Book Review: “The Final Summit” by Andy Andrews

I first “discovered” Andy Andrews when he started following me on Twitter. (He’s @AndyAndrews.) Exploring his website led me to The Noticer Project, a nationwide movement to “notice” the five most influential people in your life. From that point onward, I was hooked on everything he did. I’ve since read all of his books, heard him speak in person, watched many of his videos, and always look forward to his next project. So, I was thrilled when his publisher, Thomas Nelson, gave me the opportunity to review his latest book.

The Final Summit book coverSo, let me ask you this… If you were able to travel through time meeting some of the greatest leaders throughout history, what would you hope to learn from them? In Andy’s book “The Traveler’s Gift,” the main character, David Ponder, gets just such an opportunity at the absolute lowest point in his life. Through the course of this New York Times bestseller, he meets King Solomon, Abraham Lincoln, Harry Truman, Columbus, Anne Frank, Joshua Chamberlain and the archangel Gabriel to learn The Seven Decisions for Success that shaped their lives.

David then spends the next 28 years applying The Seven Decisions to his life and business, benefiting himself, his family, and countless other people around him. His success hit a snag at one point, only to rise to even greater heights as he embraces Truman’s lesson that “Adversity is preparation for greatness.”

In the sequel, “The Final Summit,” David Ponder’s world has once again been shaken. His beloved wife, Ellen, suddenly and unexpectedly dies in her sleep, and he’s at a complete and total loss without her.

It’s at this point that David learns that all of history’s Travelers are being gathered together for one last summit meeting that he is to lead, and the fate of the world hangs in the balance. Centuries of greed, pride and hate have sent mankind hurtling towards disaster, and far from its original purpose. The question is simple, “What does humanity need to do, individually and collectively, to restore itself to the pathway toward successful civilization?” The answer? Only two words… But can the greatest minds in all of history find the right ones?

Hal Sutton, the PGA champion, describes the book this way: “Is it possible to mix C.S. Lewis, Alfred Hitchcock and Tony Robbins? The Final Summit is a unique and powerful blend of mystery and suspense, and principles and emotional fire. Wow! Bring your highlighter to this party. You’ll want to remember every word!”

I couldn’t agree more! As with the first book, I learned fascinating bits of history and the roles that specific individuals played in affecting the outcomes. But I also was led to explore my own thoughts and feelings about the very same topics that the book’s characters were wrestling with. Are leaders perfect? When they fail, are they still a great leader? How can one seemingly minor choice influence the course of history? Can the wisdom of the past unlock the secrets of success today? Are my day-to-day actions really all that significant? Do I agree with the Summit’s final answer?

The book is an easy and enjoyable read. (I received it on Friday and was finished on Sunday, and I did do other things this weekend besides read.) But it’s the kind of book that you’ll want to refer to over and over again, and it can only serve to guide you in your efforts to become a better leader and individual. So, I highly recommend reading “The Traveler’s Gift,” “The Final Summit” and, for a little extra practice, “Mastering the Seven Decisions.” You won’t be disappointed!

Interested in reading “The Final Summit?” Thomas Nelson has been kind enough to provide me with an extra copy to give to one of my readers. Leave a comment below with your two-word answer to the question “What do you do when you don’t know what to do?” and why you think it’s the right thing to do. You’ll be entered into our drawing to receive a free copy of “The Final Summit!” (The drawing will be on June 7th.)

Want to learn more about Andy and his life-changing books? Follow him on Facebook or visit his website.

“In reading about the lives of great people, I found that the first great victory most of them won was over themselves.” ~ David Ponder

Hashtags Demystified…

[Update: As of January 9th, 2012 TwapperKeeper is now fully integrated with the HootSuite dashboard. This means the core functionality you now enjoy for archiving your tweets is available alongside your other social networks and profiles. ]

A friend of mine called me up earlier today and said “Can you tell me about this hashtag thing? I really need to understand it for my business, and haven’t a clue where to start.” Rather than keeping the information between “just the two of us,” I decided to write a quick post and show you just what hashtags are capable of doing.

Hashtags are a quick and easy way of organizing information on Twitter. Due to some tools that allow you to post on multiple social networks at once (like Hootsuite and TweetDeck), you’ll find hashtags used on other social networks as well, but they were first used with Twitter and there are Twitter-related sites that make them extremely powerful. Thus, the examples I use in this blog post will all be Twitter-oriented.

So, first – What is a hashtag? Wiktionary defines it as: A tag embedded in a message posted on a microblogging service, consisting of a word within the message prefixed with a hash sign (#).

Now that that’s clear, let’s move on. Oh! Wait! It didn’t make sense? Okay. Let’s try again. If I want to highlight certain terms in a tweet as keywords in my text, I start them with a hash sign. The combination of the hash sign and the word that immediately follows it is my “hashtag.” So, when I tweet something about my brand (Aleweb Social Marketing), I use a hashtag of #Aleweb to highlight that keyword.

A common use of hashtags is to refer to virtual and real-world events (like TweetChats, conferences, SXSW, etc.). People interested in finding out what everyone’s saying about that event will search for the hashtag and see a running stream of commentary filtered on that one subject. Brown Estate, a winery in Napa Valley, created the #brownzin hashtag to put on the label of their 2009 Napa Zin label to facilitate conversation among the various people who enjoy that particular wine, and they’re tweeting about it to this very day!

Job seekers in Connecticut may want to watch the hashtag pair “#jobs #ct” or “#hiring #ct” to learn more about openings that exist within the state. You can filter that further by adding a tag for the field or specific location that you want. For example, “#hartford #ct #jobs.” There are also folks out there doing all they can to help those who are unemployed find gainful employment. Try taking a look at #findajobfriday, #hirefriday, and #jobangels. [Tip: Twitter is a great tool in the job search because many recruiters will post a job opening on Twitter, which is free to use, before paying to post the opening on a job board. Therefore, you can learn about some openings before they’re even posted anywhere by watching for them on Twitter.]

How do I create a hashtag? Well, you create one by simply starting to use it. There’s no place to register a tag. You start using it, and invite your followers use it too. Over time, this leads to greater visibility, especially when you actively promote its use, like Brown Estate did by including the tag on their labels.

Sometimes, multiple hashtags appear that all relate to the same thing (like #job and #jobs, and #FollowFriday and #ff). Remember that the hashtag counts in your character count for your tweet. So, you want something short and sweet, but meaningful. Play around with searching for the hashtag you want to create. If it’s not in use, run with it and let others know what it means, and encourage them to use it too!

Finally, how do I search for a hashtag? Well, there are all sorts of ways to do that. You can use search.twitter.com to search for the hashtag. You can use the search box in Hootsuite and other applications. You can also use Tweetchat or Twubs to monitor conversations taking place around a given hashtag. (When you use Tweetchat, you have less than 140 characters to work with, because TweetChat automatically appends the tag you’re following to your tweet.)

How else can hashtags help me? You can also use other sites like BlastFollow to automatically follow everyone who’s using a particular hashtag. Or you can create an RSS feed of a hashtag for posting on your website or pulling into your Facebook newsfeed. You can use Storify to create a story out of a collection of posts for archiving and sharing purposes, and you can use TwapperKeeper to periodically archive hashtag posts so that nothing gets lost over time.

A hashtag by itself is a simple thing. But what you do with it is as rich and powerful as you make it. Promote your business. Find a job. Attend a conference. Learn something new. The choice is yours!

And when you share this post, try adding #Aleweb to it. Then see what everyone else is saying and join the conversation!