BTRIPP (btripp) wrote,

Good advice, no nagging

Ever since I started doing reviews of job/career/business books over in The Job Stalker blog and began contacting publishers' PR folks to set up mini e-mail interviews with various authors, I've begun to see more and more books being sent out to me for review. This is the first of two books provided to me by Ten Speed Press (hellllooo, FTC) recently. Since I'd been giving myself a bit of a break from the “heavy duty” industry books (well, that's not quite true, I'm about half way through a book on technological innovations intended for a “C-Level” audience), I figured that I'd slip these in just to have something to feature over on that blog!

Casey Hawley's 10 Make-or-Break Career Moments: Navigate, Negotiate, and Communicate for Success takes an interesting approach to career advice, no doubt originating, to a certain extent, from her sitting “on the other side of the table” (most of her previous books being guides for management rather than individual employees). She's listed as a “Communications Consultant” and that's certainly where this book is coming from, offering communications coaching for 10 key challenges or turning points within one's professional life.

Frankly, I had a rather odd “strongest take-away” from this book, and that is more in an experiential than informational mode: the tone is remarkably neutral. As I've noted in previous reviews, I have certain “issues” with career coaches and other similar job-advice-giving folks ... yet I was about 1/3rd through reading this when I realized that I did not feel like I was being lectured to by some self-appointed “expert” (which is frequently a point of irritation in other “career advice” books). Instead the book read more like an in-depth study by an outside observer who was trying to present as unbiased an assessment of the subject matter as possible. This was, to me, “a breath of fresh air” in a genre that typically reads with a subtext of “because I say so!”.

If there was one thing I'd change/add here it would be a collection of key points in the back. The author is somewhat fond of creating memory-jogging acronyms (or as she calls them, “models”) for various situations, from M.I.S.S.I.O.N. to B.E.A.C.O.N., B.L.U.R., and D.U.C.K., and these would be simply referred to in chapters after those in which they were defined. I found these somewhat confusing, and wished there was a back-of-the-book page with these broken down into their component elements, as well as some notations on other concepts. Admittedly, it's a minor point, but it would have made the information flow of the book far clearer.

What are the “10 Make-or-Break Career Moments”? They span much of an individual's career arc: “the first moment you meet an executive or other key business contact”, “the first moment you meet the interviewer for your next job”, “the moment you are offered a job”, “the key moment in a performance review”, “the moment you meet your new team”, “the moment you are fired”, “the moment a challenge to your ethics, loyalty, or future arises”, “the moment you resign from a job”, “the moment conflict arises with a coworker or other businessperson”, and “the moment you are recognized for excellence”. In addition, there is a concluding section where the author profiles a half a dozen notable executives, and showing how they used techniques similar to those outlined in the text.

Each of these “career moments” gets its own chapter, with various levels of advice, from the “philosophical” to the specifically practical, ranging (naturally enough) from the very basic (in the introductory chapters) to the more advanced as the book moves into issues of more senior positions ... in all cases the material is direct, clear, and (perhaps most refreshingly) “not preachy”. I certainly enjoyed reading this more that I had anticipated I would, and found good information for my own use.

10 Make-or-Break Career Moments is, of course, brand new, so should be out in your local brick-and-mortar book store. It has a very reasonable cover price, and Amazon currently has it at a decent discount ... oddly enough, there are already copies in the new/used channel, and a "like new" copy can be had through that for under five bucks. Again, if you're looking for a bit of coaching for your business communications, this would be a solid place to start, with good advice an "no attitude", putting it far ahead of much of its category!

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Tags: book review
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