Sunday, April 1, 2012

Review: The Best Advice I Ever Got by Katie Couric

The Best Advice I Ever Got: Lessons from Extraordinary LivesWhat was the tipping point for Malcolm Gladwell? What unscripted event made Meryl Streep who she is? How did Mario Batali cook up his recipe for success? In this inspiration-packed book, Katie Couric reports from the front lines of the worlds of politics, entertainment, sports, philanthropy, the arts, and business—distilling the ingenious, hard-won insights of leaders and visionaries, who tell us all how to take chances, follow our passions, cope with criticism, and, perhaps most important, commit to something greater than ourselves. Delightful, empowering, and moving, The Best Advice I Ever Got is the perfect book for anyone who is thinking about the future, contemplating taking a risk, or daring to make a leap into the great unknown. This book is for all of us, young or old, who want to see how today’s best and brightest got it right, got it wrong, and came out on top.

I found this book while browsing the ebook offerings on my library's website and immediately thought a book of advice from successful journalists, artists, entertainers, politicians, entrepreneurs, and athletes would be interesting and informative. After all, their respective formulas worked for them, it can't hurt to find out what they are.
Some essays are very short (Twitter co-founder Biz Stone's is fittingly 140 characters long) and some are longer and filled with reminiscences but they all tell us something about the people who wrote them and in retrospect they all have the same messages: work hard, follow your heart and your dreams, stay true to yourself, don't give up, don't be afraid, don't quit, pay no attention to nay-sayers.
My favorite essays were the ones that tell a story as opposed to just throwing an idea my way. For example Bill Cosby talks about his first big break as a stand-up comedian and how he almost sabotaged his own chances at success, and Kathryn Stockett talks about going to a hotel to continue writing The Help despite all the rejections, and lying about it to her friends and family. Those are the essays that really stay with you because of how personal they are and I only wish they all were like that (no offense, Biz Stone). Another thing I wish for is that I didn't read this book as a novel, gulped it down, as it were. It is perfectly suited to reading an essay or two a day, letting the messages sink in, and should you decide to pick it up I would recommend that you take your time with it.
One thing that was very interesting for me is that while the general gist is the same for all the contributors' messages there were some differences and to me that reinforced the idea that has appealed to me for a while: the same thing doesn't work for everybody. For example Michael Bloomberg stressed the importance of coming to the office early and leaving late while another prominent gentleman (unfortunately I can't remember his name right now) talked about not dedicating all of yourself to your job and about remembering to spend time with your family because that part of life is of incredible importance.
This book is a great read, very inspiring and very motivating. If you're at a crossroads and thinking about the next step or are simply curious about how the people we see on TV and hear about on the radio got to where they are this book is for you.

1 comment:

  1. I love books like this and can’t wait to read it. Thank you for the introduction.