Book Review - Getting There: A Book Of Mentors

Apr 29, 2015 -

About Gillian Zoe Segal, Author of Getting There: A Book Of Mentors

Gillian Zoe Segal is the author of New York Characters, a tribute to New Yorkers, and Getting There: A Book of Mentors. Her work has received numerous mentions by publications such as Forbes, CNBC, MSNBC, and Business Insider. Gillian is also a freelance photographer specializing in portraits. She graduated from the University of Michigan with a Bachelor of Arts and received a law degree from Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva University.

Have you ever wondered what the difference is between successful and unsuccessful people? While Gillian has been successful in life thus far, her search to inspire and provide guidance to her daughter and others led her to share Getting There: A Book of Mentors. Smooth waters never made a skilled sailor. At some point in life, everyone will encounter rough waters. Gillian sat down with each of these thirty mentors to understand their highs and lows. She got as personal as she they would let her get. It's never too late to improve, try something new, find a great role model, and discover something about yourself!

"The road to get there is almost guaranteed to be arduous, but if you love what you do, you'll thrive on the inevitable challenges and have stamina to achieve your potential." 

What is great about the book?
Despite having a background in law and photography, Gillian's Getting There: A Book of Mentors has gathered not only the experiences of a successful lawyer, but experiences of people from various backgrounds. Of which include investor Warren Buffet, Spanx inventor Sara Blakely, Craigslist founder Craig Newmark, and even Mad Men Creator Matthew Weiner.

While it is great reading about the stories of successful people and immersing ourselves in their journey from the beginning, most readers want to know how they can benefit from such experiences. Gillian does a great job pointing out key turning points in each mentor's story. For example, Warren Buffet had a fear of public speaking in college. What he did to overcome this fear was he signed up for the Dale Carnegie public-speaking course. Here Warren identified a fear of his and understood that he couldn't go through life not knowing how to speak in front of people. What can we as readers take from this? If there is a weakness within ourselves that is holding us back, we can look to see what can be done to turn that weakness into a strength. Whether that be finding a course to take or seeking advice from those who have gone through a similar desired transformation.

At the end of each mentor's section, the author highlights key "pearls" or takeaways from the stories. For example, with Warren, he emphasized the importance of reputation and also experiences that may seem to be disastrous at first actually work out for the best. A good example of this was his rejection from Harvard, which eventually lead him to Benjamin Graham in Columbia whereby he learned the fundamentals of investing. For Anderson Cooper, the famous journalist, the way to find your bliss is a three step process. First you figure out gets your adrenalin pumping, next figure out a way to make it a career, and third outwork everyone around you.

"When you're much more interested in what you're doing than going out for a drink with friends, you've found your bliss." - Anderson Cooper

Each of these successful individuals have something you can incorporate in your life or change for the better. If anything, they would reiterate what you might already be doing. One of the most important things, I've gathered from these stories is to keep an open mind so you will be able to take opportunities when they arise and to really follow what you are passionate about. That of course is much easier said than done. Where in society we are pressured to meet other people's expectations, we lose sight of what is truly important in our lives.

Here is a key excerpt from Tom Scott's (Nantucket Nectars Co-Founder) section:

"Over the next two years, six of my friends joined in, and we dramatically expanded the scope of the business. Our slogan was “Ain’t nothing these boys won’t do.” One friend, Tom First, and I shared the same playful personality. One night he blended up a peach juice based on his memory of something he’d tasted in Spain. Within about seventeen seconds, we thought, This is what we have to sell off the boat! It happened that fast. We came up with the name Nantucket Nectars and spent the entire winter testing all sorts of fruity concoctions. We were obsessed."

What is the not so great about it?

Usually, with most books, we can find a couple things that aren't so great about it. In Gillian's Getting There: A Book of Mentors, the only thing I can find that isn't great about it is that the stories were not long enough! As I was just starting to immerse myself in one of the mentor's stories, I found myself towards the end of it! While this is most probably done by design to keep the reader engaged, for those who can really relate to one mentor or another, it would be best to seek out a biography afterwards.

Sometimes, it can become difficult to relate to those outside of our industries, regardless in this increasingly globalized world we live in today, learning about other people's specializations does open your eyes to new and varied experiences. Gillian does a great job showing that there are different ways to be successful and success comes from those with different personalities as well.

What is your final recommendation?
For those young professionals or those who have been working in their industries for many years, day in and day out all we see are those in our particular fields. As we get older, your circle of friends becomes smaller. While we do build strong bonds with our existing friends, we lose sight of what else is out there. Our imagination diminishes and we get sucked into our own little worlds. Gillian's book Getting There: A Book of Mentors is a great read and really lets you into the minds of successful people in various industries. As I was reading the book, it felt as if I was right there next to that person listening to their story. How rare is it that you are able to find a surfer, lawyer, investor, fitness instructor, journalist, all in one room? This is essentially it! All the stories from various background all in one book! You never have to leave the comforts of your own home, Gillian brought all of them to you.

Conclusion: Getting There: A Book of Mentors is a recommended read for those who seek to the wisdom of successful individuals. After all, all of us can use another mentor to help guide us in the right direction in life. 
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