An anecdotal guide delivers recipes for success in life and business.
Smith’s debut book focuses on self-realization, with the goal of creating for each reader an epiphany “about how your own individual advantages will affect the advantages of other individuals.” The author is the founder of Individual Advantages, “a company that helped other companies understand the correlation of people, process, and technology.” The bedrock of his approach is that every organization is made up of individuals, each one of whom brings unique strengths to the mix, whether it be physical, charismatic, personal, or a host of other things. These advantages have the ability to push people forward in life, but, as Smith points out, they can also pull individuals back if they’re not understood and handled well. The author has a long history as a professional consultant. He’s seen various staffs and managements in many different states of disarray and draws a series of lessons from all of them, here presented with clarity and fleshed out with ample tales from Smith’s own life and experiences. He talks about growing up poor, entering the military, and pursuing his gradually developed ambition to help people work better in teams, reminding his readers that “who you want to be is not about some physical job or position.”
Throughout his book, the author puts forward some very simple concepts, like the virtues of slowing down and taking stock of things around you, honing individualism for personal strength, and determining what your real priorities are. Being self-aware, he asserts, is a basic key to forging your own individualism (and ultimately using it to enhance the individualism of others). When you can set aside your own ego and be honest about yourself, you construct a firmer foundation for becoming a leader. Smith uses clear, encouraging prose to elaborate on these basic underpinnings, and he overcomes the simplistic nature of his points by using a winningly self-deprecating tone. When talking about slowing down, for instance, Smith admonishes against immediate gratification, extols the virtues of living in the present, and uses himself both as a “before” and “after” example (“I was the stereotypical man who wouldn’t ask for directions,” he writes, before he changed his ways). The author’s truisms—sentiments like “If you really want to grow, then you need to face your own demons”—take on a greater degree of believability when he links them to his own story of self-improvement. He tells tales of the early days in his career when he let his emotions rule his reactions in tense business situations, usually to his detriment. These personal anecdotes make the resulting lessons (“There is no human on earth who has earned the right to treat another human being poorly,” for instance) feel far more meaningful.
A colorful and conversational manual that should help readers—personally and professionally—to better assess themselves and to build richer relationships with others.