Reviewing "The Noticer" by Andy Andrews

Michael Hyatt is the CEO of Thomas Nelson, a giant Christian publishing house. He’s been tweeting about a soon-to-be released book called <a href="The Noticer. I’ve never done this before, but Hyatt’s enthusiasm lead me to request a reviewer’s copy of the book in exchange for my promise to post a review on my blog. Here goes.

The Noticer tells the story of the ageless Jones (not Mr. Jones, just Jones) who helps people in crisis find perspective and meaning in life. The Noticer is a quick read and felt familiar… like a Patrick Lencioni leadership/business fable, but focused on inspiration and encouragement rather than business principles. There are also traces of Carnegie’s How to Win Friends & Influence People and Chapman’s Five Love Languages. Jones helps people save marriages and families, brings hope to the hopeless and offer meaning for those who find none in life. Brief interactions lead to transformed lives.

Jones reminds me of Papa from The Shack. Jones isn’t God, but he does have a hard-to-pin-down spiritual character. Where Papa is “especially fond” of each person, Jones is their “best friend”. Like Papa, Jones appears differently to each person — Latinos know him as Garcia, and Asians know him as Chen.

Jones is a sage and encourager. He teaches his friends to ask what others would change about them if they could? “[I]f you want to be a person of influence — if you want people to believe the things you believe or buy what you are selling — then others must at least be comfortable with you (p15)”. Another favorite quote comes from a time when he encourages an aging widow about her purpose in life: “Sorry, but I’ve never known a single person who made a tiny difference. I am not even convinced it is possible. So, you will have to settle for making a huge difference” (p 85-86).

Many personal development books teach techniques that lead to or feed greed. While Jones’ advice is definitely practical, it aims towards higher purposes, for affecting change, reconciliation, love and making big differences in our world. This is the best kind of inspiration.

Like so many books that use narrative to teach truth (think A McLaren’s A New Kind of Christian, Lencioni’s books, or even The Shack), the plot of The Noticer can be forced and thin at times, but it doesn’t detract much from the book. To fully flesh out the wide ranging themes would have required a book that was four times as long and would have moved the short and readable text out of the reach of many. Even if this book doesn’t affect “change in an instant”, it may be a jumping off point into deeper topics pushing you to find wise friends who will speak truth and offer the same Jones-like “perspective”. Looking for motivation and inspiration? Pickup a copy of The Noticer.

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Feeling Nostalgic… And The Next Five Years

I’m feeling nostalgic today, my last day at MarkMonitor. My good friend Blake Hayward and I founded CollectiveTrust five years ago. MarkMonitor acquired “us” about three years ago. That chapter closes today.

Looking back, it’s easy to break down my career into five-year chunks. The first five years I spent in grad school, discovering programming, and getting started as a consultant. The next five years I focused on tabbed browsing and NetCaptor. The last five years have been spent on anti-phishing technologies (and more recently R&D stuff) at CollectiveTrust/MarkMonitor.

It’s hard not to wonder what’s in store for the next five years. They say you overestimate what you can accomplish in one year and underestimate what you can accomplish in five years. At least I know how the next five years will start. I’m taking a few days off this Easter week before starting Monday at AT&T Interactive/YellowPages.com on the Search and Data Services Team. I’m excited for a number of reasons… but mainly because it looks like I’ll be working with a very strong team made up of *really* smart and experienced people. Most of my work has been independent or as team leader so I’m looking forward to learning how much a strong team can accomplish.

What about the next five years for our family? Deo volente, our youngest, Claire (5), will be the age our oldest, Lauren (10) is now. Luke will be 13 and probably eating us out of house and home. Lauren will be 15 and I’ll be training as a ninja to scare away the boys. And Nancy and I will celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary. Wow!