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It's Not How Good You Are, It's How Good You Want to Be: The world's best-selling book by Paul Arden [Paperback]

Paul Arden
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (96 customer reviews)
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Book Description

30 May 2003

It's Not How Good You Are, It's How Good You Want to Be is a handbook of how to succeed in the world: a pocket bible for the talented and timid alike to help make the unthinkable thinkable and the impossible possible.

The world's top advertising guru, Paul Arden, offers up his wisdom on issues as diverse as problem solving, responding to a brief, communicating, playing your cards right, making mistakes, and creativity - all endeavours that can be applied to aspects of modern life.

This uplifting and humorous little book provides a unique insight into the world of advertising and is a quirky compilation of quotes, facts, pictures, wit and wisdom - all packed into easy-to-digest, bite-sized spreads. If you want to succeed in life or business, this book is a must.

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It's Not How Good You Are, It's How Good You Want to Be: The world's best-selling book by Paul Arden + Whatever You Think, Think the Opposite + Damn Good Advice (For People With Talent!): How To Unleash Your Creative Potential by America's Master Communicator, George Lois
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Product details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Phaidon Press (30 May 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0714843377
  • ISBN-13: 978-0714843377
  • Product Dimensions: 12.1 x 1.3 x 17.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (96 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,336 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

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Product Description


'Talented but timid? This noted ad-man is here to tell you that ambition, not just mere ability, is the key to success in his world ... Arden is punchy and memorable about 'failing better next time.' (i-D)

'Saatchi & Saatchi creative legend-turned-director Paul Arden has committed his considerable wit and creative thinking to paper in a handy-sized book on how to succeed. Not just in advertising but in business generally. Far from being one of those excruciating self-help guides favored by buttoned-down businessmen, It's Not How Good You Are, It's How Good You Want To Be is a startlingly refreshing, unputdownable collection of thought-provoking pearls of wisdom.' (Shots)

'Chapters such as It's Right to be Wrong, Have you Noticed How the Cleverest People at School Are Not Those Who Make It In Life? and Do Not Seek Praise, Seek Criticism are accompanied by an entertaining collection of photos and illustrations. Get it and you'll never think the same way again.' (Shots)

'The former creative director of Saatchi & Saatchi teaches readers how to smash down life's impossible barriers using a fresh combination of wit, smart thinking, and horiffic mistakes. Outrageously genius.' (The Good Book Guide)

'… A wonderful book by one of the most brilliant men I have ever met … I met him when he worked as creative director at Saatchi and Saatchi and he was simply inspirational - as is this practical, unpretentious little book.' (Amanda Platell)

'...Deliciously rich paperback...' (Chicago Sun-Time)

'British adman Paul Arden's semi-parodic study in self-help is as funny as it is provocative...' (Radar)

'Who is this guy Arden anyway? Please forgive my enthusiasm this month for quoting Paul Arden extensively, but his wisdom has recently inspired me. Arden was the creative director of Saatchi & Saatchi from 1977-1992, and his tiny new book out in May, It's Not How Good You Are, It's How Good You Want to Be (Phaidon , $7.95), packs a big punch. This magnificent little manifesto is for true creative types to read, savor and carry in their pocket. It should remind us all that nothing is impossible.' (PAPER magazine)

About the Author

Paul Arden (1940–2008) spent a stormy 18 years in advertising and then found his Alma Mater in Saatchi & Saatchi in 1977, where he worked for 15 years. During his tenure as Executive Creative Director he was responsible for some of Britain's most successful advertising campaigns – including British Airways, Silk Cut, Intercity and Fuji – and famous slogans, such as 'The Car in front is a Toyota' and 'The Independent – It is. Are you?'. In 1993 Arden set up the film production company Arden Sutherland-Dodd and began a successful second career as a writer with a weekly column in The Independent and several publications including Whatever You Think, Think The Opposite (2006) and God Explained In A Taxi Ride (2007).

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
80 of 81 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspirational advice for creative individuals! 26 Dec. 2004
"The world's best-selling book" (the tongue-in-cheek subtitle), is a great little collection of ideas, suggestions and practical advice from a man responsible for many successful British advertising campaigns over the last 25 years. Although there is a practical bias towards the business world of advertising and media, this book is likely to appeal to any individual who is interested in creativity and thinking for themselves. It is beautifully designed and very entertaining indeed!
In the first few pages, Paul Arden encourages you to set your goals high and aim beyond what you believe you are capable of. Then there are "The Fundamentals" such as "Do not seek praise. Seek criticism", "Give away everything you know, and more will come back to you", "Don't promise what you can't deliver". My favourite is "It's right to be wrong", where Arden points out how anything is possible when you're not trying to be right. The risk is greater, you are in the unknown, but "there's more chance of it being amazing".
A combination of "common sense", awareness, business advice, communication skills, positive thinking, a few presentation tricks and some quirky strokes of genius. Great stuff.
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40 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Digestible inspiration! 8 Dec. 2003
A fabulous little book. And I mean little. You can read this in an hour but the messages will stay with you for much longer. I would recommend it to anyone looking to rediscover their edge or seeking ways to inject new energy and meaning into their lives.
No bull, this is a great little read. You will not be disappointed.
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54 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars best of the best 19 Nov. 2004
By A Customer
I bought this book shortly before quitting my job.
I was lacking in focus and short of confidence, this is going to sound really cheesy, but this book changed my life.
It gave me the confidence and strength to go for a job in the media which I wouldn't have had the guts to go for before.
One of the quotes from the book is
'If you're in control, you're not going fast enough'
I put myself up there and rose to the occasion
I'm now working as picture editor on a major UK magazine.
This is from someone who's turned around their life in 4 months.
Paul Arden, you are the daddy!
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful little book 10 Jan. 2009
I was drawn by the bold statement on the cover and being a graphic designer, also drawn to the great type treatment! This book is a wonderful companion to motivate anyone in going for it now! Arden's experience is mainly in advertising and his writings ring true for life and for opening yourself to endless possibilities. His advice is honest and brave.

It reminded me of the work of Ariel and Shya Kane and Instantaneous Transformation. By reading their 3 principles which you can find in the book Working on Yourself Doesn't Work: The 3 Simple Ideas That Will Instantaneously Transform Your Life and by attending their Monday night seminars and workshops in New York City, I have experienced countless creative shifts. These shifts have supported me in generating original projects effortlessly at work and in my personal life. Well-being and satisfaction are a part of my day in and day out experience, regardless of the circumstances.

I recommend both Arden and the Kanes as a must on your bookshelf for creativity that translates into productivity and a richer life.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It's cheeky and cheap and has a few good ideas. 14 Feb. 2009
This is a little book, you can read it in an hour and maybe I should describe it as a cheeky little book. In the inside front cover it sets out to compare itself to Sun Tzu's Art of War and Machiavellis The Prince as a metaphore for business. In my view it is not worthy of the comparison. however I still like the book because with the book the writer is living the key message of the book.

To be big, good, great, you have to think yourself big, good, great, and that's what the book does. It proudly claims to be `The world's best-selling book by Paul Arden. For all I know this might be because it's the only book by Paul Arden. But that doesn't matter, it isn't being deceitful, it's the very point of the book. It presents itself as a best seller as part of becoming a best seller. I bought the book at the airport en route to a conference and I suspect that this bold claim tipped the balance in favour of selecting the book over others, so it works.

So it's a small book, easily read and cheeky. What else. Well it's cheap and does have one or two useful ideas. Often the lasting effect of a visit to a conference may be one or two new ideas, so at the price it's a bargain. The book contains lessons, or thoughts from the experience of a marketing man. The final few pages began to feel specific to this target audience, but for the most part the thoughts are widely applicable. It's nicely produced and has plenty of pictures again projecting the message `be what you want to become'.

As an example of what you'll read, I liked the thoughts about right being wrong being right. In a changing world if you think you know the right answer, then it's highly likely to be wrong as the world will have changed since it was right.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking and useful for everyone 26 July 2008
Paul Arden's book is a like a breath of fresh air compared to many help or guidebooks out there. The way he combines the images and photographs to highlight the message of the text reflects why he's so well renowned. For someone who isn't involved with advertising or marketing I expected to take away only a limited amount from reading this book. I was pleasantly surprised.

The snapshot way in which the ideas are presented keeps you constantly engaged and thinking. Thought provoking ideas such as - "Don't look for the next opportunity, the one you have in hand is the opportunity" and how we might want to get off a certain job but it could just be the best work we ever do. The idea of "Don't put on a speech, give a show" really hit home. I do speeches and thought that's why people were there, Paul tells us differently.

There's a lot here that everyone who want's to think and act differently will benefit from. A book that you'll read in one sitting and then read over and again. So in case you didn't know, don't covet your ideas and present on a Tuesday.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good.
OK. Very good.
Published 9 days ago by Alojz Kamnik
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great book and speedy service! Would recommend.
Published 24 days ago by Martyn Mccormack
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
boring, more about businesses than just life
Published 1 month ago by Paul Reed
1.0 out of 5 stars A truly execrable book. If you want to pay ...
A truly execrable book. If you want to pay a fiver to read the kind of glib, superficial (and usually plagiarised) aphorisms that populate the advertising and branding... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Mr Nick Wright
1.0 out of 5 stars pretty average at best
Thought it was probably one of the most average books I have read - sure he is a nice chap, yet it mentions that even managing directors will gain something - I don't see it: it's... Read more
Published 2 months ago by jonathan Thomas
5.0 out of 5 stars Counting Stars can happen its not what you are its how good you can...
I love this story because if you are determined you can do anything without having to pay a fortune to get to where you need to be. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Rosie Evans
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
lovely useful bag delighted thank you
Published 5 months ago by jayne shields
3.0 out of 5 stars I was under the impression it would be a longer read however I still...
Short read, very impactful. I was under the impression it would be a longer read however I still enjoyed it
Published 5 months ago by Thir13een
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
I love this small book and it's powerful wisdom.
Published 6 months ago by Cosmin Lapovita
5.0 out of 5 stars Good read!
A good motivational kick up the bum.
Published 6 months ago by Jaye R
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