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VINE VOICEon 28 November 2013
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I have read various "self help" and business strategy books throughout the years yet I do not confess to knowing everything about the genre, however the personal business plan was a rather pleasant book to read.

The basic premise revolves around how you can change your life for the better by creating a personalised business plan in order to structure your targets, progress and goals - much in the same way one would conduct a conventional business projection. The book has a section at the back for "exercises" which can be completed as the paragraphs progress throughout your reading and the overall quality of the product is good and sturdy, manufactured with good materials.

It is wise to take self help books with a pinch of salt as I feel that many people buy them when they are on a downwards cycle in life and expect a book to provide them with deep seated answers and issues that they have regarding themselves, their goals and their own happiness. This is not a miracle cure, nor does it advertise to be one - something which I very much liked in fairness!

Towards the beginning of the book, the author can have the effect of putting the reader off as the first few pages are dedicated to informing the reader how greater the Personal Business Plan is and what they can expect out of it. This can come off a little conceited, although I warmed to the author later on and found his writing style a little bit less patronising than I had initially. This can be taken as setting context, although I feel there is just slightly too much of the same thing here.

Moving through onto the actual plan, the book does make a variety of excellent points. It is true what the author points out - that more people spend more time planning their weekend at the Zoo than they do their own life and this opens up a variety of questions regarding priorities in our own lives. At this point it would be easy to criticise by saying that TPBP spends too much time focusing on business success and "monetary goals" rather than real life - after all surprises are often the most fruitful and memorable occasions in our lives (not many people plan on meeting their future partner at a specific time and a specific place for just one example). Yet TPBP doesn't do this, it acknowledges that everyone's goals can be different and one persons business success priority could be non existent on the list of somebody else's.

This is where this book truly does succeed. Unlike other self help books which focus on a specific category (I.e "grow your business", "be more attractive", "accomplish your travel dreams" etc.) the Personal Business Plan leaves the majority of the crucial information to the reader. It does not come off in a way in which it is telling the reader what to wish for, it simply and coherently describes a way in which to identify and pursue their personal goals. Has it worked on me? Well to be honest, I am a fairly goal oriented individual anyway and am well on the way to accomplishing everything I want out of life - yet it has opened my eyes to some more philosophical questions about the priorities in our lives, and that is always a good thing.
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Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Why do many people plan their careers in meticulous detail but somehow muddle through the rest of their lives without any planning at all? Do you feel you need to change your life and change your focus? Have you somehow lost sight of what's important to you and your children have grown up without you really knowing much about their lives because you've spent most of your time at work? If you answer yes to any of these questions then this might be the book for you.

At first a personal business plan might seem too structured but if you think how much energy and planning you put into your annual holiday compared with planning your life you might start to wonder whether you have your priorities right. All the usual self help advice is here but there are many other insights which made me think about how I plan - or don't plan - my own life. The book is supported by a web site from which you can download the toolkit and there is also a copy of it in the book itself.

The book is structured on the basis of asking yourself ten questions:
1 - What is My Situation?
2- How Can I Thrive?
3- When Do I Perform at My Best?
4-What Energises Me?
5- Where am I on My Personal Journey?
6- How Do I Become Happy?
7 - How do I Reinvent Myself?
8 - How Do I Differentiate Myself From Others?
9 - What is My Personal Business Plan?
10- What Have I Learned?
The business plan itself is based on the answers to those ten questions. Each chapter is full of compelling case studies showing how it is possible to change one's life so that ambitions can be achieved and attention paid to all areas of life.

I found the book fascinating reading and I have marked many passages to return to them later. There are many quotations from famous and not so famous people scattered throughout the text. One thing that struck me forcefully about this book is that the author firmly believes that people should not choose between family and work - it should be a both/and situation rather than an either/or situation. Both are equally important. The aim isn't to achieve perfection but to achieve a satisfying and joyful life.

It is difficult to convey the full flavour of this book in a review and I have yet to road test the toolkit because of a deadline to complete this review but it did provide me with many `light bulb' moments about my own life and behaviour. I know I shall return to this book at a later date as I have marked many sections with post it notes and pencil jottings. Each chapter ends with a bullet point summary of that chapter's contents which is a useful reference point. I have just opened the book at one of these summaries and two things struck me immediately - `Change your behaviour if you feel miserable'; `Use humour and humility to keep events in perspective'- both excellent pieces of life advice.

The book is well written and beautifully produced with notes on each chapter, a bibliography and a top ten of books for recommended reading as well as an index. If you are serious about planning your life or have changes you know you need to make then this could be the book for you. I cannot recommend it too highly though be prepared to put in a lot of work to get the full benefits from it.
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Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I found "The Personal Business Plan" to be a very interesting and inspirational read. Though it probably doesn't really differ that much from umpteen other motivational guides (written by business gurus and entrepreneurs), it was the down-to-earth and calming style, and attention to detail that appealed to me, that allowed me to unlock my gates of scepticism and believe what the author was saying (whereas many such titles just start to grate on me--with their self-proclaimed fantasticness!)

Stephen Bruyant-Langer is a Danish businessman (a senior partner with Korn/Ferry International--a company which coaches executives--who has also worked as a marketing executive for the likes of L'Oreal and Coca Cola). I was impressed with his style from the first page (the first paragraph, even): unlike so many of these books, his words don't seem at all rushed, like he is calmly writing out his plan (rather than trying to pump you with adrenalin through his words). Whilst most other books make you feel like you're out on a flat out run to successville! (with the author running behind you with a megaphone!), this is more like going for a gentle walk along the cliffs, looking down at the oceans of your life, perhaps smoking a pipe filled with fine Danish tobacco, with him pointing out nuggets of advice from his experience as you go :)

The plan itself is a 10 stage analysis of your life (past, present and future--20 years future, not just next week!). It isn't really a "quick-fix" guide, but something that encourages you to fully evaluate yourself logically, and to form logical (and therefore confidence-building) plans for letting go, moving on and building a future for yourself. Though it is probably best to read it from cover-to-cover (so that you can form your own complete "personal business plan" using the toolkit at the end), I think it would also be useful for you if you just wish to concentrate on one area ("What energizes me?", "When do I perform at my best?", "What makes me happy?", "How do I reinvent myself?" etc.)

The book itself is nicely presented (a slim and tall hardback, with good quality feel) and there are lots of useful (simple) diagrams throughout to highlight the ideas more clearly. Though the author is a businessman (and obviously refers to his practices in business throughout), he also often gives real world examples also and everything is easily translatable to everyday situations. It isn't perhaps something you will gain instant inspiration from (though you well might), but more something that gently nudges you in the right direction as you ponder on it. Definitely worth a read if (like me) you're sick of all singing all dancing motivational books that do little other than sing and dance!

Finally, also make sure you check the books corresponding website (don't think I'm allowed to refer to in here, but it is easily to find online--search for the books title without any spaces), where you'll find useful extra material (author videos and a printable version of the toolkit).
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VINE VOICEon 2 December 2013
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is an interesting read that puts forward the idea/concept of the individual being able to autofocus on their future gaols and putting them into practice through the adoption of a business blue print. The language is reasonably straight forward and is not caught up in business `buzz words'. The tone is not patronising or lecturing - but is there to bring the reader `on board'. There are ten chapter headings that give a step by step way to accomplishing a workable blue print plan. After answering the 10 important questions you should have a workable plan. For me motivational books are about `fit' and if you're the kind of person that this approach appeals to then you have a positive way forward, if not... well your back to drawing board so to speak.
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VINE VOICEon 29 December 2013
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This book is about adopting a business mindset when planning and evaluating your life. It's full of great concepts that would appeal to those who would like to achieve more in life. If you are already a business person, then it is possible that you already apply a business aproach to your own personal life. The advantage of using this book (or the method in it) is that you will be like your own personal life coach, with the book guiding you along the way. As a self help book, this one is good and the advices given work if applied consistently. If you are not that business orientated then you can also pick and chose what you like in the book as there are lots of invaluable tips in it. Well worth a read.
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VINE VOICEon 18 November 2013
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I was very interested in this book as I enjoy organising things and am always on the lookout for new self improvement ideas or books.

It is a basic but interesting concept - treat your life like you would a business and plan. The fundamental fact, so says the author, is that once you know where you're going, it's fairly simple to get moving and get there. It's deciding where you want to go that is actually the difficult part.

There are exercises to go along with the book. They have pages at the back with the blank copies of the exercises or you can also download them by visiting the personal business plan website. I did this and it was an easy process and meant I didn't have to write in my book.

The book has 10 chapters in total. These are: 1. What is My Situation? 2. How Can I Thrive? 3. When Do I Perform at My Best? 4. What Energizes Me? 5. Where am I on My Personal Journey? 6. How Do I Become Happy? 7. How Do I Reinvent Myself? 8. How Do I Differentiate Myself from Others? 9. What is My Personal Business Plan? and 10. What Have I Learned?

At first I thought the writing style was a little businesslike but as soon as the introduction was over, the book really got going. Each chapter is broken into little sections and snippets using different colours, small graphics, lists, quotes and stories. It means that even leafing through the book, it doesn't look intimidating and it makes you want to dig in and read.

I also liked the fact that there is a list of the figures and tables contained in the book. It's nothing major but sometimes you just want to have a quick link to specific parts of the book and this gives you an easy reference guide.

I really liked the concept of the book, the execution and how it really does make you feel more positive about the challenges ahead. These kind of books aren't miracle workers, but if you've got the right attitude and you feel that the time is right but want some words of advice - I would recommend this book to you. 4 stars.
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VINE VOICEon 14 November 2013
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Firstly I must say the Author is modest. Only once you begin the book do you realise the clientèle Stephen works with. Amazing.

This is an in depth book. It's about working on your whole life. It divides up into 10 main chapters. Each one builds on the next.

I can see this is like a thorough course of study to change your life and get it running more efficiently.

This book is not a quick read at all. Its not much of a dip in book either. A book like this has to grab you and then you will put the required effort in to put the ideas into practice. A lot of his clients are CEO's and high powered execs. These people when they come to see him are ready for the changes.

I can imagine paying for Stephen's services where cost is no object, one is far more likely to actually get these ideas working. From a book its going to be far more difficult. It can be done but it requires a great commitment and buy in to the ideas.

Its a difficult subject to really get perfect in a book. If it doesn't grab you straight away then you are likely to stop reading. If its too easy to read it motivates for a few days then one goes back to the old ways again.

The impression I get is some of the execs that see him are ready to wind down, look at their lives and make some changes. The rest of us who are running month to month there just doesn't seem to be the time to put the dedication in to this type of project.

I'm probably not at this time right for this type of book. I need a few simple ideas to work with at a time. This book is really in depth and I can't put the time in right now.

I will add that I do have time in my day but its amazing how taking care of one's mother, daughters, household, small business 1, small business 2, training, travelling, planning and thinking can just chew up one's time. Unless you become ruthless and selfish, time is pretty scarce.
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VINE VOICEon 30 October 2013
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
An engaging and well-presented read with a nice upbeat style that stimulates and motivates; and a beautifully set and printed hardbound book that is a delight to read and to hold. I think, too, the thing that came over very clearly was the author's love of his craft and it's a delight to read something of the passion and focus that he interweaves between the pages.
Some of the discussions were excellent. The book seemed to improve as I worked through and one of the most thought provoking was the little vignette about peoples' dying wishes.

The unifying feature about all books like this, of course, is the person who picks it up. For sure, you could do worse than select this book and I was in no way unhappy or disappointed with it. What fascinates me more, however, is what a lot of doctors, and I suspect other professionals ask and this is `Why now?' I believe that this is at the core of the attraction of such books. Another way of looking at it is what I call an `abyss moment' where one stares into that murky limitless depth. This is the spark that lights the flame. It might be a pleasant thing such as graduating or getting married and so on, but I believe often more impactful and relevant is that unfortunate incident; loss of one's job, divorce or something equally unpleasant. This is the point where one seeks the absolute requirement to make a change. It might be to start one's own business for instance or to move career: but it is often preceded by disaster in one form or another. This negative stimulus, if one is lucky will fuel that desire to effect self-improvement, or as in this book's case one's personal business plan.

Books like these, then, are tools that one may use to guide to support to encourage but not necessarily create that need. It's a good as read as any other, but the thing that tantalises me is that once a person has elected to make changes, then the forces that are needed and will be brought to bear often come spontaneously from within. I suppose the irony is that my belief is that once one has that then one only has to follow one's own desire for improvement or change - and the rest, sooner or later, will fall into place. Many thanks.
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Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The premise is: If we all paid as much attention to planning our lives as our business and our careers then we'd all do a lot better. Of course this premise somewhat ignores that there is more "heart" work in life than in business, but it's true enough that this book brings some very good insights into how to "do life" better.

Most of us stumble through our non-working life without a very coherent plan or set of goals. We do far too many things on impulse and can often lose out (financially, or in other ways) because of that.

This book doesn't want to completely destroy the spontaneity that makes life exciting however, but it does want to channel those sorts of impulses, to better direct the energy that spur of the moment decisions can unleash and protect from their bad consequences. A lot of it is about thinking through possibilities ahead of time.

To take one example, if you have have thought through roughly what kind of car you need before you are even in the market for a car, you'll be less likely to make a spur of the moment decision to buy a lovely but completely unsuitable car you happen to see in a showroom whilst out shopping for pizza!

It's that kind of guidance that this book provides in spades - not a prescriptive approach, just encouraging you to think ahead about your life in the way you would about your business or your career.

Well worth a read.
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VINE VOICEon 6 October 2015
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
You will find many of the familiar bits of advice if you have read many self help books however this takes a very comprehensive approach to organizing your life which when you think of it just makes sense. It's your life after all so you kinda should put a bit of effort in to it.

The book revolves around reviewing yourself on 10 questions

1. What is My Situation?
2. How Can I Thrive?
3. When Do I Perform at My Best?
4.What Energizes Me?
5.Where am I on My Personal Journey?
6. How Do I Become Happy?
7. How do I Re-invent Myself?
8. How Do I Differentiate Myself From Others?
9. What is My Personal Business Plan?
10.What Have I Learned?

You tailor your personal plan depending on how you answer these questions.

The book is well written and easy to read - lots of great quotes and life studies. I've found it very helpful
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