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Success Against the Odds - Five lessons in how to achieve the impossible; the story of Teach First [Paperback]

Brett Wigdortz
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
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Book Description

6 Sep 2012
Ten years ago, when 28-year-old, McKinsey-trained American management consultant Brett Wigdortz told his employers that he was leaving to "found an organisation designed to address educational disadvantage in Britain", they laughed.
He was, after all, an under-qualified immigrant with no public policy experience, and no experience in teaching; he had never led anything before, never managed anyone. And he thought he was going to crack the hardest nut of all the class-ridden injustices of the British education system.
This is the story of how a tiny independent charity has succeeded against all odds. Having met nothing but resistance in its early years, Teach First is today Britain's largest employer of graduates. It receives over 7000 applications for 1000 teaching positions annually in the most challenging schools in the country.
In this searingly honest account of how he got Teach First to where it is today, Brett shows how by combining the best of his McKinsey training with a personal passion, he has turned a simple idea into a runaway success. He offers tips and advice based on everything he has learned along the way How to write a business plan, How to hire the right team through to How to balance the books and How to become a CEO with zero qualifications.
This is a story about turning no into yes. It's a story to encourage anyone else out there with a vision for change to go out and make it happen.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Short Books Ltd (6 Sep 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1780721307
  • ISBN-13: 978-1780721309
  • Product Dimensions: 0.3 x 18.6 x 24.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 226,502 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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One of the great untold stories of our generation is how our most talented young people are inspiring our most disadvantaged children. This book shows us how a simple idea has the power to change lives right across the globe. It is also a great and very exciting narrative. --Walter Isaacson, biographer of Steve Jobs

The story of Teach First is of an improbable dream that has become a remarkable reality; a thousand graduates making a vast impact on some of the most needy schools in Britain. --Jon Snow, Channel 4 News

Teach First is an inspiration to everyone concerned with social change ; that it really is possible to build a movement of people who want to help every child reach their potential. --Camila Batmanghelidjh, Founder of Kids Company

Teach First has been a transformational force in schools, and a major lever in raising achievement by pupils. This is the extraordinary story of how one man s belief that change is possible helped change the education landscape in Britain. Sally Coates, Head Teacher, Burlington Danes, London

Teach First is changing the face of English education - and English society. It has made teaching in challenging state schools not only a job, but a mission, for many of the highest achieving graduates, the sort who would never have dreamed of going into teaching a decade ago. Brett Wigdortz's story is passionate, honest, inspiring and very moving. It is a testament to vision and leadership, full of optimism and faith in the power of the human spirit to create the world anew. Lord Adonis, Former Education Minister

Brett s insight is that strong leadership can change lives. He brought a business approach to the world of British education that has the potential to change it forever. Every business leader and entrepreneur can learn from his experience. -- Joseph W Saunders, Chairman and Chief Executive Visa Inc

The remarkable, gripping and often funny story of a young American on a personal crusade; to succeed at mission impossible, to break down Britain s chronic educational divide. -- Dr Anthony Seldon, Master of Wellington College and Blair Biographer

Read this book and learn how to become a successful CEO without any qualifications or experience. It is a rollercoaster ride packed with invaluable lessons for all aspiring leaders. This is inspiring and insightful...a gripping read. --Jo Owen, Leadership Guru and best-selling business author

Teach First is one of those rare things - a big idea that changes society... This book is a must-read for those who want to learn how they too can lead real change in the world. -- Jim O Neil, Chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management

I found this account of the inception of Teach First an enyoyable easy read. Having been around in the early days of the launch it was interesting to read about the background trials and tribulations and to understand how many people were involved and committed to making this a reality. The Teach first graduates who worked in both my schools made a huge difference to the progress of the schools and the life chances of the young people in them. This has been and continues to be a brilliant initiative. --From the country s leading headteacher Joan McVittie President of the Association of School and College Leaders and headteacher of Woodside High.

About the Author

Brett Wigdortz has led Teach First as its CEO since its launch in July 2002. Before coming to London, he worked for McKinsey in Indonesia, Singapore, and Manila - focusing on retail banking, organisational effectiveness, and Asian microfinance. He has also worked as a journalist in Asia and as a researcher at the East-West Center in Honolulu. He was recently named the 2007 UK Ernst & Young Social Entrepreneur of the Year and the 2010 CASE (Council for the Advancement and Support of Education) European Leadership Award. Brett is married with two small children.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Success Against the Odds 12 Sep 2012
A really good read about a very important topic - addressing educational disadvantage. Of particular interest not just to those concerned about the education system in the UK and achieving social change, but all those fascinated by a story of entrepreneurship.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 100% recommended! 12 Sep 2012
By Pamazon
A real insight into the journey to setting up an inspirational social enerprise, celebrating the ups and working through the downs and mapping out plans for the future.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A recommended read... 10 Sep 2012
Success Against the Odds provides a real insight into the work Teach First are doing to break the link between educational success and parental income, as well as the struggles to stay afloat and gain momentum the organisation faced in its early years. The book reads as both cautinoary tale for entrepreneurs and success story for the charity, striking a balance that means the life lessons and business advice are nicely interspersed with anecdotes and personal recollections. A recommended read for anyone interested in setting up an organistaion, education or in the mood for some interesting non-fiction.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspirational! 9 Sep 2012
By fleurDZ
A truly inspiring book, particularly for anyone who cares about education or who has an idea or project they would like to get off the ground. As a former Teach First teacher myself, it was fascinating to discover what was going on behind the scenes of what, outwardly, was an expertly managed and incredibly professional organisation: the fragility, the challenges faced by Brett and his team, the constant battle to be successful and uphold excellence at all times. This book is a reminder of the impact one person with a vision can have, the importance of team work, and never giving up on a goal you believe in. Brett Wigdortz has literally changed the lives of hundreds of pupils as well as the Teach First teachers who joined the organisation, as many continue to address educational disadvantage regardless of whether or not they stay in the classroom. A real page turner of a book, keep a pencil handy for all the underlining you'll want to do. I put this book down with a tear in my eye and a renewed sense of 'anything is possible if you work hard enough at it'.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspirational 18 Sep 2012
As a fairly recent employee of Teach First I wanted to read this book to gain a more in depth understanding of the organisation I am now privileged to work for. I found the book inspirational and yes of course it is amazing that this man from the states should come to the UK and care enough about the unfairness in our education system to want to start a movement no revolution to effect change, but what is also amazing is that he did this with little or no leadership or management expertise, let alone running an enterprise!
Brett writes as though he is talking to each & every reader personsally. He takes the reader through his journey taking in all the peaks & troughs encountered in setting up and taking the charity forward with humour, humility and integrity.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An insightful read 17 Sep 2012
By Newbie
I found this book to be an insightful, honest and open read about how one mans belief became a reality. It was refreshing to hear about someone who wanted to make a change for the better rather than make money or change an industry. It was also refreshing to read such an open account about the troubles and joys of starting a charity movement, and also the dangers of underestimating/ignoring the concerns of those around you. It was enjoyable to see the growth of one mans vision but also to see how may other people wanted to involved.

I also enjoyed that this book gave tips and pointers throughout, making it more than a story.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Honest 16 Sep 2012
A very honest book about an interesting story. As a participant on the program I found it enjoyable to see how the program grew into the form I knew it, as well as seeing how close it was to not existing. An enjoyable book
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring Book! 12 Sep 2012
This is one of the most inspiring books I have read in a long time. I have been involved in education for years and was aware of Teach First but this gave a fascinating inside perspective on the extraordinary challenges social entrepreneurs face - and helpfully - how to overcome them. Brett Wigdortz is incredibly honest, humble - and also funny - about the mistakes made along the way. The result is a very good read, quite gripping, and has at the same time renewed my faith in the possibility of changing things in British education. This is a must-read for anyone who is interested in actually doing something about social injustice rather than just talking about it! I would recommend it.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and Inspiring
In interesting insight into a start-up within the environment of government but much more inspiring on the level of how great Teach First is!
Published 1 month ago by J. Trompetas
5.0 out of 5 stars Great overview of Teach First and interesting insights into starting a...
I'm not someone who has done Teach First, but given the book was 99p on kindle I thought I should have a quick read to see what the founder had to say about this organisation. Read more
Published 12 months ago by beckybee
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book, very interesting read.
Item as described.

This is a great book, very interesting and easy read.I would recommend this book to anyone interested in Teach First.
Published 15 months ago by Victoria
5.0 out of 5 stars It lit the fire in my belly, again!
I am passionate about the subject matter of this book, so I was very open to being engaged by it. What genuinely surprised me was its ability to re-energise me to continue to... Read more
Published 21 months ago by LouiseRD
5.0 out of 5 stars An insightful, honest read
This is a really honest, insightful review about an entrepreneur, his shortcomings, dreams and successes. Read more
Published 21 months ago by Daniel Opoku
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read
This is such a great read! It tells a shocking tale of education in Britain today while providing a fascinating insight into the trials and tribulations of being an entrepreneur. Read more
Published 22 months ago by hme
4.0 out of 5 stars Informative, moving and often entertaining
An informative and often entertaining book about the first ten years of education charity Teach First, useful for anyone interested in educational disadvantage and/or social... Read more
Published 22 months ago by White Tea
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read
Success against the odds was an enjoyable and incredibly candid read about the great work that Teach First do. Read more
Published 22 months ago by Swan
5.0 out of 5 stars Lessons for us all
For anyone working in Education in the UK, or those with children at university we have seen the phenomenal growth and impact of Teach First over the past 10 years. Read more
Published 23 months ago by James, UK
5.0 out of 5 stars Honesty,not ego
This is a very readable account of how to stimulate and eventually lead social change. The book has many merits - it tells a good story, it has some "how to" guides and , perhaps... Read more
Published 23 months ago by Catherine Nelson
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