This Month's Selection
Expect to Win: 10 Proven Strategies for Thriving in the Workplace, by Carla A. Harris (Author)
The twelfth in a series of Better Impact Book Bites
A taste of great books worth consuming.
Why This Book:
I am big, not HUGE on mentorship. A couple of years ago I was scrolling through Linkedin and a clip of Carla Harris explaining the difference between a mentor and a sponsor caught my attention. I was intrigued because I had no idea there was a difference. Her message was so profound that upon discovering she was an author, I immediately set out on a quest to get my hands on a copy of her book. I haven’t looked at advancing in my career the same ever since. This book is an absolute game changer. What she was able to accomplish as one of the only women on Wall Street is nothing short of phenomenal. As you walk with her through the challenges and triumphs of her journey, you will be infuriated, laugh, cry and cheer as she methodically climbs the corporate ladder every arduous rung at a time.
I have sat in many a volunteer engagement webinar and community of practice (COP) sessions where phrases such as “they just don’t value my position,” “they don’t value the volunteers,” or even “I am always overlooked and never invited to the meetings where decisions that affect my department are being made” are uttered out of frustration. This book is the remedy for all of that and more.
Book Background Information:
This book is 234 pages, available on audiobook and a very easy read. The author graduated from Harvard University, magna cum laude with her A.B. degree in economics and received her M.A. degree in business administration from Harvard Business School. In 1987, she began her career as an investment banker at Morgan Stanley in the Mergers & Acquisitions department. And, for more than a decade, she was a senior member of the Equity Syndicate desk, where she executed such transactions as initial public offerings for UPS, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, and the $3.2 billion common stock transaction for Immunex Corporation, the largest biotechnology offerings in U.S. history.
You Should Read This Book If:
- You are starting a new job
- You want to be included in decision making meetings
- You are an introvert
- You want to be promoted
- You want to be taken seriously at work
- You are considering a career change
- You don’t have a mentor, a sponsor or an advisor
- Networking isn’t your strength
Who Should You Gift This Book To:
- A friend, colleague or family member interested in advancing in their career
- Your mentee
- A soon to graduate college student
This book not only sheds light on the strategic way to position yourself for advancement at your current job, but it also literally provides templates and sample language that you can customize to your situation. She essentially does the thinking for you, which is helpful since her strategies are tried and true, or in her words, “battle tested.”
Ms. Harris shares why she decided to write this book. She describes how discovering that your smarts and hard work ethic alone aren’t enough to advance in your career was a cold-water, eye-opening, shocker of an experience. She vowed that when she reached a management position that she would offer advice to those who asked because when she started, there was no playbook, no one to guide her, no one to ask questions and get real answers from.
Chapter 1. Authenticity: The Power is You
This section addresses all aspects of what makes you authentically you. From knowing and leveraging your strengths, to understanding and fortifying your weaknesses, only you know you, and that is important to success in business. She explains that only if you are your authentic self, in every aspect, will you be able to sustain and maintain in your career. Trying to change who you are for every environment that you enter can be exhausting and frankly unsustainable. She reminds us that we ARE the right person for the job. We were chosen out of hundreds of candidates, so lean into and remember that on the difficult days.
Chapter 2. Be the Architect of Your Own Agenda
This chapter covers the all-important reminder of not comparing ourselves to others as that can only lead to disastrous thinking. Instead, focus on your agenda and what you want from your career and how you will move towards that goal. She speaks about being flexible and not so connected to the goal that you aren’t open to other doors that can lead to unimaginable possibilities.
Chapter 3. You are the Captain of Your Career
This was one of the most eye-opening chapters of the book for me. She gives crucial tips on, hands down, what you must do within the first 90 days of starting a new job. Now, the first time I read this, I was already well past the 90-day mark, but I took into consideration and implemented most of the tips anyway within the next 90 days...and it worked.
Chapter 4. Perception is the Copilot to Reality
Whether we like it or not, what people perceive us to be has a direct impact on our career advancement. She brilliantly describes how to remain authentically you and what you can do to influence how people perceive you. Mind-blowing. I have always been of the thought, “I don’t care what people think about me;” turns out, after you read this, maybe you should…or give it some consideration at the very least.
Chapter 5. The Mentor, the Sponsor, the Adviser
Another one of my favorite chapters. She skillfully breaks down the difference between a mentor, sponsor, and advisor and the importance of having each one in your life as you move along your career path. I really had no idea there was a difference, and oh, how I wish I had learned about this when I was in my 30’s.
Chapter 6. Leverage Your Voice – Articulate Your Views and Your Expectations
This is one of the most difficult chapters for me to read. I am an introvert by nature. Speaking up in front of a room of people to share my opinion is the LAST thing I ever want to do. Frankly speaking, I really don’t think people even care about anything I have to say (I even did a podcast episode on it). This chapter stretched me waaaaay out of my comfort zone. I am so glad that if I have to speak up, she has given guidelines and examples on just how to do it. This chapter ties brilliantly into the previous chapter. You must EARN your right to be silent in meetings. WHAT?????
Chapter 7. Have a Penchant for Taking Risks
“If you’re doing your job the way your predecessor was doing it, you, too, likely will soon find yourself a predecessor.” Ouch. What I love about this chapter is she talks about several different ways you can take risks and HOW to do it. The question isn’t if you should take risks, they are paramount to career growth. She reminds us that no matter what your title is at the organization, you are important to the organization and not to let FEAR (False Evidence Appearing Real) keep you from doing so. Risks are important, but not to be taken haphazardly. They are to be thoughtful and even calculated when at all possible.
Chapter 8. Power in the Network: Building Effective Relationships
Another one of my utmost favorite topics in life: the power of your network. If you are a leader of volunteers in any way, this chapter will RESONATE! She talks about the power of relationships, how diverse your network should be, the four different types of relationships that your network should include and remembering that networking is a two-way street. Don’t always be in it to gain. Who can YOU help, who can YOU be a resource for as well? Don’t worry introverts! She has tips for you and in the spirit of building my network and how I can help, I’ll share the blog post that I wrote: Networking for Introverts: Like Me.
Chapter 9. Balance is necessary
“In order to be truly successful at your job and in your life, you must have balance…” Need I say more? I don’t really have to, but I will. She reiterates what we all already know; that our jobs cannot be the only thing we have in life. Guess what? She says finding ways to give back can help bring balance and happiness into your life. I mean, was she reading the most recent book bites, The Power of Moments and Wonder Drug? Huh...well there was an unintentional, but recurring theme that we should take a moment to acknowledge.
Chapter 10. Expect to Win
One of my favorite phrases is, “Show Up Filled Up.” Meaning always show up present, ready to always give your best; no matter what your best happens to be that day. Some days it is more difficult than others, but when you show up with the mindset, your body will often fall in line. This chapter discusses showing up with the expectation to succeed. Your thoughts influence your success, and adaption to change is paramount. Then she throws the gauntlet: If change must happen, why not let it start with you! You could be the agent of change…if you are leading the change instead of having to adapt to it all the time, learning to acclimate to change gets easier (well, that is what I got out of it anyway).
Chapter 11. My Most Precious Pearl
This last chapter really surprised me. I didn’t see it coming at all. After all the knowledge she dropped in the previous chapters, I was mind blown that she shared her most precious pearl. I have tremendous respect for her doing so. After all, in the first chapter she speaks about being authentically yourself, and she closes out by doing exactly that. I applaud her for sharing something so personal and having the boldness to do so.
Addendum. Building Effective Relationships
This is literally a step-by-step guide (especially for introverts) to building successful relationships and networking when you have no idea where to start or if you find it difficult.
The Last Bite
When I finished reading this book, I believed I could conquer the world! I felt like running around the house screaming “For Narnia!” with my fist up in the air ready to battle corporate world shenanigan’s. It was absolutely inspiring, and also, a bit of a reality check. As an introvert, I felt like she was calling me out. All the complaints, the excuses, that I used to give for why I wasn’t further along in my career or blaming others…especially for the perception others had of me, were exposed. That is no fun, but absolutely necessary. What I love most about this book are the practical steps that you can implement right away. The guidance she gives along with the templates she provides that you can customize are nothing less than gems. As a single mom, there were some practices that she described that I am not sure would be conducive to being a single parent; however, when there is a will there is a way. Again, everything in this book may not be for you, but if you are serious about your career, a whole heck of a lot of it is relevant.
As you look to the year ahead, be thinking of these nuggets that Carla has dropped as you start goal setting. If you need help with goal setting, check out the Book Bites review of Game On to be inspired and receive step-by-step guidance for not only creating goals, but increasing the chances of actually seeing them come to fruition.
Happy New Year and wishing you nothing but success on your journey.
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