The Wow Factor: The 33 Things You Must (and Must Not) Do to Guarantee Your Edge in Today's Business World By Frances Cole Jones; Ballantine; 184 pages
At the Olympics, the difference between a gold medal and not placing can be a fraction of a second. The author, a media consultant, believes that the margin of error for business people is similarly thin in this turbulent economy. Those who would prefer to keep their job--and that would include most of us--can regard the book as a checklist of things you can do to protect your position or get a new one. You may already know many of them, but perhaps it's that one unfamiliar tip that will keep your ass in your Aeron.
Some of the advice is blazingly obvious, even to the author, and that's her point. "It seems insane that I have to put this in writing, but experience has proven I must," she writes. "Wash your hair. Clean your nails. Do not chew gum." Don't forget to remove all candy wrappers, old sandwiches and other garbage from your briefcase. And while you're at it, declutter your office. Other recommendations are part of the standard self-help-book checklist: always carry business cards, whether you're employed or not; make notes immediately after leaving meetings; keep abreast of developments in your field; shut thy mouth in elevators.
Jones also articulates the subtle dangers of the digital age in business settings, which are evolving. "Nobody--and I repeat, nobody--is so important they need to check their PDA during a meeting or lunch," she writes. "The people with whom you're talking need to have 100 percent of your focus." The author is not a fan of texting ("Unless the situation is extremely urgent, text-messaging is not an appropriate way to communicate in a professional setting"); smiley-face emoticons; overly familiar salutations or sign-offs (forget "ciao" and "cheers"); or ungrammatical, unproofread messages. Jones warns that getting too frisky on social websites like MySpace, Facebook and Twitter can be career suicide: "Job candidates across any number of industries--from bankers to police officers--have been weeded out due to inappropriate postings on these personal pages."
Tired of being nagged? Tough, says the author: "This isn't about what you want to do. It's about what you need to do to achieve the best results possible." Jones' shrewd book will give the nervously employed that requisite competitive career edge.
SuperCorp: How Vanguard Companies Create Innovation, Profits, Growth, and Social Good By Rosabeth Moss Kanter; Crown Business; 322 pages
Do good as you kick butt is the essence of Harvard Business School scholar Rosabeth Moss Kanter's prescription for corporations. After a three-year study that included 350 interviews and observations in 20 countries, Kanter applauds a socially conscious way of doing business that combines pragmatism and idealism with the bottom line. These firms are not pushovers: "The companies mount and defend lawsuits, push the limits of their market dominance and pricing power, compete aggressively, and lobby governments for favorable treatment." In other words, there are no good losers.
Winning in Turbulence By Darrell Rigby; Harvard Business; 146 pages