The Energy Bus Book Summary, by Jon Gordon

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Jon Gordon’s The Energy Bus: 10 Rules to Fuel Your Life, Work and Team with Positive Energy (2007) is an inspiring story about a man who has been miserable at work because of his pessimistic attitude. His life changes when he meets a woman named Joy on the bus one day. She teaches him ten rules that will help him harness his positive energy and attract others who can help him achieve his goals.

One Monday morning, George discovers that his car has a flat tire. He had meant to fix the spare but never got around to it, so he’s stuck without a ride to work on an important day for him. If this launch goes poorly, then he’ll lose his job. His wife offers him no help and scolds him for thinking that he is more important than she is. With nowhere else to turn, George reluctantly takes her advice and walks down the street toward the bus stop.

One day, George got on a bus driven by Joy. She greeted him cheerfully and told him that he was supposed to be on her bus. He acted surly in response to her optimism and told her that he didn’t want anything good to happen because it would only cause more problems for himself. Later on, however, he learns that his car had other problems besides the flat tire; his brakes were faulty as well, which meant that they needed to be replaced. The repairs would take two weeks and in the meantime, he’d have no way of getting around except by taking the bus again with Joy at the wheel.

George decides to walk home and uses the extra time to think about his life. His wife is threatening to leave him, and he’s worried that he’ll lose his job soon. George thinks back on when things were going well for him, but now everything seems bleak. However, the next day George resolves to change himself for the better.

On Tuesday, Joy does not drive the bus. However, she greets George with a smile on Wednesday. She reminds him that he is there for a reason and that it’s to learn her 10 rules for leading a happier life. He resists at first but eventually agrees to take the class. Before Joy drops him off at work, she teaches him rule number one: people are responsible for their own lives and should make decisions without being influenced by others such as bosses or spouses. The homework assignment is to decide what kind of future he wants in terms of his career and relationships so they can discuss it next time they meet up again.

George is still doubtful about Joy’s advice, but he decides to give it a try. He learns from her and over the next two weeks becomes more positive and energetic. He uses the 10 rules to unify his team while they launch their new product, which saves his career. Even though he gets his car fixed, George continues taking Joy’s bus because she has helped him get back on track with his life.

Key Point 1: Focusing on a goal every day can help people achieve their ambitions.

One day, Joy reveals her second law to George. The Law of Attraction states that a person who thinks positively about their desires can achieve them more effectively than those who don’t think positively. Thoughts are energy and everybody has thoughts. A negative thought tends to bring about negative results, but positive thoughts tend to bring about positive results.

Focusing on goals is an effective way to improve performance. Athletes will picture themselves playing at their best and entrepreneurs can use this method when developing strategies for their businesses or launching new products. Entrepreneur Michael Parrella starts his day in a quiet space, thinking about what he needs to accomplish that day for his company. This allows him to focus on the things he has to do throughout the rest of the day and spend quality time with family at night. He sets aside specific times during work hours for focusing on business and family so that he can keep his goals in perspective and avoid burnout.

Key Point 2: Developing a positive attitude can provide the energy necessary to achieve a given goal.

Everyone faces challenges in life. However, everyone has a choice in how to deal with stressful situations. For example, if a woman is struggling to meet her company’s quota, she can either see it as an insurmountable problem or as an opportunity to improve her skills. If she chooses the former attitude and feels dejected about the challenge at hand, then it will be harder for her to tackle those tasks; however, if she takes on the latter attitude and sees that task as something that will help her grow professionally by increasing her skill set, then she’ll have more energy to devote toward accomplishing them.

A New York Times article on happiness suggests that it may be easier to change your perspective by trying to find joy in small moments. A University of North Carolina psychologist suggests that people can learn how to become more positive if they practice things like being generous and spending time with loved ones, as well as learning new intellectual activities such as a language or playing an instrument. The key is not setting unrealistic expectations for yourself; instead, take one step at a time toward your goal.

Key Point 3: To succeed, leaders must invite others to partner with them in their efforts.

A week before the launch of a new product, George is introduced to the fifth rule for successful leadership. He needs to ask his employees for help and convince them that he’s doing the right thing. If they don’t believe in him, he won’t succeed and their jobs will be at risk. But several team members decline because they’re afraid George will fail if they back him up. Instead of worrying about those who refuse to support him, George must focus on getting everyone else on board with his strategy and making sure it succeeds so that no one gets fired or demoted when it fails.

When businesses are looking for employees, they should first develop criteria to help them find the right people. For example, Pluralsight is a company that focuses on developing skills in their workers. They look for people who strive to improve themselves every day and work well as part of a team. The best candidates are those who have many accolades attached to their name but also possess personal traits such as being kind or optimistic. These qualities show that an employee will fit into the business culture and complement existing employees’ strengths and weaknesses.

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Key Point 4: Leaders do not allow negative attitudes or team members to derail their efforts.

Even if a team member agrees to help the boss get something done, he or she might still be negative about it. That negativity can spread and undermine efforts. Team leaders must make sure that all members of a group are aware of this rule; otherwise they could end up firing someone who’s being needlessly critical and pessimistic.

In The Power of a Positive Team: Proven Principles and Practices That Make Great Teams Great (2018), Gordon also explains that negative team members might not realize they’re being pessimistic, or they may be suffering from depression. Regardless of the reason behind their negativity, employers should give them an opportunity to change their attitudes because people can improve over time.

Key Point 5: Positive attitudes attract new talented workers and motivate existing employees to do their best.

Energy and enthusiasm are important in the workplace. If you’re enthusiastic about your job, it’s easier to get others excited about doing their jobs well as well. It will also make them want to work for you because they know that they’ll enjoy working with someone who is positive and upbeat all day long. Even if a supervisor is enthusiastic, he or she may not be conveying that emotion outwardly enough for employees to pick up on it. This can cause an office space to feel stagnant emotionally; people won’t have much motivation if there isn’t anyone around who seems happy and excited by what’s going on in the company. A 2013 Washington Post article discusses several ways of showing enthusiasm at work so that coworkers will follow suit: smiling more often than not, keeping neutral expressions (don’t look bored or sad), offering help freely when needed, trying new tasks outside of one’s job description, staying late or coming in early occasionally when necessary—all these things show energy and commitment toward a team effort. By practicing those techniques consistently over time, workers will become known as passionate members of the team. They may even be seen as potential leaders, which means pay raises and promotions are possible down the road if they continue acting enthusiastically.

Key Point 6: To retain their trust and loyalty, leaders must show genuine love and concern for their employees.

George used to be a negative person who didn’t notice the good work of his employees. However, he changed this when one of his workers told him that George never helped José get promoted even though José had been loyal for years. This made George realize that employers should connect with their staff and treat them as people rather than just machines for making money.

If you’re stuck working for a boss who ignores your progress and never gives you credit, she could be holding back your salary boosts and promotions. As the 2017 U.S. News & World Report article says, if that’s true then you should leave as soon as possible instead of waiting to see if it gets better in future months. If the boss offers a counteroffer once you say that her behavior has made it hard to stay with the company, think about whether or not she will be an effective leader in the future before accepting her offer. A bad boss is unlikely to do better next time since she hasn’t paid attention or passed on opportunities for training until this point (especially considering how much unhappy employees can bring them up). In short, f ixing  the problem won’ t happen easily, so I would like everyone reading this passage to note what types of problems they encounter at work—and take action immediately.

For whom:   Unhappy Employees; People who are new to their jobs; Individuals seeking career advancement

How:   Read passages similar in tone/purpose as

Key Point 7: Employees and leaders alike must find greater meaning for their work if they wish to stay productive.

New projects can energize a team for a while, but if they don’t find meaning in their work, the excitement will wear off. Even people who enjoy their profession may lose sight of why they chose that career in the first place. Joy’s ninth rule teaches us to identify deeper reasons for accomplishing goals and use them as motivation when tasks become tedious or boring.

Many professionals choose lower paying jobs than they could get elsewhere. Some doctors and lawyers, for example, take less lucrative positions in order to serve the poor or communities that have limited access to legal services. These workers are bucking the idea that people only work because of money and that humans are naturally lazy. Those concepts stem from Adam Smith’s writings on economics in the 18th century. He believed most people were disengaged at work because they were just doing it for a paycheck and would do anything possible to complete their tasks as quickly as possible. However, modern workplaces aren’t more productive because of this philosophy, nor does it account for employees who remain in low-paying jobs because they feel like their role within an organization makes a difference. Job seekers don’t want just any job; they also want one with engaging work that makes them feel good about themselves. If companies help their employees keep a greater purpose in mind, then those organizations may develop happier teams and office spaces.

Key Point 8: Leaders must remember to enjoy life, instead of just treating each day as an opportunity to gain money and accolades.

The tenth rule for bus riders is to seek out happiness in their day-to-day lives. Just because someone is good at a job doesn’t mean they’re happy, and if they’re unhappy for a long time, it’s possible that they won’t be able to do their jobs well anymore. Business owners and workers must remember that professional accolades aren’t everything, and take time to pursue activities that make them happy.

Mental health is a big issue in today’s society. It helps to have an understanding of the issues that are affecting our mental well-being and how we can combat them. Some people who live in cities are more prone to depression than those who don’t, so it pays to understand why this might be happening and what we can do about it. One way of improving your mood is by spending time in nature; however, if you work all day long at an office job, finding time for that may prove difficult. Fortunately, even 15 minutes spent outdoors will help improve your overall sense of well being. If you’re someone who has trouble relaxing or getting your mind off work problems, consider scheduling regular walks through parks or making occasional camping trips with family members as a way to reconnect with nature and improve your outlook on life both on and off the clock (while working).

Book Structure

Jon Gordon could have written a straightforward business book that teaches readers how to use positivity to improve work performance and life satisfaction. Instead, he wrote a fictional tale in which the protagonist learns those lessons from an optimistic bus driver. The 10 key principles are woven throughout the story as George interacts with his new mentor.

Gordon uses this book to promote his services. He instructs George at one point to visit a website and print out tickets for his team so that they can practice positivity. This same website is mentioned again at the end of the story for any interested readers, as well as Gordon’s contact information in case people want him to speak or sign up for his newsletter. It becomes clear from these advertisements that each character on the bus, outside of its driver, serves a perfunctory role.

The Energy Bus is a short book. It has many one-page chapters and contains advice for managers who want to build successful teams. The book also includes an advertisement for Gordon’s online training course at the end.

About the Author

Jon Gordon was inspired by a bus driver. He wrote about the experience in his newsletter and found that people liked it, so he expanded it into a book. Throughout The Energy Bus, Gordon repeatedly asserts that every event happens for a reason and can be used to one’s advantage as long as you remain open to its potential message. By recognizing value in the bus driver’s positive attitude, Jon grew as a motivational speaker and capitalized on his experience with this story.

Gordon’s book is mostly about how to be an optimistic person. He also emphasizes the importance of positive thinking in teams, and gives advice on overcoming negativity. Although he believes people should overcome their negative thoughts, Gordon says that pessimistic team members deserve multiple chances to change for the better. One can become a positive influence if they are given encouragement by others who believe in them.

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Full Summary of The Energy Bus

Overall Summary

Jon Gordon’s The Energy Bus: 10 Rules to Fuel Your Life, Work, and Team with Positive Energy is a self-help book that has sold well. It tells the story of an individual who overcomes personal and work issues using positive energy.

This book is about how to create a positive team environment and the importance of having an optimistic outlook. It’s also a story about how one person was able to turn his life around after finding happiness in the most unlikely places.

The first six chapters introduce George, a hard-working family man who has fallen on hard times. His team at work is adrift and he might get fired as a result of that. Bad luck seems to haunt him and his wife threatens to leave him because of it.

When George’s car breaks down, he has to take the bus to work. He meets Joy, a driver who is very energetic and enthusiastic about life. She offers him 10 rules for living a more positive life. Initially, he is annoyed by her energy but eventually accepts her offer and learns the rules from her.

In the later chapters, Joy gives George some advice. She’s assisted by several passengers with expertise in specific areas. Joy explains that everyone has a bus and their own life is like it. The outcomes of your life derive from you, not luck or fate or other people. The first step to driving successfully is having desire, vision, and focus on where you want to go.

The third rule is to be positive and fuel your ride with positivity. The usual approach to problems is to blame others for them, which leads people down a negative path that doesn’t produce good results. Instead, being positive creates enthusiasm, joy, and success.

In Chapters 12 through 20, George learns how to make his life better. He must invite people on the bus with him in order for them to support him and help achieve his goals. When he invites the members of his work team to join him, three refuse and two accept just so they can badger him and watch him fail.

George learns that he must confront the doubters on his team. The book instructs him to get rid of energy vampires, and post a sign telling them not to come back onto his bus. George confronts those who don’t believe in him, fires one employee and loses another but gets the rest of them on board with his vision. In doing so, he realizes how much they’ve resented him for being negative about everything all these years, and how it hurt their morale.

George’s attitude improves and the team starts to gel. In chapters 21-30, they work overtime for three days to finish their project. They learn rules 7 and 8 (enthusiasm attracts more passengers and energizes them during the ride; love your passengers) along with a five step system for cultivating caring in teams. Rule 9 focuses George on goals bigger than just this presentation by driving with purpose.

The team presents their idea to the board, who are impressed. George is happy that his family is back together again and has a positive attitude about life. He also learns Rule 10: Have Fun and Enjoy the Ride.

After George achieves his goal of driving the Energy Bus, he decides to keep riding it so that he can share his wisdom with other people. One chapter is about how to apply those principles in your life (11 steps). The author has written 20 books and consulted for several companies including Campbell Soup, Southwest Airlines, Bayer Pharmaceuticals, San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Dodgers. Overall this book focuses on teamwork but its principles can be applied to any problem or challenge. There’s also a foreword by Ken Blanchard as well as links to resources and an index at the end of the book.


The Energy Bus is a book that teaches how to use positive energy to achieve success. This energy comes from optimism, trust, enthusiasm, love, purpose, joy and passion. The author has seen the benefits of this in thousands of people he’s worked with. He also received many testimonials from clients who have overcome health problems and improved their outlook on life by using positive energy. The book presents 10 rules for developing a positive outlook to achieve success.

Chapter 1: “Flat Tire”

George has a flat tire. He’s late for work, and he can’t afford to miss the meeting. He runs back into his house, brushes aside his kids’ greetings, complains to his wife about it being her fault that he’s running late because she made him stop at the gas station on their way home last night (which was closed), then asks her if she could give him a ride. She says no because she has too many errands to do today and suggests George take the bus instead. George gets offended and tells her that he wouldn’t be caught dead taking public transportation like some poor people would have to do; however, in this case, since there are no other options available…

George makes the long walk to the bus stop. By chance, he gets there just as a bus arrives. The driver is named Joy and greets him cheerfully. George tries to ignore her and finds a seat on the bus. She won’t leave him alone, though; she asks where he’s going and tells him that he will enjoy his ride with NRG Company because they make light bulbs. He doubts it, but decides not to respond since she isn’t giving up easily.

Joy is a flight attendant who has seen many passengers like George. They have no energy or desire to do anything, and they seem uninterested in life. She tells him that there’s good in every bad situation, and we can choose either one. She advises him to think about it carefully before he makes his choice.

Chapter 2: “Good News and Bad News”

That evening, George learns that his brakes were about to fail. He threw away the notice that he received from the manufacturer. Therefore, he got a flat tire. The delay is inconvenient because it will take two weeks for him to get the part needed for repair.

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Chapter 3: “The Long Walk Home”

George decides against calling his wife for a ride and instead walks the two miles from the repair shop to his home. He works hard to provide a good life for his family, but lately things have been going badly. Last night he threatened divorce unless she changed her behavior, which has been negative recently. His team at work struggles and bickers, with some even threatening to quit because of how poorly they’re treated by him, and it’s in danger of being dissolved entirely due to its poor performance. George vows that he’ll change; however, he doesn’t know how to do so without losing face with those who are close to him or risking more problems at work.

As he walks home, feeling desperate, he looks up at the sky and cries out to God (or any higher power) for help.

Chapter 4: “George Wakes Up”

The next morning, George’s wife offers to take him to work. He declines because he wants to take the bus again, since he had a bad experience yesterday. His boss warned him that if he didn’t shape up, he’d be fired. So far today, things haven’t improved at all; in fact they’ve gotten worse. It seems like his life is falling apart and there’s nothing he can do about it.

Chapter 5: “No Joy on the Bus”

George realizes that he should have been nicer to Joy, so he decides to be nice from then on.

Chapter 6: “The Rules”

Despite his resolution to drive to work, George still has problems at work. He briefly thinks of firing everyone on the team, but he realizes that they’re good people and it’s him who should be fired. The next day, Joy is driving again; she takes Tuesdays off because her father is sick and forgets things like his daughter’s name. She tells him that everyone has problems in life but that she loves life anyway and loves everyone even though some are hard to love. She asks why he’s taking the bus again; he explains about the two-week car problem. She says there must be a reason for it happening twice in a row so soon after each other, which makes sense since great things come from coincidences like this one if you pay attention to them by studying their rules carefully as written on signs near mirrors (hence “the 10 rules”).

George is surprised that he agrees to do this. Everyone on the bus cheers and chants “yes”. George turns around and sees all the passengers for the first time. Joy tells him that they like to chant “yes” a lot, so he reluctantly agrees to learn lesson one.

Chapter 7: “You’re the Driver”

Joy requests that Danny, an accountant and Joy’s rule keeper, present George with the first rule: “You are the driver of your bus.”

Joy wants us to take responsibility for our lives and not blame others. She asks Marty, the bus’ research guy, to find out when people die most often. He tells her that more people die at 9:00 a.m. on Monday than at any other time of the week, which suggests that many people feel trapped in their jobs and helpless about changing anything in their lives. However, we can choose where we want to go with our life by taking responsibility for it

George argues that over time, the government and other people take control of a person’s life. Joy tells him to smile; he does so. He feels better because smiling makes him feel more energetic. She asks George what his vision for his life is, but he doesn’t know, beyond getting away from his current one.

Joy pulls a children’s book from her bag and hands it to George. The cover has a picture of a bus with the words “The Energy Bus.” Joy says that some truths are simple, like this one: if you want success, you need to believe in yourself.

At work, George is looking at a sheet of paper that Joy gave him. On the paper, she wrote down instructions for him: He must decide what he wants and write it down. Then he must resolve to create his vision and pursue it until it comes true.

Chapter 8: “It’s All About Energy”

The next day, Joy tells George about Einstein’s theory that the universe is made up of energy. All matter in the universe consists of energy as well as everything else in life, including other people and food. This includes music and thoughts. When we write down our vision for life, it gives us more energy to do what we want to do.

Chapter 9: “George Shares His Vision”

It has been a long time since George thought about what he really wants from life. It is hard to write it down, but once he begins, it feels good. In college George was a star lacrosse player and felt happy and alive. Now he wants to lose weight, get back into shape, and recover that feeling of aliveness. He also wants to be a better father for his children and recover with his wife their ability to laugh together again; they have not been in love lately either because of the stress at work. George fears failure; Joy tells him not to worry so much about failing because the process will help him succeed if he just follows through on all these things that are important to him now in his life right now.

George is concerned that his team won’t be ready to launch their next product. Joy suggests that sometimes we need a crisis to motivate change and inspire us into action. In every crisis lies an opportunity, so George should seize the opportunity of this impending crisis to make changes for the better.

Chapter 10: “Focus”

Danny retrieves a paper with the second rule written on it: “Desire, Vision, and Focus Move Your Bus in the Right Direction”. Joy explains that we can attract things into our lives if we focus on them in our thoughts. People who complain tend to get more problems to complain about. It is better then to focus on what we do want instead of complaining about what we don’t have or don’t like. She declares, “We’re Winners, Not Whiners”. The passengers laugh and chant that motto. Marty hands his laptop to George. On the screen is research into the effects of visualization on Olympic athletes. All the contestants use it by visualizing their best performance hour after hour before they compete at an Olympics event so that they will achieve their goals during their events at an Olympics competition because people who visualize success are able to achieve success easier than those who don’t visualize success because if you build your mind up for something long enough you’ll start believing it’s true and therefor you’ll take action towards achieving your goal which leads you closer towards reaching your goal because when you believe something strongly enough eventually others will as well therefore leading yourself towards achieving whatever goal you set out for yourself in life which means even though some people may not think its possible doesn’t mean its impossible but only time will tell how close someone gets towards reaching their ultimate goals/dreams/aspirations

George feels doubtful about the effectiveness of athletic visualization. He wonders if it would work for him in real life. George decides to try out this technique because he has nothing to lose at this point in his life.

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Chapter 11: “The Power of Positive Energy”

Joy tells Danny that people often fail to take responsibility for their own happiness. She shows him a formula: E + P = O, which means that events in your life plus perception equals outcome. Perception can also mean positive energy, when you look at an unfortunate event as a reminder of the good things you already have. For example, if you have a job and car, then even though there are files on your desk and traffic jams during rush hour, those aren’t going to ruin your day because you still have some really great things.

Danny then explains the third rule to George: “Get your energy from positive people”.

Joy explains that positive energy is not a fake smile or an act. Instead, it’s trust, faith, enthusiasm, purpose, joy and happiness. Negative energy will fill the void if you don’t feed your mind with positive thoughts because negative energy can be overwhelming. To deal with this problem Joy suggests George read a book called “That Energy Book”. It teaches people how to get rid of negative energy by feeding their minds with positive thoughts.

Chapter 12: “George Takes a Walk”

George remembers a friend, Chuck, who made it big during the internet boom but suffered divorce and other tragedies. George doesn’t want to suffer like Chuck did. He reads an exercise in The Energy Book called “The Thank-You Walk.” He walks outside around the building saying aloud things for which he feels grateful. It does feel great, he decides.

Chapter 13: “One Great Golf Shot Theory”

George reads from the Energy Book that golfers tend to remember their best shots rather than their worst. This makes them want to play more golf. Most people, on the other hand, are addicted to thinking about all of their problems and forget about the good things they’ve done in a day. If they were able to focus on one great thing that happened each day instead of thinking so much about all of life’s problems, then they would be happier and healthier people.

George sits down with his kids and asks them about their successes of the day. George’s kids love this exercise, so it will become a daily tradition in his household. As he walks his dog, George thinks about how well things are going at work. His boss noticed that he had more energy than usual and complimented him on it. George decides to tell the rest of his team about one great golf shot theory because they’ll enjoy hearing it as much as he enjoyed telling them.

Chapter 14: “Bus Tickets”

On the bus, Danny and Joy tell George to invite as many people as possible on his bus. He needs to ask them because they won’t know that he wants them if he doesn’t ask. He should also invite his team at work so that they’ll be able to help him launch the new light bulb product.

George is not sure how to go about this. Joy introduces him to another passenger, Janice, who has a website where people can create bus tickets and offer them to anyone. George can send his team digital tickets with the message: “This is my vision for our team and our product launch, and I want you to join me on this journey”.

Joy tells George to clearly tell his team that there will be no infighting or ego problems; instead, everyone will come together for a “stellar performance”. She suggests mailing the tickets without explanation and then inviting each team member individually to sign their ticket.

The author suggests that George give his wife a bus ticket and tell her to pack up. He agrees wholeheartedly, and he says he’s glad the tire on his car was flat because it gave him time to think about what was important in life.

Chapter 15: “A Very Long Weekend”

George thinks about his hero, Abraham Lincoln, who overcame depression and failures to become the president who saved the Union. He did this through a lot of hard work and patience. George realizes that he must also be patient with himself as he tries to win in his battle at work. Riffling through a favorite book about Lincoln, he’s heartened by a quote from the great president: “I am not bound to succeed but I am bound to live up to my potential”.

Chapter 16: “Who’s on the Bus”

On Monday, George has a tough time. Two troublemakers named Larry and Tom agree to get on his bus. Three other workers, Michael, Jamie, and José refuse to do so. All day long workers argue with each other and criticize one another’s work. George is overwhelmed by all the problems that arise throughout the day.

Chapter 17: “The Enemy Is Negativity”

George is feeling down on Tuesday. Joy, who usually takes Tuesdays off, is there to support George in case he needs it. She tells him that she knows how hard driving a bus can be and encourages him to get back up if he falls.

George blames the team members who sabotaged his efforts, but Joy says that’s not the real issue. The problem is negativity, which always exists among people. Marty chimes in that a Gallup Poll estimates 22 million negative US employees cost the economy $300 billion per year. Joy tells George he’s taking the negativity personally and should stop wasting energy on those who don’t get on his bus.

George focuses on the people who refused his invitation, which drains him of energy. He realizes that he can’t deal with them, so instead he focuses on those who joined him.

Chapter 18: “No Energy Vampires on the Bus”

Joy explains that George needs to make sure his team is positive, so he should fire any negative members. Danny suggests posting a sign that says “No Energy Vampires Allowed” on the bus. George must sit down with Larry and Tom, who are causing problems on the bus, and explain that only positive people can stay on the bus. If they don’t change their ways, then they will be fired. As for those three who refused tickets to Brazil, they should remain at their desks and not be involved in the project. After consulting with human resources about job adjustments later, these employees can work elsewhere if needed.

George is confused about why he didn’t learn these skills in management school.

Chapter 19: “The Ultimate Rule of Positive Energy”

Joy offers a final piece of advice as they approach George’s workplace. She tells him to always be positive, no matter what the situation is.

George realizes that he’s not very positive, and his team is falling apart. He gets a rock from Joy to remind himself to be more positive and optimistic about life.

Chapter 20: “George Takes Control of His Bus”

George’s office is full of difficult people, but he feels nervous energy. He remembers that same feeling before lacrosse games in college and realizes that it makes him feel alive and ready to perform well.

Larry shows up and George tells him that he has to pull his weight or get fired. Larry, who needs the job, agrees. Tom arrives and George says he wants him on the team but if he causes problems then he’ll have to go because it’s George’s poor leadership that caused this problem in the first place. Tom disagrees with this assessment of events and points out that George can’t afford to fire anyone else since so many people are leaving already due to his poor management skills.

George is shocked when he finds out that Tom has been giving him a hard time. He pulls out the rock Joy gave him and calls it George’s Pet Rock, which makes Tom laugh. George realizes that Tom was laughing at him because he knows how much trouble people give him for having a rock as his pet. Therefore, George decides to fire Tom because of this.

A man named Michael, who was one of the three people to refuse bus tickets, comes into his boss’ office and scolds him for firing Tom. The boss tells Michael that he’s fired too. Another employee named Jamie enters and agrees to take a bus ticket because she claims the boss has become gloomy and negative over the past few years, but says it just so she can keep her job. The boss thanks her for being honest with him about how he’s changed since taking over as CEO.

José, the third refuser, appears and tells George that despite all his hard work, he never thanked him or gave him a raise. He also ignored José’s request for a raise. Now he wants José to be enthusiastic about getting on the bus. This shocks George and makes him feel like he’s been knocked down. However, after some time to think things over, George admits that José is right (and says as much). After receiving so many blows in one day and feeling knocked down himself, George picks himself back up again and asks José to give him a chance to make it up to him by helping with the launch of their new product line (the same way they helped each other out earlier in the day). He promises that if given this opportunity to prove his worth at work then Jose will see that he’s someone who can be relied upon as an employer—someone who cares about what happens at work because it directly affects people’s lives outside of work too. Surprised, yet impressed by this display of maturity from someone whom she had written off previously as selfish, arrogant, and immature (in her own words), Josie agrees. The rest of the day goes very well thanks in part to this newfound camaraderie between them both.

Chapter 21: “George Has a Dream”

On Tuesday night, after George had a dream about the bus ride he and his family took to America, when they were in danger of falling off of a cliff. At the last minute, someone appeared out of nowhere and prevented it from happening. The voice said “Trust that great things are happening”, and George got up feeling calm.

Chapter 22: “Better Today Than Yesterday”

On Wednesday morning, George thinks about his work from the day before and looks for ways to improve. He realizes that he is missing something important in the process of improving. He remembers a quote from his lacrosse coach, “The goal is not to be better than anyone else but rather be better than you were yesterday” (91-92). This makes him think about Joy’s rock again.

Chapter 23: “Feeling Good”

As George enters the bus, Joy has the passengers chanting “I feel great. Yes. I feel great. Yes.” She explains that emotions can be charged up through expression and calls it “E-motion” or “energy in motion”. It’s better to get to work feeling happy than closed off and unhappy because when you try too hard to please others, you end up draining yourself instead of offering enthusiasm which is much more rewarding for both parties involved.

George tells Joy about the positive changes he made on Tuesday. He admits that they’re not quite where they need to be, but that something is missing from his team. Joy replies that what’s missing is George’s heart and passion for his work. Once he shares that with them, there’ll be no stopping them.

Chapter 24: “Lead with Heart”

George’s heart has been closed off for a long time. It is only just beginning to open back up. The toughest challenges offer the greatest breakthroughs, and when all else fails, people realize they have nowhere else to go but their inner strength and spirit. For George, it’s time to lead from his heart—the source of his power.

Marty says that a study shows that the heart is an “emotional conductor” and it can send emotions to others via an electromagnetic field. This field is 5,000 times more powerful than the brain. George wonders how he can use this information to energize his team.

Chapter 25: “Chief Energy Officer”

Jack, a bald middle-aged man who was quiet until now, speaks up. He says that George should be the CEO of NRG Company because he’s an energetic guy and can share his positive energy with everyone at work.

Jack explains that emotional intelligence is important because it helps people relate to others and build good relationships. Marty adds that EI is 80% of success in life.

Jack was an ambitious and talented young executive who led by intimidation. This caused his company to nearly go bankrupt, but he managed to survive because of his boss’s support. However, Jack realized that this wasn’t the right way to lead and decided to give up on his career in order to find a better way. He met Joy one day, who taught him 10 rules for leading with energy instead of fear. Today, Jack is considered the Chief Energy Officer at his company, which follows these rules as well

Jack wants to pass on positive energy to George. He signals Joy, who nods at Danny, who pulls out the next rule: Enthusiasm attracts more people and energizes them during the ride.

Jack explains that the chief energy officers of companies are optimistic and bring plenty of positive energy to their tasks. They don’t let fear stop them from taking on challenges; instead, they view those challenges as opportunities for growth. Marty says the word “enthusiasm” comes from the Greek word for being inspired or filled with divine inspiration. To Jack, enthusiasm generates this kind of divine energy that inspires people to get on board with a leader’s vision.

George wants to feel excited about his first job again. Joy says that enthusiasm is a genuine feeling, not fake or forced. That enthusiasm will be convincing enough for others without the need to prove itself.

George’s job as a leader is not to get his team to do particular things, but for him to become the heart of the team. He can then invite them to be Chief Energy Officers themselves and contribute positive energy that will reinforce itself within the team. George’s negative attitude reinforced itself within the team in a similar manner; he can now nurture positive enthusiasm instead and it will grow naturally.

Marty announces that Daniel Goleman, who wrote ”Emotional Intelligence”, surveyed people and concluded that positive corporate cultures outperform negative ones. The book shows why, even if money is no object (only timescale becomes important), it makes more sense to invest in positive corporations because they help everyone grow professionally.

Joy says that when you’re enthusiastic, others will be too. When you get excited about something, it’s infectious and spreads to other people.

Chapter 26: “Love Your Passengers”

Joy wants to add something. Just then, she sees a sign by the road that takes the words from her mouth: “Love is the answer.” She remarks on how life sends signs at just the right moment. She asks Danny to reveal rule number eight: Love your passengers.

Joy tells George that he must become a “Love Magnet.” To George, love and business sound strange together. Joy explains that it doesn’t involve wearing cologne at cheesy bars or being overly affectionate. Rather, George must simply love his employees, customers, company and family. This will pour energy into his enthusiasm for the job and inspire others to work harder for him as well.

George, the boss, values his best worker José. He wants to do something for him. Jack suggests a raise would be good, but prizes and trophies wear off. What really matters is that he cares about them as people.

George wants to know how he can express his love in a business setting. He’s told that the strongest emotion is love and that it enables weightlifters to lift heavier weights. Jack gives him a list of five strategies for expressing love in the workplace. The bus arrives at George’s company, so he asks for one quick strategy.

Joy says that George should first help each team member find the gold within themselves. She gives him a rock and asks him to clean it off with water. He discovers that there’s real gold under the grime. Joy tells George he must do this for his teammates, helping them uncover their inner gold. This is loving them.

Chapter 27: “Love Rules”

George stops and reads Jack’s list of ways to love your passengers. One: Make time for them. Don’t stay in your office all day, instead get out and talk to them; take an interest in them by cultivating a relationship with each one of them like you would a garden.

One: “Listen to them”. Pay attention and show that you’re listening by asking questions. Two: “Recognize them”. Make sure they know how much their work means to you, as well as the ways in which it’s important. Three: “Praise them”. Recognizing achievements will help build trust and respect between you two.

The fifth rule is to bring out the best in them. By doing that, you are helping them grow and flourish as well as yourself.

Chapter 28: “Fear and Trust”

As George waits for the elevator, he remembers his fears about Michael quitting. Then Michael walks up to him and says that he’d like to come back to work. George agrees and tells Michael that he wants him to become a Chief Energy Officer (CEO). He explains what CEOs do later on when they’re alone together in the office. This is a sign that things are going well with the turnaround process because it shows faith in himself and his team after dealing with fear earlier on.

Chapter 29: “The Next Day”

George, Michael and José work hard. George is enthusiastic about the project and loves his team. The day ends at 3:00 a.m., but George doesn’t sleep much because he wants to get more people on board with the project so it can be finished faster. In the morning, George asks for advice from passengers on how to convince his team members to stay late so that they can finish their task in time; however, he oversleeps and misses the bus again, which makes him frustrated. He decides to think of another solution by himself instead of waiting for help from others; he’s going to wait until there’s another bus coming along soon enough.

At the office, George finds a letter on his chair. It was written by Joy who explained that when she realized the bus driver missed him and Marty wrote out rule 9 so he would have it today.

Joy’s letter continues by saying that if you have a big purpose, small tasks are more worthwhile. If your purpose is just to launch the new product, then it won’t be enough for you or your team later on. Instead, find a larger purpose and share it with your team so they can work harder and longer towards achieving their goals.

George finds one more sheet of paper to read; it’s from Martin, who cites a study that gave one design team the goal of designing an airplane and another team many parts. George likes this story because it’s about how goals motivate people. For instance, if his entire engineering team were given smaller tasks, they would get a better result than asking them just to build an iPhone.

Chapter 30: “The Team Gets Inspired”

George wants his team to decide on their shared purpose. He believes this will inspire them more than a purpose that he simply hands to them. At a meeting, the group runs with it and comes up with three purposes: being great at ideas, marketing, and results; inspiring workers to become Chief Energy Officers throughout the company; and helping people through products that share light rather than just provide light.

George notices that the team is working together towards a common goal. Everyone on the team is willing to work late and put in extra effort to achieve their goals.

Chapter 31: “Game Day”

George is excited about the big day. He kisses his wife goodbye, and she’s happy that he has returned to her after a long time away. George feels good about his family as well.

Joy recalls a time when George was so moved by gratitude that he quit his job and decided to help people realize they had it good in life, even if they didn’t know it. This happened on this very same bus ride, twenty years ago. He told her to visualize what the world looks like without George Bailey—then she realized how lucky we all are to have him around. With confidence and perseverance, you can change the lives of everyone who will receive your message. Be fearless in delivering your new product introduction today!

George meets Eddy, an 88-year old who believes that people should spend their time being happy and youthful.

Danny pulls out a copy of the tenth rule: ‘Have Fun and Enjoy the Ride.’ He believes that too many people worry about things like material possessions, conflicts, or little details instead of simply enjoying life. Marty describes a study about 95-year olds who were asked what they would change if they could go back in time and live their lives again. They said that if they had it to do over again, they would reflect more, take more chances, and leave behind some sort of legacy. The bus arrives at George’s company where he is given encouragement from passengers on the bus as well as high fives when he gets off it. This gives him confidence for his presentation later today.

Chapter 32: “The Presentation”

George is concerned about the executives’ response to his presentation. He begins to panic, but then he remembers Joy’s advice that he needs to be more positive than all their negativity. At once, George feels calm and delivers a successful presentation. The executives are on board with the plan and want to know how it happened. George tells them that he decided not only to manage employees but also become a Chief Energy Officer for the company, which they don’t understand at first, but they listen anyway. They celebrate together over lunch and talk about what’s next for everyone involved in this project.

Chapter 33: “Joy”

A young lady named Joy works at a car repair shop. She is the reason why George has decided to be happy today, after having gone through some hard times in the past few weeks. The tire trouble and other setbacks have led him to this point of joy. He resolves not to worry about future troubles but instead focus on every positive moment he has now. He calls his mother, who just finished another round of chemotherapy treatment for her illness, and tells her that she should live life without fear from here on out.

Chapter 34: “It’s More Fun on the Bus”

On Monday, George jumps on the bus and tells Joy that his presentation was a success. He hugs her and then shares this information with all of the passengers. Everyone cheers for him. Then he pulls out a sign with ten rules printed beautifully on it in big letters so that everyone can see them easily. He gives up his seat to install it, and everyone applauds him as they welcome it aboard the bus.

George will be taking the bus to work from now on because he thinks it’s more fun than driving.

“The Energy Bus Action Plan”

There are 11 steps to the Energy Bus action plan for successful team building:

To create a vision, talk to your team about its goals and the reasons behind them. Then, write down your vision and make copies for each member of the team. Encourage everyone on the team to visualize daily that they are achieving their mission. Next, focus on specific goals; write down action steps for each goal. After you have those written out, get others who can help support you in achieving those goals and invite them onto the bus with you (those people will be called stakeholders). Once all this is done, fuel yourself with positive energy and enthusiasm so that it spreads among other members of your group or organization which creates a positive culture within it (and if there’s one thing we know from history is that cultures are what makes organizations successful).

“Step 8: Post a sign that says ‘No Energy Vampires Allowed’.” Show team members who are negative that you care. If they’re not willing to change, let them go.

The Energy Bus Book Summary, by Jon Gordon

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