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How History’s Awesome Twentysomethings Got It Together


Prepare to be enlightened, fascinated and inspired by the stories of some of history’s iconic men and women that show where they were at near the age of 25. And how they overcame obstacles, defied their critics and forged ahead to attain success. 

Author Robert L. Dilenschneider tells these stories of 25 men and women from around the globe who shaped the world in his new book, Nailing It

You’ll learn how these individuals:

  • Came from modest means and went on to help change the world.
  • Went on to do what put them in the history books.
  • Used their unique personal traits to enable them to beat all odds and persevere.

The stories offer some perspective on what young people are experience now. The pandemic has turned young adulthood upside-down. For millions of millennials, what should be a key transformation period, full of adventure, freedom, and self-exploration, has been temporarily halted. Key life events have been put on hold, delayed, or outright cancelled. Now they have even more challenges ahead of them in figuring out their life paths.

Fortunately, history shows, and Nailing It reveals, inspiring examples of successful people who experienced delayed progress in their 20s, forced to take circuitous paths to their life callings, even overcoming tragic starts.

Nailing It includes the stories of:

  • Maya Angelou
  • Albert Einstein
  • Steve Jobs
  • Sally Ride
  • Mary Shelley
  • Jackie Robinson
  • …and 19 more

Robert L. Dilenschneider

Today, Dilenschneider shares these added insights with us: 

Question: How many of the 25 people you profiled in your book were on your original list of landmark figures you planned to profile? If your original list changed, why did it change? 

Dilenschneider: We had well over 100 people on the original list. We whittled it down to get to those who were cited based on what they had to offer to readers.

The idea is to inspire young people and help them recognize that they can make a difference. For the more mature this book offers a snapshot of history in the making. 

Question: Who might have been the few additional people you would have profiled in your book if you had gone beyond 25? 

Dilenschneider: There are dozens of individuals from the world of politics, business and social services that could be profiled, including Nelson Mandela, Tony Blair and Mao Tse Tung. There are many who fit into this category.   

Question: Among the 25 iconic individuals profiled, what were the couple common themes that made them all awesome? 

Dilenschneider: They had a determination and a focus for what they did. And they had a plan, and they worked the plan. They kept their head down and they did not deviate from their plan. 

In almost every case these men and women took prudent risks, were oblivious to criticism, and exercised a laser-like focus on their objectives. 

My hope is that knowing where these people were in their lives at that age—whether their acts were together, or not— will be informative and encouraging. Their stories offer some perspective on what young people are experiencing now. 

Question: Of the 25, which one has impressed you the most and why? 

Dilenschneider: I like Honoré Daumier because he not only offered criticisms of the art establishment in France, but provided on a regular basis serious look into the politics of what was taking place – almost as good as a newspaper. He immediately grasped the implication of combining the relatively new art form of lithography with political satire. 

There was another aspect to Daumiers long career. He eventually developed into a prolific portrait, landscape, and genre painter. He produced around five hundred oils and watercolors that garnered little or no attention from the public during his lifetime, to his disappointment. Posthumously, though, critics saw in this work a foretaste of impressionism, the art movement that had just appeared on the horizon, and appreciation rose. 

Every era in history has needed artists, writers, comedians, graphic designers, commentators, pundits, and others to pull the curtain aside, à la Dorothys dog Toto in The Wizard of Oz, and show us whats really going on. Every era has had such people, and Daumier occupies a notable place in the long line of political and social satirists. 

Dilenschneider is founder of The Dilenschneider Group. Headquartered in New York and Chicago, the Firm provides strategic advice and counsel to Fortune 500 companies and leading families and individuals around the world, with experience in fields ranging from mergers and acquisitions and crisis communications to marketing, government affairs and international media. 

Dilenschneider has authored 14 books, including Decisions: Practical Advice from 23 Men and Women Who Shaped the World; A Briefing for Leaders; On Power, The Critical 14 Years of Your Professional Life; 50 Plus!—Critical Career Decisions for the Rest of Your Life, and Power and Influence: The Rules Have Changed. 

Thank you to the book’s publisher for sending me a copy of the book.


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