Adam Braun’s book really got to me. There are a lot of things to love about it. The most obvious, of course, is that it is about his foundation, Pencils of Promise, which has built over 300 schools in the developing world. This type of work is so inherently interesting that I would have read an article about it in a dry academic journal.
Braun explains his thought process, his emotions, and his mistakes in detail. He paints a very mixed portrait of himself. On one hand, he’s a passionately driven man who walked away from a lucrative job to build a charity. On the other hand, he’s a hard-drinking party boy who flakes off at work, dresses inappropriately, and makes painfully embarrassing gaffes. He works hard to show that he is in fact an ordinary person. Sharing the emotional as well as practical highs and lows of the project is a compelling level of honesty.
This is the story of how a random passing thought becomes reality. Braun shares the birth of his idea, when he met a little boy and asked what he would want if he could have anything in the world. The kid asked for… a pencil. And Braun gave him one. It really was that simple. The Promise of a Pencil is about following an idea and growing it over time. It’s about fighting naysayers. It’s about convincing others of the clarity of a vision so that they are invested in making it into concrete reality. In the right hands, it might serve as inspiration to other charitable ventures.
I've been working with chronic disorganization, squalor, and hoarding for over 20 years. I'm also a marathon runner who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thyroid disease 17 years ago.