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[Review] Howard’s Gift


Do you have that all-important mentor in your life, helping to guide you and bring clarity to some of the decisions you have to make in the critical phases of your life? Well, you should.

Entrepreneur Eric C. Sinoway’s book “Howard’s Gift: Uncommon Wisdom to Inspire Your Life’s Work” is really a tribute to one of his mentors, Howard Stevenson. Stevenson is one of the key figures at Harvard Business School, who has taught thousands of bright young minds over 40 years, and who has written a slew of entrepreneurship, business and productivity books including “Just Enough“, “Entrepreneurship in the Social Sector“, and “Make Your Own Luck : 12 Practical Steps to Taking Smarter Risks in Business“. When he retired last year, this “lion of entrepreneurship” was sorely missed.

But more importantly to Sinoway, Stevenson has helped guide him in his life’s challenges – be it in his professional or personal life – and “Howard’s Gift” essentially compiles many of their conversations together. Through their mentor-mentee relationship, you’ll get a sense of Stevenson’s philosophy on life as they touch on topics such as creating a vision for your legacy, being entrepreneurial in your outlook, understanding and leveraging the inflection points in your life, making tough career decisions as well as picking mentors.

Throughout the book Sinoway also introduces many other characters – real life people – whose problems Stevenson helps dissect and find solutions for. Many of these characters also provide some input on their own life philosophies, but it’s Stevenson’s uncommon wisdom that takes centrestage.

The book is called “Howard’s Gift” for a variety of reasons: the gift of life granted to v (he suffered a near-death experience that prompted Sinoway to want to write this book), a mentee’s gift to his mentor, but most probably a tribute to Stevenson’s wisdom and inspiration that’s guided many including Sinoway.

It can be a little challenging and confusing to mine the intellectual gems from the book, most probably because it’s written as verbal interaction between two people and thus not segmented into topical sections with clear headers. But the key takeaway from the book is the importance of finding the right mentors to help shape your destiny. Howard Stevenson was that man for Eric Sinoway, and “Howard’s Gift” is his way to help you find your own Howard Stevenson.