Breaking Out of a Broken System Review: Part 2

Recap: The book is split in half – the first half on black paper/white text from Seth’s perspective and the second half on white paper/black text from Chandler’s perspective. I reviewed Seth’s half here.

 

PROS:

Considering the long break between my reading the first half and the second half, diving into Chandler’s section was like a breath of fresh air. It’s always exciting to see ideas I consider to be “Praxian” out in the real world. Chandler begins by talking about the scarcity mindset versus the abundance mindset and how winners adapt the abundance mindset. Plus, life is just more enjoyable when you don’t live life believing the pie is fixed and you have to fight for your piece.

I also appreciate his chapter on “unlocking your inner five-year-old” talking about how children can often accomplish great things because they haven’t yet learned that they aren’t “supposed to” be able to do that. It reminded me a lot of running cross country my freshman year of high school before I became a super competitive stalker of my competition. I would just go run races and do pretty well and be happy about it. The ignorance was blissful, and it became much harder to race when I started looking up the times other girls were running and finding who I “should” and “shouldn’t” be able to keep up with. (Luckily, I learned to use my research for good and haven’t been a complete headcase since then.)

The biggest difference between the two half is that Chandler invites the reader to interact with the book and had questions with space for answers in each section. Full disclosure, I did not participate or write in the book, but I think it could be really helpful, especially to a reader who is encountering these ideas for the first time.

I found myself agreeing and zipping through the second half of the book. Chandler writes about the same lessons as Seth but with his own personal touch, so it felt very familiar without being too repetitive. Chandler is also a proponent of starting your own business and offers similar advice regarding the tax advantages as Seth does without disparaging work if it’s “for someone else.” Some other highlights include:

  • Having the strongest work ethic (but really, not just saying you do)
  • Having a good attitude about your work
  • Being efficient to work smart (basically doubling your work ethic)
  • Setting SMART goals
  • Having a proactive mindset instead of a reactive mindset (like this post!)
  • Not being complacent after meeting a goal – set a new one!
  • Learning “the rules” about money

 

CONS:

Similar to Seth’s half, I wished there was more information on Chandler’s story and how he got to where he is today. He mentions having a lawncare business while in high school and then working for Student Painters and having a lot of success through that, but I found myself wanting more details.

Timing is also an issue since Breaking out of a Broken System was published in 2014. Chandler started his business Self-Publishing School that same year (not sure which came first) and has published 6 books to date. These are things I found myself wanting to know more about when reading his chapters until I checked the publication date on the book. I’m sure I can find the story in one of his five other books, though.

Finally, Chandler has a Yahoo email address. This is mainly a joke since at Praxis we strongly suggest Gmail addresses to our participants. Our CEO says Yahoo, Hotmail, AOL, etc. all send the message, “old, outdated, and behind the times,” so seeing the Yahoo address made me laugh.

 

Overall I would definitely recommend the book. Any of the cons about the book are either me wanting more details or something that I disagree with but is written with good/pure intentions. I also recommend the band NEEDTOBREATHE if you want to hear Seth play the bass! 🙂

 

Breaking Out of a Broken System Review: Part 1

I learned about the band NEEDTOBREATHE my first summer working at Strong Rock Camp when my co-counselor would play their music to wake our girls up in the morning. I had the opportunity to see them play live at a Braves game this summer which led me to Googling the different band members after the concert to learn their story.

I found that the bassist Seth Bolt opened a recording studio at age 16 and wrote a book with his brother Chandler (who also was a young entrepreneur) called Breaking Out of a Broken System. It sounded interesting, so I got a copy.

The book is split in half – the first half on black paper/white text from Seth’s perspective and the second half on white paper/black text from Chandler’s perspective. I finished Seth’s half and wanted to share my thoughts so far.

 

PROS:

The way they wrote the book is impressive. Since they have such busy schedules, they planned to write the entire book over a 7-day period. They use timers to strictly finish a chapter within 2 hours: 10 minute brainstorm/10 minute outline/90 minutes of writing/10 minute break. Repeat. There’s a whole chapter on how perfectionism is the enemy of getting stuff done and how to avoid analysis paralysis.

I appreciated the purpose of work near the beginning of the book. Seth talks about how God gave Adam the task of caring for the garden and the animals, so humans working and having a purpose existed before the fall. Many people think of work as punishment for sin, but it’s not! And it is certainly easier to think about work being purposeful than a penalty.

The “you do you” chapter was great as well. That’s not what it’s called, but I like that umbrella term for it It’s a combination of forging your own path and not needing to “keep up with the Joneses.” I especially liked when Seth talked about how it is important for children to see their parents pursuing dreams rather than giving up everything to focus on their children. While I don’t have my own children, I did grow up with parents who provided everything I needed while also not allowing my sister or me think we were the center of their universe.

The end of Seth’s half is the best part. He talks about saving his allowance and construction money to buy his first guitar and continuing to save up until he had enough recording equipment to launch his studio business at 16. I really wish this section were more detailed because I would have loved to hear how he got those first clients and any struggles he encountered as a young entrepreneur.

He’s a huge proponent of owning your own business and talks about plowing the money you make back into your business to grow it, thereby making it a deduction on your taxes rather than taxable profit. It made me laugh that he even included the disclaimer “this is legal.” Not only does he explain the rules of the tax code, he also provides a list of the paperwork you need to fill out to start a business. It’s a quick action plan that leaves no room for excuses, especially paired with the previous chapters.

Overall I really like the book. I found a lot of similarities between the lessons my parents taught me growing up and the lessons their parents taught them. I think the lessons will be especially valuable to someone who is hearing it for the first time. I also loved the old family photos and stick figure drawings throughout the chapters.

CONS:

I almost lost my mind over Chapter 8. Seth talks about how companies should make benevolence and philanthropy a main focus and not be so concerned with profits. It’s a very typical misunderstanding of business – thinking that profit is bad and charity is good. What this black and white stance misses is the value created from that profit. People willingly give their money to companies for goods and services that make their lives better. Profits don’t come from scamming customers or ripping them off; they come benefiting customers.

Then he uses TOMS shoes as his example of a company who is doing things the right way. In my mind, TOMS is the absolute worst offender of “good intentions, terrible results.” I’m going to spare you my rant because all you need to do is type “TOMS shoes are the worst” into Google, and you’ll get plenty of reading material. For a fuller picture, you should watch the documentary Poverty, Inc. It’s on Netflix. You’re welcome.

The beginning of Chapter 15 reminded me of so many articles I find on the internet that are “Praxis-adjacent” as I like to call them. The author realizes that something is broken – college tuition is way too expensive, and college grads aren’t getting jobs – but then ends up concluding that using the broken system is still needed. Seth even goes as far to say, “The public education system was designed during the industrial revolution to produce loyal, faithful workers. It was designed to serve industrialism.” But then follows a few pages later with, “The system’s motto is ‘Go to school, get a job.’ You need to think: ‘Go to school, create a job.’” It’s just funny to me that he includes school in his category of a broken system and then still has it as a pre-requisite for creating the life you want for yourself.

The end of Chapter 15 just made me sad. It is full of Pros (above), but positioning working for someone else (anything other than owning your own business) as “exchanging time for money” is so wrong. Companies don’t pay you for your time, and if you view your work that way, it sounds like you are a clock-watcher, and I’m sorry you hate your job so much. The work you do should be creating value for the company you work for and its customers, and you are paid in exchange for creating that value. Your time in and of itself is not what your employer pays you for – it’s what you do with that time.

Overall I thought Seth’s advice skimmed the surface of a lot of great points and missed the opportunity to really flesh out the ideas and give them some depth. I think this has a lot to do with my exposure to Praxis and its content which, in my opinion, is much better. 😉 I think the time constraints (2 hours per chapter, finished manuscript in 7 days) had a lot to do with the lack of depth and am still very impressed with the book as a whole.

 

Looking forward to part 2 and hearing from Seth’s younger brother Chandler about his entrepreneurial endeavors!

Reading Makes Me Dramatic

I read All the Light We Cannot See this weekend. It’s been a long time since I read a fiction book, and it reminded me how much I love reading.

I spent much of my childhood reading. I was all about Accelerated Reader points in elementary school, and my sister and I took part in our local library’s summer reading program. I grew up with Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield of the Sweet Valley High series, the Animorphs, and of course Harry, Hermione, and Ron. Reading before bed was my nightly routine, I’m sure well past my bedtime on occasion. Family road trips included a “book box” in the back of the van because we could never fit as many as we wanted in our backpacks (this was before kindles and smartphones and tablets). I was surprised how many memories came back the first night I laid in bed, unable to put my book down.

When I read a lot, I tend to get dramatic. I’m pretty sure everyone narrates their life in their head as they go about their day, but my narrator gets far more interesting when I’ve been reading. I imagine my life as a story and wonder what intricacies I can create to make the story more interesting. It’s certainly not that I do anything out of the ordinary, but I feel like part of my imagination that has been dormant comes to life.

The material I’m reading either increases or tempers the narrator. I don’t feel any change when I read nonfiction. I enjoy finding ways to relate what I’m reading to my life or personal development, but there’s not an emotional response like there is with fiction, and I supposed heavy fiction intensifies the emotion.

All the Light We Cannot See is a great book that I would recommend, but it is not a light read. It’s historical World War II fiction, and if living during the 1940s wasn’t bad enough, there’s the horrific addition of the war.

[light spoilers & heaviness below]

I tread carefully through the book waiting for the inevitable rape scene I had heard was coming. Page after page, and I didn’t see any scenario where it would happen. Monday evening as I neared the finish of the book, I started to feel hopeful that what I had heard was mistaken – maybe about another book. Then there it was. A few brief paragraphs, thankfully not graphic, but still awful.

They don’t teach you in school that armies would go into cities and rape the women and girls. Upon Googling it (which I don’t recommend), apparently it was very common on both sides of the war. It reminded me of the time I learned that David cut off Goliath’s head after knocking him out with his sling shot. They don’t tell you that part in Sunday School.

[you can come back now]

I think it’s ok to spend some time ruminating what makes you uncomfortable if for no other reason than to make you thankful for your current life. How privileged am I to use my imagination to create dramatic plot lines when I live in the age of the internet and general abundance and [mostly] peace?

 

“Is it right,” Jutta says, “to do something only because everyone else is doing it?”