The author, Srikumar S. Rao, teaches a radical course at Columbia University Business School, upon which this book is based. Here is what has to be one of the most compelling reviews I've ever read on Amazon.
It will be fairly difficult for me to give an unbiased review of Are You Ready to Succeed, as the course on which it's based set me upon a path of growth and self-discovery and allowed me for first time to know true fulfillment. For this, I feel immense gratitude, incapable of expression with words. I'll divide this review into two parts: 1. The effect the wisdom and exercises within the book had on my life and 2. My feelings about the book itself.
Prior to taking Creativity and Personal Mastery, the course upon which the book is based, I was an obnoxious, mechanistic, sociopathic prince of capitalism. I viewed wealth as a means to exert dominance over others, as well as a vehicle to procure hedonistic bliss. I found a happy home for this way of thinking in the world of investment banking, venture capital and startups. I drank, drugged, womanized, broke the law; I created a world in which those without a similar plunderer-type mentality were weak and destined to be dominated. At the beginning of the course, I had been fired twice, totally four cars, been arrested in five states and inflicted emotional harm on countless females. I didn't read; I thought introspection was for meek, those incapable of enjoying the finer things in life. In short, I was miserable - a gerbil on wheel of chemical and emotional highs, a slave to the influence of my fellow "pirate" peers. You could say I was ready for a change.
The course had several effects upon me. There are too many to list, so I will detail only four.
The first is the notion that the universe is benevolent, a partner in creating not only fulfilling personal endeavors, but a brighter future. The second is that I have an opportunity to be truly happy, i.e. fulfilled, not through striving and external action, but through removing that which is unreal and not me, thereby allowing my true nature to shine. The third is that HOW is not important, rather only the WHAT and the WHY, meaning I need not obsess over how desirable things such as fulfillment and impact come into my life, only a clear conception of what it is I want to achieve and why I want to achieve it. The last insight I was blessed with was, "If you build it, they will come", meaning that attention to my own personal mastery is the most important thing I can do in terms of creating the life and manifesting the impact I desire.
Since finishing the course, I have gone on to read several of the recommended texts, traveled to India to learn meditation, attended various personal growth related retreats, consulted with non-profits, helped people start companies, become a more effective writer and public speaker, begun creating healthy platonic and authentic romantic relationships, found fulfilling employment with a renewable energy company and am currently helping launch a non-profit. In addition to taking up meditation, I have stopped drinking, eating meat, eating sweets (and in doing so, lost 60 pounds), doing drugs, watching porn and have filled this gap with yoga, reading, writing, love-making, cooking and hiking.
Certainly the wisdom and exercises from the course (and book) did not do all of this, I did, but it was the seed crystal that allowed me to embark on a path of rapid transformation and achieve an infinitely more rewarding life. I owe Prof. Rao, the course, and by extension this book a tremendous debt of gratitude for which I am only beginning to repay.
I really enjoyed the book as well. It was a beautiful encapsulation of the course, touching on the major themes. Given the limited scope of the chosen media (in this case a book, as compared to a semester-long course) it is an excellent effort and if used as stated could produce extraordinary results for those who employ it. I say employ instead of read, because to merely read this book is not sufficient. As Prof. Rao says, the book should viewed more as a workbook, a guide for exercises. Viewing this book as anything else will produce only limited results. I echo the following recommendations: 1. Buy the book, 2. Convince 5 friends to also buy the book, 3. Spend 3 months reading the book, stopping to do each exercise for a week or so, 4. Hold weekly meetings to discuss the exercises with your group, 4. Keep a journal throughout the process.
Obliviously, the wisdom and exercises in this book had a marked affect on my life. I believe that if you are serious about reaching your true potential and enjoying