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Books
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
DATING DIAPERS AND DENIAL
YOU CAN WIN
Ready for Anything: 52 Productivity Principles for Work & Life
The No A****** Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn't
Go Put Your Strengths to Work: 6 Powerful Steps to Achieve Outstanding Performance
Winning: The Answers - Confronting 74 of the Toughest Questions in Business Today
Know How: The 8 skills that separate people who perform from those who don't
Made To Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die
Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking
The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable
The Power of Nice: How to Conquer the Business World with Kindness
iWoz: From Computer Geek to Cult Icon: How I Invented the Personal Computer, Co-Founded Apple, and Had Fun Doing It
An Inconvenient Truth
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Presents America (The Book): A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction
Tough Choices: A Memoir
A Hand to Guide Me
Secrets of the Millionaire Mind
Rich Dad, Poor Dad
Teacher man: A Memoir
Cat O'Nine Tales
Partners in crime
Marley and Me
Freakonomics
The World Is Flat
Screw it, let's do it
Phishing : Cutting the Identity Theft Line
Manager's Guide to the Sarbanes Oxley Act
Security and Usability
THE SEA
Great Age Guides
Seeing What's Next
Blue Ocean Strategy
Follow This Path
The GE Work-out: How to Implement GE's Revolutionary Method for Busting Bureaucracy and Attacking Organizational Problems-Fast!
Sack The CEO
Competing for the Future
The 80/20 Principle: The Secret to Success by Achieving More with Less
Bringing out the best in people
A Practical Guide to Easing Tension and Conquering Stress
Working relationships : The simple truth about getting along with friends and foes at work
101 Great Answers to the Toughest Interview Questions
Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap.. and Others Don't
Competitive Advantage (The profitability differentiator)
Competing for the Future (Blueprint for the future)
Digital Capital
Pipe Dreams (Greed, Ego and Death of Enron)
A Good Hard Kick in the Ass (New rules of business)
What the CEO Wants You to Know (Explicating the building blocks of business)
It's Not the Big that Eat the Small...It's the Fast that Eat the Slow (Reaffirms credo of Business@the speed of thought)
My Forbidden Face by Latifa (Tragedy of women in Taliban's reign of terror)
Big Brands Big Trouble (Jack Trout studies common mistakes of big brands)
No Logo (Crusade that announced death on the brand bullies)
My Pedagogic Creed (John Dewey's famous declaration concerning education)
Lexus and the Olive Tree (Anti-globalization is a search for the Sixties high)
A woman is made not born (Beauvoir's radical statement led to the second feminist movement)
Against Method(Outline of an anarchistic theory of science)
The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (A paradigmatic work that changed the history of science forever)
The Dilbert Future
(Scott Adams applies his trenchant wit to forecast life in 21st century)
Swimming Across
(Intel chairman Andy Grove's journey to freedom)
Dot Bomb (A juicy insider account of the cyber madness of the Nineties)
Jack: Straight from the Gut (The global industrial titan paints a word picture of his self)
Next: The Future Just Happened (A mordantly funny exploration of the brave new world spawned by the Internet)
The Anatomy of Buzz (A groundbreaking guide to creating word-of-mouth magic that cuts through skepticism and information overload of today's consumers)
Rebel Code (A high-velocity chronicle of the open-source transformation taking place in the tech world)
The Attention Economy (An engrossing account of the human bandwidth deficiency facing employees in the internet economy)
An Excerpt from "Second Coming of Steve Jobs" (A fascinating, complex potrait of Apple's tech magician)
IBM and the Holocaust
(A powerful expose of IBM's collusion with Nazi Germany)
An Extract from "Pride Before the Fall" (A book on Microsoft's antitrust case)
Home

A Hand to Guide Me

By Denzel Washington

An Extract

Let's start with a verse from Proverbs: "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it."

Powerful words, don't you think? It's a simple sentiment too, and yet I'm amazed how many people lose sight of it these days. Anyway it's a line that's been bouncing around in my head as I put this book together, because I've been reminded on almost every page of the importance of shaping our children and laying a strong foundation from which they might soar. Show me a successful individual and I'll show you someone who didn't want for positive influences in his or her life. I don't care who you are or what you do for a living -if you do it well I'm betting there was someone cheering you on and showing you the way. I'll even lay odds.

There's a line from one of my movies, The Bone Collector, that ties in to what we're talking about: "Destiny is what we make it." In the movie I played a quadriplegic homicide detective named Lincoln Rhyme, on the trail of a serial killer. There's a scene with Angelina Jolie's character where my guy gets to talking about the hand he's been dealt and the meaning of fate and fortune and destiny. It's one of the real turning point, epiphany-type scenes of the movie because Lincoln Rhyme was planning his suicide before he met up with Angelina Jolie. Then he got caught up in this case, and soon enough there were sparks between the two lead characters. Suddenly there was every reason to live where just a moment earlier there'd been no reason at all.

We're all destined to leave some kind of mark. I really believe that. We're all meant to walk a certain path at a certain time in a certain direction for a certain purpose. I believe that too. But I also believe we miss our marks from time to time, and without a certain push in the right direction we might never find the path we were meant to follow. This book is about that certain push, that helping hand we've all had to reach for in order to get where we're going. Train up a child in the way he should go, and he might get to where he's meant to be headed all along.

I've had that push in my life, going back as far as I can remember. So have the folks you're about to meet in these pages - actors, athletes, musicians, doctors, lawyers, politicians, business leaders - they've all had the guidance of someone or something, at some time or other. They've all built on that guidance and internalized it and made it their own. After all you don't get to the top of your game or the top of your field or the top of the charts entirely on your own, and I want to celebrate the good people who have helped us get where we're going. Every one of us has a story to share. Every one of us looks back on a parent or a coach or a teacher or a role model who set us straight and steered us right. Doesn't matter if you've gone on to become a ballplayer or a firefighter or the president of the United States. Doesn't matter if you've struggled to keep your family together under one roof or if you've just been named Employee of the Month down at the factory. If you've achieved any kind of real and lasting success, if you've made any kind of difference, it's more than likely there was someone there to help point the way.

For me, the first push outside my own home came at the Boys Club in Mount Vernon, New York. I spent a lot of time there as a kid - first out of necessity, then because there was no place else I'd rather be. I was there most days after school and most weekends until I went away to high school. At some point I started working and I couldn't get to the club as often as I might have liked, but it remained very much a lifeline, a path to purpose. See, my parents didn't have the time to take me to this or that activity the way parents do today. They couldn't always be home when I was done with school. They were too busy working. My mother worked in beauty salons. My father was a preacher. He had a couple churches - one in Virginia, the other in New York. In addition to that, he always had at least two full-time jobs. So he was always working, always on the road, always going out of his way to help some other family in need or crisis. And my mother had her hands full running back and forth to work and trying to keep the household going.

The Center of Everything

In my neighborhood the Boys Club was the center of everything. It was my whole world, just about, from the time I was six years old. It was where I learned how to play ball, where I learned how to focus and set my mind on a goal, where I learned about consequences, where I learned how to be a man. And at the heart of it all was a powerful force of nature named Billy Thomas. He pretty much ran the place - and let me tell you, he was a local treasure. Billy helped a lot of kids because he took an interest. He cared. And he made each of us feel like we had something to offer, like we were someone special. For my money, though, Billy Thomas was the someone special. I just thought this guy was it, you know? He had it so completely together that just sitting back and watching him go about his business was an education, and that's what I did. I'd catch myself trying to walk like Billy, trying to shoot a foul shot like Billy, trying to carry myself like Billy, trying to treat other people with the same respect and dignity he might offer. Even his handwriting was fascinating to me. He was an artist, and you could see it in the way he signed his name. There was a real flourish to it, and to this day I look at my signature and think back to how I used to copy Billy Thomas. It's in the way I sign my name. It's in the way I write a letter. It's in most everything I do.

Another great push found me at a barbershop called Modernistic, on Third Street in Mount Vernon. That's where I worked starting when I was 11 or 12. The job eventually pulled me from the Boys Club, as making money became more and more important. I still kept my hand in down at the club, but I was itching to work. Soon enough the barbershop became its own kind of lifeline for me, its own path to purpose. The place was run by a man named Jack Coleman, who took me on as a kindness to my mother. At least that's how I always look back on it. She was in the beauty shop business and she set me up as Mr. Coleman's cleanup guy. I thought it was the best job in the world. I had all kinds of hustles back then. You walked in the shop and I could tell right away how much money you had. I'd check out your shoes and I'd just know. I'd have people bringing me their dry cleaning, and I'd take it out and deliver it back to their house. I'd run all kinds of errands. They'd step out of Mr. Coleman's chair and I'd be on them with a whisk broom, brushing off their collar, saying, "Man, how you doing today?" or, "Man, you look good." There was money to be made all day long, especially if you were respectful and solicitous. My thinking was, if you had some loose change dangling around in your pocket on the way in the door, I'd do what I could to see that money into my pocket before you left.

What an education! What a bunch of characters! It was a real neighborhood joint, and Mr. Coleman wasn't just the head barber. He was like Modernistic's master of ceremonies. I thought he was it too - another someone special, another someone to look up to. He had his own business. He called his own shots. He presided over this wonderfully eccentric assortment of souls who paraded in and out of his shop all day long - chess masters, college professors, neighborhood businessmen. That's probably where I got my first acting lessons - at the barbershop, sweeping up and listening to all these stories from all these colorful individuals who could spin a tale or two.

There was a sign on the wall that said, "Credit is dead, it was killed by the last man who didn't pay." That gives you an idea of the tone and tenor of the place. Mr. Coleman was another strong individual, like Billy Thomas, and he ran that place like an extension of his own personality. I'll never forget how the shop used to close at 6:30, and someone would invariably walk through that door at 6:35 and say, "Oh, am I late?" And Mr. Coleman would say, "No, you're early. You're first. You're first one up tomorrow morning."

But of course I wasn't planning to stay at the Modernistic forever. It was just a place to hang my cap for the time being, to hustle some loose change on afternoons and weekends, and to collect some life lessons from the regulars. Besides, my mother didn't want me to stand 16 hours a day over somebody's head like she and Mr. Coleman had to do. She wanted something better for me. She worked too hard, she used to say, to see me walk the same path. She expected me to go to college, and I meant to meet her expectations - although, to be honest, I didn't have the first idea what I'd do when I got there.

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