Book Review: Fish!

“There is always a choice about the way you do your work, even if there is not a choice about the work itself.” —Fish!

There’s something to be said for writing with energy. I’m just not sure the authors delivered much more in this short text. Having the right energy—that fun, go get them attitude—makes a substantial difference in any workplace. That’s where this text can help. If you find yourself in a toxic work environment or surrounded by toxic co-workers, you just may find some relief in this tiny parable.

Though, I can’t say I was a huge fan, I would share book with others. I think it fills a very smart niche in the workplace where middle management and mid-level workers converge in the corporate doldrums.

If you need an easy read to give you some fresh perspective on how you can choose to thrive or wallow in the workplace, then this is the book for you. It’s both highly approachable and practical. So, take a break in the office, pull out this booklet and enjoy.

Book Review: The Secret of the Ages (1975 Revised Edition)

It is Mind that rules the world. —R. Collier

This is one of those seminal works you actually want to love before you even start to read it. Then you open the book up and end up struggling through it—and no matter the ending—you’re just disappointed. However, my theory this time isn’t to fault the work itself. I’m placing the blame on the 1975 revision’s additions to the 1926 original text.

I’ve heard amazing things about the original work, and I can clearly see how this one has started arguments that it was the source material for Napoleon Hill’s classic Think and Grow Rich. I’m not going to contribute to that argument though. What I can say is that I’ve listened to the original text on Audible and compared it to the 1975 edition I read. There’s clearly a difference which favors the original text.

Collier’s original contribution really set the stage for our modern re-obsession with the Law of Attraction mentality. What I appreciate most is the author’s enthusiastic approach to truly driving his formula for success into the mind of the reader.

For Collier, the only limitations men face are the ones they inflict upon themselves through their mental attitudes. Your thoughts then become the gateway to your physical and emotional success in the newly industrialized world of 1926.

Bottom line—avoid this edition and scrounge for the original text. You’ll have a better experience in the end.

Book Review: The Law of Success: The Master Wealth-Builder’s Complete and Original Lesson Plan for Achieving Your Dreams

Those who work for money alone, and who receive for their pay nothing but money, are always underpaid, no matter how much they receive. Money is necessary, but the big prizes of life cannot be measured in dollars and cents. —N. Hill

Alright, there’s greatness hidden in this gem if you can survive a dance with 19th century social norms and mores of imperialism, misogyny, racism, and metaphysics. I try and be forgiving on these points and remember an author is also a victim of his time and upbringing, but there is racism and sexism here that can be quite painful at times. Yet, I still tend to think of the author as my very weird, and absolutely crazy, Aged Uncle Hill who is always giving me his “as I see it” advice on how he sees success in the twentieth century.

Unfortunately, those jewels are always attached to a 45 minute lecture on the truly “out there.” One moment I can believe in the viability of a Positive Law of Effect or Attraction, but then he says something so strange I catch myself making a face of incredulity. Nevertheless, I still want you to read this, and decide for yourself if you can make these Laws of Success work. I am not going to discredit the principle-based “golden rule” living Hill is advocating here.

I do worry that too much influence may be attributed to thought versus consciously willed action at times. In other words, if you take the time to read this one you will in essence be looking back in time and seeing how the “greatest generation” defined success and really started the self-help genre.

Book Review: Same Words, Different Language A Proven Guide for Creating Gender Intelligence at Work

I tell all my workshop participants not to look for answers. Answers are things we use to solidify our own positions. Instead, look for insights. Insights mean we’re learning something. Insights mean we’re filling that hole in our minds that I call what-we-don’t-know-we-don’t-know. —B. Annis

Let me be frank. I did not intend to enjoy reading the piece. So, it was quite a surprise to me when I found myself recommending it to others. The key point that turned this from the realm of pseudoscience into an essential “must have” was the author’s unique framing of the text as a discussion and not a hard science.

I found that difference not only approachable, but an acceptable premise for the foundations of specifying that thought can be gendered. I may not agree with very assumption and deconstruction Annis presented, but I can accept that these reactions and interpretations may be accurate for some individuals. I can appreciate that thought and perception can be interpreted as gendered as a result of the social and perhaps genetic heredity we share as we grow into adulthood.

Sometimes in the workplace men and women just don’t perceive the world in the same way. This is an excellent resource to garner that conversation. Whether you’re exploring hurt feelings, or bouts of the blame game, we really do seem to use the same words with different meanings at times. If you keep a bookshelf of essential must reads for the workplace, add this to your collection I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Book Review: Think and Grow Rich

Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, the mind can achieve. —N. Hill

There’s always a place in my home for a textbook on how to win in life. I can’t promise Hill has all of the answers. What I can guarantee is that he has some wild ideas, but in the end you’re going to appreciate his philosophy of action and effect. Sometimes we need the not so subtle reminder that our failures in life can be our fault.

We have the remarkable ability to choose our thoughts, words, and actions. So, at the end of the day we have to acknowledge our ownership of our personal lives. We can choose how we think, and as a result we can grow into our vision of the future. It only makes sense to recognize that how we spend our time and thoughts will have a large impact on how we achieve the future of our dreams.

I have read this text at least once a year for the past three years, and every time I find the seed of motivation I need to make the life changing actions necessary to be resilient in the face of adversity. I can’t promise this will work for you, but I can confess my life, career, and prosperity have increased each year since I’ve begun this journey.

So, I fondly wish you the resilience necessary to be steadfast as you begin your own journey toward a brighter future.

Book Review: What Happened

In my experience, the balancing act women in politics have to master is challenging at every level, but it gets worse the higher you rise. If we’re too tough, we’re unlikable. If we’re too soft, we’re not cut out for the big leagues. If we work too hard, we’re neglecting our families. If we put family first, we’re not serious about the work. If we have a career but no children, there’s something wrong with us, and vice versa. If we want to compete for a higher office, we’re too ambitious. Can’t we just be happy with what we have? Can’t we leave the higher rungs on the ladder for men? Think how often you’ve heard these words used about women who lead: angry, strident, feisty, difficult, irritable, bossy, brassy, emotional, abrasive, high-maintenance, ambitious (a word that I think of as neutral, even admirable, but clearly isn’t for a lot of people). –H. Rodham Clinton

It’s about time we discussed what it means to fail in life.

What makes this a great work is the fact that the author talks about her failures. Yes, she takes responsibility. She feels pain. She struggles to find meaning and purpose when a future that seemed likely disappeared. I started this text with nothing more than a healthy respect for the professional success of Hillary Rodham Clinton over the years. I finished this book with disproportionate sadness for a loss many still cannot bring themselves to recognize. What I suggest is you read this as a lesson on experiencing defeat. It’s a lesson on what it means to have character, resilience, and passion for building communities. In short, it’s a front row seat of what it costs to take on the establishment of power, influence, and privilege that holds the glass ceiling in place.

Book Review: The First 90 Days

Joining a new company is akin to an organ transplant—and you’re the new organ. If you’re not thoughtful in adapting to the new situation, you could end up being attacked by the organizational immune system and rejected. —M. Watkins

Come on friends, don’t hate on this one, it’s full of substance, fantastic table summaries, and easy to follow chapter summaries. I mean, you could actually take a recent graduate and give him or her nothing but the tables, summaries, and key questions, and you could have a better quality leader than I’ve had most of my life in Fortune 500 companies.

This is a great book to have on hand if for nothing else than the clear reminders and call to actions to make yourself a relevant and relatable leader in your chosen field. In my experience few companies offer leadership development or training for entry level leaders. If you find yourself in this predicament use this book as a reference point. It may sound like common sense to some, but under pressure I’ve seen many leaders overlook, skip, or ignore the basics and hinder both personal and team performance as a result.

Friendly Tip: I’ve yet to find a text from HBR Press that did offer at a minimum a Return on your Investment at least equal to the cost of the book purchased. Proof of point-I own this one in paper and on the Kindle so I can loan it to those in need and always have a copy on hand when I pursue a career transition.