I really enjoyed Jim’s first book Legerdemain, and I have to admit that I was a little concerned about this expansion into the generally dry and boring world of business books. I am a bit of a picky reader, in fact I tend to run a mile from anything remotely involved with business books. I have a theory about business books, there is only one. Authors buy the basic book online, rearrange the chapter numbers, and run the text through an automated synonym and buzz word generator and voila! You have a new business book.

Lets face it, if these people were so good at business why do they punt out cheap books, engage on huge ‘for pay’ speaking engagements, and late night infomercials? If they are so smart, why have they not made millions and retired to a large yacht in the Med? I know I would.

James Heaphey is a consummate story teller. And I did not get more than a couple of pages into How To Survive and I was chuckling. Jim breaks his book into two sides of the coin, on heads we have just how stupid and irrational most organizations are, and on the tails side, what you, as an individual can do to make the irrationality of the system work for you. Nothing is sacred to Jim, he shamelessly names names, and the stupid antics that have caused millions of dollars of damage. This is one book that you really do not want your name associated with. Maybe the most amusing aspect of How To Survive In An Organization are Jim’s theories about the purveyors of the vast majority of business books. I won’t spoil the punch lines, suffice it to say he holds these authors in as low esteem as I do. How To Survive In An Organization

The first nine chapters contain stories about real companies and real people! I’ll just bet he has been crossed off a number of Christmas Card lists. I would cite an example, but I don’t have a favorite. They are all great. The further up the organization you go, the more disconnected you become from the real mission. With the most disconnected person is generally the CEO. And Jim manages to include a number of high profile examples of gross stupidity at high levels.

The rest of the the book looks at strategies that we as the lowly worker bee can use to maximize our returns within the framework of the organization. There are many types of personality in the workforce, there are the super busy, but not achieving types, there are the buzzword lovers, there are the truly clueless, and many others. Using a combination of real life examples (names changed to protect the guilty), and some intelligent commentary we get to learn to skills and techniques to deal with even the most ridiculous people and policies, while appearing to ‘fit right in’.

By playing the game the right way you can even thrive under the most repressive of regimes.

This is a great read, and certainly not the regular boring verbal diarrhea that masquerades as factual and helpful.

You can get your own copy from Amazon.

Simon Barrett


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