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April 27, 2010 > Business Bookclub: 'What I Know Now About Success'

Business Bookclub: 'What I Know Now About Success'

edited by Ellyn Spragins

Would you go back to being a teenager again?

Ask that question of any number of people and many of them would say "YES!" with one addendum: they'd turn back the clock - to high school, proms, acne, and angst - but only if they could take their knowledge and experience with them.

But wisdom is tough-won, you've worked hard to get where you are, and you cherish the miles you've put on your body since teenagerhood. So what advice and encouragement would you give your past self if you could magically send a letter back in time? In the new book "What I Know Now About Success", edited by Ellyn Spragins, a few influential women lend counsel to their former selves and to you.

Success, says Ellyn Spragins in her introduction, is an individual, changing thing, and it's different for women than for men. Spragins lauds the more than thirty powerful, successful women who gave their time for this book; for their willingness to examine their own journeys to the top and for their acknowledgement of what they wish they'd known "back then".

From Sharon Allen, chairman of the board at Deliotte LLP: recognize that you never leave behind the friendships and connections you make, no matter where you physically go in your career.

The founder of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Nancy Brinker says that willingness to change directions in a crisis is essential. Make-up artist Trish McEvoy reminds herself that there's always a solution.

Television "Shark" and entrepreneur Barbara Corcoran wishes she could remind her younger self that smart kids don't know everything and that everyone possesses innate knowledge and talent. President of House Party, Kitty Kolding, echoes Corcoran by commenting that people with more education and "pedigree" backgrounds are not necessarily smarter than you.

CNN anchor Soledad O'Brien would remind herself that there is opportunity as well as joy in chaos.

TV actor and spokeswoman Suzanne Somers wishes she could have told herself, at one of the lowest points in her life that she should focus on what she has instead of what she lost.

And from ESPN co-host Hannah Storm: "Stop worrying. It's useless."

There are several reasons to like "What I Know Now About Success"; thirty-three, to be exact. Each of the women editor Ellyn Spragins interviewed had wonderfully thoughtful insight to offer themselves and to Spragins' readers, and that insight is actually useful. Bonus: it's quick to read.

The one thing I didn't enjoy is that Spragins gushes. She gushes about homes, offices, accomplishment and appearance. She's effluent in a fan-stricken way, even going so far as to call one woman "adorable". Considering the welcome sprinkling of Woman Power in her introduction, this made me roll my eyes a lot.

Even so, the uber-raves are overshadowed by the wisdom inside this book, which makes me give it a thumbs-up. "What I Know Now About Success" is a good read for the bad times and makes a great gift for the graduating teenager who might need its advice, looking back.

c.2010, Da Capo Press
$18.00 / $22.95 Canada
208 pages

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