by Josh Painter ‧ RELEASE DATE: Nov. 29, 2022
An accessible, heartfelt, albeit not exactly groundbreaking, blueprint for meeting one’s own life goals.
A down-to-earth guide to self-empowerment.
Painter opens his book with an affecting portrait of his own past. Instead of crafting the standard motivational backstory of someone destined from the cradle for glory, he describes a life of bottoming out and engaging in the kinds of personal and professional compromises that many of his readers will immediately recognize: “I rented apartments, bought a house, took on debt, and got credit cards because I thought that was what you were supposed to do,” he writes. “I was a young guy trying to support a family without a thought about doing something I’d really love.” In 2008, his house was foreclosed, he filed for bankruptcy, he got a divorce, and he was living in a two-bedroom apartment and sleeping on the couch so his two children could have bedrooms of their own. At 26, he realized he was not remotely where he wanted to be. He left his job as a corrections officer and went into mortgage loans, and in time, with a lot of hard work, he started becoming what he hopes his readers will also become: the “Best Version Ever” of themselves. He lays out five key features of that path: Mindset (“how to shift your thinking from negative to positive so you will be open to new possibilities”), Aim (identifying specific goals), Gameplan (“how to create a schedule that allows you to gain momentum toward short- and long-term goals”), Immersion (commitment and “continual learning”), and Consistency (“how to develop lifelong habits that will make your changes sustainable”). While elaborating on these key concepts, each of his chapters contains some “Take Action” suggestions for real-world implementation of those concepts and also “Affirmations” to carry them to the next concept.
Painter’s tactic of laying bare his own vulnerability is a wise one. It grounds the more theoretical bulk of his book within human realities and frailties. This is all the more important because of the immediately recognizable, which is to say clichéd, drift of many of his points and urgings. “Hope is not a strategy,” he writes in one of many such passages. “If you want to become your Best Version Ever, you have to make the time to brainstorm and narrow down your goals.” To put it mildly, readers of self-help or motivational literature will have encountered such content before, so it’s fortunate that Painter adds so many personal notes of authenticity to make these tips feel more genuine. He also very effectively and frequently reminds readers that to achieve clarity, one must maintain a sense of perspective. He recommends that people imagine themselves five years in the future (and by extension, remember where they were five years ago)—a familiar exercise in motivational circles. Another common motivational concept is his suggested use of an imagery of a video game controller or movie director: “Imagine your future unfolding before you, like watching an actor on a movie screen,” he writes. “Imagine you have a remote control in your hand to fast forward, rewind, or pause if you like.” He counteracts the pat nature of much of his advice by consistently coming across as somebody who’s lived his way to such insights.An accessible, heartfelt, albeit not exactly groundbreaking, blueprint for meeting one’s own life goals.
Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2022
Page Count: 167
Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2022
Review Program: Kirkus Indie
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by Jonah Berger ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 7, 2023
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
Page Count: 256
Publisher: Harper Business
Review Posted Online: March 23, 2023
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2023
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by Matthew McConaughey ‧ RELEASE DATE: Oct. 20, 2020
A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.
Awards & Accolades
New York Times Bestseller
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
Page Count: 304
Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020
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