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What You're Really Meant to Do: A Road Map for Reaching Your Unique Potential by [Kaplan, Robert Steven]
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Length: 234 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews


As seen on Fox Business, CNBC, Lou Dobbs, and MSNBC’s Morning Joe.

“This book opens the mind of the reader to a lot of self-exploratory questions rather than offering blind advice. It helps you understand yourself deeply and build a foundation based on this before starting a journey towards your dreams.” — Business World magazine

“compelling and personal and contains individual exercises that provide interesting insights readers likely haven’t considered before—whether how to manage your career or a complete career change. If you have ever asked yourself, in any work situation, at any stage of your career, “Why doesn’t someone just tell me what to do?” this book is a worthwhile trip for you.” — CIO Digest

ADVANCE PRAISE for What You’re Really Meant to Do:

Rosabeth Moss Kanter, professor, Harvard Business School; author, Confidence and SuperCorp
What You’re Really Meant to Do is a wise, deeply personal, and always practical book by a leader of leaders. It is essential reading for all those who want to define success their own way.”

Paul Farmer, MD, PhD, professor, Harvard Medical School; co-founder, Partners In Health—
“As I have seen him do in classrooms in Haiti and at Harvard, Rob Kaplan provides a powerful and pragmatic prescription in What You’re Really Meant to Do. Building on his widely praised work on leadership and efficacy, Kaplan offers compelling narratives of those he has coached and counseled—from executives to entrepreneurs to recent graduates—as a guide for anyone pursuing a purposeful professional life.”

Henry M. Paulson, Jr., seventy-fourth secretary of the US Department of the Treasury; Chairman and CEO, Goldman Sachs (1999–2006)—
“Rob Kaplan has spent years mentoring and coaching executives and young professionals, and there is no one any better. This book is a superb guide for helping people understand themselves and reach their unique potential.”

Bill George, professor, Harvard Business School; author, Authentic Leadership and True North
“Rob Kaplan’s brilliant new book inspires you to reach your full potential by taking responsibility for your development as a leader and as a human being. If you follow his thoughtful, pragmatic approach, you will live an even more satisfying life. Filled with real-world examples, Kaplan helps you build your road map to fulfillment.”

Vanessa Kirsch, founder and Managing Director, New Profit Inc.—
“Forging a fulfilling career can be one of the most difficult challenges we face. What You’re Really Meant to Do provides a compelling road map for discovering your passions and unlocking your full potential. A must-read for anyone looking for professional growth and fulfillment.”

About the Author

Robert Steven Kaplan is Senior Associate Dean and the Martin Marshall Professor of Management Practice in Business Administration at Harvard Business School. He is also cochairman of the Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation, a global venture philanthropy firm, as well as chairman and a founding partner of Indaba Capital Management, LLC. Before joining Harvard in 2005, Kaplan was vice chairman of the Goldman Sachs Group.

Product Details

  • File Size: 888 KB
  • Print Length: 234 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press (April 16, 2013)
  • Publication Date: April 16, 2013
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00B6U63ZO
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #235,614 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I saw Robert Kaplan on television, was greatly interested, and just finished the book. Unfortunately, this book is written only for those working within large corporations with lots of job security and many choices about career paths and ranges of compensation. I don't know if those people exist anymore. His talk about teams, coaches, bosses, and management reads like something out of Tom Peter's era, when America was rich, jobs weren't being slashed, and employees weren't required to do the work of 2-3 people. He even offers advice on how to choose the right job when you first graduate from Harvard Business School! "Finding your passion" to Kaplan simply means being mentored into a more rewarding job in your corporation or –– super radical idea –– moving to a different large corporation. The section on assessing your weaknesses and strengths is most valuable, however, it is structured largely within the context how of your boss and direct reports view you, and therefore has limited usefulness for those who are engaged in more entrepreneurial endeavors. Too bad.
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Format: Hardcover
Self-improvement initiatives or, if you prefer, self-fulfillment or self-actualization initiatives, are best viewed as an on-going journey, not as an ultimate destination. Many authors of books about that process invoke the map or road map metaphor, and rightly so, because it implies and (yes) enables all manner of appropriate dimensions of internal as well as external exploration and discovery. This seems to be what Robert Steven Kaplan has in mind when observing, "I have come to believe that the key to achieving your aspirations lies not in `being a success' but rather in [begin italics] working to reach your unique potential [end italics]. This requires you to create your own definition of success rather than accept a definition created by others...This approach takes courage and hard work. It does not yield easy answers or get you to a final destination. It is, instead, a multistage, lifelong effort. It involves developing a different mind-set and a new set of work habits."

At this point in my brief commentary, I want to express appreciation of Kaplan's previous book, What to Ask the Person in the Mirror. Its title refers to anyone who seeks both knowledge and wisdom that will improve quality of life as well as standard of living. What Kaplan offers in abundance is assistance with framing questions that can help to achieve those worthy objectives. Those who read the book will be much better prepared to ask them; better yet, they will be much better prepared to obtain the right answers to them. In this book, as its subtitle suggests, he offers "a road map for reaching your potential," one that is accompanied by a wealth of information, insights, and counsel as well as self-diagnostic exercises to help his readers determine what they are really meant to be and to do.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you read career books, many are written by folks in career counseling and advising. What is unique about this book is that the author's perspective has been shaped by business and academic experiences. The author, Robert Kaplan, ran global businesses for two decades, ultimately becoming the executive chairman of Goldman Sachs. These experiences in working with, and mentoring, individuals in business in various stages of their careers, prompted Kaplan to think deeply about human potential, development and leadership. He left Goldman Sachs to teach in the M.B.A. program at Harvard, teaching a course on Authentic Leadership based on Medtronics CEO'S book TRUE NORTH.

All of us yearn for success. The thesis of this book is that you won't feel satisfyingly successful without working to reach your unique potential. The good news about potential is that it is unlimited. Kaplan says you never get to the end of your potential as there are always ideas to explore, things to learn and skills to improve. Kaplan encounters a mix of folks in his executive MBA classes at Harvard and discovers many have great credentials and are achieving monetary success but are dissatisfied. What are they missing? Some older executives and professionals are feeling regret and bitterness concerning their career choice. He also encounters many individuals who are making less money, perhaps, but working in a field they are passionate about, using the skills they enjoy most using, and are happier than the folks who have pursued wealth or status at the cost of doing something in a field they loved. It's difficult to be truly successful in the long term if you don't have some sense of passion for what you do, Kaplan suggests.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In this book, Robert Kaplan puts forward a compelling case to move our attention away from conventional wisdom and to focus on using intrinsic metrics to write our own definition of success. Metrics that are based on our own potential, strengths, passions and beliefs as opposed to what society expects from us.

Although chapter four is explicitly called “Understand yourself”, I will argue that a good chunk of the book including chapter 2 (Assess your strengths and weaknesses), chapter 3 (Finding your passion) and chapter 6 (Good vs. great that deals with values and beliefs) is about knowing and understanding yourself. This is quite valuable to the reader as identifying what you’re meant to do is clearly a quest to know, to choose and to connect with our own purpose.

As you get to understand yourself better, Kaplan challenges the reader to look at what our job or desired job requires and to identify gaps that might exist so we can take actions to close them. I found it quite useful that the author explains his ideas in terms of very practical and real situations that we tend to face during our careers. He complements these ideas with key questions and exercises that help the reader reflect and gain clarity on this elusive matter. Clarity that is also helpful in other areas of our lives.

I was especially interested in his definition of leadership: “Leadership is the ability to figure out what you believe and then summon the courage to appropriately act on those beliefs”.
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