We hear voices in solitude
we never hear in the hurry and turmoil of life;
we receive counsels and comforts
we get under no other condition.
- Amelia E. Barr
Editor's note: This is an airy book of fiction about a bookstore on a barge on the Seine in Paris whose owner sets sail one day after 20 years of habits borne of a lost love. It is recreational reading to be sure with very lively, if somewhat far-fetched characters but by the end you realize it has a wonderful point to it all. That point is expressed in the favorite excerpt below which appears about mid-book.
Favorite Excerpt: "Habit is a vain and treacherous goddess. She lets nothing disrupt her rule. She smothers one desire after another; the desire to travel, the desire for a better job or a new love. She stops us from loving as we would like, because habit prevents us from asking ourselves whether we continue to enjoy doing what we do".
My worldview has been shaped by paradox. Here are a few of my favorites.
- You can’t sell when you’re talking
And yet most salespeople “show up and throw up”. One of my early mentors taught me that “if you spend 30 minutes with a prospect and they speak 27 of those minutes, they will think YOU are a genius”. It stuck throughout my corporate and entrepreneurial career and I think it’s been life changing. Great salespeople are great listeners and only speak at any length AFTER they fully understand the client’s issues. Even then, they pause frequently to say, “did I get that right?”
This concept goes double in personal relationships which I also see as the continuing process of “selling each other”. I must “seek first to understand, less be understood”. I find rich irony that great sales advice comes from the Bible.
"Timid men prefer the calm of despotism to the tempestuous sea of liberty."
Book of the Month: “A Gentleman in Moscow”, by Amor Towles
Editor’s note: This historic fiction is beautifully written. Towles adds well-researched context along with poignant social commentary to make it the best book I’ve read in many years. I’m planning to re-read it so that I might pick up more of the type of excerpts you will see below. I noted at least a half dozen worth remembering on my first read.