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Smile & Succeed for Teens Review by Erica Beyea

Kurt Manecke
Solid Press, LLC
P.O. Box 145
Milford, MI 48381
Reviewed in2015

Job interviews, first jobs, college applications, essays, school programs, fund raising, friendships, relationships … how many areas of a young person’s life are affected by their people skills! As teens mature and set out to make their mark on this world, they are daily challenged with new situations that they have little to no experience with, yet must perform well in, to be a success.

This book, Smile & Succeed for Teens, is a short, easy to read handbook designed to give teens a crash course in developing and implementing successful people skills in their life.  At 115 pages, author Kurt Manecke has produced a practical yet entertaining discourse that addresses key areas unique to 21st century young people.

In today’s technologically wired world, young people often grow up with an altered sense of what is acceptable when communicating face to face. Smile & Succeed for Teens attempts to address these areas of concern, especially for teens that are entering the work force for the first time. Some of the topics covered include job interviews, customer service while on the job, entrepreneurship, sales, fundraising, volunteer work, unplugging from technology and social media, and telephone work.

The very first chapter sets the tone for the book, with a list of the top ten people skills that a teen should develop. The foundational characteristics emphasized are a genuine smile and good eye contact, along with a firm handshake. There is a plethora of great information, written in short segments, instructing proper etiquette, dress standards, and even how to apologize. The key principle woven into every discussion throughout the book is the advantage, like the title suggests, of a great smile.

Because the book is written in short segments, it can easily be read in a short time. It is also designed for young people to review one relevant section at a time, or even read one section per day or week, regularly refreshing the principles of successful personal skills in their own lives.

The target audience of Smile & Succeed for Teens is, of course, teenagers. Young people who are contemplating starting their own small business, volunteering, or helping with fund raising causes could especially benefit from reading this book. It definitely has the potential to be a total life changing book for those older teens that are entering the work force or applying to colleges.

In our home, we have several teenagers, and I have made this book required reading for all of them. While we have always put a strong emphasis on developing good personal and communication skills, this book takes all the thoughts I wish to convey to my teens and ties it up in a neat little package. There are excellent quotes and personal example stories sprinkled throughout the book that help drive home the point and are very inspiring.  The lessons included have already helped my teens in several areas, including their volunteer work and working in the family business. As a youth pastor’s wife, I am putting this book near the top of my list of suggested reading material for the teens that I work with. I think the information that is included in this book has the potential to be life changing for the young people who will read and implement it.

Perhaps my favorite part of the book is right at the very end, where the author challenges the teen reader to smile, succeed, and go change their world!

—Product Review by Erica Beyea, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, January, 2014