Book Review: Naked Determination

It was a pleasure Gisela reading your book NAKED DETERMINATION. I couldn’t put it down. I loved reading your travel anecdotes, the high and low points in your life and how you succeeded in adversity. Each story was written honestly and from the heart—you hold nothing back!

I have known you for a long time as the author of educational books, why did you write a story book, entitled NAKED DETERMINATION?

Thank You, Marjan, for remembering my early successes. ND is written for people who want to get to living their dreams and is written 21st century style. I believe that today people learn by creating their own applications. That is why I wrote my book as a story book, which is just a different kind of educational book. People aim for similar goals and experience similar situations. Reading the lessons which worked for me, the reader can apply these lessons right away -possibly with a bit of tweaking, but that is exactly what today’s young people are so good at.

How and why is ND a motivational book but not a self-help book?

Most people don’t need self-help books with step-by-step programs but achieve more with books of encouragement and easy-to-follow tricks. This is like running the 100m dash. For decades and decades people thought that it was simply not possible to race 100m in under 10 seconds. Eventually, Jim Hines ran a time of 9.95 at the Olympic Games 1968. Today, that time is almost the standard; respectively, Usain Bolt ran a time of 9.58 in 2012. The human brain is remarkable. If we know something can be done, we can get there. ND tells how I got to reach my goals. Of course, these goals are much more typical for the average person. My intentions are simply about seeing what I wanted to see, getting where I wanted to go, and not getting knocked out and over by crises, such as the Great Recession. Thus, I hope that readers will take away from reading ND, “What I want to do can be done”.

Why did you present the book as a story book?

At least I am sometimes too tired to work myself through dry materials. Which is why I wanted to present my knowledge in an entertaining way, wanted the reader to laugh or at least to chuckle. In 2009 I renovated my small library at home. At the time I found out that it houses quite a few books I wanted to read but somehow they ended up being decorative elements on my shelves. I also believe that today too many fake “reach-your-dreams” schemes are being presented. When a reader reads my story I tell what I wanted, what I did, and how I got to reaching my goal. There are pictures as proof. My lessons are simple, like “Smile when you are asking for something on the phone.” Everybody can follow the story, knows what I am talking about, can apply the lesson and achieve results. Beyond that, young people can apply the lessons for greater success from the start instead of having to find out through trial and error.

You write a lot about your travels. Why do you think travel is important for teachers and students ?

I have met a lot of teachers when traveling. Teachers like to learn. When traveling to remote regions, where resources are scarce, e.g. the Kashmir region or Mongolia, I almost always had to travel with a group. So it came about that I met dozens of history teachers, biology teachers, even math teachers… who wanted to explore a certain region for their own benefit on multiple levels. From my experience teaching and learning while traveling goes together.

As for students: I believe that in today’s economy, which is based a lot on trade with foreign countries, it is a true advantage to be able to say at an interview e.g., “I have traveled Brazil and speak a bit of Portuguese”. If the company trades with Brazil, any student who has traveled there and speaks a bit of Portuguese will almost certainly be the top candidate. Of course, clever students research in advance which are the export countries of greatest relevance to the industry in which they want to work. These days, International jobs pay the most money. That is why Ivy League Schools always offer Study Abroad Programs. Students, who have International travel experience, get better jobs. Then again, an interviewer cannot ask, whether the candidate traveled with a school program for thousands of dollars or with his backpack for a lot less. So, my suggestion is to travel with backpack, save money, and look just as good as an Ivy League graduate. Plus, a student who travels will pick up the additional skills when solving travel related issues.

What was one obstacle that you overcame that you are especially proud of?

That I never gave up… I believe it really does not matter what one’s particular problem at a particular time is… when faced with a problem most often any or all look equally unpleasant. That’s why I listed so many different topics in my book because I wanted to tell the reader, “You can do it! You can find a reason to smile, lose 20 pounds, overcome rejection…. and here is how I did it. I am not some super-star… I am a regular person. If I could do it… you can do it.”

What advice would you give a student who is experiencing rejection?

I would tell the student to look for the real/underlying reason why a particular rejection hurt. All of us know that we cannot have everything we want, so if a rejection hurts there is an emotional reason which may be related to something totally different. In the story I describe in my book, the reason why I felt rejected was because I cared about being involved with a company who did things in a, to me, revolutionary new way.  A student who is for instance rejected by a certain university could examine why he cared about being admitted there? … for status… potential future earnings… family’s expectations… Finding the real reason will help the student to come out on top – for himself.

How can today’s students better manage their problems?

In my humble opinion, the best way to overcome and manage problems is learning to believe that you can make it. This will work for at the current problem and be of help in the future when other problems arise. So, I would tell students to listen to others who have been “there”, who have overcome that problem already and find the person, whose advice they will believe. Many people have answers and are willing to share their tricks; today with so many resources, students can find the right advice easier.

What advice would you give teachers about teaching?

Take teaching as much 21st century style as possible!

If students are encouraged to share their knowledge with other students around the world they may be able to teach others, thus find an application for their knowledge. This will help students want to strive for more knowledge. Once we have a reason to learn and know where we are going with our knowledge, we want to learn more and get better. That’s deeply human.

Beyond that, I would hope that teachers will read the one or other story I wrote in their classrooms. Granted, there are a few, which are not suitable for the classroom. I published these too because I felt they are important. More than 90% of my stories can be read in any HS classroom and students may take away how to find out what counts and how make their dreams come true. One of my greatest experiences when writing this book was, meeting one of my test readers, who is only now 19 years old.

His reaction to reading my book is listed in my newsroom. Reading what he said made a difference in my life.

Read more on the book here:

Check out Gisela’s sample chapter, stories and workshops.




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