First Friday Book Synopsis

"…like CliffNotes on steroids…"

Grisham’s Newest Book Cries For the Sequel We Don’t Want

John GrishamI will admit to you that I enjoyed John Grisham‘s newest book.  I finished it before Christmas.

But, I was also very disappointed in him.  It simply screams “there will be a sequel.”  It is unlike every other book he has ever written.

The book is called Gray Mountain (Doubleday, 2014).  It is about a young female New York attorney, Samantha Kofer, who finds new work and a new life in rural Gray Mountain CoverVirginia.

I only read the customer reviews on after I wrote this post.  In general, these are vicious.  I don’t think the story is that bad, and I don’t think it’s boring.  Maybe it has just enough sex to keep me interested.  But, I do join others who criticize the book for the low-quality ending.  Just finish the story, John.  Move on to the next book.

In summary, to find out what happens, you will have to buy the next book.  That has never been the case for Grisham, who has penned so many best-sellers over the years, and which have found their way to the big screen through adaptation.  Who has ever forgotten The Firm?

You won’t find this one moving to film.  At least, not until we know the ending.

Friday, February 27, 2015 Posted by | Karl's blog entries | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Tidy-Up Book Cleans Up on the Best-Seller List

This is a book that you probably don’t want to see.  Yet, plenty have, as it has become a New York Times best-seller since its initial distribution in October, 2014.  Even today, it remains at #39 on TidyingUp Coverthe best-seller list.

Marie Kondo wrote The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up:  The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing (Ten Speed Press).  This is actually her third book on organizing.

Marie Kondo picture


Who is Marie Kondo?  The London Times described her as “Japan’s preeminent guru of tidiness, a warrior princess in the war on clutter.”  Her actual business is as a consultant in Tokyo, assisting clients to change the look and feel of their homes and offices.

How many books on clutter have you seen become a television drama?  It happened for this one on Japanese television.   Articles have appeared about her in the Wall Street Journal,  Red, You, New York Times, USA Today, NPR’s Here & Now, Slate, and Family Circle.  Her method of organizing is known as the KonMari method, and consists of gathering together everything you own and then keeping only those things which “spark joy”, and choosing a place for everything from then on.




These are the key five tips from her book that appear in today’s Wall Street Journal.  You can read the entire article by clicking here.  These tips are called “How to Kondo.”

  • Tidy by category: Clothes first, then books, papers, miscellany and sentimental items.
  • Don’t foist your unwanted stuff on family members who might take it out of guilt. Give it to charity.
  • There is nothing more annoying than papers.’ Throw them all away, unless they are absolutely necessary.
  • Forget fancy storage containers. Drawers and shoeboxes often suffice.
  • Avoid piles. Tip items up on their sides and store them next to each other, rather than stacking them. (p. D2)

You can rest assured we won’t present this one at the First Friday Book Synopsis in Dallas.   The guilt might be overwhelming.  I read this response from Mrs. Paul Iverson online:  “It’s sad to think that we need a book to tell us it’s okay to be neat, clean and tidy.  To discard stuff that we don’t need, never should have bought in the first place,  or is broken!  I guess this is good for anyone that didn’t learn it at a young age!


Friday, February 27, 2015 Posted by | Karl's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Charan’s New Book is Off to a Great Start

The newest book from Ram Charan was released yesterday (2/24/2015).  We have presented so many of his books at the First Friday Book Synopsis in Dallas that I am almost certain that Attackers Advantage Coverwe won’t do this one.  But, I thought that our blog readers would like to know that he has another book out.

The book is entitled The Attacker’s Advantage:  Turning Uncertainty into Breakthrough Opportunities (Public Affairs:  2015).  On its first day of release, it shot to the top of’s Planning and Forecasting sub-section of Business Book Best-Sellers.  The reviews on are enthusiastic, but as always, we don’t know where they come from or how they got there.

Here is the description of the book from

The forces driving today’s world of structural change create sharp bends in the road that can lead to major explosions in your existing market space. But exponential change also offers exponential opportunities. How do you leverage change to go on the offense? The Attacker’s Advantage is the game plan for winning in an era of ambiguity, volatility, and complexity, when every leader and every business is being challenged in new and unexpected ways.

RamCharanPictureFrom Charan’s own website, he describes the purpose of the book as follows:

While many leaders know how to cope with operational uncertainty—when, for example, revenue fluctuates—the same cannot be said for dealing with structural uncertainty that can alter the money-making patterns of a company, industry or entire economic sector…. [The book demonstrates] the huge upside offered by structural uncertainty and provides the concepts and tools—such as being able to spot the catalysts of disruption, building organizational preparedness, developing a financial understanding of the consequences—to take advantage of forces that are creating new customer needs, market segments and ways to make money.




The book has four major sections:

1.  The Fundamental Leadership Challenge of Our Time

2.  Building Perceptual Acuity

3.  Going on the Offense

4.  Making the Organization Agile

Some summaries of Charan’s earlier books are available at

Only time will tell whether this is a valuable contribution to the business literature.  But, from the first day of its release, it is certainly off to a smashing start.


Wednesday, February 25, 2015 Posted by | Karl's blog entries | , , , , | 5 Comments

Hawkins’ Book Has Formidable Splash Debut

It is remarkable and rare that an author’s first book, on its first week out, hits the # 1 spot on the fiction best-seller lists, such as the New York Times, USA Today,, and the Wall Street Journal.  Yet, that is where The Girl on The Train (New York:  Riverhead Books, 2015) by Paula Hawkins finds itself.

Who is Paula Hawkins?  We don’t know much about her.  First, be sure you understand this is not the Republican senator with the same name.  Hawkins lives in London, and worked as a journalist for fifteen years before writing her first fictional book.  She was born and raised in Zimbabwe.  In 1989, she moved to London and has stayed there ever since.  Paula Hawkins picture

What is the book about?  Here is what her Facebook page says about it:

A debut psychological thriller that will forever change the way you look at other people’s lives.  Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.  And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?  Compulsively readable, The Girl on the Train is an emotionally immersive, Hitchcockian thriller and an electrifying debut.

You can read a review of the book from the New York Times by clicking here.  It has already been translated and published in numerous languages.  The book has been optioned for film by Dreamworks.  Note:  It is easy to get confused.  You will find this same title used on several previous books and movies.

Girl on the Train book coverWhen I bought my copy at Barnes & Noble, there was only one more remaining on the display.

To say that it is “selling like hotcakes” would be accurate.  The book is receiving massive publicity in papers and talk shows throughout the country.

You should get it, read it, and react to it, before you hear all about it from someone.




Sunday, February 1, 2015 Posted by | Karl's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Naomi Klein’s Provocative Best-Seller on Capitalism and Climate

Last week, Simon and Schuster published a provocative new business book that flew to the # 3 spot in the best-seller list revealed in the 9/27/2014 edition of the Wall Street Journal.

The book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. Climate, written by Naomi Klein, is a certain selection for one of us at the First Friday Book Synopsis in Dallas.  Watch our web site for the exact month we will present this one.

Naomi Klein pictureWho is Naomi Klein?  She was educated at the University of Toronto, and is known as a social activist due to her criticism of corporate globalization and her candid political analyses.  She is only 44 years old, and became well known in business circles with her 2007 New York Times best-seller, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism (New York:  Picador).  In that book, she argued that those who wish to implement unpopular free market policies do so by taking advantage of particular societal segments following major disasters, including political, economic, military, or natural varieties.  Her analysis was that when a society experiences a major ‘shock,’ a widespread desire for a rapid and decisive response to correct the situation follows. In the light of that desire for swift action, unethical and unscrupulous individuals have opportunities to implement policies that are self-serving and illegitimate.  The shock doctrine allows such responses, including manufactured policy changes, to go into immediate effect.

You can read an interview published on September 25, 2014, on, about her new book, by clicking here.  Note that the bottom of the interview contains two important corrections.

In This Changes Everything, Klein argues that the climate crisis provides a challenge for us to abandon free-market thinking, restructure the global economy, and rethink current political systems.

This descriptive paragraph about the book comes from  “Climate change isn’t just another issue to be neatly filed between taxes and health care. It’s an alarm that calls us to fix an economic system that is already failing us in many ways. Klein meticulously builds the case for how massively reducing our greenhouse emissions is our best chance to simultaneously reduce gaping inequalities, re-imagine our broken democracies, and rebuild our gutted local economies. She exposes the ideological desperation of the climate-change deniers, the messianic delusions of the would-be geoengineers, and the tragic defeatism of too many mainstream green initiatives. And she demonstrates precisely why the market has not—and cannot—fix the climate crisis but will instead make things worse, with ever more extreme and ecologically damaging extraction methods, accompanied by rampant disaster capitalism.This Changes Everything Cover

And, later on the same site, “Klein argues that the changes to our relationship with nature and one another that are required to respond to the climate crisis humanely should not be viewed as grim penance, but rather as a kind of gift—a catalyst to transform broken economic and cultural priorities and to heal long-festering historical wounds. And she documents the inspiring movements that have already begun this process: communities that are not just refusing to be sites of further fossil fuel extraction but are building the next, regeneration-based economies right now.

You can bet this book will produce many stimulating conversations.  Watch the major editorial pages of national business magazines and newspaper sections.  I am sure that some will include personal attacks on her own credibility.  Time will tell what is actually true.

Remember that we do not select books to present at the First Friday Book Synopsis that we agree with.  And, we don’t try to get you to agree with the books we select.  We are merely reporters – transferring the information in an objective manner from the author to our audience.

But, when we do this one, I would sure like to stand in the hallway to listen to our attendees talk about it.

Saturday, September 27, 2014 Posted by | Karl's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Newest Sandford Prey Book is Different and Not His Best

I have read most of John Sandford’s PREY series books.  They are almost all set in Minnesota, and involve two major characters:  Lucas Davenport, from the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, and Virgil Flowers, who works for Lucas.  Virgil is referred to in several books in a way that I cannot print in this entry, although I would tell you that both words start with F, and the second word is his last name.  Without question, they qualify as mystery and suspense thrillers.

The most recent addition to the collection is Field of Prey (New York:  Putnam, 2014).  For some reason, I found it to be somewhat more harrowing and sensational than most of the other books.  While many of Sandford’s Field of Prey Coverbooks involve murders, this particular book had so many, and are described so gruesomely, that it gave me special notice.  In case you can’t wait, the killers bury the bodies in a field, and a number have been at the bottom for quite some time.

I can’t tell you that I enjoyed this one nearly as much as the others.  I notice that some of the reviews on even question if Sandford is the true author, pointing out distinctions in writing style and other facets that do not follow form and custom.

I don’t think this is ghostwritten, but perhaps, a rush to press instead.  Maybe everyone involved simply refused to invest the time it took to craft a well-developed and cohesive story.

Even so, I don’t think you boycott this book.  It’s worth reading, if nothing else than to keep up with the developments in Lucas’ life, job, and family.  If it’s your first Sandford book, you won’t even notice, as you have nothing to compare it to.

To learn about John Sandford, I read this on

John Sandford PictureJohn Sandford was born John Camp on February 23, 1944, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He attended the public schools in Cedar Rapids, graduating from Washington High School in 1962. He then spent four years at the University of Iowa, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in American Studies in 1966. In 1966, he married Susan Lee Jones of Cedar Rapids, a fellow student at the University of Iowa. He was in the U.S. Army from 1966-68, worked as a reporter for the Cape Girardeau Southeast Missourian from 1968-1970, and went back to the University of Iowa from 1970-1971, where he received a master’s degree in journalism. He was a reporter for The Miami Herald from 1971-78, and then a reporter for the St. Paul Pioneer-Press from 1978-1990; in 1980, he was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize, and he won the Pulitzer in 1986 for a series of stories about a midwestern farm crisis. From 1990 to the present he has written thriller novels. He’s also the author of two non-fiction books, one on plastic surgery and one on art. He is the principal financial backer of a major archaeological project in the Jordan Valley of Israel, with a website at In addition to archaeology, he is deeply interested in art (painting) and photography. He both hunts and fishes. He has two children, Roswell and Emily, and one grandson, Benjamin. His wife, Susan, died of metastasized breast cancer in May, 2007.

Sunday, July 27, 2014 Posted by | Karl's blog entries | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Talent Masters is the Choice for the September FFBS

I know that we are still working on the August 1 First Friday Book Synopsis with two excellent books and our bonus program, but I am already looking forward to my September presentation. It has excellent reviews and plenty of strong publicity, including one by our blogging partner, Bob Morris.  You can read his review published on this blog by clicking here.

The Talent Masters: Why Smart Leaders Put People Before Numbers
By Bill Conaty and Ram Charan (New York: Crown Business)

Here is a summary of the book from, and a review published in the Wall Street Journal.

From and Charan Picture

If talent is the leading indicator of whether a business is up or down, a success or a failure (and it is) . . . do you know how to accurately judge raw human talent? Understand a person’s unique combination of traits? Develop that talent? Convert what supposedly are “soft” subjective judgments about people into objective criteria that are as specific, verifiable, and concrete as the contents of a financial statement?

The talent masters do. They put people before numbers for the simple reason that it is talent that delivers the numbers. Success comes from those who are able to extract meaning from events and the forces affecting a business, and are able to look at the world and assess the risks to take and the risks to avoid.

The Talent Masters itself stems from a unique combination of talent: During a forty-year career at General Electric, Bill Conaty worked closely with CEOs Jack Welch and Jeff Immelt to build that company’s worldrenowned talent machine. Ram Charan is the legendary advisor to companies around the world. Together they use their unparalleled experience and insight to write the definitive book on talent—a breakthrough in how to take a business to the next level.

Here is the book review published in the Wall Street Journal, December 8, 2010, p. A21

A decade after Jack Welch stepped down as chief executive of General Electric, he still commands remarkable respect as a management guru. The company he once led has lost its magic, the business processes he developed to battle bureaucracy have become bureaucratic themselves, and many of the “graduates” of the Jack Welch school have since stumbled—think Bob Nardelli at Home Depot or Jim McNerney at Boeing. (Has anyone seen that Dreamliner yet?)

Yet Mr. Welch and the management mythology surrounding him continue, untarnished. “The Talent Masters” is the latest celebration of the Welch way. It’s written by Bill Conaty, the recently retired senior vice president for human resources at GE, and Ram Charan, the business adviser and author who often collaborates on books with ex-CEOs.

Talent Masters Book Cover

“The Talent Masters” rests on three principles that characterize the Welch approach to management: (1) A focus on talent development. Mr. Welch and the other “talent masters” in the book—we also hear from folks at companies including Procter & Gamble and Novartis—claim that they spend more than a third of their time developing their people. (2) Differentiation. Talent masters create a meritocracy by constantly evaluating their people—a process which, in Mr. Welch’s case, was derided by critics as “rank and yank.” (3) Candor. This is the ultimate Welch trademark: ruthless honesty in evaluating the performance of people and businesses.

By now the book’s principle-trilogy is familiar. 
But the authors add to the Welchian wisdom by documenting some interesting examples. For instance, we learn about the day in 2000 when Larry Johnston, head of GE’s appliance business, flew to corporate headquarters in Fairfield, Conn., to tell his bosses that he was leaving to head up Albertsons, the supermarket chain. The news was a surprise to 
Mr. Conaty, to Jeff Immelt—who was then making a transition to the CEO job—and to Mr. Welch.

All three tried to talk Mr. Johnston into changing his mind. But after determining that their effort was futile, the executives turned their attention to succession. Within a half-day they had agreed on who would replace Mr. Johnston and on who would fill three other slots down the chain of command. The quick action was possible, we’re told, only because the three men had been heavily involved in the continuous evaluation of the company’s top talent.

The authors compare GE’s rapid-fire performance in replacing Mr. Johnston with what happened recently at Hewlett Packard, when Mark Hurd was forced to step down after indiscretions involving a marketing consultant. The company, the book says, came “unhinged.” For the third time in little more than a decade, the HP board felt compelled to pick a chief executive from the outside—an implicit acknowledgment of failed succession planning. (Mr. Welch seems almost personally offended by such corporate inattention: The HP board, he told me in an interview before the World Business Forum earlier this year, has “not done one of the primary jobs of a board, which is to prepare the next generation of leadership.” Asked if he knew any of the HP board members personally, Mr. Welch said: “I wouldn’t admit it if I did.”)

Messrs. Conaty and Charan also show the forgiving side of Mr. Welch’s GE. They tell the story of Mark Little, who in 1995 was promoted to vice president of engineering at the company’s Power Systems group. Following his appointment, the group missed its numbers three times in a row, and Mr. Little was demoted. He suspected that his career at GE was over.

Instead, executives there worked with Mr. Little to assure him that he still had a future and to help him rebuild his career in a position that made better use of his talents. Today he is the senior vice president in charge of the corporate R&D center, and one of the company’s top 25 executives.

The book begins with GE-related examples, but some of its most arresting stories come from outside the company. A particularly interesting chapter involves Hindustan Unilever, Unilever’s $3.5 billion Indian subsidiary. The company routinely evaluates candidates for management jobs by putting several applicants together to discuss a specific business issue in a group. This allows the company to see how they interact with each other and who has leadership potential.

Another instructive anecdote comes from Adrian Dillon, Skype’s chief financial officer. Mr. Dillon tells of how, early in his management career, when he was working at Eaton Corp., he was accosted after a meeting by his boss, the company’s CFO. “That was a great meeting, but your problem is that you still think your job is to be the smartest guy in the room. It’s not,” the man told him. Instead, Mr. Dillon was told, his job was to “make everybody in the room think that they’re the smartest guy in the room. You’ve got to teach them what you know and what you do, not tell them.”

Overall, “The Talent Masters” offers a valuable window into the skills of talent development. And it makes a persuasive case, yet again, for the wisdom of the Welch way. But you do have to wonder whether, a decade after Mr. Welch’s retirement, it isn’t time to find a new icon for the rapidly evolving world of business management.

Mr. Murray is deputy managing editor of The Wall Street Journal and the author of “The Wall Street Journal Essential Guide to Management.”

Friday, July 25, 2014 Posted by | Karl's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Book to Help Men Get Less Angry

I am an angry man.  You do not deserve to know why.  It would exceed the allowable word count for our blog.

Are you angry also?

You can great comfort from a book by Bill Perkins entitled When Good Men Get Angry (Carole Stream, IL: Tyndale, 2009).  I have found this book useful, although ultimately, I will likely need more than this.  But, itWhenGoodMenGetAngryCover is a push in the right direction.  Maybe it will be that for you also.

In his own words, Perkins explains why he wrote this book.  Click the link on this line to read more.

The purpose of the book is to provide men with the insight needed to process and express their anger as Jesus would. With that in mind I read every book I could find on anger. I then identified the six key anger issues and provide the reader with an understanding of each of them. By using real life counseling/coaching sessions I provide the practical insight needed to understand the source of anger and how to successfully deal with it. While it’s a short book, every word is important and I think the reader will glean life-changing insights.

The book features numerous “Stories of Anger,” each with a chapter devoted to it.  The major themes of the book are:

  • identity
  • respect
  • control
  • pride
  • forgiveness
  • blessing
  • responding

One of these, on respect, is entitled “The Man Who Withheld Sex From His Wife.”  Interesting.  I really never thought about that, but I suppose it happens.  A later book he wrote is called Why Naked Women Look So Good:  Understanding a Woman’s Deepest Needs(New York:  AudioInk, 2013).  I have no idea how many copies that one has sold, but I will add it to my “read someday” list.  Should I put a book cover over it?  If you’re curious, here’s why he wrote that one, taken from

By identifying eight vital needs of a woman, and showing a husband how to meet them, Perkins provides guidance to help a man become irresistible to his wife and for living more creatively and sensitively. Chapters are organized into three parts for easy reference. The first part provides one reason why naked women look so good. The second part identifies what need this reveals in a man’s wife. And in the third part, simple steps are provided to help a man love his wife in a way that strengthens her self-image, builds her confidence and allows her to more freely give herself to her husband—both emotionally and sexually.”NakedWomenCover

Who is Bill Perkins?  I found this biography from his web site (

BillPerkinsPictureBill Perkins’s wit, insight, and penetrating stories make him a sought-after speaker for corporate and Christian groups. He has conducted business and leadership seminars across the country for companies such as Alaska Airlines and McDonald’s. Bill has appeared on nationally broadcast radio and television shows, including “The O’Reilly Factor.” He addresses men’s groups around the world and has conducted chapels for major league baseball teams.

Bill served as a senior pastor for 24 years and is the founder and CEO of Million Mighty Men. He is a graduate of the University of Texas and Dallas Theological Seminary.

Bill has authored or collaborated on 22 books, including the best selling Six Battles Every Man Must Win and When Good Men Are Tempted. He also wrote 6 Rules Every Man Must Break, the Jesus experiment, and When Good Men Get Angry. Bill coauthored the business book Give ‘Em the Pickle!,and the Handbook to Leadership.

He and his wife, Cindy, live near Portland, Oregon. They have three adult sons and two grandchildren.

Perkins sounds like a fine guy.  And, the book I am reading is neither ultra-religious, nor ultra-psychiatrist or counselor.

You will just see yourself in the stories.  Sometimes, being angry is pretty silly.

Let’s hope all of us afflicted with anger get over it.  I hope I do.  The world will be a better place.

Saturday, July 19, 2014 Posted by | Karl's blog entries | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

I’m Not a #, Nor a Girl, Nor a Boss, But Amoruso’s Path Wouldn’t Work For Me Anyway

SophiaPicture2This week, I finished reading #GIRLBOSS (New York:  Portfolio, 2014) by Sophia Amoruso, the founder and CEO of Nasty Gal. It remains a blockbuster business best-seller, with more than two months on all the major lists.  Even today, it is # 7 on the Wall Street Journal hardcover business best-seller list, and #37 on the all-book types best-seller list.

I’m not a #, nor a girl, nor a boss, but I wouldn’t want to follow this anyway. I found it to be a tired rags-to-riches story, and the book is unprofessional, laced with vulgarity and profanity, even in chapter titles.

I am unimpressed with a story about someone who bucked authority while young, ate food out of dumpsters, ran away with and from weird boyfriends, refused to take prescription medicine for treatment, shoplifted strategically, among a host of other maladies in her background.

I am glad this all worked out for her, but it is hardly a model I would want anyone else to follow. I assume that by now, people buy this out of curiosity, as she has been the topic of many magazine articles, such as Inc., and Marie Claire, and the darling of numerous internet features and interviews. As a result of this type of coverage, the book has received much publicity.GirlBossCover

The book does not offend me.  But, I choose to be offended.  It’s a free country. People can write what they want, and read what they want, and form their own views as they choose.

But, if this is how you get ahead, I want no part of it. It seems to me there are unique and even radical paths to success that don’t do it this way.  Contrast this book with other radical approaches, such as Rules for Renegades.  You quickly learn that you can be different without being offensive.

I doubt if I am alone. I perceived an astonished, rather than an appreciative or even understanding audience following its presentation at the First Friday Book Synopsis in Dallas on July 11.  When so many people asked me, “how did you select this book,” I got the sense that there was quite a bit of offense, even from an edited presentation.

The winner took the book home, but I would not have been surprised had she left it on our give-away table.  And, I understand this post may sell a few more copies.  Comments like these always inspire curiosity.  But, if you buy it, and read it, ask yourself if this is really how you would like your daughter to be successful?  And, would you trade less success in favor of a different path to get there?

Saturday, July 12, 2014 Posted by | Karl's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Braun’s Promise of a Pencil Hits All Business Best-Seller Lists

The book I present this Friday at the First Friday Book Synopsis is currently # 9 on the New York Times business best-sPromise of a Pencil Covereller list.

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.  In addition to its New York Times ranking, it has been as high as # 2 in the Wall Street Journal business best-selling list, and has come in at  #109 in total Books, and the following in specialty categories.

This is one of our two featured books at the First Friday Book Synopsis on Friday, June 6, 2014 at the Park City Club.  Registration is now open at

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.Adam Braun picture 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 launchPencils 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

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.

Promise of a Pencil Kids PictureThe picture you see to your left is of some of the children hoisting their pencils.

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 on June 6.

I will see you there!

Sunday, June 1, 2014 Posted by | Karl's blog entries | , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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