American Dream Book Review

I was asked to review an advanced copy of American Dream: Interviews with Industry-Leading Professionals by its author, Jason Navallo. Don’t let the title throw you – it’s not just a book for Americans. It contains the transcripts of six interviews with business leaders, delving into their career history, business growth and daily habits, as well as their thoughts on success, goal setting and creating opportunities. American Dream Book Review

The six leaders came from different industries, however there were three interviews I found particularly interesting: Peter Mallouk, President and CIO of Creative Planning (a wealth management company); Scott Gerber, Principal and CEO of Gerber Group (a hospitality group) and Liz Elting, Co-Founder of TransPerfect (which offers language translation services for businesses). Although I’m sure they’re very large companies in America, I don’t actually know any of them, but their stories and advice were still interesting none the less.

Here are some of the lessons I learnt while reading this book:

  • Find a career that you can feel good about. Peter Mallouk mentioned he’s passionate about what Creative Planning is doing because he believes they have a direct impact on his clients and he can also help work with his staff to help them reach their full potential.
  • There’s no magic bullet for being successful. The key is to identify a need in the marketplace that’s not currently being served, or offer a better quality service than what is currently available, and then execute that idea.
  • Luck is a bigger factor then most people like to admit. However, if you’re reading this blog post, then it’s highly probable that you’ve been pretty lucky in your life already. By virtue of being born in a fortunate country and being blessed with certain opportunities, you’ve received a better head start than many people in this world.
  • Don’t worry about what you can’t control. Set goals around things you can’t achieve. In Peter Mallouk’s case, this means he doesn’t set goals around the amount of money he wants to manage, because he can’t control financial markets. But he can influence client retention, referrals and contributions, so his goals focus on these things.
  • Understand what you’re trying to accomplish in life and then be as intentional as possible about making it happen. Work out all the steps you need to take to achieve your goal and make sure you’re working towards them. It’s easy to let time pass by if you’re not being intentional without you spend it.
  • Don’t just be focused on the destination – you have to enjoy the journey as well. As Peter Mallouk said:

    “If you are just trying to get to the top of the mountain, and you don’t enjoy the hike, well, you’re not going to be happy when you get to the top of the mountain either.”

  • Never get complacent and think you know everything you need to know. As Scott Gerber (somewhat confusingly!) put it, “one of the things I know is that I know what I don’t know, and I’m not afraid to ask questions.”
  • Have courage and belief in your own value. For Liz Elting, this meant having the courage to quit a job where she was being asked to answer the office phone because she was the only woman in the office, despite not being the most junior employee and despite having an MBA. I actually had a job once where a very similar thing happened. I eventually spoke up about it, but I wish I had done it sooner (and left that job sooner than what I did).
  • I’m going to finish this post with some brilliant advice from Liz Elting:

    “Know that bossy and difficult are labels given to women who have the courage to lead and the gall to speak their mind. So be bossy, be difficult, and don’t let anyone ever make you feel like you should be quiet or apologize for your strength and ability to lead. Don’t ask permission, and if you aren’t given the space to be a leader, go create that space yourself.

If you’re interested in reading more words of wisdom from this book, you can head on over to Amazon to purchase a copy.

What’s some of the best advice you’ve ever received? Please let me know by leaving a comment below.

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