Book Review May 2004
Reviewed by Soroya Brantley
Already a renowned international best-selling author and popular motivational speaker, Spencer Johnson, M.D., has a reputation as someone who presents simple, workable solutions for complex situations. Award-winner Ralph Monti has authored three previous books and is also a columnist.
With The Present: The Gift That Makes You Happy and Successful at Work and in Life, Today! Johnson continues his method of breaking down and presenting his topic in simple terms. Written as a parable, The Present follows the journey of a character from boyhood to adulthood, and concentrates on the character’s search for a present that an old man assured him would help him “become happier and better able to do whatever [he] want[ed] to do.” The present proves elusive, and the boy returns often to seek advice from the old man and new clues as to what the present might be.
Johnson allows us insight into this character’s life as he progresses and learns new truths about himself. The boy is told that he already knows what the present is and where to find it. Later, he learns that the present can give him “the needed energy and confidence to deal with what is wrong.” Along the way, the boy realizes that learning and planning are important if he is to truly enjoy the present. These truths all tie into the moral of the story, which becomes clear by the end. There are twists in this story and some double entendres that are best left for the reader to discover. However, nothing is given away by noting that the lessons learned in this book can be used to improve all aspects of one’s life.
Monti’s book, The Creative Sales Person: How to Develop Your Creativity Into an Effective Sales Tool, concentrates on showing us how to be effective and successful at selling. To this end, Monti provides a wealth of information and suggestions on how to go against the norm and develop fearless creative thinking. He encourages salespeople to not be afraid of risks and to challenge the status quo. One of the most enterprising ideas is the suggestion that studying children can help improve selling skills. Monti suggests that any kindergarten classroom is filled with people who “don’t always follow the rules,” “aren’t afraid to make mistakes” and “spend more time than adults studying the world.” The result is that these children are free to enjoy limitless creativity. In order to succeed at selling, a salesperson should look at life as a creative adventure and free his or her mind so that it can create.
Monti also provides an innovative “nine-point creative thinking plan” that lays the foundation for a lifetime of creative thinking. The first point is to “throw out self doubts” so that our minds are clear of fear and negativity. Point three is to “make new friends with people who are different,” opening ourselves to new opportunities and experiences. Point nine is to “rediscover your passion,” without which, Monti believes, it is virtually impossible to successfully develop creativity. If nothing else, this book provides food for thought and encourages self-evaluation.
Johnson goes against the pattern and leaves his book as simply prose with an introduction, “Before the Story,” and a conclusion, “After the Story.” He occasionally interrupts the story to reiterate important points. Monti’s format is more formulaic, with bulleted points and lists to highlight his key points. Both books are easy and fast reads and should prove schedule-friendly, perfect for busier people.
While at first it may appear that these two books deal with different topics, both suggest ways to have peace of mind while being more productive and prosperous. They also offer a road map of sorts to finding what is important to you and what your purpose or passion may be. The benefits spill over from the workplace to all other areas of life, since there is less stress, less worry and less distraction.
The Present: The Gift That Makes You Happy and Successful at Work and in Life, Today! and The Creative Sales Person: How to Develop Your Creativity Into an Effective Sales Tool are insightful and inspirational. Separately or together, they can be invaluable to anyone trying to get ahead in their personal or professional life.