Posts Tagged career advice

Book Review: Promote Yourself – The new rules for career success

Posted by on Saturday, 2 November, 2013

Promote Yourself Dan SchawbelIt’s hard to work out exactly why I don’t like Promote Yourself by Dan Schawbel. I’ve written many introductions and deleted them, all trying to find an objective reason.

I think it’s because there’s no clear audience identified.

There are many other reasons too, but they’re all subjective. The focus on millennials, the “it’s all about me” attitude, the instructions to do A and B to receive C. But these are disagreements, not reasons for it to be a bad book.

I know Dan Schawbel intends this book to be a career guide for millennials. I’m not convinced that’s who’ll get the most out of it.

I see the primary audience as early gen X and baby boomers who are struggling to relate to the younger members of their teams. The secondary is audience is millennials, but those who do well on tests, but struggle to make friends. The ones who want to be rich, famous and have an MBA, but lack an understanding of creativity or how.

Let me explain.

The first half of the book focuses on building your personal brand at work with the aim of getting promoted. Dan explains the need to network with the right people. He also explains how being a social media guru will make you indispensable, because no one older than “you” understands or can use the internet and computers. You can help them learn. But he also feels the need to explain what Twitter and Facebook are. By his reckoning, shouldn’t millennials already know that?

All through the book are to-do items. Take on an extra project, promote your wins, set up a personal website and you’ll be promoted. Sure there are caveats about over doing it and looking like a jerk, but I think the book (and its readers) would benefit from being told how and why. It’s there on a surface level, but reading this brought back memories of some jerks I’ve worked with. They knew how to tick boxes, but lacked the understanding to know which boxes should be ticked. One thing these jerks had in common was an MBA, giving them a great theoretical knowledge, but not the wisdom to apply it.

Which made me laugh at page 229: Should I Get an MBA? It’s probably the page I agreed with the most. No, an MBA isn’t mandatory, and is more useful in some companies than others. However, I’m not sure the entrepreneurs Dan used as examples of successful people without MBAs were the best to use. They each built their fortunes by making ideas happen, not by playing the game for a promotion large companies.

Promote Yourself isn’t all bad. Pointing out need to excel in your current job first is essential advice, dealing with job hopping and self-directed learning were other gems.

I’d love to give recommendations of alternative career books to read instead of this one, but it’s a sub-genre I tend not to read, so cannot. If anyone can, please add it to the comments. In the mean time, I’m sending this book to a millennial for his perspective.

The best career advice I’ve ever heard

Posted by on Saturday, 15 October, 2011

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On Wednesday evening Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst, taught an IABC/Seattle audience the best piece of career advice and a tool to make it actionable.

We’ve all heard the advice to do what you love, but how do you work out exactly what that is? As Curt said, many of us love travel, but all for different reasons. Just accepting a job in travel may not make you happy.

The fist step is to make a list of the things we love (this is where the travel generalization came in).

Next, we asked ourselves why do we love these things and why do we love those ‘whys’. Curt recommended taking this down four levels, but with his clients he takes it as far as it can go.

These final things are what we’re really passionate about – the motivators that really drive us.

Mine came down to ‘new things/experiences’ and ‘making a difference’. Which really translates to me having a short attention-span but using that to constantly improve what needs to be improved. Yes, my weaknesses are also great strengths.

How can this help us in our careers? From this exercise what really motivates us an use it as a measure for any career opportunities. Does the job have the variety and learning opportunities to keep me active, along with the freedom to improve processes or results to make it worthwhile? If not, it’s not a good fit for me long term.

I recommend you do this exercise and discover your passions, motivators and strengths.

Want to learn more? Visit Curt Rosengren’s website for his ebooks and his coaching sessions.
Thanks to Nicole Allard for her notes on the session. Photography is mine. Even the photo of Nicole’s notes.