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The Promise of a Pencil: How an Ordinary Person Can Create Extraordinary Change Hardcover – 5 Jun 2014
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The riveting story of how a young man turned $25 into more than 200 schools around the world and the guiding steps anyone can take to lead a successful and significant life. Adam Braun began working summers at hedge funds when he was just sixteen years old, sprinting down the path to a successful Wall Street career. But while traveling he met a young boy begging on the streets of India, who after being asked what he wanted most in the world, simply answered, "A pencil." This small request led to a staggering series of events that took Braun backpacking through dozens of countries before eventually leaving one of the world's most prestigious jobs to found Pencils of Promise, the organization he started with just $25 that has since built more than 200 schools around the world. "The Promise of a Pencil" chronicles Braun's journey to find his calling, as each chapter explains one clear step that every person can take to turn your biggest ambitions into reality, even if you start with as little as $25. His story takes readers behind the scenes with business moguls and village chiefs, world-famous celebrities and hometown heroes. Driven by compelling stories and shareable insights, this is a vivid and inspiring book that will give you the tools to make your own life a story worth telling. "*All proceeds from this book will support Pencils of Promise."
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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.
When reading the book by the founder of TOMS shoes I felt I could a least in a way achieve something like him. With this book, it's all about a great education, a shed load of high level connections and I suspect quite a lot of family money, at least initially. I am not belittling what Adam achieved, he obviously had tremendous drive and belief and what has since been achieved is massive. But, I am saying, I think it's so far away from what people from small town nowheresville with a basic education and no connections could achieve. As I said when reading about TOMS, I thought I could do something like that. With this book, I just knew this was from a whole different level with it's high powered board members and people personally donating hundreds of thousands of dollars. So, as a story of great achievement this book is great, but, as a book to motivate me personally to do something similar, this just left me in the dust. I wish Pencils of Promise much continued success.
It made me find a new appreciation for the education and lifestyle I have been lucky to have for free, for all the food that I have and the country that I live in. We have it so easy in countries like England and America, we don't even realise, this made me find a new perspective on life itself.
This book is more than telling its story of how Pencils of Promise started, it has a mantra on each chapter, which can be applied to our daily life. And if you're searching for your souls purpose in life, this may just give you your answers, whether it's for the organisation or not.
Adam Braun, you Sir are an inspiration.
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