The New Rules for Success
By melinchina on Jun 04, 2007
You all know that I adore Boston Globe columnist and blogger Penelope Trunk, so you can imagine when she (personally, yes!) asked me to read a galley copy of her new book Brazen Careerist: The New Rules for Success I had to make time for it.
The book has two parts: "Relish the Path from Starter Job to Dream Job" and "How to Get What You Want From the People You Work With". Based on where I am in my career and my life, Part One was a little too elementary for me. The book is targeted at 18-40-year-olds but I bet even the 18-year-olds already know most of Part One, which gives basic advice about job hunting, resumes, interviewing, etc. Penelope recommends, for example, that after writing a cover letter you set it aside for a few hours and then come back to it to look for typos that you missed the first time around. Now if you're 40 years old and haven't figured out that sort of thing, this book isn't going to be able to save you.
But thank goodness I didn't write the book off during Part One because Part Two is its saving grace. Here Penelope leaves behind the basic job-searching advice and shares what she learned from some very intense
years in Corporate America. She is the big sister I wish I had had when I first started my career - she could have spared me some painful first-hand lessons, or at least I would have learned them a whole lot
quicker. (I should pause to say I do have a wonderful big sister but she's on a totally different career track in a different industry.) Take for example the chapter "There are no bad bosses, only whiny employees." If you've ever thought of your boss as a hurdle or a stumbling block or a bottleneck, you need to read this chapter. It will teach you how to manage your relationship with your manager so that you both come out shining.
In Part Two Penelope does more than re-affirm the lessons I've already learned. She also confirms things that seem logical to me but are seldom articulated like "Mud-slinging means you're losing ground" or "Show a genuine interest in the people around you at work". In fact if you observe the behavior of many executives today, I'd say they're giving you a very different message about how to get ahead. Penelope's one of the few voices out there encouraging people to just be nice to each other, and she reassures you that nice guys can finish first.
Finally, there were perspectives in Penelope's book that were completely new to me even though I've been working for many years. The best example is the chapter called "Use sexual harassment to boost your career". I know, the title might make you want to throw the book down but you really have to read it to appreciate it. And whether you agree with her or not, Penelope will give you some new perspectives on sexual harassment in the office, and on many other topics.
Whether Penelope's career advice is fresh for you or old hat, there's one thing that will make you love her book - it's the humor. She is one of the funniest people I know. The book is packed with witty one-liners and hilarious antics from her past. Penelope's the kind of person I wish I had as a co-worker because she would rejoice with you in the good times, talk you through the rough times, and make you laugh through it all. Since we live on different sides of the globe Penelope and I can't be office mates but I will keep her book on my office bookshelf and will flip through it whenever I need a good laugh and some encouragement.