Book Review & Giveaway: The Old School Advantage

Auntie Stress - Old School Advantage

Whether studying for a test, preparing for a speaking engagement or trying to remember new names and faces, ready recall is an essential tool in achieving academic, professional and personal success.

Legendary detective Sherlock Holmes and his ability to remember the tiniest details has been celebrated by readers of the iconic series for more than a century. How does Sherlock do it? Well, in the modern BBC iteration, he goes “old school.” J.N. Whiddon’s The Old School Advantage: Timeless Tools for Every Generation (Brown Books Publishing Group) explores the key to improving ready recall by creating a memory palace, just like modern-day Sherlock.

The memory palace is an effective technique with a long history that can be traced back to the ancient Greeks and Romans. As you eagerly await the fourth season, work on improving your own mind palace. It’s elementary, after all.

But there's more. A broad range of topics are covered, including vocabulary use, effective argumentation/examination/reasoning skills, elements of storytelling, interview advice, leadership development and learning strategies.

Points to Ponder

The Old School Advantage is liberally sprinkled with quotes, anecdotes and stories, many of which I've not heard before. I would often pause and think about the quote, anecdote or story as it relates to the point being made.

One of my favourite quotes from the book is an African proverb:

"When an old person dies, a library burns to the ground."

Favourite Sections

  1. Chapter 1 on Recall with illustrations and explanations on how to make those details stick by using a classroom as a mind palace.
  2. How to use "LAVA" to build report and have a formula to use when you attend network meetings or other gatherings where you feel shy:
    - L is for Locations - "Where are you from originally?" It includes ideas on how to expand upon this.
    - A is for Associations - "Do you have a family, pets?"
    - V is for Vocations -"How do you spend most of your time?" "What did you want to be when you grew up?"
    - A is for Avocations -"How do you spend your free time?"
  3. A list of seven things to consider if you are in a leadership role. You'll note that these seven things could be classified as common-sense, but then, that's what the old school advantage is.

Making the Stress Connection

As a regular reader of this blog, you'll know that I advocate scheduling quiet time, preferably in nature, away from your electronic devices.

Here is what J.N. Whiddon has to say about it:

"As I mentioned in the introduction, we don't often 'go on a walk' anymore. But studies have revealed that after spending time in a quiet setting, close to nature, we have greater attentiveness, better memory, and improved cognition. Our brains become calmer and sharper. Why? Because we aren't being barraged by external stimuli. We can relax. Our working memories (short-term) are off duty because of the absence of distractions. The result is that we find a state of contemplation. This is the same thing that happens during deep reading. The net, on the other hand, diminishes our capacity to contemplate. It not only alters our thoughts but hinders our deep emotions as well."

Who would benefit from reading this book?

  1. Students. Of all ages, whether in formal or informal education.
  2. Leaders. Tips on how to become a wise and empathetic leader.
  3. Job Candidates. This chapter includes lots of sample interview questions and answers to help you succeed.
  4. Storytellers.

"Becoming a better storyteller and story listener allows you to make more sense out of events - both wonderful and tragic."

How to enter the giveaway:

  1. This contest is open to anyone of legal age who has a mailing address in Canada or The United States.
  2. Contest closes at midnight PT, on Friday, September 30th, 2016.
  3. To enter the giveaway, leave a comment.
  4. Earn another entry by subscribing to my mostly monthly newsletter. (Let me know in the comments section if you're already a subscriber and you'll receive two entries.)
  5. For extra entries to the giveaway, get social:
  • On Twitter? Share the following: #Giveaway from @AuntieStress for The Old School Advantage: Timeless Tools for Every Generation by J.N. Whiddon http://wp.me/p2PenP-1Nr
  • On Google+? Be sure to +MariannaPaulson when you share the link, and you’ll earn another entry.
  • Make your way over to my Pinterest Board called Giveaways. Earn one entry by clicking “Comment” on The Old School Advantage pin, then leave one. Earn another entry by re-pinning this giveaway announcement.
  • If you decide to share on one of your other social media sites, be sure to paste in the link in the comment section below.

Good Luck!


Disclosure: I received a review copy of The Old School Advantage from The Agency at Brown Books Publishing. With thanks to Alicia Auping, publicist.

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