Just an ordinary person with a passion – Pencils of Promise

I recently listened to Pat Flynn interview Adam Braun (Pencils of Promise) on his Smart Passive Income podcast.  I immediately bought Adam’s new book – The Promise of a Pencil: How an ordinary person can create extraordinary change –   and added it to my reading stack.  Since Joanne and I are in Florida for a few days following Michael Hyatt’s Launch Conference I picked the book up – and couldn’t put it Promise of a Pencildown till I finished the last page.

The Promise of a Pencil is the story of how Adam’s life was changed when he asked a little boy, begging on the streets of India, if he could have anything in the world, what would it be?  The little boy thought about it for a few seconds, then responded confidently: “A pencil.”

Here are some random thoughts pulled from this book about finding and living out your passion:

  • Asking for permission is asking for denial.
  • The biggest of dreams often start with small, unreasonable acts.
  • When confronted with two good options: Pick the one you love.
  • Stay guided by your values, not your necessities.
  • “Here’s my best advice: Make the little decisions with your head and the big ones with your heart.  Do that and you’ll be just fine.”  From Kevin Roberts, CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi
  • You may be safe, but I am free.
  • “If you want to go fast, go alone.  If you want to go far, go together.”  African proverb

Pencils of Promise now breaks ground on a new school every 90 hours.  I found myself newly inspired to do what I love, to not make compromises and to stay focused on my mission.

Incidentally, Adam started Pencils of Promise with $25.  More ideas on inexpensive startups can be found in

The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future

Has there been a defining moment in your life that put you on the path to live out your passion?

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  • For me it was the day my father died, that shook me up to the reality of time and how short our life really is. I thought if I did today I would die with so many regrets and so many things I wanted to do. I’ve chased my dreams ever since.

  • Scott Costa

    For me, there are many cookies to trace back and find defining moments. However, Dave Ramsey…which then led me to Dan Miller…life changing. Dan, I love the point of safety vs. being free. Thank you for opening my map.

  • What a great story! For me, it was when I was talking about a coach I knew that worked with athletes on mental toughness and confidence. The person I was talking to just looked at me and goes, “Is that what you want to do?” Then it hit me – I had been coaching people without realizing it for a while at that point and was desperately searching for my “calling.” And I realized I could be happy helping people through their mental and emotional blocks for the rest of my life! Enter Dan Miller and the Coaching Mastery Program…Brilliant!

  • LOVE “Asking for permission is asking for denial.” Wow!

    A close second: “You may be safe, but I am free.” I get this one because I’ve been honored to travel this journey. It was scary, but so worth it!

    BTW, just purchased the book

  • Melissa AuClair

    I just heard Adam interviewed this week; this book is on my to-read list! I had a defining “year” when I looked back and realized I was the only one stopping myself from pursuing what was in my heart and gut.

  • Sherry Carver

    There is always some small item that gains your attention and gives you the “push” that moves you forward!! Love this story!

  • I just put Adams book next on my reading list. Thanks, Dan!

  • LadyJevonnahEllison

    This book is on my reading list also. So inspiring!

  • Sam Iam Espinoza

    Most of the therapists I work with don’t like the idea of private practice because “they would miss the friendships” and the steady paycheck. Me of them said to me, how would I even keep a steady stream of clients? To me that’s freedom, being in charge of my own income. Not relying on a company anymore or my paycheck. So, this year I set out what I should’ve done back in 1988. Open up my bakery. I’m learning to bake late at night and selling to a few people at a time. Mom going myself a timeline of 5years to have opened and fully running within that time and getting out of community mental health.

  • Joshua Schukman

    Hi Dan,

    I love this story, and Adam’s book is hands down the best I’ve ever read. It spoke directly to me in ways few other writings ever had.

    I’m curious though, to hear your thoughts on Adam’s economic model? I know PoP is a non-profit, or For Purpose Organization, in Adam’s words, but it is still a donor based model with a 501c3 legal structure – what are your feelings on this?