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CULTIVATING CHANGE FROM THE INSIDE OUT

THE POWER OF BEING HUMAN

A detailed, uplifting, if idealistic, approach toward finding fulfillment in life.

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A professional life coach blends her story with tips for others seeking self-improvement.

As an author of multiple self-help books, regional vice president for the U.S. Coalition of Black Women Businesses, self-made entrepreneur, and scientist, Russell is clearly very successful. In this book, she blends memoir with self-help as she guides others toward achieving their own dreams. With an emphasis on “vertically digging” within oneself (as opposed to “horizontally” amassing a list of “résumé-defined experiences” and qualifications that may not even lead to self-fulfillment), Russell’s signature “SOAR” concept encourages readers to “Step Out and Redesign” their lives on their own terms. Autobiographical sections range from inspirational, e.g., she describes her successful career in leadership, research, and development for a major pharmaceutical company, to relatable, such as when she faced financial difficulties that threatened to cut short her daughter’s senior year of college. As a devout Christian, the author’s personal story and advice lean heavily on the importance of faith and prayer. She cites God’s direct intervention in her own life, and Bible verses and inspirational quotes from religious figures occur throughout. Written during the 2020 protests against racial injustice in the wake of George Floyd’s death, the book does not shy away from issues of racism. The author notes her own experiences with prejudice and her resistance to corporate and societal “back-of-the-line expectations” that threatened to turn her into a “powerless, unrecognizable version” of herself. While not ignoring harsh realities of life in America, Russell is relentlessly optimistic about herself, God, and her readers, and she writes in a relatable, motivational tone indicative of a seasoned life coach. Charts, tables, and catchy acronyms abound and reinforce her strategies to “nurture, grow, and empower your life.” While self-empowerment rhetoric may be a bit heavy-handed for some, and the fervent Christian messages may alienate others, no one can deny the inspiration led by example in Russell’s own life.

A detailed, uplifting, if idealistic, approach toward finding fulfillment in life. (acknowledgements, author bio, references)

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 151

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: March 19, 2021

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MAGIC WORDS

WHAT TO SAY TO GET YOUR WAY

Perhaps not magic but appealing nonetheless.

Want to get ahead in business? Consult a dictionary.

By Wharton School professor Berger’s account, much of the art of persuasion lies in the art of choosing the right word. Want to jump ahead of others waiting in line to use a photocopy machine, even if they’re grizzled New Yorkers? Throw a because into the equation (“Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine, because I’m in a rush?”), and you’re likely to get your way. Want someone to do your copying for you? Then change your verbs to nouns: not “Can you help me?” but “Can you be a helper?” As Berger notes, there’s a subtle psychological shift at play when a person becomes not a mere instrument in helping but instead acquires an identity as a helper. It’s the little things, one supposes, and the author offers some interesting strategies that eager readers will want to try out. Instead of alienating a listener with the omniscient should, as in “You should do this,” try could instead: “Well, you could…” induces all concerned “to recognize that there might be other possibilities.” Berger’s counsel that one should use abstractions contradicts his admonition to use concrete language, and it doesn’t help matters to say that each is appropriate to a particular situation, while grammarians will wince at his suggestion that a nerve-calming exercise to “try talking to yourself in the third person (‘You can do it!’)” in fact invokes the second person. Still, there are plenty of useful insights, particularly for students of advertising and public speaking. It’s intriguing to note that appeals to God are less effective in securing a loan than a simple affirmative such as “I pay all bills…on time”), and it’s helpful to keep in mind that “the right words used at the right time can have immense power.”

Perhaps not magic but appealing nonetheless.

Pub Date: March 7, 2023

ISBN: 9780063204935

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Harper Business

Review Posted Online: March 23, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2023

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GREENLIGHTS

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

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All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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