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Make the Impossible Possible: One Man's Crusade to Inspire Others to Dream Bigger and Achieve the Extraordinary

3.9  ·  Rating details ·  384 Ratings  ·  77 Reviews
Bill Strickland has spend the past thirty years transforming the lives of thousands of people through Manchester Bidwell, the jobs training center and community arts program he founded in Pittsburgh.  Working with corporations, community leaders, and schools, he and his staff strive to give disadvantaged kids and adults the opportunities and tools they need to envision and ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published October 20th 2009 by Crown Business (first published January 1st 2007)
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Feb 15, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Make the Impossible Possible is at its best when it tells the story of author Bill Strickland, his Manchester Bidwell Corporation and its development, and the people affected by the project. Following the arc of his life from childhood to CEO is interesting, and its genuinely exciting to read about the connections he makes with companies who come to invest in Machester Bidwell. Every story of a child who escapes the ghetto through art or adult who turns their life around through a Bidwell traini ...more
May 13, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An inspring account of one man's desire to create places of inspiration in inner city Pittsburgh and combining those with arts, music, and job training centers to give people who are "poor" a passion in their lives and to give them skills and a meaning for their lives to get them out of "poverty."
Chris Miller
Interesting read about a guy that finds ways to develop himself and others around him by finding different ways to overcome obstacles. If you are a dreamer or visionary, or think you are, then this is a good book for you. Bill highlights the power of making your visions come true, but also shows some of the obstacles that occurred along the way to realizing several of his visions. There are some interesting points that he makes in this book, as well as some good examples for people wanting to im ...more
Aug 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Inspriring, great read
Yoshimasa Ono
Read in Japanese.

Learned the importance of art and a few more things.

The book should be simpler and thinner.
Jul 16, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition - I received a recommendation for this book a couple years ago after someone read my review of Three Cups of Tea. For some reason, I found the title and the cover of this book off-putting. It made me assume that it would be a self-help book full of instructions on how to lead a better more productive life. But, eventually I brought myself around to it, and I am so glad that I did. Bill Strickland grew up in a lower-class neighborhood outside of Pittsburgh. His chi ...more
Oct 14, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: work-related
My boss recommended that I read Strickland's book, about a man who helps underserved communities in Pittsburgh grow orchids. Of course, the book is only partially about orchids. It's really about a man who was lucky enough to find his passion early in his life and found a way to make all of his passions into reality.

As I read the first few chapters, I thought this book was the kind of gift I would give to lots of different friends and make it a necessary read for the interns at work. I learned a
Sarah Beth
Mar 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is the fourth (and hopefully the last for a while) book that I was required to read for work. I highly enjoyed this book, which largely centers on the author's personal journey towards success and inspiration, and his philosophy for how to approach life. It's hard not to be inspired by Strickland's story of coming from poverty and the ghetto and deciding to stay there and make a difference for other children living in poverty. It's little wonder that he has received national recognition, si ...more
Feb 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was lucky to see Bill Strickland speak in person several months ago, giving the slide presentation he describes at the start of this book. His presentation was riveting for the same reason that this book was - it's incredible what this man has accomplished, especially given the barriers he faced starting out in life. I was blown away by his talk, and in this book he lays out how he put together each piece of his school in Pittsburgh and explains the philosophy he has developed along the way.

Dec 29, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the story of how a man from Manchester, PA, a forgotten poverty ridden area close to York and Pittsburgh, turned his life around when a high school ceramics teacher turned him onto throwing pots and listening to jazz. Bill Strickland went on to college, but more importantly, to begin a program for other students with his objective being to inspire them as he had been inspired. His school has grown into a premier project of one man's belief in the need for the human spirit to be surrounde ...more
Feb 06, 2010 rated it liked it
I don't know how to rate this with stars. It was poorly written, repetitious. But it was inspiring. I am passing it around to people, the story of Bill Strickland's work to create something wonderful in a ghetto, using the arts, job-training programs, partnerships, and his own personal enthusiasms. I especially liked this remarkable man's notion of how you follow the route that your life seems to want to follow. You must listen closely to those moments that make you feel good, when you forget ev ...more
Jan 20, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of two books I have just read that are very similar. (The other was Leaving Microsoft to Change the World.) This was a autobiographical book about a guy who grew up very poor in Pittsburgh and ended up building a multi-million dollar educational facility in the city many years later. The book is about the story of his life and very much about his philosophy of life. Sometimes while reading this I could barely believe it - is this how his life really happened? The coincidences and opp ...more
Toby Brennen
Sep 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Maybe because of where I am at currently in my life, my search for meaning, Bill Strickland's "Make the Impossible Possible" may be the best book I've ever read. Bill tells his story simply and somewhat straight forward. There is no complex language, or writers ploys to engage the reader. They aren't needed. If you have ever felt like you were searching for something but not sure what it may be, this book may give you an idea - not what to look for, or even how to go about it - but how to recogn ...more
Teri Peterson
Sep 29, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is part memoir, part self help, part inspiration. I enjoyed reading Strickland's story, and loved some of the principles he put into action both in his life and in the centers he runs. The core idea of treating people as human beings, giving even the "underprivileged" a beautiful space that reminds them that they are valuable, etc...I love it. There were moments when the book was a little preachy, but I think that's part of telling his story.

I also suspect that reading this book throug
Sep 01, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Didn't know what to expect when I started this book, but was pleasantly surprised as I finished it rather quickly and took a lot from it.

Mr. Strickland is an inspiring man, but I didn't get the entire picture of who he was, just what he did. As I read the book, I started to imagine him collaborating with Mr. Rogers (due to their Pittsburgh connection) and sure enough, they did make a wonderful connection.

The biggest take-away wasn't that as a motivation, but it was to get a better understandin
Kirk Plankey
Apr 27, 2012 rated it it was ok
This book if part of my communities "Fox Cities Reads 2012" program so I am giving it a go. Not a hard read so far and enoyable so far into chapter 3, I'll see how strong it continues and finishes.


Well I finished, barely. And another typical "motivational" book. Nothing new here unless you are interested in Mr. Stricklands point of view on the "motivational universe". I think the book should be sub-titled "Get the local, state and federal governments as well as the really rich to give
May 15, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I saw Bill speak in Detroit and could not get him out of my mind afternoon. He tells a great story and is a beautiful person. I wish more people shared his convictions and beliefs. I believe there is something for everyone in his story and it is worth the read. I am grateful that it brought back many memories from my time in new york working as a legal advocate.

"every human being, despite the circumstances of his or her birth, is born full of potential, and the way to unlock that potential is to
Oct 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I saw Bill Strickland at an arts conference earlier this year and his belief in human potential brought me to tears. He is one of the most inspiring people I've had the pleasure to hear speak. Bill Strickland is one of my big heroes. His stories come across well in this book, which is somewhat oddly billed as a business book, or at least that's where I found it at Borders and is where we shelve it at my library. I wonder if that was the right marketing approach, since I wish everyone would read ...more
Nov 26, 2009 rated it really liked it
I just heard Bill Strickland speak at a conference and was kinda blown away by him and then ran to the library to find his book. Consequently, the book didn't really hold any surprises because I'd already heard the condensed version of the story. And I think it is more powerful hearing it in person than reading it in this format, which gets a little too self-helpy occasionally. Still, really inspiring and worth a read - especially for anybody involved in education, arts, or community development ...more
Apr 08, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
pretty good. cool that chad worked for/with him for 5 years in pittsburgh and so many other cool peeps did too. but there are also downsides to the glowing story told. but hey - life has lots of downsides and good news and hopeful stories NEED to be told, and he does it well. there is so much about an attitude of intention and of possibility that makes amazing things possible. I saw it over and over again at the union project and elsewhere. good to be reminded. well worth the read, even if you d ...more
Kelly Kujan
I really loved this book and the Story of Bill Strickland is extraordinary but he explains in his book that all of our lives can be extraordinary if we follow our passion. I felt formate in my life because this is what I have done and I realized that I can do more and be more by reading this book.

If you have a son or daughter going to college this is a good book for them and for the parents. You have to follow your passion in life but I always say to my kids you have to be able to support yourse
Rebecca Rose
I thought this was going to be more of a "how-to" inspirational self-help book from the title, but rather it was the story of Bill Strickland and how he made his impossible possible. I actually preferred this; Bill shows that he never intended to create the school he has now made, but he simply followed his passions. There's no formula for success, one must simply do what they enjoy and not give up. The writing was a bit repetitive at times, but for the story it's a quick-read worth reading.
Feb 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone, dammit!
Okay, I normally HATE self-help books, or inspirational books, or what have you. However -- Bill Strickland is the real deal. If you don't know Manchester/Bidwell in Pittsburgh, you are missing out on one of the most extraordinary places in the US. Strickland is a true genius, and this book simply and effectively captures his thoughts - and they are worth capturing. Any of you who know what a huge cynic I am, you know how high a reference this is. That's all I'm saying.
Marjorie Elwood
I wanted to like this a great deal more than I did. It's the story of Bill Strickland who rose from poverty to create Manchester Bidwell, a "jobs training center and community arts program" that has revitalized a neighborhood in Pittsburg and won him a MacArthur Foundation 'genius award'. However, it's more memoir than inspiration and his meandering, self-congratulatory style didn't do much for me, despite his astounding accomplishments.
Oct 21, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Profound. I've seen Bill do the slideshow a couple of times and visited the Manchester Bidwell Corporation in Pittsburgh. He always comes off as a very real person with a clear vision. This book was a good way to capture it. I'm actually surprised he hadn't already written a book. It can come off a bit preachy at times, but the stories back up his philosophies on life, art, poverty, etc. I hope WMCAT in Grand Rapids is telling the same story ten years from now.
Dec 03, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have to say, this book forever changed my idea of what defines something as practical or possible. People might say something is a crazy idea, it'll never work, it's too expensive, too idealistic, too impractical... but the line between brilliant and crazy is a thin one, and you'll never know until you try--and try with everything you have in you.
Feb 08, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: appleton-reads
this book may have good
ideas ~ just one of those books where I had to keep reading a single page over and over again. the text just would not stick.

it is a "community reads" project for my town; I anxiously await others opinions and possibly enlightenment.

my review is based on my perceived readability, not on any content.
Nov 04, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Chandra by: HOW design conference.
Mr. Strickland gave a speech at the HOW design conference. He's a very motivational speaker and a great inspiration with his philanthropy work. If you haven't heard of him, please read this book. Better yet, find the opportunity to hear him speak! I might have enjoyed the book more, but was already so motivated by his speech that his book just felt like it repeated what I have already learned.
May 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: All
I had the good fortune of hearing Mr. Strickland speak a few days ago at the HOW Design Conference in Boston. By the time he finished his speech I had not doubt that I could go out and change the world. His story is even more captivating as he shares intimate details of his life's journey within the pages of this book. A must read for everybody!
Jul 31, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an okay book. Guess I've read too much of this kinda stuff. It is inspiring to see how one man has accomplished so much, and it is interesting to read his stories of what he has found works. But there is little in the way of how to make your own success stories. Which really is the crux of the matter.
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Fox Cities Readers: Make the Impossible Possible 2 31 Nov 14, 2012 08:09AM  
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Strickland grew up in the Manchester neighborhood of Pittsburgh and graduated from Oliver High School. He then attended the University of Pittsburgh where as an undergraduate he founded the Manchester Craftsmen's Guild as an after-school program to teach children pottery skill in his old neighborhood. He graduated cum laude with a bachelor's degree in American history and foreign relations in 1970 ...more
More about Bill Strickland...
“Trust your passion, identify your dreams, and find the courage to share them with others, no matter how many times they call you a fool.” 6 likes
“Commit yourself to a passion that moves you.” 2 likes
More quotes…