Adam Braun’s blockbuster best-seller, The Promise of a Pencil: How an Ordinary Person Can Create Extraordinary Change (New York: Scribner, 2014) has hit the lists with fervor. It is now # 2 in the Wall Street Journal business best-selling list for the second week in a row, and comes in at Amazon.com #109 in total Books, and the following in specialty categories.
- #1 in Books > Business & Money > Business Life > Ethics
- #1 in Books > Education & Reference > Schools & Teaching > Education Theory
- #1 in Books > Business & Money > Industries & Professions > Nonprofit Organizations & Charities
This is one of our two featured books at the First Friday Book Synopsis in June, 2014 at the Park City Club. Registration opens on May 10 at www.firstfridaybooksynopsis.com.
Who is Adam Braun? He is an American businessman, author, and philanthropist. He is the Founder and CEO of Pencils of Promise, an award-winning nonprofit organization that has built more than 150 schools across Africa, Asia and Latin America and delivered over 12 million educational hours in its first four years. PoP was founded with just $25 using Braun’s unique “For-Purpose” approach to blending nonprofit idealism with for-profit business principles. In 2012, he was named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 List. Braun began his career in finance, until he met a young boy begging on the streets and asked him what he wanted most in the world. The answer- “A pencil.” He then traveled through 50+ countries to focus on educational systems and eventually left a dream job at Bain & Company to launch Pencils of Promise. Braun was selected as one of the first ten World Economic Forum Global Shapers and has been featured at the United Nations, Clinton Global Initiative, Google Zeitgeist, Mashable’s Innovation Index and Wired Magazine’s 2012 Smart List of 50 People Changing the World.
What is this book all about? Here is a summary from www.bookbrowse.com:
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 as a college student, he met a young boy begging on the streets of India. When Braun asked the boy what he wanted most in the world, he simply answered, “A pencil.”
This small request became the inspiration for Pencils of Promise, the organization Braun would leave a prestigious job at Bain & Company to start with just $25 at the age of twenty-four. Using his unique “for-purpose” approach, he helped redefine the space in which business, philanthropy, and social media intersect. And a mere five years later, Pencils of Promise has now built more than two hundred schools around the world, proving that anyone can create a movement that matters.
The Promise of a Pencil chronicles Braun’s journey through more than fifty countries to find his calling, as each chapter explains the steps that every person can take to ignite their own passion and potential. His trailblazing 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 readers the tools to unlock their own extraordinary journey of self-discovery.
If you have ever wanted a more purpose-driven life, if you have ever felt like you could become more than your current circumstances allow, it’s time to ask yourself, “What do I want most in the world?” And through the lessons shared in this book, turn those ideas into reality.
Look at those smiles and you will see how worthwhile the effort that Braun leads has become.
Rarely have we ever seen a book just leap to the top of legitimate best-selling lists so fast.
We look forward to presenting this book to you in June.
Don’t forget that registration opens on May 10.
You may have noticed that The Dallas Morning News is sponsoring a One Day University on Saturday, May 10, 2014. You pick five classes out of ten possible choices. This event has appeared in several regions in the country, including New York City. Registration information is available by clicking here.
One of these classes is taught by Joseph Luzzi from Bard College. Who is he? Luzzi is a Ph.D. from Yale and has specialized in Italian studies and literature at Bard College since 2002. At Bard, he serves as Co-Director of the college’s First-Year Seminar program, a full-semester “great books” course that covers major texts and intellectual traditions. His book, My Two Italies (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux) is scheduled for release in July, 2014. Here is a description of that book from Amazon.com:
A poignant personal account from a child of Calabrian peasants whose lifelong study of Italy unveils the mysteries of this Bel Paese, “Beautiful Land,” where artistic genius and political corruption have gone hand and in hand from the time of Michelangelo to The Sopranos. The child of Italian immigrants and an award-winning scholar of Italian literature, in My Two Italies, Joseph Luzzi straddles these two perspectives to link his family’s dramatic story to Italy’s north-south divide, its quest for a unifying language, and its passion for art, food, and family. From his Calabrian father’s time as a military internee in Nazi Germany—where he had a love affair with a local Bavarian woman—to his adventures amid the Renaissance splendor of Florence, Luzzi creates a deeply personal portrait of Italy that leaps past facile clichés about Mafia madness and Tuscan sun therapy. He delves instead into why Italian Americans have such a complicated relationship with the “old country,” and how Italy produces some of the world’s most astonishing art while suffering from corruption, political fragmentation, and an enfeebled civil society. With topics ranging from the pervasive force of Dante’s poetry to the meteoric rise of Silvio Berlusconi, Luzzi presents the Italians in all their glory and squalor, relating the problems that plague Italy today to the country’s ancient roots. He shares how his “two Italies”—the earthy southern Italian world of his immigrant childhood and the refined “northern” Italian realm of his professional life—join and clash in unexpected ways that continue to enchant the many millions who are either connected to Italy by ancestry or bound to it by love.
His class at the one day university is entitled “Four Books Every Book Lover Should Read.” I snooped a bit to see if I could discover what these titles are, and I found a previous presentation where he discussed six. My educated guess is that the four he discusses in Dallas are from these six:
Dante’s Divine Comedy (1319)
Shakespeare’s Othello (1604)
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby (1925)
Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse (1927)
Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 (1961)
Philip Roth’s American Pastoral (1997)
So, how many of these have you read? And, do you agree with these six? And, would you pick this class if you decide to attend?
Before I resumed going to church, every Sunday morning we would watch “This Week” on ABC, hosted by David Brinkley, with Sam Donaldson and George F. Will. Will, while a conservative and unexcited Republican, was always quick and to the point, and very knowledgeable about current affairs. A Chicago Cubs fan, while in working in Washington D.C., he was a part-owner of the Baltimore Orioles. He left ABC in 2013 to join Fox News. He usually wears a bow tie, but I couldn’t bring myself to publish one of those pictures.
He wrote one of the most influential books that I have read in my life, entitled Men at Work: The Craft of Baseball (New York: Macmillan, 1990). That book should be read by anyone who thinks baseball is just a game, and that players and managers are overpaid. The book demonstrated that this is game is not played by the “boys of summer,” but rather by men, applying intensive decision-making, examining complex variables, and exhibiting extraordinary skill in their jobs.
So, I anxiously awaited his next book about Chicago’s famed baseball yard. It is called A Nice Little Place on the North Side: Wrigley Field at One Hundred (New York: Crown Books, 2014). We can’t present it at the First Friday Book Synopsis in Dallas because although it reached the best-seller lists, it is not a business book.
You can read a review of this book from the Wall Street Journal by clicking here. Joseph Epstien concludes that review with this:
George Will has achieved a fine balance in “A Nice Little Place on the North Side” between his heartfelt allegiance to the Chicago Cubs and his recognition of their status among sports fans as a national joke. As fodder for humor the Cubs have been inexhaustible. The morning after the Cubs lost the 1984 National League Championship Series to the Padres, owing in good part to Leon Durham, the team’s first baseman, allowing a dribbling grounder to go through his legs, I was shopping in my neighborhood grocery store. The owner asked if I had heard about Leon Durham’s attempted suicide. “Really?” I asked, genuinely shocked. “He stepped out in front of a bus,” the man said, “but it went through his legs.” Lots of laughs, those Cubs, and, as George Will neatly puts it, “a lifelong tutorial in deferred gratification.”
From Amazon.com, where it is # 1 on the sports best-selling list and # 224 in overall books, you can read this summary:
Winding beautifully like Wrigley’s iconic ivy, Will’s meditation on “The Friendly Confines” examines both the unforgettable stories that forged the field’s legend and the larger-than-life characters—from Wrigley and Ruth to Veeck, Durocher, and Banks—who brought it glory, heartbreak, and scandal. Drawing upon his trademark knowledge and inimitable sense of humor, Will also explores his childhood connections to the team, the Cubs’ future, and what keeps long-suffering fans rooting for the home team after so many years of futility. In the end, A Nice Little Place on the North Side is more than just the history of a ballpark. It is the story of Chicago, of baseball, and of America itself.
Who hasn’t seen outfielders diving after a ball into the famous ivy on the outfield wall? Or the story about Steve Bartman, who on October 14, 2003, allegedly interfered with Cubs outfielder Moises Alou catching a foul ball, extending an inning and opening the gates for an 8-run watershed for the Florida Marlins in a playoff game? Or, hearing about first baseman Ernie Banks, who excitedly would proclaim, “let’s play two.” Or, all the controversies and barriers to renovating the park for a more modern and comfortable appearance?
Forget politics. Forget what you think about George Will’s philosophy, opinions, and dress. Immerse yourself in this book. You will be a better fan. You will also find something else to reference about an American icon. The stories here are abundant. Wrigley field is certainly not one of the wonders of the world, but its loyal fans who are accustomed to losing and tight quarters to watch baseball games, are a unique part of American culture.
I look forward to some future month at the First Friday Book Synopsis in Dallas for a presentation on a new best-seller, Talk Like TED: The Nine Public Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2014), written by Carmine Gallo. The book debuted this week at #6 on The Wall Street Journal best-selling list, and is currently #3, #4, and #7 in three different Amazon.com business best-selling lists.
Who is Carmine Gallo? This is not his first book! Carmine also wrote The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs, The Apple Experience, which was the first book about the the Apple Store and how other brands can elevate the customer experience, and Fire Them Up, which identifies the seven secrets of the world’s most inspiring leaders. You can find synopses of some of these books for sale on our 15MinuteBusinessBooks.com site. Interestingly, Gallo is not associated with TED talks.
Here is a summary of the book that I found on Amazon.com:
Ideas are the true currency of the twenty-first century. So, in order to succeed you need to be able to sell yourself and your ideas persuasively. The ability to sell yourself and your ideas is the single greatest skill that will help you accomplish your dreams. TED Talks have redefined the elements of a successful presentation and become the gold standard for public speaking. TED—which stands for technology, entertainment, and design—brings together the world’s leading innovators and thinkers. Their online presentations have been viewed more than a billion times. These are the presentations that set the world on fire, and the techniques that top TED speakers use are the same ones that will make any presentation more dynamic, fire up any team, and give anyone the confidence to overcome their fear of public speaking.
Have you never watched a TED talk? When I teach presentation skills at the University of Dallas in its College of Business MBA program, I require students to watch and critique five presentations from this site. It’s a goldmine. You can access the site here: http://www.ted.com. At Creative Communication Network, we teach a custom presentation skills program based upon intensive individual coaching. You can be sure that we will be updating the program with some of the techniques from this book, in order to offer our clients the newest possible information to help them be successful.
I do not know which month this will be at the First Friday Book Synopsis in Dallas. We only publish our schedule one month ahead. But, you will have ample notice of the session when we will present this one. The synopsis of the book will be presented by either Randy Mayeux or myself, depending upon our selections. However, I do know it will be coming up very soon. This is already a blockbuster best-seller.
If you watched NBC’s program narrated by Bette White on Sunday, September 1 about the 30 funniest moments in television history, you saw that the “I Love Lucy” chocolate factory candy scene was # 1.
You can watch the scene by clicking here.
Yes, that is funny. I have to admit to you that I didn’t think most of the other 29 scenes on the show were very funny. There were two exceptions – one was from the “Dick Van Dyke Show” at an auction, and another from “All in the Family,” where Edith stuffs a phone message in her bra. I guess I just didn’t choose to use my time in the ’70′s and ’80′s watching sitcoms. And, I still don’t today.
Back to Lucy. The literature on Lucille Ball is not universally favorable. While the biographies portray her as talented and driven, we can conclude that she was a flawed person. (Of course, who isn’t?) She doesn’t top Marilyn Monroe in the quantity of biographies written about a famous person, but she certainly had plenty. Click here for a sampling from Amazon.com. She was particularly “egged” in the tabloids when she disapproved of Patty Duke, at age 23, dating her son, Desi Arnaz, Jr., at age 17. You can read a quick tracking of her life by clicking here. Regardless of what people have written, there is no question that she brought great entertainment to millions of Americans for many years.
Did you watch that show on NBC? Do you have a favorite comedy scene? Let’s talk about it really soon.
George Kohlrieser is an organizational and clinical psychologist. He is Professor of Leadership and Organizational Behaviour at IMD and consultant to several global companies including Accenture, Alcan, Amer Sports, Barclays Global Investors, Cisco, Coca-Cola, HP, IBM, IFC, Morgan Stanley, Motorola, Nestlé, Nokia, Roche, Sara Lee, Tetra Pak, and Toyota. He is also a Police Psychologist and Hostage Negotiator focusing on aggression management and hostage negotiations. He has worked in over 100 countries spanning five continents.
Kohlrieser is Director of the High Performance Leadership (HPL) Program, an intense six-day IMD program for experienced senior leaders and the Advanced High Performance Leadership (AHPL) for former HPL participants. He completed his doctorate at Ohio State University where he wrote his dissertation on cardio vascular recovery of law enforcement leaders following high stress situations. His research has made significant contributions to understanding the role self-mastery and social dialogue has in helping leaders sustain high performance through life long learning.
He is Associate Clinical Professor of Psychology, Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio, adjunct faculty member of Union Graduate School, Antioch, Ohio, adjunct faculty member of Fielding Institute San Francisco, California, adjunct faculty member of Zagreb University, Croatia. He is past president of the International Transactional Analysis Association, San Francisco, California and is also a member of the Society of International Business Fellows (SIBF). He has consulted for the BBC, CNN, ABC, and CBS and his work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, the Economist, and other leading newspapers and magazines.
He is author of the internationally bestselling book, Hostage At The Table: How Leaders Can Overcome Conflict, Influence Others, and Raise Performance, and, more recently, co-author of Care to Dare: Unleashing Astonishing Potential Through Secure Base Leadership with Susan Goldsworthy and Duncan Coombe.
Here is an excerpt from my interview of him. To read the complete interview, please click here.
* * *
Morris: Most change initiatives either fail or fall far short of original (perhaps unrealistic) expectations. More often than not, the resistance to change is cultural in nature, the result of what James O’Toole so aptly characterizes as “the ideology of comfort and the tyranny of custom.” Your thoughts?
Kohlrieser: This is a very interesting and challenging point. In fact, research shows that people do not naturally resist change – they resist the fear of the unknown and the pain of the change. The human brain actually thrives on curiosity, innovation, new learning, challenge and change to create new neurons until the day we die. This has come to be known as brain plasticity. Followers with a secure base leader will be empowered to successfully navigate the uncertainty, ambiguity, and other unknowns associated with change. James O’Toole is correct: most people are hostages to the “ideology of comfort” and to the status quo. They do not dare themselves to do something new or different. The challenge for leaders is to build trust that enables them to drive change. If leaders are not driving change, they are not really leading. We must dispel the myth that people naturally resist change – it is simply not true.
Morris: Looking ahead what do you think will be the greatest challenge that CEOs will face?
Kohlrieser: The greatest challenge I see is the “paradox of caring” – being able to both care and also dare followers, teams and organizations to achieve their full potential and to be true innovators. How do leaders show enough caring and bonding, even with difficult people and those they don’t like? Giving regular feedback and conveying hard truths unlock the door to the highest levels of performance. Successful leaders challenge their people by inspiring them and building trust, not by coercion, control or threats.
Leaders must drive change. Without change organizations wither and die. Leaders who don’t drive change put their companies in grave danger. The challenge facing leaders is to explain the benefits that change will bring. I use the term “secure base leader” to describe someone who gives a sense of safety as well as the inspiration and energy to encourage followers to explore and take risk. In other words, you must care enough to encourage daring by shutting down the defensive nature of the brain and invite the mind’s eye to seek opportunity and possibility. This combination is crucial, and it’s why my new book about unleashing astonishing potential is called Care to Dare.
Morris: In your opinion, why do so many C-level executives seem to have such a difficult time delegating work to others?
Kohlrieser: It comes down to focus and trust. Secure base leaders, referred to in my books, always look for underdeveloped talents and turn delegation into opportunities to stretch people. This means they have to trust people to learn, develop and possibly to fail. Letting go of control is often the most difficult thing for an executive to do. After all, their experience means they often assume they know how to do things better, which may or may not be true. Give people a secure base leader and they will achieve amazing things – delegating is one form of stretching another person to show what they can do. The executive must always be standing behind as a secure base. A good example is flight training. There is a moment when the flight instructor must relinquish the flight controls to the trainee.
Morris: When and why did you decide to write Hostage at the Table?
Kohlrieser: I have been held hostage four times. Early in my career it became clear that hostage negotiators have to establish a relationship with a very unlikeable, even despicable person. They must engage in a dialogue under high pressure and influence the hostage taker to give up their weapons and their hostages knowing that they will likely go to prison. The success rate of hostage negotiators doing this work is an extraordinary 95 per cent. When I described what hostage negotiators do to the executives and other professionals I work with at my IMD High Performance Leadership Program, they wanted to know if the secret of hostage negotiation can be applied to situations when one is being held a psychological hostage.
It is one thing to be a hostage with a gun to your head; it is another to be held hostage by a boss, spouse, situation or yourself. People wanted to know how hostage negotiations applied to everyday situations. So the “hostage” metaphor is a highly empowering concept that I wanted to describe in the book based on theory and actual stories. The fact is even when physically a hostage, you don’t need to feel a hostage. The techniques used to gain freedom in a hostage situation can be used by all of us in everyday life. Warren Bennis and Dan Goleman, my two wonderful mentors, colleagues and friends, encouraged me to formulate these ideas into a book, and I was honored to have Warren Bennis include it in his Leadership series.
Morris: Obviously, much of the material in the book seems to be based on what you learned from your extensive experience as a police psychologist and hostage negotiator. What were the most valuable lessons learned from that experience?
Kohlrieser: I have learned a number of lessons in my 40-year career. The most powerful lessons for me have been:
1. The power of bonding and the impact dialogue can have on an adversary, a hostage taker, or a person threatening violence.
2. The paradox of caring. Hostage negotiation succeeds because the hostage taker feels genuine care, interest and concern from the hostage negotiator.
3. The power of focusing on the goal and not on the danger or the problem. When facing a gun, the brain will naturally focus on the weapon unless you train your brain to focus on the person and the goal.
4. The power of language, dialogue and of asking questions.
5. Making concessions within a negotiation.
6. The power of loss in motivating people and in driving violence, especially hostage taking. There is always a loss that precedes a hostage-taking situation.
* * *
To read the complete interview, please click here.
George cordially invites you to check out the resources at these websites:
His home page
His faculty page
His Amazon page
IMD “Big Think” interview