Reader's Comments about Zen and The Art of Making A Living by Laurence Boldt

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What people are saying about
Zen and The Art of Making A Living

"Thank you for your time and energy in writing Zen and the Art of Making a Living. Of the books I have read, yours will be listed as one of the most influential in changing the way I think and live."

- S. P., Silver Spring, MD

"I am amazed at the talent of Mr. Boldt in so many ways. Certainly, his ability to organize a very lengthy publication in a way that takes each individual through the process so they can understand it and actually achieve the desired outcome, in itself is a tremendous accomplishment. . . . His talent in writing effectively, clearly, yet [in a way that can be] understood by people of various educational backgrounds is a beautiful talent. Most importantly, his eloquent style, his words come from a place within himself that is truly real. I thank him from the bottom of my heart and soul for helping me and many others to change their lives. . . . Words cannot express the thanks for the gift he has given so many."

- C. M., Westport, CT

"Your Zen guide to creative life was a life-saver. It was the Zen wisdom and the myths and your love beaming from every page that took me back to my real home. Thank you for existing, Laurence. Thank you for the book."

- I. G., St. Jean-Gonville, France

"I recently finished reading your book, Zen and the Art of Making a Living, and wanted to thank you for writing such a fine piece of work. . . . Your book has given me inspiration on using my diverse skills within my life instead of trying to conform to somebody else's set of ideals for my career. . . . Since reading your book, I've had the opportunity to express the artist in me. I recently landed the lead role in a music video. In addition, I am currently writing a script based on true life experiences. . . . Again, thanks for writing Zen and the Art of Making a Living."

- T. H., Boston, MA

"Before graduating from college, I wasn't quite sure what occupation I would choose for my life's work. Fortunately, I read your book, Zen and the Art of Making a Living. As a result of the insights I gained from your book, I've chosen the path of an entrepreneur and have come to discover my purpose in life."

- B. K., Mishawaka, IN

"I love your book Zen and the Art of Making a Living! The view it shares resonates deeply in me, and also the spiritual dimensions it addresses hit home. . . . Thank you. Thank you."

- C. J., Brooklyn, NY

"I am a 48-year-old white male who is coming to the end of his primary professional career. About a month ago, I found your book. I have found your work fascinating. It has changed my life. . . . I have bought three copies of the book (only because the store didn't have more) and given them to friends. Without exception, everyone feels that your book is outstanding and enlightening. They all say it is changing their lives for the better, as well. This is a long-winded way of saying 'Thank you. Thank you more than you will ever know.' Your book is nothing short of a miracle."

- T. W., Gaithersburg, MD

"Your Zen and the Art of Making a Living created an eye-opening impact with me. I've found what's calling me. . . . I'm pursuing it, and I'm at the point of catching it and riding it home. Thanks for your dedication. It helps."

- D. L., Los Angeles, CA

"Thank you for your excellent book, Zen and the Art of Making a Living. I find it thoughtful and thought provoking, helpful and insightful. . . . I have a great pleasure in recommending your book to my clients."

- D. G., Los Angeles, CA

"I just wanted to tell you how very much I have enjoyed your book, Zen and the Art of Making a Living. All the time and caring, effort and excellence that have been crafted into your work have made it a trusted and very useful companion."

- J. M., Aptos, CA

"Your book Zen and the Art of Making a Living is brilliant and inspiring. It is a major breakthrough in the usually very dry realm of career-seeking. I am honestly in awe of the amount of time and hard work you have put into creating it."

- A. H., Port Orchard, WA

"Want to live the life you were born to live? Read this book!

After reading many career planning guides, I have found that "Zen and the Art of Making a Living" is perhaps the most thoughtful, life-changing book ever written on the subject. While many books are geared towards assisting you in fixing your career problem, whether it be by finding a "better job" or finding a job that fits your personality type. The "Zen" book goes deeper than mere quick-fix career books by presenting us the opportunity to go on a journey to discover our purpose for being here. Given the time we are living in now, I think more and more people are recognizing their desire for meaningful work. Go on the journey, there is nothing to lose -- you have only to learn more about yourself, your world, and your destiny!"

- A reader from California

Bridge Between East and West
Review by Margaret Keater

In Zen and the Art of Making a Living, we are not told what Zen is, but, after perusing it,we intuitively know exactly what it means and how this philosophy can enhance our life at work and play.

Boldt's work is eclecticism at its best. In solid Zen tradition, he lets the necessary information present itself in the form for which it is best suited. He provides eloquent parables and down-to-earth, real-life examples. He gives lists of resources, numbered guidelines for activities (such as finding the right employer), and worksheets for discovering your values and needs. He merges discourse on such mundane topics as how to make a follow-up call after you've sent a resume with treatises on such ethereal subjects as the need for myths and archetypal heroes at work. Alongside no-nonsense discussions of such topics as the effect stress has on the body's resistance to disease, he provides lists of personal affirmations that are worth hanging in any workplace. Through all of this, he intersperses hundreds of large type quotations from a marvelously diverse collection of thinkers, including Margaret Mead, Will Rogers, Michelangelo and Lao Tzu. (The collection of quotations alone make the book worth purchasing.)

This is a work to be experienced, a book that must be roamed through until the essential information rises from the pages and greets the reader. To read it from cover to cover would waste its essence.

Still, there's no doubt that even those who are searching for concrete answers and discrete steps to finding deep satisfaction with work will find a great deal of value in this book. For example, Boldt uses nearly every argument possible to convince the reader to ignore the concept of work as a means of making money so that we can enjoy our nonworking portions of life. The reader comes away knowing not just that work can be fun, but that something is wrong if it isn't satisfying.

With Laurence Boldt's guidance, we not only set a firm foot on the bridge between East and West, but we traverse it with a strong, confident stride.

It's hard to imagine that Boldt has forgotten anything in this massive, unconventional volume. He shows a strong understanding of the need for a new view of work in Western cultures. "So often today, white-collar workers are hired for their brains alone, blue-collar and service workers for their bodies only, as though these could be detached from the beings who possess them," he writes. "As a consequence, there is so much emotional pain around work in our culture. This pain spills over into virtually every aspect of life. Families, relationships, and communities are deeply affected by it. We can't really blame anyone for this, or at least, it does us no good to do so. Freedom can't be demanded from others—it must be created for ourselves."

Boldt chooses to center on poetry and art as a metaphor for all work. "How can we bring to work the spirit of Zen—of poetry in motion? We can start by listening to the 'want to's' of our hearts, of our original nature, " he writes. "Dive deeply into being, beyond identity and form. Encompass all around you. Penetrate into absorption—absorb into bliss—sail on bliss—into complete quietness. Enter into emptiness—where 'self' is no more."

That may sound a little too spiritual for someone who's simply unhappy at work, but Boldt is a master at transforming this philosophy into action. He presents worksheets, exercises, and a number of thought-provoking questions all geared toward helping the reader define exactly what his or her bliss is. And, unlike some authors who simply present their one way of determining this information, Boldt presents many ways so that the reader will be drawn to the method that best meets his or her needs.

He then provides an insightful look at the realities of working in various settings, including government jobs, freelancing, starting your own business, and corporate work. He discusses the details of working in specific positions, providing so much insight and factual information that the reader is naturally guided to the right job in the right setting for his or her unique personality.

The final portion of the book addresses how to realize the dream of merging work with self. Boldt uses his training and experience as a career consultant to address such basic career development issues as making a skills inventory, gaining self-esteem, overcoming the barriers to gaining more education, and marketing yourself.

This is far more than a "how to" discussion, though. While the reader will discover how to get on the mailing list for federal job opportunities and how to write grant proposals for funding a nonprofit organization, he or she also will be treated to a beautiful essay explaining the Zen view that everyone is talented and knowledgeable.

- Business Ethics
The Magazine of Socially Responsible Business

Laurence Boldt't Zen and the Art of Making a Living is an inspirational manual that seeks to give people the tools to direct and control their lives so that they can find meaning in their work. It's philosophical . . . but upbeat, down to earth, and practical. Boldt, a career consultant never before published, has written a guide in the genre of What Color is Your Parachute? for job seekers, people unhappy in their jobs, anyone who feels dissatisfied with his or her life.

This is a fat volume (600 pages), dense with ideas (there are more than 500 quotations from sages ranging from Albert Einstein to Michael Korda), strategies, charts, tables, tips, lists of sources, self-evaluation exercises, and worksheets to help you find the work you love. The best part of Boldt's accomplishment is that he doesn't strike any phony notes. You read along, and your head nods in agreement, to wit:

  • All great teachers say that the road to happiness begins with the recognition "that beyond the transient desires of ego there lie deeper desires for love and service to all mankind." Most of us don't go this route because we "are too busy running down approval alley." We try to please others, and pleasing is calculated while "compassion comes from the heart."
  • "Whatever gets you really turned on, enough to work for with dedication, sacrifice, and excellence, has the quality of this blissful, original nature in it, and is moving you toward your life's work."
  • We fear change. "Yet it's not knowing what's coming around the corner that makes life interesting."
  • "Allow your natural compassion and bliss to ripen, and you are sure to find your vocation sooner or later."
  • Thousands of so-called ordinary people are every day involved in heroic service to their fellow man. Most of this service goes unrecognized and unnoticed by the wider public because it does not fit with the conventional view of what is valuable or important."
  • "Loving what you do will give you the confidence you need to do what you love, if you understand that expressing your best in your current work is your ticket out of it, and not a sign of resignation to it."

- Milton Moskowitz, coauthor of
The 100 Best Companies to Work for in America

This is the first "business" book from Arkana, a distinguished publisher of philosophy, metaphysics and spiritual traditions—but what a blockbuster! Weighing in a 600 pages, this is a vision of new life/work possibilities that offers direction and encouragement for those looking to express their talents in meaningful ways. Illuminated with generous images from poetry, mythology and art, as well as traditional Zen teachings, it also contains ingeniously organized practical worksheets to guide readers through the steps to discovering and accomplishing their life's work.

In addition to the traditional material on how to assess skills, conduct a job search, write a resume, and succeed at an interview, there is a wealth of information not generally covered by career guides: how to start your own business or nonprofit corporation, how to manage multiple careers, and how to love what you are doing until you are doing what you love! Entertaining, illuminating, packed-with-resources, and refreshingly different, this is a unique career meditation/guide for dharma bums, social activists, reformed yuppies and independent types everywhere.

- Banyen Books

"More Comprehensive" than What Color is Your Parachute?

There are times when we all wonder what our purpose is. Zen and the Art of Making a Living by Laurence Boldt can help answer that question. It could even be the most important book you'll ever read. This 600-page quote-stuffed volume is similar to the perennial bestseller What Color is Your Parachute? by Richard Bolles. But where Parachute is "a practical manual for job-hunters and career changers," Zen is more comprehensive. The reader is encouraged not just to find a job, but to discover a calling. Boldt is a writer and career consultant who had practiced what he preaches. He speaks to the desire for a broader conception of work as art—the unique creative expression of the individual. . . . No matter what your work situation, Zen may help you make positive changes in your life.

- Caleb Gates,
Willamette Week

The bad old days of multiple-choice-test career counseling are over. It takes more than a #2 pencil and a computer to find your life's work, as career consultant Laurence G. Boldt tells us in Zen and the Art of Making a Living, a hefty but lighthearted tome that will help you find yourself and your place in the world. Boldt is quite up-front about it, though: it's a long, hard journey to get there. But his uplifting prose and liberal doses of inspirational quotes from wise men and women provide support for the weary traveler. Indeed, in between learning how to find the kind of work that strikes the right chord for you, figuring out what skills and talents you'll need to succeed at it, and righteously persisting until you get your reward, you may find lapses and stumbling blocks you hadn't expected—but Boldt has seen them all and finds the right words at the right time to keep you moving. Like a traditional career book, Zen and the Art of Making a Living includes resume advice and worksheets for narrowing down and sticking with your goals; however, it takes off from there to guide the reader on a quest for spiritual fulfillment through work, something you won't find elsewhere. This updated edition contains plenty of Internet-related information and other resources unavailable in 1990 and is invaluable for anyone concerned about his or her future in the world of work.

- Rob Lightner,

"In today's job market, the question has become not Can I find a job? but Can I find a job I like? Laurence G. Boldt answers this question with a resounding yes in Zen and the Art of Making a Living: A Practical Guide to Creative Career Design.

"Even if you are not a Buddhist, or religious in any way, Boldt's book will help you if only by forcing you to focus on the matter at hand: making a living. Boldt encourages the job seeker to read from start to finish, thus benefiting from Boldt's wisdom and lessons on soul searching before buckling down to face the more challenging tasks of resume writing and getting an interview. Yet, the book's clear chapter divisions and multiple sections are perfectly readable separately as excellent references for freelancers looking to polish their skills. You can work on your areas of weakness and skip the other stuff until you have more time.

However, given the quality of most advice from Boldt, readers are likely to find themselves turning back the pages to read everything he has to say. Sidebars range from anecdotes on the enlightenment of Buddha to suggestions on selling information by mail. Throughout the book, wisdom comes from a variety of Eastern and Western sources from Patanjali to Albert Camus, and diagrams point to the relationships between spirit, society, nature, and psyche. Boldt also lists resources on financial aid, volunteerism, and networking as well as "Over 200 Businesses You Can Start with Little or No Money."

"The most informative and helpful sections are the exercises that call for realistic self-analysis. Boldt recognizes that you can't just read the book and expect the perfect job to fall in your lap. Therefore, he makes the reader responsible for the job search by asking pointed questions and plenty of space for answers. This helps you contemplate everything from transition strategies to the "polygamous" life work trajectory of multiple ongoing careers. The reader, in dissecting his or her own written answers, achieves the type of self therapy only the most talented job counselors can offer. Boldt's exercises also leave you in control of your own analysis.

"In a chapter called "Vision Questing," Boldt provides startling statistics on living conditions throughout the world. The inclusion of these numbers serves to illustrate the limited perception with which we operate. While these types of moral lessons are not normally contained in a job manual, they are inherent to Boldt's. Limited awareness of the potential of those around you points to limited awareness of your own potential. You may take or leave Boldt's advice, but his diagrams and lessons will make a lot more sense and prove far more beneficial if you give his views an honest shot rather than dismissing them as unrealistic.

"Most freelancers have already embraced many of Boldt's Zen principles simply by deciding to take responsibility for their life's direction. Zen and the Art of Making a Living provides outstanding resources and information on self-marketing, accounting and negotiations for the freelancer. Yet the true potential of the book comes not from its strength as an advice manual but rather from its lessons on life. In fact, Boldt offers such strong support for the Zen approach that the book is useful even to those who are not currently searching for their mission in life. Making a living is a much larger experience than simply earning money—it involves understanding the role we play in our lives and creating a life of which we are proud to be called artists."

- Moriah Campbell-Holt,

"Based on the notion that work is an expression of personal destiny, this comprehensive career development guide helps the reader identify "work purpose," key talents, and objectives. Career consultant Boldt moves beyond the basics to address unusual practical and psychological issues such as starting a business, freelancing, founding a nonprofit corporation, maintaining a healthy self-esteem, and building marketing strategy."

- Library Journal

A Practical Guide to Creative Career Design

This book opens with the following quote from Shü-an. "When one happens on a book of this kind, he is well advised to throw it away . . . " Well, not necessarily in this case- at least not until one has read it and thought deeply about the issues it discusses. If one is searching for a book not necessarily about "getting a job" but about discovering one's life work and purpose then "Zen and the Art of Making a Living" is not only a fine addition to your library but a book that can transform your life. The book does not concern itself with Zen per se. Its breadth is amazing and it pulls from diverse sources of wisdom spanning the arts, philosophy, all religions, anthropology, science, etc.

The book is organized as a play with sections denoting "prologue", acts and scenes within acts. The major acts include: (1) Act 1: The Quest for Life's Work, (2) Act II: The Game of Life's Work, (3) Act III: The Battle for Life's Work and Act IV: The School of Life's Work. Act I is to create and define the tapestry of one's life and shape it actively and creatively- not based on societal convention but based on joy, service to mankind and a hero's spirit. Act I involves vision questing, clarifying values, pointing to purpose, targeting talents and marking mission objectives. Act II is identifying your new career or work. It involves reality testing, careful evaluation and visualization. Act III involves implementing your strategy to achieve your life's work: "taking it to the street", marketing strategies, "sailing the entrepreneurship", "wielding the free lance", looking at non-profit opportunities or landing the right job "street smarts". Act IV is involved with getting there, transitional strategies, training skills, self image, enlisting support and finally loving what you do til you are doing what you love. This book is highly recommended and should have a transforming and beneficial effect on your life.