A useful and stimulating guide to building a career under trying circumstances.

UNLEASHING MY SUPERPOWERS

HOW TO NAVIGATE AND SUCCEED IN A MALE-DOMINATED MINING WORK ENVIRONMENT (STEM)

An African woman maneuvers her way to success in a hypermasculine industry in this business self-helper.

Mpofu, an executive leadership coach, derives career and management lessons from her unusual life story. Born into a middle-class family in Zimbabwe, she was encouraged by her father to pursue a career in a STEM field. She earned a degree in chemistry and then a Ph.D. at the University of South Australia and took a job in South Africa at the multinational Anglo American Platinum mining company. It was a rewarding but difficult road, in her telling. As a Black woman in an industry traditionally dominated by White men, Mpofu often found herself “the only one in the room who looks like me.” Initially relegated to routine tasks, she had to lobby her bosses for more challenging assignments. When she got them, they involved trips to mineral-processing facilities in the field, which caused issues for her as a single mom as well as sartorial problems with the coveralls tailored for men’s bodies. Moving from production to the business-strategy side of the company, the author was passed over for promotion in favor of a male hire. A leap to a new company brought her a vice presidency, but when that position was made redundant, she had to scramble to reinvent herself. From these ups and downs, Mpofu distills wisdom on business success, including the importance of setting clear, actionable career goals; building networks of female mentors and co-workers who can help one another weather male-dominated workplaces; cultivating a humane leadership style; avoiding feelings of inadequacy and imposter syndrome and projecting confidence; and persevering through setbacks with sheer grit.

Mpofu’s autobiographical narrative, while often engaging, makes for a somewhat disorganized and repetitive framework for her ideas, which are not presented in a systematic way. (The book’s few exercises are perfunctory and often just refer readers to a lesson template on her coaching company’s website.) Many of her managerial and motivational tropes are familiar, but she has original and captivating ones of her own, some suggested by her experiences on safari. (An incident in which an elephant snaked its trunk around her neck illustrates the importance of staying calm in a crisis, and she enjoins managers to be generous with their underlings the way a lion, after gorging on a kill, will allow vultures and hyenas to feast on the rotting remains.) Mpofu’s prose sometimes lapses into fulsome management-lit uplift (“We need leaders who are visionary, compassionate and empathetic, with high levels of consciousness; leaders who value their employees and communities, and create sustainable shared value”), but she can also be pithily aphoristic—“One must be resilient and think fast, rather than wait for life to happen”—and even lyrical in the poems she sprinkles into the text. (“I am thankful even to those who have given me pain / Without pain, there is no growth, there is no gain.”) Mpofu’s writing sharply registers the galling implicit bias facing women in the office—“When the table is taken away and the door is shut in your face, leaning in doesn’t help”—but her program of working hard, self-directing, forging relationships, and being open to new experiences is a hopeful, empowering one.

A useful and stimulating guide to building a career under trying circumstances.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-64-523371-1

Page Count: 229

Publisher: Peak Performance With Patience Pty Ltd

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 17

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

GREENLIGHTS

All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 22

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

more