Review: Thomas Jefferson Education for Teens

Thomas Jefferson Education for Teens
Thomas Jefferson Education for Teens by Oliver DeMille
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Thomas Jefferson Education for Teens isn’t just for kids. In fact, the subtitle is: And Every Adult Who Wants to Change the World. Appropriately so.

My wife and I learned about A Thomas Jefferson Education a few years ago and have been adopting the philosophy in our home. Many of our friends think it is a home-school curriculum, but it is so much more.

Thomas Jefferson Education or Leadership Education is a philosophy, really a way of life, focused on discovering the genius in each of us and nurturing an awareness that we each have a purpose in life. The more clearly we define that purpose, the greater drive we feel to put in the effort to learn and develop and prepare for the future.

It’s not hard to perceive how powerful this approach would be for a teenager struggling to pay attention at school. How different the focus of our entertainment-addicted would be if they understood their role in shaping the future!

You should read the book, because Oliver DeMille and Shanon Brooks explain it in an infinitely more inspiring way than my attempt.

Brooks and DeMille discuss the historical trends explained in The Fourth Turning of the rise and decline of societies. We are at a critical point in that cycle, and we need adults and youth prepared to lead effectively with integrity and a sound understanding of principles.

Conventional wisdom tells us to study hard, get good grades, get a job, and save for retirement, but this approach no longer offers the security that it did in past decades. I think kids intuitively understand this considering more and more college graduates remain unemployed or underemployed. They start their adult lives with low paying jobs under a mountain of student loan debt. It’s hard to have hope in that situation.

I see a lot of adults coming to this realization as the most experienced professionals in their field (consequently they are often the highest paid employees) are “let go” to ease constricting budgets. It definitely shook my confidence when I saw a bunch of highly competent ICU nurses replaced by new grad nurses without that literally life saving knowledge and experience. That decision was fueled by budgetary stress when the economy took a turn for the worse.

My intention is not to speak ill of professional training, but to point out that a different way of thinking is necessary in these changing times.

Politics is increasingly vitriolic, families are under attack, our prison system is saturated, the state of the nation’s finances is a joke. We can no longer rely on the “experts” who evidently cannot solve the problems. Actually, even if we had wise and principled leaders, if the people don’t understand and get involved we will never see positive change.

The key to steering our nation (and the world) through uncertainty and crisis toward prosperity and freedom is educated individuals. Not just those who have a fancy piece of paper from a university, but people who understand the questions discussed throughout the history of civilization, individuals versed in the various answers posited by philosophers and rulers, and those able to see the historical evidence of where those different routes inevitably take the societies that adopt them.

But understanding alone isn’t enough. Those individuals must also learn to communicate effectively. They must develop the integrity to align their thoughts and actions with truth. They need initiative and drive. And they must be wise enough to know that fixing the world is too big for any one individual or small group of individuals.

We all have our role to play. What’s yours? What are you doing to prepare for and fulfill that mission?

This book will help.

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Review: Kingdom’s Dawn

Kingdom's Dawn
Kingdom’s Dawn by Chuck Black
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Kingdom’s Dawn incorporates Old Testament stories in a Medieval tale. I enjoyed the book, especially for the way it delivers important themes in a way that gets my kids’ attention.

Central to my beliefs about raising children and mentoring youth is that each individual has a purpose/mission in this life. When we understand what our God-given purpose is, we are inspired to learn and prepare. When we are preparing for and fulfilling our purpose, we experience the greatest amount of satisfaction and joy. We will also have the greatest impact for good on the world around us.

This is one of the major themes in the book, and I enjoyed that aspect of it; however, there were a couple of things that bothered me.

I don’t mind incorporating Biblical stories into works of fiction. I wish more authors did just that, but often in Kingdom’s Dawn it was way too obvious and even interrupted the flow of the story. The plot wasn’t very fluid, and I think this may have been a cost of trying to correlate so thoroughly to Old Testament accounts.

I enjoyed the story and the characters, but I found the plot derivative to the point of being a bit distracting.

Still, I enjoyed reading it, my kids like the books, and I think I’ll read the rest of the series.

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Review: TEAM Textbook

TEAM Textbook
TEAM Textbook by Chris Brady
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This is the textbook for those who are building Compensated Communities through the LIFE Business; however, it is just as much a book on philosophy as it is a book about business.

What is that philosophy?

I’m glad you asked. The philosophy of The LIFE Business is centered on building relationships. This cannot be accomplished with a set of skills or techniques. Pride, dishonesty, and self-centeredness destroy it. Rather, it is a philosophy of character development and servant leadership. It is focused on progress and purpose.

The specific steps to building the business are powerful, and LIFE is experiencing incredible growth. My average reader isn’t yet part of this community, so my review will focus on a few of the character development principles taught in this book.

One of the most powerful lessons taught in this book and modeled by leaders in our community is to expect and see only the best in people.

Any fool can find fault; it takes somebody special to find greatness. In order to build a big business, it becomes absolutely necessary that we see the good in other people.

Your people need to see their victory in your eyes.

We need to make sure that those involved… need to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that they have a person or group of people that believe in them and expect the best they have to give.

The thing is, the lesson to see the best in people needs to start with oneself. In a world that constantly beats us down and teaches us that we aren’t attractive enough, smart enough, or capable enough to be great, it is essential that we remember that we are all sons and daughters of a loving God. Created in His image, we are all great in His eyes and have great purpose.

Empowering individuals to believe in themselves, educate themselves, and act on what they learn is the modus operandi of the LIFE Business. We build communities of people breaking free of mediocrity and restoring a culture of self-education through voracious reading. We invite individuals to commit to be their best, and we hold each other accountable to progressing toward that greatness – never forcing expectations on anyone, but always willing to lend a hand up when they’re ready.

I can’t pass up the opportunity to share this opportunity with others, because I’ve seen it generate significant personal victories for every single member of my team that chooses to participate.

I loved this book. It taught me to be more effective at improving lives through building relationships of love and trust.  I highly recommend it.

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Review: Do You Really Need a JOB? Reasons Why I Don’t Think So and What You Can Do About It

Do You Really Need a JOB? Reasons Why I Don't Think So and What You Can Do About It
Do You Really Need a JOB? Reasons Why I Don’t Think So and What You Can Do About It by P.C. Ejeke
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

One of my goals is to read more, and I like to download free books on my Kindle to make sure I always have something to read-whether I’m in line at the grocery store, waiting in an office, or riding the elevator to the cafeteria at work.

That’s how I found this book.

Having recently started to build a leadership and financial development business with LIFE opened my eyes to the differences between working as an employee or self-employed vs. earning income through investments or systems-based businesses. This concept is explained well by Robert Kiyosaki in his book Cashflow Quadrant.

Ejeke explains that idea in his book Do You Really Need a JOB? and adds his perspective to the discussion of the risks and benefits of escaping traditional employment in favor of building your own business. He identifies some tools to aid those who specifically choose to build online businesses. Ejeke also gives examples of job opportunities of which most individuals might not be aware.

There are some good nuggets of info in this book, but overall the delivery is poor. Often, the tone is pretentious, as if everyone who chooses to work in corporate america is less intelligent than those who chose self-employment or home-based businesses. The formatting, grammar, and structure in this book are amateurish. I wouldn’t recommend paying for this book, because there are much better sources for this type of information.

That is my honest assessment, but I have to add that I think Ejeke has a lot going for him that can contribute to huge success. How many of us who take time to read books and type out a review or share our thoughts about those books have taken the time and made the risk to write a book of our own? Ejeke did, and English isn’t even his native language! I truly hope he writes again and works with an editor to deliver a more polished book.

We definitely need more people who think out of the box and are willing to take intelligent risks in order to become great!

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Review: From a Far Land

From a Far Land
From a Far Land by G. David Walker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I found this book while searching for free fiction ebooks for my Kindle. My expectations are low regarding free books, but I found myself pleasantly surprised by this book.

Originality is becoming more important to my response to fiction. This story had many components that were fresh and enjoyable. The writing isn’t stellar, but it is solid. The same goes for the character development.

This book earns 4 stars. If it tackled more important themes or timeless principles I would have given it 5 stars.

If you like fantasy geared for young adults, give this book a try.

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Review: Virtues of Leadership

Virtues of Leadership
Virtues of Leadership by William J. Bennett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book contains excerpts about leadership from The Book of Virtues. My wife has used the full book for morning devotionals with our kids, and we have all enjoyed the fun stories, the messages they contain, and the discussions that easily accompany them.

This short book is easy to read and makes a valuable addition to the bookshelf of anyone in a leadership role.

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Review: L.I.F.E. Living Intentionally For Excellence

L.I.F.E. Living Intentionally For Excellence
L.I.F.E. Living Intentionally For Excellence by Chris Brady
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another great book by Orrin Woodward and Chris Brady!

It took me a while to really get into this book. I think it was the format. There are many “chapters” that are usually only one to four pages long. Between these are a page or two that contain Chris and Orrin’s tweets.

I think I wanted a book into which I could immerse myself, but the frequent change in format proved a series of speed bumps.

This turns out to be a good thing! One lesson repeated often by the Policy Council members of LIFE is that reading without application of what you “learn” is really just a pass-time. True scholars and leaders take time to ponder what they read, identify the one or two principles most needing application or improvement in their own life, and get to work to improve those things.

Tim Marks is a fantastic example of this, and I recommend his book Voyage of a Viking.

By the end of this book I had fallen in love with the format. It makes it very applicable to daily devotionals, use as a thought-provoking coffee table book, or a “text-book” for personal study. The reader can pat himself on the back during the chapters that he is living the principles well, and  on those sections where he needs improvement he can slow down, plan, and implement.

I appreciate that this book never deviates from the mission of its authors. Orrin Woodward and Chris Brady have dedicated their lives and resources to helping others live better lives. They focus on the 8 F’s of LIFE: Faith, Family, Finances, Fitness, Following (leadership), Freedom, Friends, and Fun.

I love each of these areas of focus, and I have a special passion for Freedom. One of the reasons that God put me on Earth is to move the cause of liberty through education. I have gone back to school, traveled to the other side of the globe, participated in different levels of politics, currently serve as Precinct Committeeman and State Committeeman, started and participated in study groups focused on the US Constitution, and more.

I have found NOTHING as effective as the products and culture of LIFE at helping me educate myself and others on the principles of liberty. It’s amazing to see some of my rough edges whittle away so that I can better present the message in my heart without offending others. It’s awesome to see others’ eyes open to the war being waged against our political, financial, and spiritual freedoms.

And the most amazing part is that instead of just feeling anger and frustration about the erosion of our liberty, this curriculum also helps us know what to do about it!

The message of liberty runs through this book like a healthy vein of gold. The reader doesn’t have to dig long before running back into the message of freedom. It even ends with that message.

The last one page “chapter” in this book, entitled Answering Liberty’s Distress Signal, explains that success is deliberate. It is not something that happens to others more fortunate than us. Success is there for anyone willing to dream big and chase that dream without making excuses or giving up when things get tough.

But financial success isn’t enough. My several attempts to sum up the last two paragraphs of this section have fallen short, so I’ll end with the words of these wise men:

Personal success is not the only impact of living for excellence. Today’s society stands at a crossroads. People realize that the corporate world is not the “cradle-to-grave” guarantee it was in the decades following World War II; however, so many have been trained only to work for someone else, focusing on security and not opportunity. What happens to a society in which a high percentage of people have been trained to seek a “secure job,” but few such jobs are available? Society runs to Big Brother government, seeking the security that government cannot provide. History is filled with examples of governments stifling the entrepreneurial spirit, choking the productive engine of a society’s advancement, and sounding the death knell of numerous civilizations, in an attempt to “help the helpless” citizens. North America stands at a crossroads where it either runs to more and more government, (and in the process surrenders its freedom and future,) or returns to its roots, providing freedom and justice for any dreamer who chooses to prosper.

It’s time to send a wake up call to the entrepreneurial spirits across North America. Where are the entrepreneurs, the leaders, and the dreamers who will step to the plate and swing for the fences – win or lose? The time for talking is over and the time for action is upon us. These are historic times with historic ramifications. Just as the founding fathers did in the 18th century, let’s pledge our fortunes, our lives, and our sacred honor in this noble cause to restore the American Dream. Liberty has sent out its distress signal. Let’s answer the call. Let’s Live Intentionally for Excellence. A life so lived just might be the spark that sets ablaze a new movement for freedom and justice.


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