Reviews – The secrets of success at work

Book: The secrets of success at work – 10 steps to accelerating your career by Richard Hall

Would you buy a book like this if you felt you already were a success? Probably not. Such guides are aimed at those who feel recognition of their achievements is not as widespread as it should be. Hall targets them in his foreword: “I want you to win when you shouldn’t; get promoted when you’ve been coasting; get an eye-watering salary increase when you were worried about being fired.” You could interpret it as a call to slackers with ambition, although any who follow the advice offered will not remain slackers for long. Hall wants his readers to see their career as more of a sprint than a marathon. He plays with the various meanings of the word, concentrating on associations with speed, style, and focus; think racehorse and hawk rather than grinding daily routine. His underlying message is that if you hate your job, change it – or change your attitude.

The emphasis is on marketing the stunning bits of yourself, creating a brand that shows how positive, energetic, and enthusiastic you are. Readers are encouraged to discover their WOW (Walking On Water) factor, become excellent, and make sure others notice because they are confident enough to flaunt it. Now that’s a hard thing to teach people who don’t have a natural inclination to behave this way.

The author tackles this challenge in a relentlessly positive and energetic way. Ten chapters take readers through getting to know themselves, learning and listening techniques, enthusiasm, teamwork, and looking good. Hand-drawn, wobbly diagrams, and a cheerful conversational tone provide a friendly and informal feel. So strong is the optimism that shines through that trying to read it all in one go could turn you into a curmudgeon. However, there is a chance that if you’re already one of those (described here as a Black Hole to be avoided, kept away from talent and if possible fired), this book could cause you to examine the effect negativity has on your life, career, and relationships.

Hall believes everyone has the capacity to be upbeat; that enthusiasm is what makes people attractive to others and that the grumpy are always losers. He reports someone asking him ‘Have you any idea just how tiring you can be – everything is so wonderful in your world.’ The book may have the same effect on more cynical readers. For them, it’s best tackled in small doses on days when feeling open to new possibilities. The already optimistic should be able to manage a chapter at a time.

Irene Krechowiecka is a careers coach and journalist