Log In or Sign Up
Renew Yourself: A Six-Step Plan for More Meaningful Work
April 6, 2020
A Book Review by Caitlin Williams

Hakala-Ausperk, C. (2017).  Renew Yourself: A Six-Step Plan for More Meaningful Work. Chicago, IL: American Library Association.  129 pages with a 3-page Renewal Plan template and information on accessing a pdf of the Plan online.
 Overview of Book

Read more

Book Review: The Compass and The Radar
April 2, 2020

The Art of Building a Rewarding Career While Remaining True to Yourself by Paolo Gallo

The Compass and The Radar is an engaging book which gives readers practical advice on how to build their career successfully. Unlike other books, though, it also prompts us to consider the price we are prepared to pay to be successful.

The Compass and the Radar

Written by Paolo Gallo, much of the content is drawn on the author’s experience in Human Resources. During his career, Gallo was CRO at the World Economic Forum in Geneva, the Chief Learning Officer at the World Bank in Washington DC and the HRD at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in London – so he has a lot of experience to draw upon. Much of what he shares is from observing interviews, promotion boards, coaching individuals and other experiences many of the readers of HR Director will be familiar with.

At the start of the book, Gallo prompts readers to stop and reflect on what is important to them in their career – something that many people don’t do often enough. He reminds us to think creatively, to fight for what we want and to weigh up options from different perspectives in order to think more deeply about this topic. There is a useful coaching exercise readers can go through which prompts them to stop and reflect on questions such as “what am I passionate about?” or “what gives me joy and energy?” as well as “what do I believe in?”

Once the reader has establishes what is important for them in their careers, Gallo then walks us through different stages of the employee lifecycle. Using the analogy of arriving at a village that is right for us, he gives advice on how to successfully get a job and covers things like having a professional LinkedIn profile and building your network to help secure a post. He reminds readers that it is important to do your research when applying for roles and that interviews are a two way process where both parties are assessing if they want to contract.

Once you have secured a new role or “entered the village” Gallo then covers topics such as the importance of listening and asking questions and of building trust with your new colleagues and being savvy about reading the organisation. He reminds us that the official structure of the organisation is often not the real structure – it is important to take time to work out where the power and influence really lie.  He also stresses that hard work alone will not make us successful – it is also crucial to have a positive relationship with your boss and to be clear on what is expected of you, as well as taking time to understand the culture of the organisation. “Only those who really understand the culture of an organisation have a serious opportunity for growth and development within it” he writes, before sharing anecdotes of individuals who were technically strong but who failed to succeed because they misread their surroundings. Many of the stories will resonate with HR professionals who will have witnessed similar successes and failures in their own organisations.

 He also stresses the importance of not just what you do but how you do it. Reflecting on his experience of facilitating hundreds of management sessions to consider promotions, he writes “in any organisation it is not just what we do – the results – but above all how we do it, our behaviour, our ability to adapt to the rules of the game.”

The author also covers the importance of being able to judge when it is time to leave an organisation and how crucial it is to do so with grace, respect and good manners, such that your reputation and credibility remain intact. To make the point, Gallo contrasts this with the well known case of Greg Smith who resigned from his company by writing a letter to the New York Times entitled “Why I left Goldman Sachs.”

As well as guiding the readers through key career decision points, Gallo challenges us to think about the price people pay for a successful career – in terms of stress, depression, illness and divorce, for example. By way of illustration, he shares the story of Eugene O’Kelly who was the CEO of the consulting firm KPMG. O’Kelly chose to write a book about his life the day that the doctor diagnosed him with a terminal brain tumour. Gallo writes of the book “ In every line of this extraordinary story there is a feeling of pride for a career that is nothing short of splendid, but also the sense of lost time, unspoken words, kisses not given, skipped dinners, forgotten children…”

Importantly he also reminds us how fleeting power can be and uses his first hand experience of working at the well known Davos annual meeting organised by the World Economic Forum in Switzerland every year. During the event the international elite meet – presidents, ministers, CEOs of the world’s top companies, Nobel Prize winners, academics, and religious leaders. Having worked at Davos for four years, Gallo observes that whilst everyone who attends the event is powerful, that power can easily be taken away by disenchanted voters, shareholders or other decision makers for example and that there is a “longevity of power.”

The Radar and the Compass is an easy book to read and is filled with anecdotes not just from the author’s own illustrious career but from the worlds of sport, politics, literature and popular culture. Given that much of the content is pulled from Gallo’s experience in the HR profession and from sharing some “tricks of the trade” with the readers, much of the book may be less insightful for seasoned HR professionals (albeit there is often value in stopping and reflecting on some of the points Gallo makes.) I would, however, recommend this book to individuals starting out in their career, at a decision point in their career, or as a useful tool to reflect and take stock on your career to date and the sacrifices you have made to achieve your success.

Review by Adele Swan, Senior People Consultant and Executive Coach, Standard Life Investments

Published by Bloomsbury

Book Review: What Color Is Your Parachute? A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers
March 27, 2020

With more than 10 million copies sold in 28 countries, the world’s most popular job-search book is updated for 2019, tailoring Richard Bolles’s long-trusted guidance with up-to-the-minute information and advice for today’s job-hunters and career-changers.

In today’s complex job-market, the time-tested advice of What Color Is Your Parachute? is needed more than ever.

Recent grads facing a changing economic landscape, workers laid off mid-career, and people searching for an inspiring work-life change all look to career guru Richard N. Bolles for support, encouragement, and advice on which job-hunt strategies workand which don’t.

This revised edition combines classic elements like the famed Flower Exercise with updated tips on social media and search tactics.

Bolles demystifies the entire job-search process, from writing resumes to interviewing to networking, expertly guiding job-hunters toward their dream job.

The book walks you through every step of the process, from designing your resume to networking and figuring out which careers make sense for your personality style.

The 11 Best Books on Mental Health
March 20, 2020

By Jamie Friedlander

Research has shown Google searches for mental health-related terms like depression, anxiety, bipolar and OCD spike during the wintertime. 

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) leaves many people feeling more depressed during the cold and dark winter months. Plus, depression and anxiety peak for many people during the holiday season.

If the winter months left you feeling anxious or depressed—or if you’re struggling with a condition like bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) or schizophrenia—and you’re interested in learning more about your experience, you’ve come to the right place. From memoirs to research-backed guides, these 11 books cover all things mental health. 

1. First, We Make the Beast Beautiful

A New Journey Through Anxiety 
By Sarah Wilson

Around 40 million people in the U.S. have anxiety or an anxiety-related disorder, such as panic disorder or social anxiety disorder. Learning about the clinical symptoms of anxiety is one thing—reading Sarah Wilson’s captivating firsthand account is another. The former editor of Australia’s Cosmopolitan magazine writes a hauntingly compelling narrative about her lifelong battle with anxiety that is engaging, relatable and insightful. 

2. Little Panic

Dispatches from an Anxious Life
By Amanda Stern

Published in 2018, this memoir from writer and poet Amanda Stern tells the often-comedic tale of what it feels like living with panic disorder. If you’ve been struggling with anxiety or a panic disorder for as long as you can remember, this book’s for you: Stern’s recounting primarily takes place during her childhood and teenage years. 

3. Maybe You Should Talk to Someone

A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed 
By Lori Gottlieb 

Ever wondered what your therapist is thinking during your appointments? If the answer is yes, go buy this book ASAP. Lori Gottlieb explores the world of therapy from a unique perspective—she writes about her role as both therapist and patient. You’ll find yourself gripped by the narratives she tells—some tragic, some hilarious—and in awe of the book’s astounding conclusion: We’re all human and flawed.

4(Don’t) Call Me Crazy

33 Voices Start the Conversation about Mental Health
By Kelly Jensen 

(Don’t) Call Me Crazy attempts to destigmatize mental health by exploring the problematic word crazy, a misnomeroften used to describe people who struggle with mental illness. The quick read features the stories of 33 people who have dealt with mental illness in some form, with their commentary on why we don’t talk about it enough—and why that needs to change. 

5. Get Out of Your Own Way

Overcoming Self-Defeating Behavior
By Mark Goulston and Philip Goldberg

This book might have been published in 1996, but it’s still an incredibly insightful and worthwhile read. Through anecdotes and advice from Mark Goulston, a psychiatrist, you’ll learn about how to stop the self-sabotaging behavior so many of us fall victim to. 

6. Furiously Happy

A Funny Book About Horrible Things 
By Jenny Lawson

Journalist Jenny Lawson’s memoir about her lifelong journey with depression and other mental health problems is equal parts funny and endearing. Furiously Happy explores the nuanced, often contradictory world of mental health, with a look at how people can thrive and find happiness in spite of mood disorders like depression. 

7. The Collected Schizophrenias: Essays

By Esmé Weijun Wang

This critically acclaimed collection of essays from up-and-coming writer Esmé Weijun Wang details her journey with schizoaffective disorder, a condition characterized by symptoms of both schizophrenia (such as hallucinations) and mood disorders (like depression and mania). The Collected Schizophrenias details her journey, with a particular emphasis on the identity issues people with mental illness often face. 

8. The Noonday Demon

An Atlas of Depression 
By Andrew Solomon

No list on the best mental health books would be complete without this National Book Award winner and Pulitzer Prize finalist. The Noonday Demon takes a deep, comprehensive look at depression through the lens of both Andrew Solomon’s personal experience and the experiences of others with the mood disorder. The nearly 600-page book also explores the cultural, political and scientific facets of depression.

9. The Happiness Trap

How to Stop Struggling and Start Living: A Guide to ACT
By Russ Harris

As a society, we’ve become obsessed with the pursuit of happiness. In this book, Russ Harris makes a compelling argument that instead of constantly searching for happiness and being let down, it’s more important to accept our current circumstances. The Happiness Trap explores a relatively new type of psychotherapy called acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), which aims to help people manage conditions like anxiety and depression using strategies focused on acceptance and mindfulness. 

10. Reasons to Stay Alive

By Matt Haig

Many people with anxiety also experience depression, and many people with depression also experience anxiety. In fact, research has found 45% of people with one mental health disorder meet the criteria for at least two disorders. U.K.-based writer Matt Haig is part of that 45%. His critically acclaimed, deeply moving memoir explores how he managed both conditions, taking a close look at what worked and what didn’t. 

11. An Unquiet Mind

A Memoir of Moods and Madness 
By Kay Redfield Jamison

This canonical book explores bipolar disorder—a condition characterized by extreme mood swings—from the lens of someone who’s not only a clinical psychologist and expert on the topic, but also suffers from the disorder herself. Kay Redfield Jamison’s unique perspective on bipolar disorder as both the patient and the practitioner has made An Unquiet Mind one of the most well regarded pieces ever written on the topic.   

Jamie Friedlander
Jamie Friedlander 

Jamie Friedlander is a freelance writer based in Chicago and the former features editor of SUCCESS magazine. Her work has been published in The Cut, VICE, Inc., The Chicago Tribune and Business Insider, among other publications.