There are two very different books that I think are relevant to those starting out on their career paths: The 5 patterns of Extraordinary Careers, and The Alchemist. One Non-Fiction, one fiction. One is direct and structured, while the other floats like the suspension on a 70′s Cadillac. Although they are both relevant, I wouldn’t say they are both of the same literary quality.
The 5 patterns of Extraordinary Careers
Generally, the concepts are solid, but I would have preferred more indepth/engaging support.
Looking back, the conclusions of the book seem to be common sense, but the the authors do an excellent job of outlining and guiding you though. With this type of book, most of the value is not in the actual recommendations that they make, but in providing situations where their theories have been put use.
The authors had access to some of the greatest business leaders around, and often used the experiences of those people as support of their 5 patterns. I found that these ‘story’ sections were well-done, and would have liked to have heard more. The stories were typically written from a third person perspective, with very few quotes – It might have worked (and been quite innovative) to use first-hand accounts.
The book ends with the very practical job survival guide (which can be downloaded here). This last guide acts as a nice grounder, after going through alot of strategy and theory.
What were the five pattern? Well, I’ll give a quick run-down:
- Understand Your Value – They use the ultra cheesy heading of “know the value of you”. Basically, it is understanding what combination of experience/potential employers are paying for when they hire you. And understanding how the decisions you make early on in your career will affect the trajectory of your career path.
- Practise benevolent Leadership – The identify different leadership styles, and do some interesting attributions with some prominent execs. I think Larry Ellison gets ranked as a Pirate. Also talks about benevolent organizations, and how historically, benevolence wasn’t always rewarded in business.
- Overcome the Permission Paradox – what is the permission paradox? It is the great catch-22 of job hunting – â€œYou canâ€™t get the job without experience, and you canâ€™t get the experience without the job.â€? How do you conquer it? By understanding Direct and Implied permission. Supporting this, they’ve got a great quote on their website:
â€œBig jobs usually go to the men who prove their ability to outgrow small ones.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
- Using the 20/80 Principal – This is a variation on Pareto’s familiar 80/2o Principal (20% of the effort yields 80% of the benefit/profit). The 20/80 principal states that 80% of our jobs requirements are mundane, and do not allow for differentiation, while the last 20% (what you accomplish beyond your written objectives) is what sets the extraordinary apart. This section of the book is well done – and they provide some great insight.
- Find the right Fit – This one is almost too obvious. It’s practially all you hear from career councellors and recruiters these days. Know the culture, and make sure you can be passionate about what you’re doing.
The do have more detail on their website, so if you want more, check it out and buy the book.
This is a great, quick read.
The writing is very simple, but the book relies on that simplicity to get at some universal themes. If you’re used to technical and business books, this book might motivate you to get back to reading some quality fiction.
It’s written by Paulo Coelho, a Brazillian, but follows a young spanish boy on his quest to find a treasure in Egypt. During the hunt, the boy falls in love, loses all his cash, meets a gypsy, joins the military, learns arabic, discovers gun powder (Not all of those things happened – I don’t want to wreck the story for you).
I think the book can be taken at several levels. On one level, the book is all about “obeying your destiny”, or “believing your heart”, and all that typical cheese – But if that is all you take from the book, I think you will be dissapointed by it (and be missing the point). If you look hard enough, the cheese dissappears, and you’re left with a story that you can apply to your own life, no matter who you are.
If you’ve got a couple hours, give it a look.