When Cameron Johnson was eight years old, he saw the film Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, and knew he just had to go to New York to visit Donald Trump’s famous Plaza Hotel, where much of the film was shot. His dad made a deal with him: “Get all A’s, and we’ll take you.” For the rest of third grade, Cameron got all A’s.

When they arrived at the Plaza, his parents were stunned to find a small mountain of presents waiting for Cameron at the front desk, left by Trump himself. Unknown to them, Cameron had written Trump a letter saying he was coming, that he’d never been to New York and sure would love to see the suite where the film was shot.

“Mr. Trump has also arranged for a personal shopper to accompany you tomorrow morning to FAO Schwartz,” the woman at check-in told them, “for a private shopping tour before the store opens…and of course, you’ll want to see the suite where they filmed Home Alone 2. Actually, Mr. Trump has upgraded your room—you’ll be staying in that very same suite.”

“There was no reason my parents and I should have been treated so well,” Cameron reflects. “So why did we end up in that suite? Because I wrote to him and asked for it. There’s an old expression in sales: You can give the best presentation in the world—but you still have to ask for the sale.

This is the kind of pairing, of engaging story punctuated with savvy life lesson, that peppers You Call the Shots, from Cameron’s selling tomatoes door-to-door to his neighbors at age six, all the way to being offered $10 million in venture capital at age nineteen for his latest launch—and turning the offer down because it had too many strings and compromises attached.

That latter story is the centerpiece of chapter 14, entitled “Stick to Your Guns.” The Trump/Plaza story is the heart of chapter 1, “Put Yourself Out There.” In fact, each of the book’s nineteen chapters corresponds to what the book’s cover calls, “The 19 Essentials Secrets of Entrepreneurship.”

No matter what your age, if you’re an entrepreneur (and if you’re in the networking business, then that’s what you are!), the book is brimming with insights, life lessons and immensely practical principles for how to create and live a life where you indeed call your own shots. A substantial and detailed appendix offering reams of detailed practical how-to’s and resources rounds out the book nicely, and is worth the cover price all on its own.

Here at Networking Times, we feel a bit like the book’s godparents. Cameron first met coauthor John David Mann through a feature story John wrote on Cameron in our July ’04 issue (“Youth in Networking”). The two hit it off, stayed in touch, and eventually decided to collaborate on a project that became this book.

Hardcover, 272 pages; $24.00; Simon & Schuster.