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A charming, engaging, and uplifting motivational book.

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The inspirational behind-the-scenes story of a social service entrepreneur.

In many ways, Piturro’s debut memoir is emblematic of the American dream. Her father was an Italian immigrant, and her mother was the daughter of an Italian immigrant, and as an adult, the author worked part-time, attended college, and embarked on a successful career as a television marketing executive. Then one day, Piturro wondered if she was truly living the life she wanted, and it seemed to her that she had “missed something.” Although she had a warm relationship with her siblings’ kids, she had none of her own, and this led to “a growing need to connect with more children.” She began to read books to homeless kids at a local shelter, and this led her to her true calling. In this book, she traces the origins of the Pajama Program, a nonprofit organization she created two decades ago that provides books and pajamas to needy children through 63 volunteer-run chapters in the United States. It also provides similar services to youngsters in more than 25 other countries. Piturro straightforwardly reveals the trials and tribulations she faced while starting the nonprofit—including leaving her old career, investing thousands of dollars of her own money, and dealing with the resulting stress on her marriage. These personal sections are among the book’s strongest, as Piturro effectively shows how she rose above challenges and overcame obstacles with the help of others. In fact, she says that one of the biggest lessons she learned was that “the power of one doesn’t hold much weight. That’s because it’s really the power of one-ANOTHER that gets the job done.”

Piturro’s story unfolds chronologically, with wise observations about leadership interspersed throughout—axioms she calls “The Heart of the Matter.” These tips are always pithy and salient; for example, here’s how she explains her advice to “Put your money where your heart-voice is”: “When you spend money, time, energy, and resources on something that brings you joy, the price will feel small compared to what you get in return.” It’s easy to get caught up in the author’s emotions as she tells of the joy she’s brought to children by simply presenting them with new pajamas. Pajamas, in fact, are a recurring metaphor; at one point, for instance, she urges the reader to “Find your pajamas!” and suggests that “Your purpose can show up anywhere, anytime, at any age. It can change your career, your work relationships, your personal life, or all of it!” There are plenty of stirring anecdotes, and one particularly notable recollection describes Piturro’s 2007 appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show, during which the celebrity host unveiled a wonderful surprise. Some readers may find Piturro’s prose style a bit too effusive at times, but her passion is undeniable, and she relates her life lessons with memorable imagery, as when she notes how the name “Pajama Program” came to her “like an invisible raindrop ‘plopped’ onto the top of my head.”

A charming, engaging, and uplifting motivational book.

Pub Date: July 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-63299-290-1

Page Count: 202

Publisher: River Grove Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 14, 2021

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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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Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...

A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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