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Book offers strategy for living the dream


'Hustle Believe Receive' gives readers tools to control fate

Sarah Centrella's empowerment book about that journey, 'Hustle Believe Receive, an 8-Step Plan to Changing Your Life and Living Your Dream,' was published Jan. 5 by Skyhorse Publishing, which specializes in self-help and cookbooksA disturbing text read on her husband’s phone while he was showering had Sarah Centrella showing him the door faster than you can say, “Hand me a towel, babe.”

This suddenly left her a single mom with three young kids to feed and no job. She sold what she could, moved into a cheap apartment, and pawned her wedding rings on Craigslist. It was liberating, and a major turning point, she recalls. There was nothing to do but survive; nowhere to go but up.

“I wanted to start over, but with a very different kind of life,” she says by phone.

Centrella’s empowerment book about that journey, “Hustle Believe Receive, an 8-Step Plan to Changing Your Life and Living Your Dream,” was published Jan. 5 by Skyhorse Publishing, which specializes in self-help and cookbooks. The same publisher had already turned her down twice. The book they ultimately accepted is about the method Centrella used to change her life and to actively pursue her dreams. She calls it the #HBRMethod.

After her divorce, Centrella went on food stamps in order to get by. Within 18 months, she was employed by a Tigard software company, rising from inside sales to vice president. “Every penny went to child care and rent then,” she recalls.

“But if you can see past the first year it can be done. You just have to stick with it,” says Centrella, a Beaverton resident who now works for a partnering company of Oracle’s.

Sarah Centrella's new book.Despite her perseverance, things fell apart again, and her ups and downs were channeled onto a blog, ThoughtsStories Life, where she gathered half a million followers. Many of them, she says, drifted over from online sites inspired by self-help books dedicated to the power of positive thinking and books like “The Secret.”

“My book is sort of like those, but in a real chick way,” she explains. “I documented it all every step of the way. And it has a hard work ethic that I think those books miss.”

Centrella’s book includes 51 interviews with people famous and not-so famous who are living their dream. She reached out to most by cold connecting through social media, but was encouraged by the willingness of most to share their stories.

An early inspiration for many of the ideas that drive her book, she says, came from conversations with former University of Oregon football player Kenjon Barner. They met the day she asked Barner to come over and throw the football around with her son on his eighth birthday. She couldn’t throw her son a party that year, but she thought it was worth a try to ask him to share a few minutes of his time that day, and he obliged.

Social media opened doors that would otherwise have remained shut, she says. Her book is riddled with hashtags, and each chapter has a song she suggests readers listen to to power up for their day, motivational hip-hop songs like “Work” by Iggy Azalea and “My Time” by Fabolous.

The author relates to her subjects’ drive — how what didn’t kill them only made them stronger. “I interviewed all of them. I wanted to know how they got there. (NFL running back) Jonathan Stewart was hard to reach, but he ended up giving one of the best, most authentic interviews in the book.” Stories of grit and determination unfold as

Centrella details eight traits that she says they all have in common, what she calls the #HBRmethod.

“There’s a guy in the book who was in jail for armed robbery who now has a successful line of T-shirts. I talk to a lot of athletes and Oregon business people,” she says.

Was there anyone she wanted to reach but didn’t? “50 Cent. I really wanted to get his story.”

“I think of this as an urban guide to being self-made,” says Centrella, who taught herself to read and write at age 13. She’s saving the story of her childhood for her next book. “I am just a normal chick who thought, ‘Tell me some (expletive) I can use.”’

Her ultimate role model is Oprah Winfrey, who she reached out to before “Hustle Believe Receive” published.

“She raised me. She’s my mom,” says Centrella, who eventually met with Oprah’s right-hand woman who scouts stories for the show.

“I’m getting closer (to her),” she adds, laughing.

At a recent reading at Powell’s Cedar Crossing, a mile and a half from her home, Centrella was joined in a Q&A by Lavasier Tuinei, the former Oregon Ducks wide receiver and Rose Bowl MVP; Jami Curl, founder of QUIN candy; and Charise Weller, founder of Weller Tribe. Each are featured in “Hustle Believe Receive.”

“It took me four years to get here,” she says, of publishing her first book. “The most important element to pursuing a dream is the desire. You have to make a concrete decision, and you have to have that desire. For me, going back to a mediocre life wasn’t an option. I want a big life.”