This debut self-help book by a former pilot, consultant, and educator offers a tour of branded identities.
Frise argues that a person’s powers of persuasion reflect his or her “brand” or “mark”: a composite of “your skills, persona, values, and communication skills.” Developing this package takes time, he asserts, and improvements in “communication effectiveness can foster the quickest noticeable enrichment of a brand.” In a one-act play, set at an office party, the author aims to “create an awareness of how you communicate your magic mark.” An “Observer” and a “Guide” wander through the party, eavesdropping on conversations, and they compare notes at the end of select scenes, along with debut illustrator Habig’s images of facially expressive figures, apparently inspired by wooden artists’ models. Jeff, a manager, engages Waymon to ask about his all-caps email from that afternoon: “Were you shouting at me?” LaDonna weighs in against all-caps emails and invites Cindy to do the same: “What do I think about what?” Cindy replies. “Sorry, I wasn’t listening.” The conclusion? “Guide[:] Business and personal etiquette in communication reflect your brand. Observer[:] Interesting. You would think that would be common knowledge.” There are, alas, many moments when readers might be thinking the same thing. In a subsequent exchange, the Guide affirms, “Listening as a part of a communication brand is underestimated.” Here, the Guide seems to suggest that a brand is a practice in itself, but the Observer betrays no sign of confusion. Some characters have a habit of speaking pedantically: “The great lesson here for all of us,” Jose realizes, “is to avoid making decisions based on our tendency to confirm false preconceptions.” Overall, though, the book has a lighthearted tone. Frise teaches undergraduates, who are likely more skilled at self-branding practices than any previous generation. If they’re the target audience here, they may doubt the likelihood of characters going for an hour or more without checking their smartphones. Still, this book may still offer them useful reminders about how to win friends and influence people.
A jocular, sometimes-obvious approach to the serious endeavor of getting along with others.