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4.9 out of 5 stars
Promise of a Pencil: How an Ordinary Person Can Create Extraordinary Change
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 19 March 2014
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.
"Weak speakers look down at the floor, good speakers look up but scan the room, great speakers make eye contact selectively , and exceptional speakers deliver every complete thought directly to one person in the audience, making that person feel like the center of the room-- and then they move on and do it again. We've all been in that position when a speaker looks right at you, and for a few fleeting moments your heart starts to race. You are locked in."

The importance of switching off email/phone etc sometimes so you can reconnect with people.

Adam giving a import speech not knowing his flies were open!

Importance of admitting mistakes.

Importance of how you deal with mistakes.
"I personally learned that failure is a necessary step toward achievement. In fact, it often accelerates it. The British Airways contest gave me confidence that we were on the right track, yet it took an international stumble to demonstrate that the biggest opportunities for growth are not found in the midst of success, but in the methods through which we address failure."

Nice quote from the end.
"A new chapter will begin in my life in the years ahead , one that includes building not just schools, but a family too. I'll be sure to teach my children the value of my mother's favorite word, integrity, the essence of Dad's Rules, and each of the mantras that title the chapters of this book. I'll tell them that the most direct route to happiness is through creating joy for someone else, and that change doesn't happen through hard work alone. It requires strength of imagination. It relies on that ability we each possess to suspend belief in the restraints of today to enable the possibilities of tomorrow. Most of all, I'll remind them each morning that we make a choice to bring positivity or negativity into the world, and that within every single person there lies an extraordinary story waiting to unfold."

Something I like about this book is the author is quite honest about the fortunate upbringing he had and how connections, family and other people have played a massive role in developing the charity.

This book is genuinely very inspiring and I recommended it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 4 April 2014
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. He shares which of his behaviours he believes led to the organisation's success as well as confessing his own mistakes and what he learned from them, giving an incredibly raw edge to the narrative. I think this book's substantial value lies in its potential to craft world changers from affluent, talented people like himself.

Those people are not just 'anybody' though, even if they may think they are, and it grates on me to hear a man, well aware of those less fortunate than himself, refer to people like himself as 'anybody'.

If it seems as though I'm focussing on a solitary negative, that's because it really is the only problem I have with the book. But it's a facet which leaves me, rather than feeling inspired (as I'm sure I'm supposed to), to feeling less hopeful about my own future than I was before I read the book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 26 March 2014
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
on 19 February 2015
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 11 June 2014
PoP book is a must-read and an ideal gift to inspire others.I love the powerful lessons and the sincere encouragement.
Just want to say that how great it feels to have witnessed the selfless endeavours and success of a backpacker with an indomitable will and an unshakable faith in him that he could change the world at the most exciting time in the history of this beautiful planet earth.Your lessons help us shine brighter! We are grateful for that.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 5 May 2014
Adam Braun is a truly incredible man who turned his dream and his $25 into a worldwide for-purpose organization opening over 200 schools in less than 5 years.
His journey is truly aspiring and sent me on a rollercoaster of emotions, I cried, laughed and was left completely and utterly speechless!
I love the layout of the 30 small chapters titled each with a new mantra that has got him to where he is now...one of my favourites that I can personally relate to is the getting out of your comfort zone!...and also following the signs!
I love how humble this guy is with how much emphasis he puts on the help of every member of his team that have been important along the way.
All I can say is you won't be the same person after reading this...it truly is a MUST read!!
I would recommend this book to anyone and everyone...and I did through my blog [...]
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 5 April 2015
An excellent book on every level, thought provoking and heart warming. Whatever reason you are reading this book you will enjoy it as a really honest and extremely inspirational book.

Its a refreshing account of someone finding their passion and creating an organisation that provides for purpose and enriches peoples lives but all the time reinforcing that anything is possible with an indomitable will, an unshakable belief and faith.

Adam is making the world a better place not only providing good education in the developing world, but also inspiring others to find purpose in life and start making the world a better place. The chapters or mantras are powerful lessons, told with honesty and conviction to the one audience you as the reader. Dream out loud.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 5 January 2015
I’d like to thank Adam Braun and the journey he's taken for inspiring me more than anyone/anything ever has in my entire life (I’m 27). I read ‘The Promise of A Pencil’ from cover to cover within 24 hours of purchasing, missing a dentist appointment and spraining my ankle within the same timeframe – but totally worth it.

I’ve read inspiring stories before. Heart warmers and those that give you a firm kick in the ass – but the Pencils of Promise story has genuinely left me wanting to be a better person. Living life to the absolute max and making sure that I live as ‘for-purpose’ as humanly possible.

On finishing up at the 30th Mantra, I felt a change in me, and I cannot wait to see where life goes next.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 10 May 2014
Adam's honesty and vulnerability is so tangible throughout this book, it's easy to relate to him and his amazing stories. He's inspired me to keep going for my dreams and to make them even more audacious. He openly shares his business successes and the 'failures' which made his for purpose organisation even more successful. Such a brilliant story teller. Everyone needs to and will love reading this book. I found myself walking up escalators still engrossed in the book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 20 March 2015
An excellent book on every level. Whatever reason you are reading this book you will enjoy it as a really inspirational book. I read it because I am setting up a foundation, very different from the one here but none the less the book still added even more inspiration. But regardless of what your reasons are for reading you will feel much better about what people can achieve when they put their minds to it.
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