I read over 100 books a year, and I can honestly say that “How I Swept My Way To The Top: The Don Aslett Story” by Don Aslett is one of the most enjoyable, educational, and motivational books I’ve read in a very, very long time. The book is an autobiography of how Aslett took a common job to uncommon success, and it’s a book that I purposefully read slowly, a little each day, so I could absorb the lessons he provides in the 555 page text. Can you savor a book? If you can, that is exactly what I did while reading Aslett’s remarkable life story.
Before I tell a bit about the book, I want to mention the book’s format and layout. It’s a large book, with a lot of information densely packed into those 555 pages, but it is also an attractive book with black and white photographs throughout that greatly add to the text. I especially liked the chapter headings and the use of watermark photos as the beginnings of chapters. The presentation of the material added to the ease and enjoyment of reading the book. I’ll also comment on the organization of this autobiography. Yes, it begins with Aslett’s early years, and concludes with him in his 70s, both looking back at his life, and looking forward to future accomplishments, but between was not just a straight from there to here linear chronology of his life. The chapters focus on portions of this life, which may span years, or maybe a shorter period such as the chapter on an eighteen month senior mission Aslett and his wife, Barbara, went on when they were in their 60s. The layout and organization were helped tremendously by Aslett’s partner and editor, Carol Cartaino, and Tobi Alexander, his Operations Manager and so much more. The three of them condensed and organized over 8,000 typed and handwritten pages and nearly as many photographs, collected over a 60 year period. The final product really is an outstanding book.
I’ve been a fan of Aslett’s since first reading his “How to Have a 48-Hour Day” in 1996. Since then, I’ve read a number of his books, and even had the opportunity to meet him and Tobi Alexander (such a remarkable, kind, and giving woman) one time in 2003. I’ve always found his books entertaining, educational, and motivating, and this one tops them all. He shares stories of his triumphs and his shortcomings, successes and failures, business and family, professional and personal, cleaning, writing, speaking, faith, community, volunteering, and so much more, and if you pay attention, you can find more lessons in this autobiography than in a stack of “self-help” books. In the introduction, Aslett says if he can do it, so can anyone else, and he reinforces that message near the end. Reading his story, you learn the guiding principles he lived by, the work ethic he adhered to, and the discipline it took for him to succeed. He stresses that anyone can do it if he did, they just need to do it. (That and surround yourself with good people, and he gives credit to many of them throughout the book.)
Since I also write and speak, I found the chapters that focused on these topics extremely motivating and helpful, but it would be hard to pick just one thing from the book that really stood out, except for the horrifying tragedy Aslett experienced and shared, that actually brought a tear to my eye, knowing how important family is to the man, and thinking what it would be like. I appreciate his courage in sharing that story with the world. I’m sure he did so to help others overcome tragedies in their own lives.
He shares stories of growing up on the farm and what he learned from his parents, how he started and grew a little cleaning company that is now in all 50 states and Canada. He shares about his writing life, his speaking life, traveling, and working with media. You learn about his family and faith, and what he’d change if he had to do it all over again. He even answers the questions he’s asked most often.
If you are a fan of Don Aslett, this is a must read. If you don’t know him, read this book and you’ll become a fan. While reading about the humorous adventures or the trying times, one thing is certain, Aslett shows how to beat the odds, how endurance pays off, and how imagination will help you achieve your dreams. As he says, if he can do it, so can you, and his counsel for success is priceless.
Every once in a while, when I need a shot of motivation to organize when I’ve let some things go, or to increase my productivity, or to get to writing more, I’ll pull one of Aslett’s books of the shelf for that extra boost. This is a book I will read again, I’m sure more than once, because like Zig Ziglar preaches, you need motivation daily, just like a bath, and this is one very motivating book: for business, for success, for family, for life.