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The Journey of Not Knowing: How 21st Century Leaders Can Chart a Course Where There Is None

The Journey of Not Knowing: How 21st Century Leaders Can Chart a Course Where There Is None

by Julie Benezet, Gail Kearns (Editor)

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The Journey of Not Knowing is a fast paced, entertaining read that gets to the heart of a critical state in today’s business climate and society overall: the constantly changing, ambiguous 21st Century and the uncharted waters ahead. This book will inspire leaders of any size organization to come to grips with the scariness of the unknown while it


The Journey of Not Knowing is a fast paced, entertaining read that gets to the heart of a critical state in today’s business climate and society overall: the constantly changing, ambiguous 21st Century and the uncharted waters ahead. This book will inspire leaders of any size organization to come to grips with the scariness of the unknown while it advances a new approach to leadership that leverages the discomfort of the new as a powerful source of inspiration rather than a deterrent to building a better future.

Written by former Amazon executive, coach and lawyer Julie Benezet, the book combines storytelling, business experience and human psychology to create a roadmap through the ambiguity of building something better in the context of the realities of humans in organizational life.

The book tells a story of a day in the life at Arrow, Inc., a fictional company. It follows the defended behaviors throughout that day of its eight very recognizable leadership team members as they work first to avoid and then finally to solve the mystery of why a client fired them. The reward of the discovery is a critical piece of new business and substantial personal growth. To get there, each of team members must face their past, present and future. The memorable characters in the book are persons with whom the readers may cringingly identify. The book creates a framework them to confront their own resistance to change, and tools to start them on their way toward pursuing new possibilities for their lives once they can confront and embrace the scariness of the unknown.

The author opens the book with a description of an experience at Amazon that led to her belief about leadership and the unknown. It ends with a primer on the Journey of Not Knowing leadership model, using the Arrow story to illustrate its principles.

The Journey of Not Knowing forms the core of a leadership program that been attended by executives from around the world over the past five years. (www.journeyofnotknowing.com)

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Former Amazon executive Benezet’s book works as an effective pitch for the author’s consulting firm but has less to say about the future of business as a whole. The book begins with a brief look at Benezet’s career at Amazon, revealing how she handled difficult real estate acquisitions during the company’s early expansion. This section is the most relevant and clearly written explanation of Benezet’s argument that true leaders are comfortable with new challenges and even welcome their associated discomfort. Elsewhere, the book is light on practical details. A large portion is taken up by a short story, based on an amalgamation of true stories, about a company trying to land a much-needed contract. The drawback of this section is that, as a work of fiction, its happy ending is preordained. A reference to Nelson Mandela also strikes a dissonant note, since most of Benezet’s advice is aimed squarely at business leaders. The essential message for leaders—to embrace the unknown and get out of their own way—is a smart one, but readers might prefer it to be delivered with fewer quotations and buzzwords. (BookLife)
From the Publisher
"Benezet shows very simply how we become trapped by our hooks into endless dreary cycles of limitation, and how we can liberate ourselves into the vast opportunities that await when we risk stepping beyond the known."
- Susan Cannon, PhD, co-author of The Way of the Mysterial Woman: Upgrading How You Live, Love, and Lead

"A fun read that takes lessons from Amazon's early days and uses a fictional business story to teach us how to be better leaders and teammates. Benezet does a wonderful job in focusing us on the unknowns literally right in front of us-our teams and ourselves. A page-turner that doesn't rely on murder or explosions, at least not literally!"
-Asuka Nakahara, Associate Director of the Zell/Lurie Real Estate Center at Wharton

"Benezet captures the spirit of a real leader . . . one who has the courage to take on the unknown with a balance of analytical brilliance and drive for making things better when there is no roadmap. " -- Gail Ayers, PhD, CEO CREW Network

"Through the vehicle of a well-crafted and entertaining story, The Journey of Not Knowing provides a great teaching tool for both established and emerging leaders. The book skillfully raises awareness of how defensive behaviors against the unknown can get in the way of their success as leaders, and how they might overcome them to achieve strategic results. The lessons are reinforced by a story from the author's experiences as an early Amazon executive and a primer of the Journey principles that follows the story. I highly recommend this great read."
-- Patricia Langer, EVP, Human Resources at NBC Universal, Inc.

"The Journey of Not Knowing combines the many years of business world experience of its author with astute observation of human behavior. Using a story format to describe familiar and widespread defensive organizational behaviors, Benezet intimately describes the evolution of a leadership team from resistance to engagement in order to solve a critical business problem. The Journey model included at the back of the book explains how they got there. The book is fresh, fun and inspiring."
--Cindy Aden, Librarian, Former Amazonian and current Washington State Librarian

". . . Benezet offers a management handbook geared toward the unconventional in the modern business world . . . [She] makes crystalline sense; for example, she writes relatively early on that it's more important than ever for managers to know themselves-to know, as she puts it, "who you are and for what you stand" in a world of shifting expectations and constantly looming unknowns. This idea is related to the "core drivers" of her book, concentrated in the "Core Four" components . . . that deal with "the relationship between leadership and the unknown." . . . In her explorations of these components, Benezet is at her most authoritative. A largely involving story-oriented breakdown of how to chart a steady managerial course in uncharted territory." -- Kirkus Reviews

Product Details

Business Growth Consulting, LLC
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5.98(w) x 9.02(h) x 0.56(d)

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Meet the Author

Pursuing dreams has molded Julie Benezet's life. As a self-described hard wired entrepreneur she spent 25 years in law and business navigating the unknown to put into place the dreams of others as well as her own. Julie has devoted her professional life to building companies, real estate and careers. She currently works as an executive coach, author and leader of The Journey of Not Knowing leadership program (www.journeyofnotknowing.com).

Julie earned her greatest stripes for navigating the unknown when she spent four years as Amazon's first real estate executive through the company's early steep ramp up phase to its emergence as an established business. Before joining Amazon.com, Julie poured her energy into growing management and real estate consulting companies whose clients ranged from Fortune 100 companies to start-ups and working as a finance lawyer in New York and Seattle.

Julie led for 10 years the "Challenges of Leadership" program for executives at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. She speaks on the challenges of building companies in the 21st Century, and has appeared in numerous publications including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Office & Industrial Properties and Corporate Real Estate Strategies.

She lives in Ashland, Oregon with her husband, garden, jazz albums and two orange cats.

Gail Kearns began her career in publishing in 1995 after working over 20 years in the motion picture industry as a Production Coordinator and Development Executive. For the next years Gail helped dozens of authors shape their books for publication.

Currently, she is president of To Press and Beyond, a full-service book shepherding agency that guides projects from inception to completion providing a wide range of services including ghostwriting, copywriting, writing for the web, and crafting marketing.

Books of all genres shepherded by To Press & Beyond have garnered such awards as the prestigious IPPY, the Benjamin Franklin Award, Foreword's BOTYA, Next Generation Indie Book Awards, USA Best Book Awards, Pinnacle Book Achievement Award, and Moonbeam Children's Book Awards. Gail is a longtime member of IBPA and APSS. Her publishing consulting has taken her throughout the U.S. and abroad.

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