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The Promise of a Pencil: How an Ordinary Person Can Create Extraordinary Change Hardcover – 5 Jun 2014

38 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner (5 Jun. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1476730628
  • ISBN-13: 978-1476730622
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.8 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 178,977 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description


"For anyone with a big dream to transform the world, this book will show you how to get it done." (Sir Richard Branson)

“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 he’s leveraged social networks to generate donations, and his best career advice." (

"[A] page-turning debut." (MTV Act)

About the Author

Adam Braun is the Founder of Pencils of Promise, an award-winning for-purpose organization that has built more than 200 schools across Africa, Asia, and Latin America and delivered over 30 million educational hours to children in poverty. PoP was founded with just $25 and has grown under Braun’s stewardship with his unique approach that blends nonprofit idealism with for-profit business principles. He has been a featured speaker at the White House, Clinton Global Initiative, and United Nations. All proceeds from The Promise of a Pencil will go to support Pencils of Promise.

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Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Charles TOP 500 REVIEWER on 19 Mar. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book is written by Adam Braun. It follows his creation of the charity Pencils of Promise, which builds schools and increases access to education for children in the developing world.

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.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Great read. Fascinating, thought provoking and heart warming. It also achieves an extraordinary level of honesty for both the good and the bad times in Adam's life.

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.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Lolly on 26 Mar. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Wow, I don't really know where to begin! Adam is an incredible, brave and selfless man.

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....
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Dimitar on 19 Feb. 2015
Format: Hardcover
A very inspiring story of a person who noticed and acted upon the small daily messages that ultimately led him to completely trust his heart, follow his intuition, and create a fantastic organization that inspires. I am grateful for people like Adam that openly share their story and give me courage to get out of my comfort zone and to really listen to that small voice deep inside, the voice of the heart that I, and each of us have, the voice that helps define our mission. If we take the leap of faith to follow through and to notice all the small daily messages and listen to inner voice, we will transform not only ourselves but also our surroundings. Thank you Adam for sharing this story.

On a practical matters, the book gives a great insight on how to approach 21st century social marketing for any for-purpose business and how to grow it. Adam goes into explaining in detail of making a successful organization, including trusting members and creating a culture that inspires each person that is part of the team.

Dream big.
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