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Ben Stein has become one of my favorite authors. This book applies to any walk of life and contains many eternal truths expressed as only Ben Stein can write them. He creates a comfortable relationship with his reader and makes you feel that you are a friend he is having a conversation with. Just reading his books and also his Diaries that are available at the American Spectatator site has made me a huge Ben Stein fan. I have never seen him in a movie. I have no idea what the Ferris Beuller movie that made Ben a cultural icon is about. I have only seen him on TV once or twice briefly. He has become one of my all time favorite people just through his writing. I recommmend reading everything he has to say because you won't find anyone with a more rational view of America and the contemporary world.
I wish I'd read this book when I was 16 years old, making Super 8 movies in the garage. I wish I'd read it when I graduated high school. I wish I'd read it before I joined the military. And during. And after. Ad nauseam. It's a very helpful book, full of great advice I wish someone had drilled into my thick skull 20 years ago. (Ultimately, of course, the responsibility is mine.) It's commonsense success-in-business information that's been stripped down to its essentials. Much easier and more forceful than many other success books I've read. And vastly more entertaining.
Don't just read it--take it to heart and DO IT. Or be a fortysomething guy posting on Amazon and wondering "What if...?"
This is a book you can read in one sitting. The 26 rules are laid out in 26 short chapters. The authors spice the book up with anecdotes from their own experiences and those of others they know in Hollywood. I especially love the comments comparing "dreamers" to "doers." Take this book to read on your plane trip to Hollywood. You'll be glad you did.
Reviewed in the United States on September 18, 2006
The best self-improvement books are focused, provide a means for you to do a self-inventory, and offer clear advice about what to do when you find something you now realize that you need to do better. Ben Stein and Al Burton provide 26 terrific keys to success. They are all practical, things that are within anyone's capacity (if you are self-motivated), and are clear about the trade-offs involved. They both are clear that choosing another path is just fine, but you can't expect to not follow these steps and reap the same rewards as those who do.
What kind of steps do they have on their path to lights, glamour, and riches? The very mundane activities of developing useful skills, getting educated, making yourself invaluable, realizing that good enough never is, staying in the game, being careful with your finances, being loyal, avoiding drug and alcohol abuse, staying in the game, being patient, get the job, look for the good and praise it, and many more. You can see that there is nothing that appears to be magic in the list. But there is! Just as the difference between a good ball player and the hall of fame is about one more hit per week, it is the small but consistently positive behaviors that make so much difference in a life.
As I read through this book, I did find some things that I need to focus on and get back in my repertoire. None of us is in the groove all the time and it sure helps to have a checklist to make sure we are thinking about and doing the right things. It is easy to get deflected from the right path and travel ineffectively for a while only to wake up and find yourself at some distance from where we want to be. Here is a most helpful checklist that is based on solid principles and offers a strong foundation to anyone in any career.
What is particularly interesting about Hollywood is that it is based on short term groups that form to do a project and then end. But the next time a group needs to form, the people tend to work with those they know will contribute value and help the group be successful. It is a fine example of how markets and business work. (As an aside, I wonder why so many of its participants are therefore anti-free market people...) You will be a better, more successful, and, yes, powerful person if you implement these principles in the way you conduct your life.
Terrific for anyone, but you will want to be sure every young person in your life gets a copy and reads it multiple times. The best way to get them read it is to read it with them - preferably just a step a day - and then talk it over with them. And then keep referring to them in reference to your own life as an example for them. Or point out how those they see on the news have missed this or that point or point out how someone in the news got it just right. The wrong way is to keep harping at them about the principles in THEIR life. Don't do that. Let them think about that and come to it on their own. Just keep them in the air all around them.
Reviewed in the United States on September 2, 2006
Well, not quite but I wish I read a book like this when i was starting out. Sure,the advice is basic but it is the basics we too often forget. Don't lose sight of your goals; accept that progress is slow , and don't be discouraged if others, less talented get ahead faster(as golfer Tom Watson remarked on competition," I dont worry about it;it is just me v. the course"); be sincere and be nice; remember that friends come and go but enemies accumulate. Lots more. Give it to a high school ot college grad. They'll thank you later.