Quotes from #PoPBook



Knowing of Pencils of Promise, but with little knowledge on their history I attended a book signing by Adam Braun of his new book, The Promise of a Pencil at the Union Square Barnes and Noble one evening. I immediately bought the book before he started after I learned that he was donating all of the proceeds toward building more schools through his organization. As I often try to sort out my jumbled thoughts and ideas, I found both his talk and reading the book afterward a helpful guide to visualize a path where big dreams can become a reality. I wanted to note the quotes throughout the book that resonated most with me in this blog so I could always have them close at hand to reference as I walk forward into my own future.

First, even Braun’s chapter names were not just that, but mantras:

1. Why be normal

2. Get out of your comfort zone

3. Know that you have a purpose

4. Every pencil holds a promise

5. Do the small things that make others feel big

6. Tourists see, travelers seek

7. Asking for permission is asking for denial

8. Embrace the lightning moments

9. Big dreams start with small, unreasonable acts

10. Practice humility over hubris

11. Speak the language of the person you want to become

12. Walk with a purpose

13. Happiness is found in celebrating others

14. Find the impossible ones

15. Focus on one person in every room

16. Read the signs along the path

17. Create separation to build connection

18. Never take no from someone who can’t say yes

19. Stay guided by your values, not your necessities

20. You cannot fake authenticity

21. There is only one chance at a first impression

22. Fess up to your failures

23. Learn to close the loop

24. Change your words to change your worth

25. A goal realized is a goal define

26. Surround yourself with those who make you better

27. Vulnerability is vital

28. Listen to your echoes

29. If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough

30. Make your life a story worth telling

A lengthy list, but I could barely pick out my favorites. They all are such important reminders. However, here are the favorite parts of his advice throughout the book that I DID pick up:

“Where you start in life should not dictate where you finish.”

“The biggest difference between the person who lives his or her dreams and the person who aspires is the decision to convert that first spark of motivation into immediate action…Chase the footprints you aspire to leave behind.”

“Your twenties are the time to both accept and fight your way into the person you’re destined to become.”

“The purest joys are available to all of us, and they’re unrelated to status, recognition, or material desires…Spend more time asking questions that trying to provide answers. Listening intensely is a far more valuable skill than speaking immensely.”

“Even big waves start with small ripples.”

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” – Marcel Proust

“People think big ideas suddenly appear on their own, but they’re actually the product of many small, intersecting moments and realizations that move us toward a breakthrough.”

“The more we speak in the voice of our most aspirational self, the closer we pull our future into our present.”

“For one day a week, it’s important to allow yourself to be a human being, rather than a human doing.”

“The single most wasted resource on earth is human intention.”

“Errors force you to pause, evaluate, and iterate. As much as we dread them, they are veiled blessings that turn mirrors of reflection into windows of insight…the biggest opportunities for growth are not found in the midst of success, but in the methods through which we address failure.”

“Make the little decisions with your head and the big ones with your heart. Do that, and you’ll be just fine.”

nonprofit = for-purpose

“You may be safe, but I am free.” In the situation of being attached to material things vs. living life.

“Think about how the world will change in the next ten years, and how you and your resources and networks will change within it. Use that as a compass to determine how you can affect as many people as possible.”

“Expectations are the daunting shadows that trail behind accomplishments.”

“If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.”

“True motivation is not found within reaching a goal, but rather getting to a place where you can confidently and audaciously move the finish line far off into the distance once again. It’s in the space between the known and the unknown, where you can craft a vision for the future that you hope to create and then chase it with relentless fervor.”

“Your life should be a story you are excited to tell.”

“But you can’t keep saying, ‘I’ll get started tomorrow.’ The world has far too many problems, and you are way too smart and capable to not help tackle them. Your time is now.”

Adam Braun (right) is interviewed by Humans of New York creator Brandon Stanton at Barnes and Noble in Union Square

Adam Braun (right) is interviewed by Humans of New York creator Brandon Stanton at Barnes and Noble in Union Square

Although Adam’s Braun’s story contained factors the average person can’t quite obtain, like a brother who represents Justin Beiber, or friends who somehow raise $20k+ at our birthday parties, the details of the book helped me a lot. By sharing the smallest details on how he started the organization and chose to run it, I could see some of my ideas living. Rather than feeling paralyzed by how to take the step from thought to action, it was helpful to have a vague map of where to possibly look next.