Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Review: "Getting There" - Gillian Zoe Segal

"Getting There" may be my favorite book of 2015.  Gillian Zoe Segal does a fantastic job compiling anecdotal stories of successful people from all walks of life.  The book is structured such that each story is approximately 2-4 pages long, with some biographical information on the subject.  Each section concludes with lessons, or "pearls", as Segal puts it, that the subject has picked up throughout their journey.  Segal's background as a photographer is obvious with a beautiful portrait of each subject at the beginning of the respective chapter.  The book in itself is a piece of art. 

Her compilation spans the globe and covers subjects from all ends of the spectrum, from Wendy Kopp, founder of Teach for America, to Laird Hamilton, big wave surfer; from Nitin Nohria, Harvard Business School Dean, to Michael Bloomberg, former New York Mayor and founder of Bloomberg L.P.; and from investor Warren Buffett to Sam Adams brewer/founder, Jim Koch.  Anderson Cooper shares his journey in journalism and discusses the sacrifices he made along the way to becoming a CNN news anchor and host of his own show.  John Paul Dejoria discusses surviving off of 99 cent chips and chicken wings and a trucker's special breakfast, while living in his car and hustling his hair products.

I could not put this one down.  These people may not have known what they wanted in life, but they didn't give up until they figured it out.  Then, they didn't give up until they obtained it.  Every single one of them refused to settle for status quo.  Our lives would be much more fulfilling if we all would take that mindset.  These people were not born great; many of them came from nothing, so they had nothing to lose.  They all worked extremely hard and made early sacrifices on their way to where they are now.

The obstacles these people over came dwarf the "obstacles" most of us let get in our way from achieving our dreams.  It really opens your mind up to what you can accomplish with the proper mind set and work ethic.  If you can not find something you can relate to, something inspiring in this book, then it's your own fault. 

Favorite Passages:

-"It's essential to strike the right balance between confidence and humility." -Wendy Kopp, founder of Teach for America, "Getting There"

-"My goals are constantly evolving so I never entirely achieve them.  This is actually a good thing, because once you realize your goal, then where do you go?  That's your crescendo.  I've seen this happen to a lot of my friends.  They set a goal to be World Champion of X, or even something far more modest, and then once they attain it, they live a life of disappointment.  If you don't continually revise your goals, the only place you've got to go is down.  So I keep thinking of ways to reinvent wave riding."  -Laird Hamilton, Big Wave Surfer, "Getting There"  I had written a little about this mindset here.
-"Think and question authority.  Authority is a short-lived phenomenon.  It's who is in charge now, but that doesn't mean that they are right."  -Gary Hirshberg, Stonyfield Far Chairman and Co-Founder, "Getting There"
-"Brevity is the soul of wit.  If you've got something to say, say it and stop talking.  If you don't have anything to say, you're doing yourself and others a favor by keeping quiet.  If you can't make a contribution, don't slow down the people who can."  -Craig Newmark, Craigslist Founder, "Getting There"


  1. Sounds like a good book. Stories of successful people are definitely intriguing and motivating. Especially since they often experienced a lot of failure before "getting there."

  2. Yep! As you can tell, I loved this one. It didn't really get much coverage because she is a relatively unknown author, but it was a good one.