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The Promise of a Pencil. How an ordinary Person Can Create Extraordinary Change by Adam Braun

We’re living in a cozy bubble every day. We’re surrounding ourselves with people who share our opinions, speak the way we speak, and look the way we look. Many of us spend our entire lives in the same bubble. Change and true self-discovery begin where our comfort zone ends.


Adam Brown was on the best way to a successful Wall Street career when his self-discovery journey started, and he realized that life isn’t about money or conforming to the expectations of others. Before a trip with multiple stations, he decided to ask one child per country a simple question, to get the chance to connect with at least one kid in every country.

“If you could have anything in the world, what would you want most?”

On the streets of India, he met a young boy begging on the streets and he simply answered, “A pencil”. This small request was something he took for granted every single day, but at this moment he realized that pencils open a sense of possibility, wonder, and connection in those who had so little.

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

This moment led to a staggering series of events that took Braun backpacking through dozens of countries before leaving a prestigious job to found Pencils of Promise, the organization he started with just $25 intending to build primary education schools in areas of poverty within developing nations.

“We firmly believe that education is the single most powerful tool in the fight against poverty and disease and that the point of greatest impact is at the primary education level where simply placing a pencil in a child's hand is the first step toward unlocking the promise of self-empowerment and higher quality of life”.

By focusing on holistic education, innovation, new technologies, and partnering with local communities and governments, Pencil of Promise became a movement that committed to long-term support and sustainability. While writing this book he built more than 250 schools around the world.

“The key is to think big and then take small, incremental steps forward day by day.”

He began to see that success in life is about achieving personal fulfillment. In this book, the author wants to prove that regardless of age, status, or location, every person has the capacity to change and to change the world for the better. Each chapter of the book explains one clear step that we can take to lead a successful and significant life.

Driven by inspiring stories and shareable insights, this book is for everyone who feels restless and ready for a transition.


If you are seeking a new direction and purpose in life, I highly recommend reading this book. I was completely overwhelmed by the emotions (I got goosebumps many times) I felt while reading all the up and downs of this entrepreneurial success story.


About the author:

Adam Braun is an entrepreneur, author and proud dad building a new company focused on reversing climate change. After beginning his career at Bain & Co, he was the Founder & CEO of Pencils of Promise, the award-winning organization that has now built 550+ schools around the world serves 100,000+ students daily. He then went on to become Co-Founder & CEO of MissionU, a debt-free college alternative for the 21st century that was acquired by WeWork in 2018, where Braun became COO of WeGrow. In recent years he has been named to Business Insider's 40 Under 40, Wired Magazine’s “50 People Who Are Changing the World,” and was selected as one of the World Economic Forum’s first ten Global Shapers.

Braun graduated from Brown University and his book The Promise of a Pencil: How an Ordinary Person Can Create Extraordinary Change debuted at #2 on the New York Times Bestseller list.


Favourite quotes:

The world has far too many problems, and you are way too smart and capable to not help tackle them. Your time is now.

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