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The Promise of a Pencil: Finding Yourself Through the Service of Others

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4.08  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,120 Ratings  ·  431 Reviews
A Simon & Schuster eBook. Simon & Schuster has a great book for every reader.
ebook, 288 pages
Published March 1st 2014 by Scribner
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Laura Kudia
May 04, 2014 Laura Kudia rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to like this book. I really tried. But I would hardly call this a guidebook to turn your big dreams into a reality as the cover sleeve suggests. Adam was born into a family a privilege, worked carelessly (and recklessly) in a prestigious Wall Street firm, then was incredibly self-congratulatory about his project while weaving-in cliche "you can do it" mantras in each chapter.

Don't get me wrong, the organization he built is incredible, but I just could NOT connect with this author at al
...more
Joe Knowles
Jan 27, 2015 Joe Knowles rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great read. Fascinating, thought provoking and heart warming. It also achieves an extraordinary level of honesty for both the good and the bad times in Adam's life.

For me, however, it did not achieve what it seems to have set out to do. He talks about how 'anybody' can make a big change to the world, emphasising how PoP's bank account started with just $25. But, unlike his organisation's bank account, Adam's beginnings were far from modest. He was born in a wealthy area into a well connected, su
...more
Amanda
To be honest, I don't know if I liked this book or not. Don't get me wrong, I think that what Adam Braun managed to accomplish, and what he is doing with Pencils of Promise is phenomenal. But I wasn't struck by the awe that he was clearly trying to convey with his story. Mr. Braun is a very passionate, tenacious, and most of all lucky fellow. If any of these qualities would have been lacking, his project would have failed. This book tells his story, but I wouldn't call it the guidebook to person ...more
Kelley Taylor
Enh...started off great then...too much awesomeness in his tone.
I think what confused me most is the subtitle. The "ordinary guy" thing just doesn't apply. Blessed by his own admission he was raised in a pretty affluent community with great schools, he then went on to Ivy League school, graduated with three degrees, was able to intern with a hedge fund at only 19...the list goes on. Someone in rural America may/may not exactly have access to any of these opportunities due to accessibility, fina
...more
Rachel Black
Apr 13, 2014 Rachel Black rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Immensely self-congratulatory.
AE
Mar 18, 2014 AE rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I finished this riveting read in an hour, which is not something I do often. I could not put it down. Adam Braun shares his incredibly inspirational journey in a way that will make you feel as though you are right there with him, with each page you turn. You will get to know members of his family, his friends, the love of his life, his mentors and supporters and how each one of them contributed in various ways to where he is today and the creation of his for-purpose organization, Pencils Of Prom ...more
Rosie Nguyễn
Mar 29, 2016 Rosie Nguyễn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Best reading of 2016 so far. Inspiring stories from a man of action.

Young, smart, enthusiastic and passionate, Adam Braun started with an idea, then came to live his dream and changed the world. What he experienced during the journey was beyond his imagination, he made the world a better place, getting to associate with a lot of great people, doing things he loved and becoming a person he wished to be.

I like his humble and neutral way of expressing himself, not a narcissistic personality we se
...more
Liralen
I think I've figured it out: There are change-the-world memoirs that just blow you away...and then there are those that don't. What separates them is simple: the holy-moly-that-was-good books are the ones that focus on the people the author, or subject, was reaching out to. The others -- like this one -- focus on the author.

Which is to say that I have absolutely nothing against the author, or against Pencils of Promise. Would I want to do some independent research before endorsing the latter? Ye
...more
Sue
Sep 06, 2014 Sue rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Adam Braun was on an around-the-world trip while in college with the Semester at Sea Program. He had determined to ask a child in each place they visited what they wanted most in the world. It was a child in India who answered "a pencil", something Adam was able to provide and then see the child's joy that made such an impact on him and led to his founding Pencils of Promise, a non-profit which builds schools in impoverished areas of the world where they are able to garner local support.
I had
...more
Caroline
Feb 21, 2014 Caroline rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For anyone looking to feel inspired and make a difference, this is the book for you. After backpacking through more than 50 countries, Adam Braun founded the international education nonprofit Pencils of Promise with just $25. His incredible journey provides the tools and lessons that demonstrate how anyone, regardless of age, status, or location, can can create opportunity and positive change in the lives of others. "The Promise of a Pencil" is a moving story that will resonate with all and enco ...more
Susanchitter
Jan 23, 2016 Susanchitter rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When the author was abroad he would ask a child what he wanted most in the world. A child in India said "a pencil". At the age of 25 he began the organization that would transform him and the world. The author writes how he does it. Pencils of Promise is a for-purpose non-profit organizations that builds schools in Guatemala, Ghana, Laos, and Nicaragua. They don't just build a school and go, PoP trains teachers to give engaging lessons, provides scholarships to kids in need and teaches healthy l ...more
Paron Sarampakhul
Apr 29, 2014 Paron Sarampakhul rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I just started to become crazy about travelling and backpacking about one year ago. This book makes me even crazier. It gave me a new perspective. Now I want to see every country I visit through a local's eyes. It also taught me to accept that plans can change and new opportunities will suddenly present themselves while travelling. So, I should just go with the flow. Coming from Thailand and studying in Singapore, I have always taken ASEAN countries for granted. Now, instead of going to Europe o ...more
Katie
Apr 12, 2016 Katie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
UGH READING THIS WAS SO WORTH IT. JUST SHIA LABEOUF DO IT.

At certain points I was like, "Mmm your white male privilege is showing," BUT WHATEVER NO ONE IS PERFECT AMIRITE?

Note: it is first and foremost a business/career book imho. If you expect it to be about education, travel, breaking through a glass ceiling - mmm no. It's autobiographical with a entrepreneurial slant.
Matt Morgan
Feb 24, 2016 Matt Morgan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a really good book! At times, Adam comes across a little caught up in what HE has created – but by the end of the book he hits his stride in an attempt to inspire this generation to set lofty goals and go out and change the world through bringing other people joy. He’s clearly a talented dude, who lives with a ton of dedication and passion. He built an organization from the ground up. This organization not only has built hundreds of schools across the developing world, but now is instru ...more
Sumit Singla
Adam Braun is inspirational. From potentially being a corporate slave to someone making an actual difference to a broken, fragmented world, he sure has come a long way.

It cannot have been an easy journey - fighting pitched battles in the areas that he worked in, and with most friends/family against his decision, it clearly would've taken more fortitude than someone like me could muster up in a hundred years.

While I'm in awe of what Adam has done, I'm a wee bit disappointed with the book. Some po
...more
Dani
Aug 22, 2014 Dani rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Page 2 - "I wanted to be a part of something that extended far beyond my two hands and the possessions they could hold."
Page 19- "Your twenties are the time to both accept and fight your way into the person you're destined to become."
Page 101- "Sometimes you know something in your head, and other times you know it in your heart. The mind delivers logic and reason, but the heart is where faith resides. In moments of uncertainty, when you must choose between two paths, allowing yourself to be over
...more
Linda C
Adam Braun came from a family that believed in giving back and descended from Holocaust survivors. Adam was determined to make his fortune and then find a calling for philanthropy. However, through several backpacking excursions and an eventful Semester at Sea during his college years he found his purpose to be building and maintaining schools in rural poverty stricken areas. He went to work for a prestigious consulting firm and temporarily got sidetracked into the good life. But when his inner ...more
Phạm Vân Trang
Đọc tựa đề cũng như giới thiệu của cuốn sách thì nghĩ rằng cuốn sách sẽ nói về những câu chuyện cảm động về cuộc sống của những đứa trẻ đã thay đổi như thế nào khi nhận được nền giáo dục mà chưa từng được nhận trước đó.
Nhưng cuốn sách lại tiếp cận theo 1 hướng rất khác, do chính nhà sáng lập Pencil of Promises (PoP) kể về quá trình thành lập (thậm chí trước đó nữa, để hiểu được tại sao Adam Braun-nhà sáng lập lại có quyết định thành lập PoP) và quá trình phát triển PoP: từ việc đấu tranh giữa vi
...more
Eryca Borders
The book was an easy read, and brought a good lesson across. It was an OK book but I wouldn't read it again. In the book “The Promise of a Pencil” by Adam Braun the book revolves around the story of how an ordinary man made a big difference based on a simple request for a pencil. While on his journey to become successful Adam began working at Hedge Funds during the summer at the age of sixteen. During his college career Adam met a boy in India begging, and when the boy was asked what he wanted, ...more
Disha
Aug 29, 2015 Disha rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Adam Braun, a sixteen year old with a successful Wall Street career was working with Bain consulting when he met a young boy begging on the streets of India and simply asked what the child wanted the most in the world. An innocent reply, "A pencil" led Adam to leave everything behind to fulfil his promise to this child. Braun has since gone on to open 250+ community schools across Asia, Africa and Latin America.

It is hard to say whether Adam's story moves you more or his story telling style. Wha
...more
Rakendra Thapa
Jul 27, 2014 Rakendra Thapa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely inspiring story of young entrepreneur. Thoroughly enjoyed the journey of this young man who is doing so much to give back to the society. Well just read it from the perspective of inspiration rather than a guide itself.
In all loved the book. It was quite a refreshing read.
Lexi
Sep 08, 2014 Lexi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think this book was very inspiring. I think this because the author is telling you reach for your dreams, anything is possible. Even for an average person like you and I. When I think of that I look at it in a different perspective. I look at it as sports. My dream is to go to college for basketball. I’m now realizing that it is going to take multiple steps throughout my life to create the big picture. I think Adam Braun did a good job getting his point across to the readers. I agree with the ...more
Susan Olesen
Braun had it all - the childhood in Greenwich, the expensive education, the dream job on Wall Street - and walked away at the age of 23 to found a non-profit, Pencils of Promise, building schools in the world's most impoverished nations. Where my town spends $10,000 *per pupil*, $10,000 overseas builds an entire school. And the people are so incredibly grateful.

Braun chronicles how the idea came to him and how he went about growing his organization, mostly through word of mouth and networking. I
...more
Laura Waxman
Jul 25, 2014 Laura Waxman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. well written.keeps you interested. inspires you to move outside your comfort zone and help change the world. absolutely worth the read!
Liz
Oct 09, 2015 Liz rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm torn about this book. Adam Braun is a former hedge fund worker and entrepreneur who chanelled his energy, productivity, connections, and resources into building schools in developing nations for extremely poor communities. First of all, as many reviewers have noted, Adam is not an "ordinary person". As an ordinary person who has been in the international development field for over 10 years, it is frustrating to hear someone from a wealthy background who had hedge-fund connections at 19 say " ...more
Sonia Kantak
Aug 31, 2015 Sonia Kantak rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Promise of a Pencil was an incredibly uplifting read. In his story, Adam Braun chronicles, through the good and the bad, how his for-purpose organization matured at a rapid rate to take on the education sector of the third world countries. A lot of the reviews below touch upon Braun being "incredibly privileged" and "lucky" in his endeavors. And while I do not think he was an ordinary person, as the title describes, I wouldn't chalk up his organization to luck. It is an unfair justification ...more
Rachel B
Feb 09, 2015 Rachel B rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
After I first finished this book, I thought I would give it 4 stars. But after I mulled it over more and more, I liked it less and less.

It was interesting, and the pace was right - it kept me turning the pages, which is always a good thing.

What I dislike is that the book is at odds with its subtitle: "How an ordinary person can create extraordinary change". The author, Adam Braun, is not ordinary. He was born into a wealthy family, with many wealthy friends, lives in NYC (the good part, I imagin
...more
Sarah
Dec 01, 2014 Sarah rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I am impressed by the work this group does, and glad to hear of their success, and I hate to take away from that by giving the book a poor review. I will also confess that I did not make it to the end of this audio book.

But, I did not enjoy this book. Many other reviewers stated my feelings on this book, such as it's overly self-congratulatory tone, how Adam's life is anything but "ordinary" (he has amazing personal drive, great social connections and personal financial security), how lucky he i
...more
Nivedita Sankar
Jul 09, 2014 Nivedita Sankar rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's marketed misleadingly, but I can forgive that because I forgot the subtitle as I was reading it –and the more I think about it, the more inappropriate the subtitle seems for the book (the author isn't quite ordinary, he's actively pursued by luck and happenstance). Nevertheless, there were moments that brought me to tears at the beginning of the book, and it has served as a call to action (as Braun says, the single most wasted resource is human intention) and, perhaps too cynically, a marke ...more
Liz
May 31, 2014 Liz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Won this in a first-reads giveaway. I found the first half of this book very inspiring. I admire Braun's drive and willingness to take risks for what he believed in. The beginning of his journey to learn more about the world and start Pencils for Promise was interesting and motivating.

The second half of the book got a bit dull for me, with lots of name-dropping and self-congratulation. Pencils of Promise appears to have done great work, but Braun did not succeed alone. Parts of the second half
...more
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“The single most powerful element of youth is that you don't have the life experiences to know what can't be done.” 13 likes
“Most of all, I'll remind them each morning that we make a choice to bring positivity or negativity into the world, and that within every single person where lies an extraordinary story waiting to unfold.” 13 likes
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