Book Review: ‘Break the ceiling, touch the sky’ by Anthony A. Rose

Break the ceiling, touch the sky

I took really long to complete reading this hefty tome – all 343 pages of it – because I didn’t bring it out with me as often as I’d like to due to its weight. [I do most of my reading when I’m commuting via train] A paperback version would have been completed faster.😀

But this is one amazing book. It claims to contain “Success secrets of the world’s most inspirational women”, and that is no false claim. This is easily one of the best books I’ve read this year!

In it are interviews with 43 of the most inspiring women you’ll find, from companies like Coca-Cola, CNBC, Kellogg, the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, Procter & Gamble, PepsiCo, Saatchi & Saatchi X, Unilever, Walmart, etc.

I thought ‘Lean In’ by Sheryl Sandberg (COO of Facebook) was good. This book is even better because of the collective wisdom of the 43 women, all leaders in their own right.


And here are some of my key takeaways from each of the 14 chapters (highlighted). I have found that it’s all great advice even for the men!😀

1) Aim to make a difference

– Dare to be authentic and different

– Do what makes you happy and fulfilled

A quote from Harvey MacKay:

life is too short

– Know your area of expertise better than everyone else

– Never accept no for an answer

– Learn from your failure

– Think about what you can do for others instead of what’s in it for you

2) Have a clear goal & Plan for success

– Have a plan that is flexible, and learn from your mistakes, and make tweaks along the way

– Avoid burnout by setting milestones and rewarding yourself with each achievement

– Be relentlessly focused, open, flexible and have fun while doing it all

– Learn from anyone and everyone

– Commit and put in the hard work

3) Define your leadership compass & Values

– Be consistent and confident

– “Every individual, no matter what walk of life or background deserves the utmost respect – with no judgment. None of us have walked a day in their shoes so we cannot judge”

– Never say ‘can’t’, which means you have quit. Instead say “I’m having trouble”, which means there is a solution, and ask for help, and keep trying

4) Master the art of balance

– Set aside a few minutes everyday to pursue a hobby

– Acknowledge that you can’t be all things to all people, at all times

– You can’t always have everything perfect at the same time, but you can still have a lot

– The psychological conflicts that come from thinking about work when at home and thinking about home when at work are more of an issue than time

– Organize around the top priorities and work smarter

5) Think big

– Keep evolving, keep challenging the status quo, reinventing yourself and your business if you want to stay ahead

– Failure is temporary but giving up is final

– Believe that you are the CEO of your own life. If you want to succeed big, you have to create your own opportunities, you have to do big

– Focus relentlessly on delivering a great product or a great service. Money should be the outcome of your great work and not the cause

6) Take responsibility for your own success & Speak Up

– People are who they are because of who they choose to be

– Visualize the best-case scenario and keep that picture in front of yourself constantly

7) Find and leverage great mentors

– “You might want to fix everything at once, but you need to relax and only personally catch the balls that are critical to resolve this situation. You need to allow the rest of the balls to pass you and allow others to catch them”

– If you want a mentor and can’t get one, go buy their books

– True success is not measured by how well you do in one instance but how long you can consistently do well

– Be meticulous about arranging your schedules. Follow the schedule religiously. Always be on time

– As a mentee, respect your mentor’s time. Come to your sessions with clear challenges and questions to discuss. Take action on what you’ve agreed to and report back on how it worked. Also, look out for ways to help your mentor and give back

8) Focus on the positive & never give up

– If you try hard enough, nothing is impossible

– Know how to listen to good advice

– Make resilience a habit. Fight laziness

9) Deliver results

– Invest in a good wardrobe

– Prioritize minute by minute

– Stay in touch with trends that affect your business

 – Trust your gut

 – Become an EXPERT on your subject

– Don’t brag but spend time advocating and getting others to advocate your results

– Remember the people who helped you to get where you are

10) Give and take support

– Have the audacity to aspire higher

A quote from Madeleine Albright:

special place in hell

– When something bad happens, don’t worry, something good will happen. And vice versa

– Do what you can to help others achieve their goals

11) Believe in yourself

– Believe in self and abhor self-doubt

– Demonstrate passion and energy for what you do

– Persevere. Success is often just around the corner. Believe that how you respond to failure will define your next success

– “I stay focused on my goals. If one phone call doesn’t make it happen, 66 calls will make it happen”

12) Network

– Be quick to contribute. Be a solution to another’s problem

13) Learn how to influence

– Focus on the relationships and building trust with the person

– The influencer doesn’t necessarily need to be the messenger

14) Take a risk & Follow your dream

– Learn from failures – yours and others’

– Don’t let your frustration or negative emotions cloud your reasoning

– Be relentlessly focused on winning


What can I say? You just HAVE TO buy this book and read the individual stories of the 43 female leaders for yourself! It must not have been an easy task to get interviews with these ‘relentlessly focused’ ladies and have them share their secrets to success, so I am in awe of Anthony’s perseverance and most importantly, the outcome and the intention behind it.

*All author royalties from the sale of this book go to Save the Children, a not-for-profit that helps economically challenged women and prevent maternal anemia in the Bihar and Jharkhand states in India.