Speaking of Success: Collected Wisdom, Insights and Reflections

Reviewed: December 3, 2002
By: Pamela Wallin
Publisher: Key Porter Books
208 Pages, $28.95

What is the measure of a successful life? By all accounts Pamela Wallin probably qualifies as having had such a life so far. Recently appointed as a special envoy for Canada to the city of New York, Wallin has had several successful careers in broadcasting and journalism, and managed to rebound even stronger than before from her unpleasant experience on The National to become the Canadian queen of one on one interviews.

It is from these interviews that she drew the material to shape the chapters of this book, which is, as the title says, about the subject of success. In fifteen chapters extracts from interviews are loosely strung together around such themes as Setting Your Moral Compass, Making it Matter, Playing the Cards You're Dealt, Breaking with the Pack and Learning from Experience.

You're not going to learn the secrets of successful living from this book though you will learn what a variety of writers, politicians, actors, athletes, musicians, ground breakers and survivors had to say on the various subjects when they were in Wallin's guest chair.

The material has been chosen with care. Quotations head each chapter and are sprinkled through the margins of the book, as well as being incorporated in the text itself. Wallin has done a good job of patching everything together with bridging material of her own, so that the journey from one extract to another actually feels like a natural process.

There are some worthwhile thoughts and anecdotes in the book. My only warning is that one should not expect too much from it. I suppose it's the word "wisdom" which triggers that word of caution. "Insight" and "reflection" don't promise answers in quite the same way, so they don't bother me, but "wisdom" is a strong word, maybe too strong for what I've read here.