Zachary Brewster, Sr. has spent his career climbing to the top of the corporate ladder and succeeding in the fields of talent acquisition, workforce development, and strategic planning. He imparts the wisdom he has gained in his career in the recent book How to Get to the Other Side, which tracks some of the most influential experiences of his young adult life. In his book, Brewster recounts important milestones of his life, beginning in college, and explains how he navigated some of the most challenging obstacles he encountered in his career. Throughout the book, we meet a few of the influential characters that would help to shape his understanding of his own personal journey.
The book begins on the opening day of Freshman Orientation when Brewster is struck by a question that one of his future professors asked at the end of his speech: How will you get to the other side? Immediately intrigued by the nature of this question, Brewster seeks the counsel of Professor Humber who would go on to become one of the most influential figures of his life. The professor would use the Cooper River Bridge to illustrate the journey that he would go on to make in his life. He also left him with a set of principles that would help to guide his journey. Explaining that he had to begin his journey with a firm foundation, Brewster eventually started to understand the various components that would go into making his own bridge through his life.
How to Get to the Other Side brings us to various points of Brewster’s life where he would face important decisions that would go on to shape the beginning of his career. In doing so, at each stop the author walks us through a set of guiding principles that help us to understand his decision making process. However, many of these principles are universal and not specifically tailored to Brewster’s own experiences. It is no surprise that he has enjoyed such a successful career in business because his style is particularly inclusive and logical.
One of the key moments of the narrative occurs when Brewster is well out of college and working at a hotel desk in Charleston. Unhappy with the difficulty he has encountered in finding a job in the business world, he feels down on his luck. However a chance encounter with a hotel guest presents him with an opportunity to pursue a job ripe with possibility. Brewster explains that a meeting with his pastor had encouraged him to embrace chance encounters and allow them to help him along his way. This methodology would greatly influence a lot of the key messages in this book. Brewster deftly explains that in business, like in life, things happen for a reason. Sometimes difficult things happen that will challenge us, but they can always serve to make us stronger.
The book ends with one such difficulty when Brewster experiences a trying year at his job when a new employee comes in and undermines his role. Though the temptation may have been to become cynical, Brewster shows that by sticking to a sound set of principles, we can overcome these kinds of hardships and often come out ahead on the other side. Many of these guiding principles are laid out in detail throughout the narrative, and although they come from a very specific period of the author’s life, there is a universal value that is communicated throughout. Anybody who needs a little guidance or reassurance in their professional career would be well served to read this inspirational story.