30 Books in 30 Days: 8.2.11

It’s Not How Good You Are, Its How Good You Want to Be: The World’s Best Selling Book by Paul Arden

Sometimes, like most people, I am in the need for relaxation or a complete change of scenery.  And, in the middle of my suburban life, I turn to the places that are around me.  The other day, that particular change of scenery came in the form of a saunter through Anthropologie in Montclair, NJ.  Now, you may say, “But, that’s not original! You’re just going shopping!  How completely ordinary is that!”  But, since I wasn’t going to the store to shop–not unless something on sale actually cost less than $100.00, this was, indeed, an exercise in getting outside of my usual routine.  I stepped inside and let the funky decor and design of the place seep into my consciousness.  I wandered up and down the racks of clothing, feeling the textures of the shirts and dresses and checking out the ridiculous prices.  I looked at the artistic pottery and the old-fashioned doorknobs for sale for $14.00 a piece.  I wandered through the bath products and looked at shower curtains that cost upwards of $100.00!  The best part about the place is the way the designers and decorators of the store use rustic and original perspectives in even the most common displays.  I even marveled at how the store made good use of the views of outside Montclair:  a view of a blue building across the street through the windows of the 2nd floor of the store was quite stunning.  Finally, I settled upon a stack of books for sale, one of them this book by Paul Arden, an advertising executive who shares his ideas in this book that is at once savvy creative advice and also visually attention grabbing quick-read.  I settled into the store couch, not caring whether this was really part of the store’s intention or not.  Within 20 minutes or so, I read through the entire book.  I recommend it.  Sometimes, a book is valuable not just for the words on the page, but for the way the author integrates the message of the book with the visual layout fo the book.  This book does this well and provides the reader with the feeling that she is gaining useful information about life and business in an easily digestible but also novel form.  Some gems from the book (not word for word):  Creative doesn’t necessarily mean creative:  be sure you understand YOUR workplace’s concept of creativity. For some places, it is much more conservative than one might realize.  Another:  Don’t seek to be right, instead, ask for criticism.  This will lead to more of a response from your boos or colleague and, eventually, to a better idea from you.  More:  Seek to fail.  Many times.  The more time you fail, the better you will do.

Sometimes one’s experience serves to completely parallel one’s reading experience. In my case, the afternoon’s jaunt through Anthropologie mirrored the advice I was reading in the book.  When a trip to Europe isn’t feasible, new perspectives are available outside one’s front door.  My summer of staying local has shown me that.  Sometimes, sitting on a couch in a local clothing retailer and reading a book for a few minutes provides all of the new perspective one needs. It makes me think that even if we are surrounded by stores and consumerism, etc., it’s all how you interact with this culture that determines how much you fall prey to it.  Once, when I was in college, my boyfriend at the time came and stayed with my family.  For whatever reason, he went to the mall with my parents while I was somewhere else.  I remember he came back to tell me, wide-eyed, that he and my parents had gone to the G. Fox furniture store and sat on the furniture while discussing the day.  My parents may or may not have been in the market for some actual furniture.  most likely, they had some ideas of couches or chairs they would like to purchase in the future–but not at the immediate time.  It was not at all out of the ordinary for a meander through the furniture department to turn into an eventual conversation between everyone as the family sat on couches in the furniture showroom.  I would not even have blinked if I had been there.  But, for him, this felt odd and out-of-place.  To me, it shows the way that we can take the ordinary and make it our very own extraordinary.


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