché and provides informative discussion throughout, despite a narrower focus than readers might expect. A chapter on acknowledging, learning from, and even seeking out failure ("Fail fast and frequently") provides valuable advice and comfort for the fearful, including Seelig's own "failure resumé" (broken into professional, academic and personal failures). The chapter titled "Don't listen to career advice" helps readers avoid the pitfalls of oft-heard, wrong-headed maxims like "follow your passions" and "stick to the plan." Readers will either be relieved or frustrated that Seelig doesn't provide any numbered steps, bullet-pointed recaps or self-assessment quizzes, but she makes the most of her knowledge and authority with a friendly, efficient voice.
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“Tina Seelig is one of the most creative and inspiring teachers at Stanford. Her book ought to be required reading. I wish I had read it when I was 20... and again at 50.” (Robert Sutton, Stanford University Professor and author The No-Asshole Rule)
“Anybody who wants to live an entrepreneurial life filled with purpose and passion needs to read this book. It’s chockfull of practical tools and tips to bring out the best in each of us.” (Steve Case, Chairman of Revolution and The Case Foundation, and co-founder of AOL)
“Forget 20--This is the kind of stuff I wish I knew now... Tina is doing us all a big favor by giving us a roadmap to life!” (Guy Kawasaki, co-founder of Alltop and author of Reality Check)
“Tina is the most inspirational creativity voice I know. Her book is much better than a whack on the side of your head. It’s a whack on the side of your soul!” (Geoffrey Moore, Author, Crossing the Chasm, Dealing with Darwin)
“Few people have done as much to champion innovative thinking as Tina Seelig. The principles in her book will surely spark new ideas. It is a must-read for the next generation of entrepreneurs and seasoned veterans alike.” (David Kelley, Founder IDEO)
“Wise, witty and packed with stories of those who are making a difference and some who are making a fortune...The only trouble is that you will need two dozen copies to give to everyone.” (Patricia Ryan Madson, author of Improv Wisdom: Don't Prepare, Just Show Up)
“This is a great guide to moving in more exciting, creative, and fulfilling directions, written by a person who is an expert at doing so. But if Tina Seelig had known any more when she was 20, the world probably could not now contain her. “ (Jim Adams, Author, Conceptual Blockbusting)
“Seelig is a sharp observer and a gentle and thoughtful writer. Recollections of her own circuitous career path, along with observations of behavior of friends, family, students and colleagues are fertile ground for her. (Miami Herald)
“True, it’s written by a woman (a Stanford University professor, no less), but this ‘crash course in making your way in the world’ is full of realistic tips that help put things into perspective.” (Sacramento Bee)
“It’s almost impossible to read the first line of Tina Seelig’s book and not grab pen and paper to jot down a river of pent-up ideas and possibilities . . . A galvanizing document, [it] gives us -- more than anything else -- permission to develop our dreams.” (Santa Cruz Sentinel)
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me: No kindle tonight before bed, it's too late.
dd: But I'm reading this really interesting book.
me: What book?
dd: It's about this Stanford professor who does these really interesting things with her students. Makes them think about problems differently.
me: What's the name of it?
dd: What I wish I knew when I was 20. Can I keep reading?
(I have multiple kindles and so when I downloaded it, it got pushed to her kindle so she started reading it.)
“Modern” school teaches to a test and doesn’t really prepare 20-somethings to engage in the real modern world. The lessons and stories are a challenge to the “leaders” to help break your “staff” out of the rut. As the “staff”— expect from your leaders a safe/survivable place to fail and learn. If they don’t, give yourself permission (a lesson in the book) to create one!
There are so many stories my teams have collected... their versions of lemonade into helicopters (a story about how being kind in grocery store by helping a foreign-born person make frozen lemonade leads to a helicopter tour of their home country).
This book is a collection of lessons, if adopted (or encouraged) early in a career are truly difference makers to a life well lived and to an organization. The biggest lesson is iterative, survivable failure is the path to success. So few students these days experience failure. So much pressure to conform and avoid failure and rejection that they are not really able to innovate and constructively disagree.
This book is good for those starting out and for those leaders who want to create an open, questioning atmosphere where the focus is on what is right, rather than who is right.
My other recommendations in this theme (getting people to get the right stuff done by seeing the real problem) are “Adapt” by Tim Hartford (similar issue from an economists point of view) and “A Message to Garcia” by Elbert Hubbard.
If you're curious, you can find Dr. Seelig's own presentation on the STVP podcast, in which she discusses some of the top lessons she took away from writing this book. Check that out, and then do yourself a favor and pick up this book. Definitely a great gift as well.