Monday, November 24, 2008

Personal Development ... for Smart People!

We don't review books very often on this blog, but occasionally one comes along that I'm sure other Toastmasters would really appreciate.... and Steve Pavlina's new book titled Personal Development for Smart People: The Conscious Pursuit of Personal Growth definitely falls in that category !

Toastmasters Connection
First, I should point out that Steve is a Toastmaster in Las Vegas and he often includes references to his "Toastmasters exploits" in his blog (which is very interesting).

Attitude is # 1
Second, Steve has one of the best attitudes toward personal development and growth that I've ever seen. In fact, he has devoted his business (and a good chunk of his life) to the subject of Personal Development. (It kind of makes sense that he would eventually find Toastmasters, doesn't it?)

In his blog, you can get a feeling for his attitude by how he has documented a wide range of his own personal "30 Day Trials". This is where he tries out things like "PolyPhasic Sleep Schedule", "Raw Food Diet" and most recently, "Juice Feasting Diet" to see if they work for him (and we all get to live vicariously through his experiences). For an introduction to his blog, check out his website's home page at

Great [but slow] Book
Third, his book is outstanding. I got it over a month and a half ago and it has taken me that long to read all of it. To put that in perspective, I can usually I can get through a book in about a week by finding spare minutes in my daily schedule. The "problem" with Steve's book is that it is TOO GOOD !

There were so many concepts and ideas in the book that I would read for a few pages and then stop to think about how it relates to my life. It was like driving through a beautiful neighborhood... with plenty of speed bumps!

Speed Bumps
Some of the "speed bumps" are by Steve's design. He inserts "Exercises" for you to try that help you stretch your thinking and, sometimes, learn more about yourself. Other times it is just the way he phrases or explains a particular concepts that makes you stop and think.

For example...
One of the ideas that got me thinking was when he wrote about "taking an hour for yourself every day". I had been looking for a "way of thinking" that would help get me motivated to jump out of bed and really "hit the ground running". Steve's suggestions allowed me to change my thinking (and my habits) so that I've been waking up like a kid at Christmas.... ready to jump out of bed and really enjoy that first hour of the day!

As you can imagine, with ideas like these that call for immediate action, it took quite a while to read Steve's book... but I certainly enjoyed the process!
Constructive Suggestions
As you all know, a Toastmasters evaluation would not be complete without some ideas for improvement.... so here you go, Steve:

1) The hardcover book needs a companion audiobook. If I could have listened to the book while I was driving to/from work... I'm sure I could have gotten through it more quickly. (I was also distracted by other audiobooks I DID listen to during the time I was reading Steve's book.)

2) The next product should be a workshop DVD where Steve takes people through the concepts in the book and it follows them through the changes they make in their life.

3) Steve needs to get out to the East Coast more often! He has visited New York City and put together an informal Meet&Greet event, but wouldn't it be great if he could speak at our district conference? [Hint. Hint.] I wonder if his home district has tapped him to present at a district conference yet?

I would definitely recommend Steve Pavlina's book, "Personal Development for Smart People" and I look forward to reading your reactions in the comments section of this blog !

1 comment:

Ed Ebreo said...

Hi Dave,

Thanks for visiting my blog and directing me to your HR web resource site. I will certainly share your blog and site with my fellow members at ButterNToast
I like the idea of using Toastmasters for developing employee capabilities. That's one of the things I believe Toastmasters Clubs here in the Philippines should really focus on in their campaigns for membership.