How To Build a Piano Bench:
Lessons for Success From a Red Dirt Road in Alabama

How to Build a Piano Bench: Lessons for Success from a Red-Dirt Road in Alabama


In this inspirational memoir, Ruthi Postow Birch shares the not-so-common common-sense blueprint for success that enabled her to move from a paper mill town in south Alabama to the top of her profession and ultimately to own her own successful company in Washington D.C.
It is filled with the sometimes funny and sometimes heart wrenching stories of people dreaming, striving, facing and conquering life and told with the innate skill of a natural storyteller.

Through entertaining stories, Ruthi shares the lessons from Petain Street.

Life does not always come with an instruction manual or a roadmap. You can create your own the way my Daddy built my piano bench.

He didn’t know how to build a bench, but he knew where he had to start. He bought some wood. That was the way Daddy did things. He said when something had to be done, it had to be done, whether he knew how to do it or not.

“There is always just one right next step—and you know it because it’s the only one that makes sense.”

Mama didn’t believe in excuses. She got things done and expected I would too. “Other children have excuses,” she told me. “Other children don’t have enough to eat and have to work after school or take care of little brothers and sisters. You don’t have excuses”

Everything starts with an interview.

I failed first-dating, and when I went looking for my first job, I learned that job interviews are a lot like first dates—but without the question of “to kiss or not to kiss.” (It’s best if you don’t.) I had my first interview when I was sixteen. That’s when I found out I was just as bad at interviewing as at dating. I wanted to put my best foot forward, but I didn’t know which foot that was.

What People Are Saying…

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“Warmly nostalgic yet highly relevant as a primer on building a firm and becoming a smart leader.”

“A delightful memoir written by a woman who is a self-made success….This book is just full to the brim with wonderful anecdotes and pieces of advice about how to build success.” 

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My first job interview in Washington D.C. was with a staffing firm. A nice lady looked at my application.“I see here you were a teacher for two years. How fast do you type?”
“Yes….. I don’t type.”
“Didn’t you have to type your papers in college?”
“No. I paid another student’s wife to type them.”
“Did you ever work in an office at all? What were your jobs during school?”
“My first semester, I worked in the audio-visual department of the school of education, teaching students to use the film projector, change film, splice film. Then I changed to the dean’s office where I just filed forms.”
“The A-V department sounds more interesting than filing.”
“I wasn’t very good with the mechanics of the projectors, and the films we used were World War II training films for paraplegics, quadriplegics, and amputees. They were made to teach them to use prosthetic arms and legs and to encourage new victims with the progress of the more advanced ones. After watching them for a few weeks, I preferred filing.”
“Did you answer phones?”
“Once I think I did.”
“Okay, then. Let’s see what we have for you.”