Knew when I was 20


There is a quotation attributed to Mark Twain which goes something like “When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around.  But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.”  When I saw this week’s review book on the Bookazine shelves (What I Wish I Knew When I Was 20, ISBN 978-0-06-204741-0, Harper Collins, 2009), I rashly believed that it would be one of the self-help books, full of quotable quotes and the principles of ‘feel good-ness’.  I could not have been more wrong.

Author Tina Seelig has a sub-title to her book, being “A Crash Course on Making your Place in the World” and she certainly has crashed through some of the “accepted” ways of looking at things.

It begins with the statement, “What would you do to earn money if all you had was $5 and two hours?”  This, it turned out was an assignment she gave to 14 teams at Stanford University, where she was teaching.  After the initial shock had worn off, the students started looking for different ways to change the $5 into something more, and both she, and the students, were amazed at how, by being inventive, the $5 became $650 for the most creative team.

She shows that the world is divided into those people who wait for permission to do the things they want to do as opposed to those who just give themselves permission and just go and do it!

This also runs true for those looking for opportunities in life.  These do not come to you, but you have to go out and actively find them, seize them and then make them work.  She gives examples of these types of people and writes, “Those who are successful find ways to make themselves successful.  There is no recipe, no secret handshake and no magic potion.”

She also looks critically at the dreaded result of failure, acknowledging that failure is almost part of being successful, and shows concepts that can be used to turn failure into a positive.

She looks at life from the female point of view, as well as the accepted male one.  Good advice for professional women who have small children, and it’s not the usual ‘get a nanny’ concept.  One woman who used Tina Seelig’s concept is now a Supreme Court Judge.

There are even suggestions on how to be proactive within the confines of a team – how to be a good team player.  This is not so easy for some, and for Tina Seelig it also was difficult, but she shows how she overcame such problems.

An excellent book with sometimes radical concepts in learning, and one that Mark Twain could never have envisaged.  I think every young person could learn from this book, possibly more than those who have been in the workforce for many years, but it is possible to teach an old dog some new tricks.  Good reading at an RRP of B. 385.