Book Review #2 by Narendra Gupta
“Count that day lost whose low descending sun
Finds prices shot to glory and business done for fun”
|Peter B. Kyne
Author: Peter Bernard Kyne
A little about the author:
The legendary, Peter Bernard Kyne (1880-1957) was an American War Veteran, a Novelist, an intellectually productive short-story writer and a Businessman at heart who wrote between 1904 and 1940. Some of his books include: The Three Godfathers, Cappy Ricks series, The Valleys of the Giant, The long Chance, The enchanted hill, Comrades of the storm, Captain Scraggs, and The Go-Getter, to name a few. Many of his works were adapted into screenplays, in fact he is credited with 110 films between 1914 and 1952. (Courtesy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_B._Kyne; http://www.online-literature.com/peter-kyne/)
Brief Background and Why I read this Book:
I was randomly looking for books (on Flipkart) to feed my new found interest (Yes, can say hobby) of (some worthwhile) reading. I came across this book ‘The Go-Getter: A story that tells you how to be one’. This was definitely a catch word for me. I didn’t think twice and clicked on the ‘buy now’ button. When I ordered this book for INR 170/- bucks, was expecting a somewhat thick book (with at least 150-200 pages). Well! When I received the order, it happened to be just a 62 page, kind of pocket book. Initially, I thought could have easily downloaded the story (on internet) and read. However, when I flipped through the pages of this thin bible for sales persons, it turned out to be an incredibly inspiring story of a disabled war Veteran, Bill Peck.
The Go-Getter was first published in the year 1921 by William Randolph Hearst. The book turned out to be one of the international bestsellers. Online-literature.com quotes it as ‘Bible for Salesmen, Entrepreneurs and Employers around the world’.
The Go-Getter is an awe-inspiring story of William E. Peck, a war veteran who is disabled in his right leg with left forearm amputated halfway to the elbow. Irrespective of all his disabilities he has a rock solid will power, mountain like focus and a self belief of paramount degree. Before I say anything further let me introduce to the four characters of the story.
- Mr Alden P Ricks (also Known as Cappy Ricks), Founder and Chairman of Ricks Inc
- Mr. Skinner, President and General Manager of Ricks Logging and Lumbering Compan
- Captain Matt Peasley, President and Manager of Blue Star Navigation Company
- William E. Peck, the Hero of the story, a disabled war Veteran
The plot begins with Cappy Ricks in conversation with Mr. Skinner, President and General Manager of Ricks Logging and Lumbering Company and Matt Peasley, Rick’s son-in-law, owner and president of another of Rick’s corporate entity. They are in discussion over their sinking business in one of their firms in Sanghai and desperately looking for someone who revitalizes their business in a place 6000 miles away from the expert advice. It was a herculean responsibility and Cappy Ricks decides to send only a Go-Getter for the Sanghai challenge.
When Skinner shows his apprehension over assigning the Sanghai assignment to a young blood and on few of his other management indecisiveness, Cappy thrashes him with the following words:(Para2, P15)
“it’s a constant source of amazement to me why I refrain from firing you. You are a dodo!. The killjoys like you have straddled the neck of industry and throttled it with absurd theories that a man’s back must be bent like an ox-bow and his locks snowy white before he can be entrusted with responsibility and a living wage, have caused all of our wars and strikes. This is a young man’s world,Skinner and don’t you ever forget it. The Go-Getters of this word are under thirty years of age”
I have emphasized on Cappy’s words ‘This is a young man’s world’. I wonder why does India need a 78 year old Prime Minister, most of the ministry officials are much older than required and in a stage of life when they are suffering from their old age problems. How much good they would do to the nation upliftment ?? India certainly needs the like of young and dynamic leaders. Let the old ones retire and leave peaceful life, certainly they are there to mentor the younger blood when required. My personal opinion, huh. What do you say?
Back to the story……and then enters the hero of the story, William E Peck. He approaches Cappy Ricks for any job above stenographer in Ricks Lumber and Logging Company. When Cappy asks if he feels low about his physical condition, Peck replies in the following words (Powerful and motivational for those who complain about so many things in spite of having all the body organs intact) (Para 4, P 21)
“Oh, I got off easy, Mr. Ricks. I have my head left –and my right arm. I can think and I can write, and even if one of my wheels is flat I can hike longer and faster after an order than most. Got a job for me, Mr. Ricks?”
After being shown red signal by Skinner and Matt, When Cappy asks why do you come to me? (General Interview Qus: Why should we hire you?). I quote Peck’s reply, an inspiring one. (Para 2, Page 22)
“ Because, I want you to go over their (Skinner and Matt’s) heads and give me a job. I don’t care a hoot what it is, provided I can do it. If I can do it, I will do it better than it was ever done before, and if I can’t do that I will quit to save you the embarrassment of firing me. I’m not an object of charity, but I am scarcely the man I used to be and I’m four years behind the procession (spent in war prior to which Peck was working with another Lumber Company) and have to catch up. I have the best of references —-“
Some one has rightly said “A winner is a winner well before he becomes a Winner”. Willam Peck had his business card for the new job ready well before he joined the firm. In his first assignment, William Peck does extremely well, winning new business deals for the company. Happy with his performance as a the prospective Manager for the Sanghai task, Cappy tests him with a test he calls ‘the thirty-third degree of blue vase’.
And then starts one of the toughest assessments for the management personnel in the classic era. Peck is assigned with the task of getting a (peculiar) blue vase from a certain market place. Cappy mentions he needs to gift it to a lady of acquaintance and that getting that particular vase is of paramount importance. Cappy is to board the train at 8 pm and that he should have the vase by then. This enterprising veteran then promptly asks for the description of the blue vase to get clarity on his task. Quoting his words :
“ What sort of blue it is, how tall is it and what is, approximately, its greatest diameter? Does it set on a base, or does it not? Is it a solid blue, or is it figured?”
Lesson for me and all of you reading me here. Before stating on a task, we must have clarity and every possible detail of the (desired) end product. William Peck had a window of 5 hours to do this seemingly easy (Not so, indeed!) but uncertain task. The intensive search for that blue vase began. He hunted for that elusive vase in the proximity and even far from the market place and finally after hours of tiresome search he could trace the blue vase in a huge plate glass window far away from the area told to him. The hunt for that elusive vase did not end here, in fact what happened so far was just a taste of the complexity of the job. Peck discovered that the shop in which the vase was present was closed and that it was owned by some ‘B. Cohen’. The thrill began here. He found from the phone directory that there were 19 ‘B. Cohens’ in the city. The owner of the shop was suppose to be one of them, so he called each one of the B.Cohens’. Let me quote from the book to reflect the degree of desperation, William Peck displayed to accomplish the task.
“In despair he changed a dollar into five cent pieces, sought a telephone booth and commenced calling up all the B. Cohens in Sanfrancisco. Of the nineteen, four did not answer, three were temporarily disconnected. Six replied in yiddish, Five were not the B.Cohen he sought, and one wore he ws Irish and that his name was spelled Cohan and pronounced with an accent on both syllables”
After calling all the B.Cohens in town, he discovers the name plate on the shop reading ‘B.Cohn’ instead of ‘B.Cohen’ and doubted if it was some kind of illusion. He then called the 8 ‘B.Cohns’ in town and then the 3 ‘Simons’ followed by Herman Joost to finally trace Mr. B. Cohn, the owner of the shop containing that blue vase. This is followed by many more obstacles like arranging $2000 for the small vase, when he does not receive any support from the people who could do that. Not only this he was discouraged by Skinner and Matt Peasley to leave the petty task (of finding the blue vase). ‘I’m going to stick to the job until I deliver the goods’ was Peck’s simple reply. Finally he went on to bring a platinum ring with diamond and sapphires to provide as a security. Finally after getting that elusive blue vase, he arranged for a flight with his pilot friend to ensure that it reaches Cappy Ricks. This enterprising Veteran finally delivered the blue vase and passed that damnably cruel job and the supreme test of a go getter, to get selected for the Sanghai challenge.
The story ends on a lighter note when Cappy asks Bill Peck to play Golf forgetting about his amputated left arm. On being asked if he had ever tried playing Golf, Bill replies “No Sir, but it shall be done!”.
Type of People who will like this Book:
Working Professionals, Students who wish to do extra-ordinary in their lives will like this book for sure. I personally recommend reading this book to each one of you, two hour is all that you need.
What I didn’t like to some extent:
When I read this book for the first time I was bowled over by the tough literature of the early 20th century, had to consult dictionary multiple times. Though Initially I struggled with few words used mostly in the classic era, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it second time, the antique words and vocabulary were good to learn.To be honest, there was nothing that I didn’t like in this short story book carrying a bigger message.
Narendra’s Rating for The Go-Getter: A story that tells you how to be one:
For its strong message through an inspiring story, I give it a 9 on 10 (9/10).
Some of the catchwords of the Book:
‘Cappy Ricks, had more troubles than a hen with ducklings’, ‘Have you got a misery in your back’, ‘Stow your sarcasm, young feller’, ‘every infernal young whelp’, ‘Great Wampus Cats!’, ‘ahem!..harumph-h-h!’, ‘ there is no use weeping over spilled milk’, ‘he soliloquized aloud’, ‘when the moment is propitious’, ‘not a peep out of you (Hinglish: juban se ek sabd nahi nikalna)’, ‘you unimaginative dunderhead! You jibbering jackdaw’, ‘Bill Peck was one of the doggondest finest soldiers you ever saw, he carries an objective’, ‘Mr. Skinner smiles his swordfish smile’, ‘holy pink toed prophet’, ‘By the twelve ragged apostles!’, ‘skunk spruce’, ‘pernicious habit of defering’, ‘If he (Peck) fails to do so, au revoir’, Peck states to Cappy ‘ I have no false pride’, ‘as irritable as a clucking hen’,
My Final words: I want to be a Go-Getter in Life. I am well on the way, even big things start with small and consistent actions. I am sure each one of you reading me want to be one in your lives. I recommend reading this and similar books. This would certainly bring positive vibe and action into your deeds given that you are open to it and importantly ready for it.
I really want each one of you to be a go-getter in your personal and professional lives. Lets make our workplace, our organization, our nation and eventually our planet a better place to live in by giving our best
All the Best!!.
14 Apr 2013; 5:35pm