A creative “job description” that explores personal ideals that may lead to interpersonal success in life.

In this debut book, Burnett, an experienced educator and devout Christian, creates and expounds upon a new job title: the CXO, or chief experience officer, who “delivers exemplary, life-changing experiences to family, friends, co-workers, and any other person he or she interacts with on a day-to-day basis.” Before delving into the details of what being a CXO entails, the author tells of ordinary people who had an extraordinary impact on him because of their simple yet meaningful actions, including his parents, grandparents, and former boss at a sporting goods store. Through their examples, he came to discover that “The meaning of life is to live with a purpose; by putting work into relationships and loving others.” After a brief introduction, Burnett puts forth the concept of the CXO in the form of a job description, complete with a professional presentation with multiple sections: “Position Summary”; “Principle Duties,” a list of 10 relationship-building qualities; “Requirements” (“No experience necessary”); “Core Competencies,” including approachability, humility, and generosity; and “Physical and Sensory Demands,” a somewhat tongue-in-cheek chapter about the joy that comes from being a CXO (“Must be able to withstand extended periods of peace and joy”). The principles and tone in this book are reminiscent of those in Stephen R. Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (1989). Not only does Burnett keep his explanations clear and concise, but he also accompanies them with real-world examples that will drive the principles home for readers; for example, he uses the concept of road rage to show how CXOs should pay attention to their values instead of their specific circumstances. The layout of the book is excellent, with a preface that builds the author’s credibility, an introduction that draws readers in with concrete examples, and then a multifaceted job description that’s enjoyable to read, easy to remember, and full of applicable wisdom. The Christian references throughout serve to strengthen points for religious readers, yet they’re subtle enough that non-Christians may also easily enjoy and profit from the book. An innovatively organized guide with a wealth of inspiring, transformative principles.

Pub Date: March 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5127-7943-1

Page Count: 108

Publisher: Westbow Press

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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A very welcome instance of philosophy that can help readers live a good life.


A teacher and scholar of Buddhism offers a formally varied account of the available rewards of solitude.

“As Mother Ayahuasca takes me in her arms, I realize that last night I vomited up my attachment to Buddhism. In passing out, I died. In coming to, I was, so to speak, reborn. I no longer have to fight these battles, I repeat to myself. I am no longer a combatant in the dharma wars. It feels as if the course of my life has shifted onto another vector, like a train shunted off its familiar track onto a new trajectory.” Readers of Batchelor’s previous books (Secular Buddhism: Imagining the Dharma in an Uncertain World, 2017, etc.) will recognize in this passage the culmination of his decadeslong shift away from the religious commitments of Buddhism toward an ecumenical and homegrown philosophy of life. Writing in a variety of modes—memoir, history, collage, essay, biography, and meditation instruction—the author doesn’t argue for his approach to solitude as much as offer it for contemplation. Essentially, Batchelor implies that if you read what Buddha said here and what Montaigne said there, and if you consider something the author has noticed, and if you reflect on your own experience, you have the possibility to improve the quality of your life. For introspective readers, it’s easy to hear in this approach a direct response to Pascal’s claim that “all of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” Batchelor wants to relieve us of this inability by offering his example of how to do just that. “Solitude is an art. Mental training is needed to refine and stabilize it,” he writes. “When you practice solitude, you dedicate yourself to the care of the soul.” Whatever a soul is, the author goes a long way toward soothing it.

A very welcome instance of philosophy that can help readers live a good life.

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-25093-0

Page Count: 200

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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