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Springboard: Launching Your Personal Search for Success

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From the creator of the popular Success Course at the Wharton School of Business
Finding your own true measure of success begins with two essential questions: Who am I? What will I do with my life? The answers can’t come from the outside. You have to search your heart and engage these questions honestly to discover insights that go far beyond conventional notions of fame, fortune, and happiness.
Award-winning author and Wharton School professor G. Richard Shell challenges readers to set aside the preconceived definitions of success promoted by society, schools, family, and the media. Then he helps readers replace these old definitions with aspirations based on their unique values, talents, personalities, and motivations. Along the way he shares inspiring stories of others who defined success for themselves.
Take a chance. Do what you were meant to do.

320 pages, Hardcover

First published August 13, 2013

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About the author

G. Richard Shell

15 books70 followers
G. Richard Shell is the Thomas Gerrity Professor of Legal Studies, Business Ethics, and Management at the Wharton School of Business. His latest book, The Conscience Code: Lead with Your Values. Advance Your Career, is the essential guide to creating and maintaining ethical, speak-up cultures at work. His Springboard: Launching Your Personal Search for Success (Penguin/Portfolio 2013), was named Business Book of Year for 2013 by the largest business bookseller in the United States. Shell is the Director of Wharton’s Executive Negotiation Workshop and its Strategic Persuasion Workshop and has taught everyone from Navy SEALs, UN diplomats, and Fortune 500 CEOs to FBI hostage negotiators, emergency room nurses, and front-line public school teachers. His earlier works include the award-winning Bargaining for Advantage: Negotiation Strategies for Reasonable People (2nd Edition, Penguin 2006)and (with co-author Mario Moussa) The Art of Woo: Using Strategic Persuasion to Sell Your Ideas (Portfolio/Penguin 2007). His books have sold over 500,000 copies and are available in over seventeen languages.

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5 stars
180 (32%)
4 stars
220 (39%)
3 stars
116 (20%)
2 stars
32 (5%)
1 star
7 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 37 reviews
Profile Image for Elle (ellexamines).
1,084 reviews17.5k followers
January 3, 2022
Though I will admit to generally being skeptical of the self-help book industry, Springboard is a solid self-help book with some interesting exercises. I read this as a required book for a summer funding program, but genuinely enjoyed it immensely. I particularly enjoyed the exercise in Defining Success; it genuinely helped me pinpoint some values that I think will impact what I end up choosing as a career. The “Levels of Confidence & Legacies” exercises also stuck out to me as helping me figure out further details of my background. I've kept my notes from this summer and returned to them a few times, which has been lovely.

Interestingly enough, I also wrote down that I was concerned about some of my friendships in one of my responses to these exercises, approximately three weeks before the two friendships I was referring to broke down in an almost comically horrific way. So… self help really does work for realizing your deeper mindset! Next time I write about one of my friends in a self-help assessment, though, I think I’m going to run for the hills.

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Profile Image for Jono Smith.
3 reviews3 followers
September 17, 2013
The whole genre of career success literature and trendy business books usually leaves me rushing back to fiction, but I found Springboard to be a very thoughtful, common sense guide to defining success, assessing your unique skills, and getting on a path to finding meaningful work. Perhaps because the author did not start his academic career until he was 37 and spent most of his 20s unemployed, the book has a refreshing honesty and credibility that most "business books" lack. I'd highly recommend the book to anyone in a job or academic transition--it's a useful meditation on pointing yourself in the right direction.
Profile Image for Ying Ying.
272 reviews112 followers
February 12, 2020
Reading this book by Prof. Shell made me feel as if I were back in his classroom, this time learning about personal success. Prof. Shell always offers great stories and invites us to think about important and life-defining topics like nobody else can. In this book, he invites us to define what our own personal success means and how we could reach it. Starting from Chapter one and ending with his last sentence, I kept on discovering new aspects about myself. For anyone exploring the path forward, I would highly recommend this book.
Profile Image for Soundview Executive Book Summaries.
232 reviews28 followers
February 6, 2014
Springboard: Launching Your Personal Search for Success by G. Richard Shell was chosen by Soundview Executive Book Summaries as one of the Top 30 Business Books of 2014.


There are far too many business books in today’s market that encourage (or even order) you to abandon your current position and follow your dream. The majority of these books are high on philosophy and low on practicality. As Wharton School professor G. Richard Shell suggests in his book Springboard: Launching Your Personal Search for SUCCESS, “Where is the road map to help you discover what that dream is?” Fortunately, Shell takes the step that all too many authors neglect by providing a more methodical way to discover and pursue your dream. Springboard is now available as a Soundview Executive Book Summary.

The key to finding your own path to success, according to Shell, is to consider two questions: “What, for me, is success?” and “How will I achieve it?” Shell provides interesting perspectives to help readers reveal their own answers to these critical questions. One of the more fascinating methods he describes is the Six Lives Exercise. Individuals read six biographical sketches of people in various professions then rank the people from most to least successful. It can be a revelation to some professionals who verbally offer praise for professions like teachers or athletes but hold those same individuals in lesser regard when contemplating the definition of success.

Shell helps readers reach a new level of understanding by suggesting that success is rooted in meaningful work. He provides seven foundations for this idea (that form the acronym PERFECT) and encourages readers by reminding them, “the distance between a job or career and ‘meaningful work’ is often shorter than you think.” The latter half of Shell’s book is devoted to the tools required to help you achieve your vision of success.

Unlike many of his contemporaries, Shell is not suggesting that readers try to replicate his own path to happiness. Springboard is to books what the idea of success is to its readers, completely unique.

Soundview's 8-page Executive Book Summary of Springboard is available here.
Profile Image for Bill.
56 reviews
October 25, 2013
Shell's 'Springboard' successfully gives you a foundation to understand what is important to you and how to move toward being more happy.

Please don't shy away from it in fear that it might be just a trite self-help book. Far from it. In fact, if anything, it leans in the opposite direction -- challenging and academically thorough, it at times seems an erudite taxonomy -- but it consistently sets you down a path of thinking promising for insights on how to get your life together.

I recommend it - not for any snap answers - but for a well considered sounding board, helpful to you in making your life more satisfying for the long haul.
Profile Image for JY Tan .
106 reviews12 followers
July 30, 2018
This is the most thoughtful book on success I have read. It has very smooth progression and flow, critical and reasonable about conventional notions of success, cites and interprets scientific literature correctly, highly interesting stories, and actually full of pragmatic exercises and principles. The whole reading process actually feels like a live conversation with a real professor.
Profile Image for Susan.
604 reviews
October 29, 2014
Perhaps I just didn't come across this one at the right time. Too many words for what the author had to say.
282 reviews3 followers
July 11, 2018
Read mostly during my commutes to work. Shell starts the book writing about his own past and the real (gritty) details of his 20s of travelling. I almost stopped reading it - it's interesting but it didn't become gripping until the subsequent chapters. Definitely glad I kept reading: this book resonates with my current journey changing careers to become a teacher and how "professors are able to create, not just follow, their passions".

Favourite quotes:

"I learned that success is not a place."

"The raw materials for success are tucked away inside you and your next big goal is probably within arm's reach — if only you have the clarity of mind to see it."

"By investigating the meaning of success, you begin the lifelong process of deciding what is worth doing."

"I have found that people who motivate themselves through a combination of seeking both inner satisfaction and outer rewards can often stay with a single task longer and get a stronger sense of having 'succeeded' than those who rely on only one or the other."

"I have often wondered how it is that every man loves himself more than all the rest of men, yet sets more value on others' opinions than on his own." ~ Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Look at success in terms of your input, not the outcome.

"Deliberate practice is when you take well-defined, appropriately difficult aspects of your art, practice them, get informed feedback, and seek opportunities for repetition and correction of errors."

"To engage the powers of your subconscious mind, you need to frame a good problem, load up on data related to it, and then trust your intuitive powers to start coming up with ideas."

"To improve at anything, you must learn to fail."

"With the right kind of confidence, the world becomes a classroom for learning more about the things that interest you most."
9 reviews
February 3, 2021
You can learn so much from this book. I cant express the abundance of notes and small practical pieces of advice that I have written down. To sum it up, the book is broken into two parts, each with their own respective subsets:
1) What is success?
A. Balance the two sides of success⚖️
B. Define happiness for yourself😁
C. Gain perspective on your family and your cultural beliefs🧫
D. Seek meaningful work 💪
2) how will I achieve success?
A. Look inside to find your unique combination capabilities👨‍🎨
B. Cultivate self confidence😎
C. Focus the powers of your mind to achieve long term goals.🧘
D. Energize yourself by combining satisfaction-based and reward-based motivations ⚡️
E. Engage others-Exercise influence👯‍♀️
Profile Image for Thao Nguyen.
10 reviews2 followers
March 29, 2021
The book first explored the concept of success, to each of one own has their own definition, then offered guidances to achieve them. In contrary with my initial assumption that the book would contain such tips like working diligently or improve communication skills in order to be successful at a specific aspect like business, Shell actually went further and offered a deeper and more insightful view of success. As the page flipped, I got to know myself better about what I’ve truly wanted in life, and a vague path that will take me to achieve it.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
466 reviews
December 31, 2017
I am a firm believer that "begun is half done." This book provides the 'begun.' It is like every other self-help, self-motivation book in terms of speaking to wants and desires. But it is superior to many in that it offers workable and concise outlines of how to get organized, how to refine goals, and how to keep going when you "donwanna." The time it takes to get ready will not exhaust all the available time to devote to the goals.

A perfect book for the new year.
9 reviews
August 16, 2021
Wow! What an amazing book! I loved it. This book has encouraged me to continue to chase my dreams of being a better Analyst. Now I have the encouragement to better myself and learn more of Analytical programs; programs which I was intimidated of before. I rate this book a five out of five! Every professional needs to read this book. It is a bit of a tough read if you do all the suggested tasks. It should take you about two weeks to read the book.
Profile Image for Carol.
533 reviews4 followers
August 28, 2022
It took me awhile to get through this book - nothing to do with the topic, but more because I read these types of inspirational and reflective books when I am on a plane traveling for work, and that came to an abrupt stop. I highlighted a lot in ant book and I will be going back through a second time. I felt this was a stand out on the genre of “finding the intersection of career and meaning in life” with practical exercises along the way. Recommended reading.
1 review
May 10, 2018
Excellent guide to determine your personal definition of success

The author leads readers on a guided tour of personal discovery through this book. If used fully, this book serves as a guide, workbook, and journal to explore success. It had me asking hard questions about how I personally define success and has already helped me shape the life I want to lead.
1,979 reviews47 followers
June 12, 2019
The best part of this book is really the Six Lives Exercise and is the most thought-provoking part.

The rest is the usual "how to find yourself" - though I did like that there were exercises at every part of the book.

3.5 stars - I think this is among the better business books for "finding success/finding yourself".
75 reviews3 followers
August 7, 2019
No matter where you are in your career, this is an excellent book to help you figure out what your best life looks like. Success often means a high salary with a fancy title, but in this book, Shell challenges you to expand your definition of success. Highly recommend this to anyone who is looking at either a career change or just to delve deeper into self-understanding.
Profile Image for Patty.
378 reviews10 followers
May 27, 2019
This book had a lot of good info in it and I was really hopeful it would help me figure out what to do next with my life. It got really close. But it missed. Even so, as far as self-help goes, it was pretty good.
Profile Image for An Nisaa Gettar.
21 reviews1 follower
September 9, 2017
my faves part of this book are topics about momentary happiness and meaningful work. a complete review hopefully will be posted on my Tumblr site soon.
Profile Image for Hari Kumar.
108 reviews
March 4, 2019
Rating solely because the author is my professor, but I didn’t want to seem like too much of a kiss-ass
Profile Image for Sylvia.
8 reviews
May 17, 2019
A good read. Author was so humble and genuine. A good exploration of what success is to you and some tips on how to find it.
Profile Image for Siya.
Author 1 book5 followers
January 3, 2022
Great name 😋 — alright book. Reads like a long research report given the frameworks the author develops mostly depend on secondary research.
Profile Image for Jack Reid.
243 reviews10 followers
March 28, 2021
Most popular business books are glorified blog posts. They're designed for consumption on a one-way flight between LAX and NYC. And they tackle narrow topics.

By contrast, Springboard is a guidebook for helping readers answer two fundamental questions:

1. What is success?
2. How will I achieve it?

As a Wharton professor, Shell's approach is data-driven and scientific. The topical bibliography is 30x the size of a typical business book. And the organization and writing style is stellar. I slowed my pace to a chapter a day to give myself time to mull the ideas presented.

Perhaps I enjoyed Springboard so much because I'm at a crossroads in my career. Before heading back to graduate school, I worked in finance and needed to decide which path I wanted to take after graduation. Springboard holds a special place in my library because it guided me through the discovery process. I ended up switching my career path after reading this book. If you're in the right place and ready to discover yourself, it is that powerful.

If you're only reading the reviews and looking for guidance, I offer Shell's main takeaway. Find the intersection of what interests you, what you're good at, and what they'll pay for you. If you find that sweet spot, you're going to do just fine.
Profile Image for Sean.
157 reviews32 followers
December 2, 2013
Shell provides an insightful look into the drivers of success. He suggests that readers look inward, channel their passions and competencies into meaningful work, and seek sources of confidence to inspire them toward a holistic, successful life. I read this book with interest as Shell referenced work from psychology, sociology, and the classics to augment his arguments. The book also highlights the importance of goal-setting and following up with successful implementation. Overall, I recommend this book and think it provides utility for the reader searching for personal success.
Profile Image for James Barr.
142 reviews1 follower
April 7, 2014
This book is the product of many years of carful thought and teaching on the subject of success. It is well worth the read. The bood addresses two questions: (1) What is success? (2) How do you achieve success? It truely provides a springboard toward success for younger people who have not yet learned the foundational lessons in this book, and it provides a reminder and encouragement to older people to live life with purpose and energy.
Profile Image for Deb.
40 reviews
November 8, 2013
This was a very thought-provoking and inspirational book. I'm not big on self-help type books, and prefer that they be filled with lots of stories that both elucidate and inspire, and this did not disappoint. I'm sure it's no substitute for the course, but it certainly got me thinking!
Profile Image for Willis Roberts.
5 reviews1 follower
July 27, 2014
May have opened more doors than I realize right at this moment. EXTENSIVE research and experience placed in the book, if you want to take advantage of time you feel you've been wasting, read this book! Thank you Richard Shell
Displaying 1 - 30 of 37 reviews

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