Book Review No.01: Thrive, Promise of a Pencil, and A Path Appears

First on the list is this book, Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Happier Life.  This book was all over the place and I'll save you the trouble of reading it by summarizing it here for you (really this book could have been condensed into an article).  First off, the first 2 metrics to define success are money and power.  And this third metric is actually 4 things: 

Well-being (exercise, diet, sleep, digital detox), Wisdom (mindfulness), Wonder (gratitude and awe), and Giving.  Yep, that's the whole book in a sentence.  But I do agree with her in that these things are important and more important than money or power as long as you have a sustainable level of income.  I mean if you're feeling good (well-being), are grateful with everyday things (wonder/wisdom), and are giving yourself to others then how can you not feel at least somewhat fulfilled?

Next was this book.  I picked it up because it was on the NYT bestseller list and it went hand-in-hand with Huffington's book, since she ends with Giving and this is all about giving.  It's about a privileged and smart young man (I don't know if you can count his life as ordinary, more like blessed) who left his well-paying job at Bain to build schools in Laos, and along the way got Justin Bieber to promote his charity because Adam's brother was Bieber's manager.  The book itself wasn't a great read, but I guess that's what happens when you write a life story before you're 30.  He goes on for chapters about college life, the interview process for top management firms, the acceptance of the offer and then all the bad work and the miserable time he had at Bain, which spanned maybe 2 years of his life.  But I do give him credit for starting a non-profit and then really having it take off using mostly social media promotion.  And it got me to check out their website and make a donation so guess the book did it's job!

This was by far my most favorite book of the bunch.  Written by 2 NYT writers, and also on the NYT best seller list, they take a thorough look at the non-profit world.  The argue both sides of the story and even show some of the unflattering sides of non-profits.  The most valuable lesson I learned from this book (just to distill it and keep it short, but really go out and read this book!):  charity evaluators like Charity Navigator are not always the best guides when evaluating a non-profit because they base a lot of their review on numbers (administration costs, marketing/fundraising costs, i.e. overhead costs).  But just because a charity group spends a large portion of donated money on their staff and marketing doesn't make them a bad program.  The book highlights the case of Dan Pallotta who raised millions by founding and coordinating the AIDS rides, but also paid himself and his staff well.  Most people grew disenchanted with the organization after learning about their salaries (claimed they were profiteering from their charity work), but at the same time the book makes a good point: how are you supposed to be a top-notch organization and keep all the best people if you don't pay them well for their valuable work?  Here he talks about it best in his own words:

Dan Palotta TED talk