“Start, Stay, or Leave” by Trey Gowdy

Book Review

By Phil Calhoun

In his new book, “Start, Stay, or Leave” Trey Gowdy provides a guide to help people analyze, make, and own their decisions. The author provides what seems to be a basic concept, with life being centered on a decision-making experience. Gowdy encourages his readers to embrace the experience when deciding what’s best for them, on their terms, and not according to anyone else’s expectations.

The advice provided is easy to remember and is a great fit for both younger and older brokers.  The theme is to prepare for the worst, listen to others’ opinions, and then decide for yourself.  The career of many brokers flows through ups and downs. Clients are won, some are lost.  Marketing works and then the same campaign fails to produce leads. 

As most brokers discover, they must make decisions, evaluate the results, and adjust to enhance success. This is the same basic fundamental used in all industries and in life. When you finish reading the informative examples the author provides, you’ll realize this book is a solid gift for staff and colleagues.

From the author: Start at the End   

“As you’re thinking about starting something — whether it’s a new career or a new relationship, a new hobby or a new investment, starting fresh in a new city or starting to get more serious about your health — whatever it is, I have found it’s best to start at the end. By creating a clear picture in your mind of your final destination, you will be better equipped to make decisions that ensure you reach that desired place. In life, moments arise when you have to decide your next move. When choosing whether to accept a new job, purchase a house, attend a school, or start a relationship, how do you settle on which direction to take? I have found that most consequential decisions boil down to three simple options: start, stay, or leave.”. 

Gowdy first developed this decision-making tool in the courtroom during a federal murder trial, and it has guided his life ever since. The practical framework has helped him decide where to raise his family, when to leave his dream job, whether to run for Congress, and when to step away from political life.

Over the years, Gowdy has made some great decisions and some lousy ones (and he admits to both). In Start, Stay, or Leave,”  he shares his hard-earned wisdom. Filled with surprising insights and questions, this personal playbook teaches you how to

• craft your unique vision of success
• consult your dreams with wisdom (and know when to revise them)
• assess the price worth paying to achieve your goals
• balance logic, emotion and fear when facing a new challenge
• take the right advice, from the right people (and block out everyone else)
• chart the course of your life with the end goal in min

ReadingStart, Stay, or Leave is like sitting on the back porch of a farmhouse chatting with a wise friend. Filled with humor, heartbreak, practical advice, and a lifetime’s worth of storytelling, this book will teach you how to approach trajectory-changing decisions with confidence and the knowledge that, whatever happens, you’ve made the best choice you could. 

About the Author 

Trey Gowdy is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of ”Doesn’t Hurt to Ask” and co-author of ”Unified,” with Senator Tim Scott. He’s the host of Sunday Night in America with Trey Gowdy on Fox News and The Trey Gowdy Podcast. Gowdy served as a four-term congressman from South Carolina. Before running for Congress, he served as a federal prosecutor in his home state and a district attorney in Spartanburg and Cherokee counties. Trey Gowdy is married to Terri Dillard Gowdy, a former first-grade school teacher in Spartanburg, South Carolina.. 


Phil Calhoun is owner and publisher of California Broker Magazine. Phil also is a leader in coaching health insurance professionals. He is an active member of several insurance associations including the California Association of Health Insurance Professionals (CAHIP) and local chapters in Orange County, Los Angeles, San Diego and Inland Empire Health Insurance Professionals.