A debut author offers a business book disguised as a memoir.
Growing up in a blue-collar Alabama town, Birch may never have imagined she would start and run her own personnel recruitment firm. But one clue to her self-made success was the lesson she learned early on from Daddy about building a piano bench: “He said when something had to be done, it had to be done, whether he knew how to do it or not.” In a story that embraces much of that down-home wisdom, the author charts her childhood, delivering her recollections of the knowledge imparted by family and friends, many of whom stand out as memorable, sometimes quirky characters. As Birch matures, the reader witnesses her independent spirit evolving. She faced the typical and not-so-typical challenges along the way, from enduring failed relationships to becoming a working mother to realizing she had attention deficit disorder. Once she started her company, Birch remembered and applied many of her youthful experiences: “Two things I’d developed as a child turned out to be keys to my success in this business. One was how much I loved to win.…The other was the fact that people would tell me anything.” That second point is illustrated by several amusing anecdotes about job candidates—and employers—who do in fact share some remarkably intimate details with the author. The second half of the charmingly introspective book concentrates largely on Birch’s business escapades, some of which have her interacting with well-known personalities like Eunice Kennedy Shriver. The author’s richly adorned tales about people, whether famous or ordinary, are a highlight of the work. The final chapter is told in the same engaging style as the rest of the volume, but it cleverly interlaces 16 insightful “facts” with the narrative, such as “Fact #8: Look at your weaknesses as well as your strengths and partner with someone who can fill in your blanks.” In these pages, Birch maintains a rosy optimism and a keen knack for comprehending how lessons from childhood can serve one throughout life.
Warmly nostalgic yet highly relevant as a primer on building a firm and becoming a smart leader.