After a career managing high-profile crises, Smith debuts with a book in which she asserts that “the root causes of most crises often lie in an imbalance in one of seven traits: Ego, Denial, Fear, Ambition, Accommodation, Patience and Indulgence.”
As “America’s #1 crisis management export,” the author’s client list is impressive, including everyone from corporate executives and politicians to Monica Lewinsky and Michael Vick. Smith contends that the goal of understanding how these seven characteristics operate in your own life is “to ensure that your defining traits work to your advantage instead of your detriment.” In fact, many people require some of these traits to succeed, but the author is emphatic about the importance of maintaining equilibrium and not letting any of the traits cause behavior to spiral out of control. Smith devotes a chapter to each of the seven high-risk qualities, exploring the positive and negative extremes of each attribute, and she provides warning signs for when these traits are out of balance in our lives. The author’s prose is clean, well-organized and easy to read. She peppers the book with examples from high-profile celebrities and political snafus, as well as everyday workplace, marriage and parenting problems. Each chapter closes with Smith’s POWER model applied to the trait: Pinpoint the problem, Own it, Work it, Explore it, and Rein it in. The final chapter outlines the art of the apology, and Smith provides a helpful checklist to make sure that the apology doesn’t devolve into “something that creates even more scorched earth and damage.”
Smith provides a good overview of how to identify and curtail egregious behavior, with just enough celebrity misbehavior to hold the reader’s attention.