Solid, succinct advice for aspiring professionals, delivered in the form of a “personal operating system.”
Dickens, who’s had a varied business career of 30-plus years, relates a computer’s operating system to one’s personal operating system for achieving success in a work environment, though the metaphor works to a point. In his debut, Dickens identifies 10 specific attributes as operating systems—e.g., “The ‘Be Trustworthy’ Operating System,” “The ‘Strive for Excellence’ Operating System,” “The ‘Be Adaptable to Change’ Operating System”—the most important of which, he says, is “The ‘Develop Self-Discipline’ Operating System,” since it “is the foundation that everything else in our lives is built on or revolves around.” In brief chapters, he offers sensible advice related to each of the 10 elements; the chapter on self-discipline, for instance, includes sections on character, work ethics, initiative, endurance, establishing a good reputation, separating the personal from the professional, and sound decision-making. At the end of each chapter, Dickens details “critical points of emphasis” in bulleted form—essentially, checklists for action. In clear, concise and engaging writing, Dickens’ well-intentioned advice is likely to lead the novice worker down a path that could indeed enhance both professional performance and productivity. He uses examples from his own life experiences and career and includes information valuable for readers just entering the workforce, such as “median annual earnings” graphs and tables, and a checklist on how to prepare for a presentation. The structure of the book, however, pushes the operating-system concept to the extreme and may, in fact, get in the way of otherwise useful content. At times, the book can unnecessarily fit function into a form that seems to unintentionally imply that the reader should choose among operating systems, when, in fact, all the attributes Dickens discusses should be viewed as equally important to personal success. Still, despite this organizational deficiency, readers who take Dickens’ advice to heart will find much to gain from it.
A worthwhile, if overly structured, primer that covers all the bases for new recruits and the soon-to-be employed.