Updated: Apr 16, 2020
Who is this book for: This book is the perfect read for anyone who identifies as experiencing "Imposter Syndrome."The relatable stories and simple suggestions provided in this book make it a must read for anyone wanting to detach from the opinions of others and discover their singular inner style.
Entertainment Value: 7/10
Life Value: 8/10
Length: Short - 154 Pages (1-3 Hours).
Author: David Leddick
I am going to open by quoting one of the last chapters in the book...
"I concern myself with what I think of other people, never with what they think of me. I am not for everyone. Neither are you. Life is too brief to be rushing about trying to tailor oneself to the tastes of others who, for the most part, are not paying any attention in the first place. I mean this. Are you wasting your time catering to those who care nothing about you?" - David Leddick
If this paragraph doesn't in some way relate to your experience, then you can save yourself some time and stop reading this book review now.
HOWEVER! If you find yourself being impacted by the pressures of society to conform, not make too much noise and keep your greatest talents a secret? Then my friend, do i have the perfect book for you!
David Leddick is an author, playwright, professional stage performer and world renowned marketing and advertising expert who at 90 years old, (at the time of this post) has never wasted an opportunity to soak up all of life's many delights.
Having mentored hundreds of people and revered for his published writings it was suggested to Leddick to venture from his usual works with homoerotic art books and instead compile his greatest lessons and axioms from his then 84 years of life and share them with the world.
Upon release, the book has sold hundreds of thousands of copies and has influenced notable names such as Seth Godin, podcast host and best-selling author of Purple Cow and Kamal Ravikant, bestselling author of Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It.
You are in control of your happiness. You ALONE!
This book is a great example of how those who truly own who they are in and out, do not focus on appeasing the masses with 'copy & pasted' styles in an effort to fit in with "the crowd." Instead, they seek their own personal flair for expression. Their own inner point of view which in turn, reflect outwardly in their expression, humour and overall presence. Fashion comes and goes, style is eternal.
Without this style, we will naturally conform to the satisfaction and requirements of society. When in fact, all those rules, all those people to please, all that conformity and similarity that society requires of you is merely just you retreating back into the security of not stepping outside of the boundaries. Leddick explains...
"You suddenly come to realize that it is yourself requiring this kind of behavior. When you decide to go your own way and create a life that suits who you are, you find that no one notices or cares or if they do you don’t even notice it." - DL
So the truth is, no-one is keeping score of you. No-one has themselves invested in your every movement and no-one can make the judgement of whether or not you are living your life correctly so long as YOU are in control of it.
"Beauty has a shelf life, while style can be forever. You have to find out who you are. And then the way you look, the way you talk, the way you present yourself says you, you, you." - DL
As a fallible human, we envy those that possess that which we do not. When we see a beautiful woman or man take their strides with an air of confidence, we find ways in which to try and extinguish their fire, in an attempt to elevate our own sense of value and significance.
Instead, if we were to focus our attention inwards, we can spend our precious time and energy discovering our own unique sense of style. Once we have that flair, that ability to authentically express ourselves in our truest inherent individuality, can we then contribute to the world. Then, and only then, will we be truly able to express that essence through our style. Once we have this essence, will we then be able to truly connect with all things internally and externally.
Spend less time and energy on building up your external presence (beauty), and instead, find out who YOU are so that every fibre in your being and the energy of your presence screams you, You, YOU!
"Style is indivisible from authenticity, from being and becoming the “real you.” It is the pursuit of authenticity that produces style. Style is the outer expression of an inner point of view, sense of humor, flair for expression. Fashion comes and goes. Style is eternal." - DL
This is a great reminder to think twice before judging another's style. Instead of extinguishing the flames of another, ignite your own and let it burn bright so that the world can experience your true essence.
Furthermore, later in the book he illustrates the knock-on effect of projecting our frustrations onto others with whom we wish to change, in order to satisfy our own wants and desires.
"Do not get involved with someone expecting them to change. The only way they’ll change is to get worse. If you love someone, love them exactly as they are. Do not expect your love to change them. It won’t. You waiting and watching for them to change will only make them feel guilty. And as always, instead of accepting the guilt they will turn it around and for some reason you will be to blame. When you make people feel guilty they want to get you out of their life so they can stop feeling guilty. It’s as simple as that." - DL
This, to me, is an important point to make as myself and many others are guilty of placing pressure on others to change. There's a common saying in transformative coaching that goes "If you spot it, you got it." Which means, if you see something in someone else that you believe needs to change, chances are you are looking straight at a mirror. Meaning, you are merely seeing unattractive traits and characteristics in them that you in fact possess yourself.
When It Comes To The Opinions Of Others QUIT GIVING A F#*%!
David shares the wisdom he had gained from actress and close friend Elsie De Wolf when she said "Never complain, never explain." David followed in her footsteps by stating that "Fashion, is when you dress for others." This is also true when trying to please others by using your "fashion" to cover up your deeper truths.
"When you lead a secret life, the only one it’s secret to is you. Your alcoholism, your sexual preference. You think no one knows. Everyone knows. They’re just being polite." - DL
"Regardless of how authentic you are in your expression of your style, eventually, those around you will always be able to see into your essence. You may think that you have them fooled, however, humans have developed a keen sense over Millenia to identify whether or not someone is being who they truly are. They may not be able to illustrate or put it into words, but they will be able to tell what is true and what is a lie. Those who won't say anything either don't care or are too afraid to how you would respond to them knowing. However, trust that those who truly care about you to speak up and call you on it."
“We are all in the gutter but some of us are looking at the stars.” - Oscar Wilde
David repeats this quote from 19th century poet and playwright Oscar Wilde and uses it has a great premise for how he acknowledges perspective. Later in the book he explains how neither the Rich nor the Poor hold any concerns about the morrow. The rich rest easy knowing that in the morning, there will be abundance, the poor don't pay attention to the morning as they accept things will still be hopeless. However, the middle-class which he refers to as the true bourgeoisie, are the ones who live in constant concern about what the neighbours may think.
In their minds, tomorrow could either be good, or bad and living in the moment is what eludes them. Whereas, the Rich and the Poor don't care what the neighbours think. Regardless of the circumstances, these citizens who exist at either side of monetary poles are both aware that the stars are and will always be there."
“The Trick is Not Caring.” I really didn’t care what they thought and it worked fine." - DL
Throughout the entire book, David repetitively expresses the importance of not caring about the opinions of others. He credits the majority of his success to this one default setting within his being... Truly not giving a damn what anyone has to say about him and his objectives. I personally see the importance of this way of being but like many, struggle to consistently put it into practice.
However, I see how if one was to truly discover and express their own unique and individual style that implementing this "I don't care what others think" attitude would be simply second nature. Again, the importance of being true to one's own style and essence is underlined in the book. This is the consistent theme and is clearly necessary to break away from the confines of other's opinions.
I see this book being a must read for those who experience Imposter Syndrome. David's confidence and borderline cockiness is expressed throughout the book as he continually enforces the messages that if you see yourself of someone of value, OWN IT! Don't let anyone tell you otherwise and you best make sure you are rewarded for it.
"Elegance is the ability to present yourself to the world stripped down to the real you. Without subterfuge. When you say no, you are refusing to be anything other than who you are, or to look or seem any way other than your authentic being. You say no to pretending you are someone other than who you are." - DL
Throughout the book, David makes no efforts to appease the every day reader by adapting and normalising his writing to the typical style found in the 'Personal Development' section in Barnes and Noble. On the contrary, he allows his flamboyance and personal style to permeate through the pages while his flair spearheads each point with precision as if to say "Yeah I said it, big deal."
Leddick perfectly showcases this when he writes...
"Don’t wish revenge upon someone. Wish them a long life. Don’t be hovering about wishing someone the worst. It just makes you less of a person. Just hope they have a long life. I promise you they won’t enjoy it." - DL
This in my opinion, adds to David's appeal and further delineates him as a literary bad-ass!
However, don't misinterpret this as him being impassive. In fact, Leddick shows real care for the reader by sharing his observations of how one can live a long, happy and fulfilling life. Always making sure to remind his reader that...
"You know yourself at your best. You don’t need someone else’s approval. And you can ignore any rejection you get from others. They don’t know as well as you do. I promise." - DL
In other words, his writing is an just an extension of his style, which is pretty cool."
As much as Leddick writes to ensure that reader that true fulfilment and happiness comes from discovering one's own uniqueness and style, he makes no illusions that the journey to do so will be a cake-walk.
No Pressure, No Diamonds
He expresses the importance of the obstacles we face in life but, unlike most, isn't averse to facing them head on. Instead Leddick takes the approach of seeing each obstacle as a necessity to overcome and that one is truly missing out on life's gold when they shy away from the challenges that life presents us. He summarises this in the sentence...
"And I now also believe, the further down you go the further up you will travel in the future." - DL
He adds to this point by expressing the importance of courage...
"What I admire most is courage. It’s the greatest of all qualities. Courage. We are all afraid but we should never let ourselves down and shy away from the things we fear. Courage lets us progress. Even more important, it lets us be proud of ourselves. Makes us stronger in our ability to face each new challenge. Courage, my friends. Take courage." - DL
My takeaway here is the importance of seeking these challenges, finding the courage necessary and tackling them head on. Like the old saying goes... "No pressure, no diamonds."
David clearly has achieved amazing feats in his lifetime and has been widely regarded as one of America's great writers and playwrights. He has published 27 books and credits a lot of his success to his ability to take big risks to achieve big rewards. He stresses the importance of taking risks that irregardless of the outcome you will walk away with more wisdom and experience than you could have ever had had you not taken the leap.
“You can only feel happiness to the degree that you are willing to risk being unhappy.” This is from Erich Maria Remarque. I think it is true. You want to fall in love with someone but you are afraid that you will be wrecked if you should lose them. You will. But you are never going to climb those peaks of emotion that love can bring unless you are willing to risk falling into the depths. Think about this, please." - DL
Leddick makes no illusions of the struggles that come with achieving success, and in my opinion, he does a great job in making the climb to the top of the mountain seem less daunting by humanising his experience and relating to the experience of the reader.
He writes of not fretting over losing life many battles however, he is unwavering in his desire to win the war. In fact, he doesn't mind even LOOKING like the loser in the eyes of obstructionists so long as he is aware of what the end goal is how he can eventually sit atop the podium in 1st place.
"You don't have to be right all the time or succeed at every step to get there." - DL
Leddick's ability to relate to his reader as well as the importance he pins on knowing oneself is a key characteristic that I believe is what separates and differentiates himself from many other authors.
Many authors and writers seem to make an effort to separate themselves from the reader. Whether it is through making a point to highlight their own importance, or write in a way to suggest that "you are reading my book, therefore, I am superior to you." However, Leddick's rawness and willingness to share his learnings gained from both his successes and his failures is a nod to the man himself and the life he has lead.
This book appears to be, at first glance, a culminations of axioms designed to help you discover your individual style so that you can bring it forth into your personal and professional relationships. But for me, I found this book to be all of the above as well as an extremely thought-provoking journey which had me stop and re-read chapters over and over again in order to confirm that what I was reading wasn't an auto-biography of my life.
This, I believe, is in part due to Leddick's unapologetic writing style and ability to relate to the human experience of the reader. Out of all the books I have read, this has to be one of the shortest (154 pages). However, my kindle informs me that it is one of my most highlighted.
What would usually be a two hour read can easily become four when you take the time to really identify and answer certain truths that are invoked by Leddick and his writings. Whether you are looking for a slight edge within your workplace or are looking for ways to become more attractive prospect to those around you, I would highly recommend this book.
- Brandon Clift
“David, we’ve been through some tough times but we always looked good and we were always fun to be with.”
"Style is indivisible from authenticity, from being and becoming the “real you.” It is the pursuit of authenticity that produces style. Style is the outer expression of an inner point of view, sense of humor, flair for expression. Fashion comes and goes. Style is eternal."
"In my experience, there are three spheres through which we pass, and within which we act, on our passage through life. These are our inner life, our life with another, and our greater life among others. Style is central to all three spheres. It is the thesis of this book that in finding our style, we find ourselves. In expressing our style, we participate in and contribute to the world. In being our style, we discover and achieve our inherent individuality. When we become who we were born to be, we express that essence through style. So the next time you see a striking, fashionable woman or man gliding down the avenue, cut them some slack."
"Beauty has a shelf life, while style can be forever. You have to find out who you are. And then the way you look, the way you talk, the way you present yourself says you, you, you."
"Life unfolds through action, which is why it is so important to follow your heart and to be brave."
"I think success and failure feel pretty much the same. What is important is that you tried."
On Elsie De Wolf: "Her credo was, “Never complain, never explain.” I have followed in her footsteps. No one wants to know. No one needs to know. Fashion is when you dress for others."
"When you lead a secret life, the only one it’s secret to is you. Your alcoholism, your sexual preference. You think no one knows. Everyone knows. They’re just being polite."
“We are all in the gutter but some of us are looking at the stars.” Oscar Wilde.
“The Trick is Not Caring.” I really didn’t care what they thought and it worked fine."
"If you are capable of doing work that others are not, be sure you are paid well for it. It really makes it possible to bear up."
On Coco Chanel: "Elegance is the ability to present yourself to the world stripped down to the real you. Without subterfuge. When you say no, you are refusing to be anything other than who you are, or to look or seem any way other than your authentic being. You say no to pretending you are someone other than who you are."
"It’s true. When you flash on something, it is your subconscious sending you the message it has been mulling over. Listen to it.
"When I worked in advertising I used to return from client meetings and say, “We offered them caviar but they wanted peanut butter.” We didn’t need the client to tell us something was good. We knew. We had to be above rejection and approval. We knew it was good. We didn’t have to care. Consider Marilyn Monroe. All she needed was one good friend to say, “You are a great comic actress. Go do your thing. Don’t try to be Sarah Bernhardt. She’s dead. Be yourself at your best.” Unfortunately Marilyn didn’t have that friend to tell her. You should tell yourself that. You know yourself at your best. You don’t need someone else’s approval. And you can ignore any rejection you get from others. They don’t know as well as you do. I promise.
Don’t wish revenge upon someone. Wish them a long life. The Spanish have a saying, “Revenge is a dish best served cold.” How about very cold? Don’t be hovering about wishing someone the worst. It just makes you less of a person. Just hope they have a long life. I promise you they won’t enjoy it."
On Roshi David's Zen Master: "When asked about the pain he once responded to me, “It goes away, doesn’t it?” The only thing the Roshi ever said to me for guidance was, “Don’t be so sure that what you want is what you should have.” This gave me a sense of my destiny. It reassured me that what is delivered to me or taken from me is the road I am somehow predestined to take. The obstacle must be overcome to get to the fulfillment and goodness waiting for you. In some way someone or some force is watching over you. And I now also believe, the further down you go the further up you will travel in the future."
"What I admire most is courage. It’s the greatest of all qualities. Courage. We are all afraid but we should never let ourselves down and shy away from the things we fear. Courage lets us progress. Even more important, it lets us be proud of ourselves. Makes us stronger in our ability to face each new challenge. Courage, my friends. Take courage."