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Review - Not drowning but swimming - “Jump in and Start Swimming”

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Cover of James P. Naughton's new book

Author James P. Naughton’s Irish parents taught him a thing or two about resilience growing up. Arriving in the U.S. for the first time in the fiercely cold winter of 1930, at the very height of the Great Depression, his Co. Mayo-born mother and father learned the hard way how to survive -- and thrive -- against the odds.
Naughton’s own story is one of learning how to overcome hardships, too. After almost dropping out of high school and then being refused by every college he applied to due to his poor SAT scores, Naughton finally heeded his Irish mother’s wise words.

What she told him eventually became the title of his new book, Jump In and Start Swimming.

Heeding her never-say-die approach, Naughton finally found a college that would accept him. Although he intended to become a teacher and majored in English, he ultimately chose a business career instead, with spectacular results.

As a businessman he went on to great success, in his last post managing to raise a billion dollars in a single year.

With that kind of business acumen and experience behind him, it occurred to Naughton to share his practices with others, and this inspirational book is the result.

Some people will groan at the idea. American bookshelves are already heaving under the weight of every kind of Get Rich Look Good Be Happy self-help title out there, so what makes Naughton’s so special?

“I think that half the country doesn’t know that there’s a recession on,” Naughton tells the Irish Voice.

“I live in Rhode Island, and if you go to the restaurants and bars the lines are four deep. But if you visit Providence, parts of it look like a war zone.

“During the Great Depression during the 1930s you knew the country was in trouble because you could see the bread lines. Now we have another terrible recession, and this time the people most affected are harder to see.”

Naughton says he wrote his book to remind young people of his favorite saying -- you have to go along to get along. If you’re jobless and feeling the pinch, he says, try to land the first paying position you can because it can lead to better opportunities down the road.

“My own kids don’t want to hear that message because we wanted to protect them from the harsher side of life. But now that we’re in a more challenging economic climate they will have to get used to the idea that they won’t have a career and big bucks handed to them as a kind of birthright.”

The situation in 2012 is a tale of two economies, Naughton says.

“My own friends, people I’ve worked alongside on Wall Street, will deny to my face that there is a new level of hardship out there. For them it’s the best of times. They literally don’t see that half the country is often despairing.”

Naughton has personal experience of the economic winds that are prevailing since what he calls the atomic bomb of the second Great Depression began in 2008. It ended his own Wall Street career.

Working as a financial wholesaler, he was laid off without warning. “I thought I was invincible, I was the number one guy in the industry, let alone my firm, and then my oldest son got laid off -- and he has three kids,” Naughton said.

Naughton got laid off in what the financial industry calls a Reduction In Force (an RIF).

“It’s a new age term for a layoff,” he scoffs. “I assume the company decided that they would cut my job because of my age and everything else.

“But I remembered that my father came over in the worst economic crisis to ever hit the country and I don’t believe it can ever get that bad again because we have Social Security, we have unemployment, we have better protections now,” he adds.

To battle the challenges of the current time, the economic survival skills from an earlier age, first taught to him by his own parents, will be necessary to relearn. So Naughton’s book’s title refers to having the faith in oneself to navigate the looming icebergs.

“This is a great book for anyone who is seeking post-college employment, the returning veteran, the unemployed and the underemployed. It’s based on my own life and career and the lessons it taught me that can’t be taught in school.  The book also offers high school students a reason to stay in school,” Naughton explains. “My message is start somewhere. Take a position. Trust your own abilities and create your own path. That’s the best way to thrive that there is.”

For information on Jump In and Start Swimming, visit www.keypublishingcompany.com, or call 401-486-9601.

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