Change Someone's Life. Encourage Them To Start A Blog. That's the message of David St Lawrence, a retired technology warrior with a weblog and a heart of gold.
I had the opportunity to speak with David, and he graciously sent me his book, Danger Quicksand Have a Nice Day, which he self-published as a guide to navigating the waters of corporate employment.
The book is written like a reference guide, with chapters that employ great content chunking in getting the point across. David calls his book a "survival guide" not a philosophical treatise, and I want to share some personal thoughts on the book before I publish a larger review over at Recruiting.com.
The first three chapters of the book struck me as bitter. 21st Century Employment, Assessing Your Workplace, and Warning Signs come across like an angry man lashing out at the inanities and frustrations of corporate life. If I had stopped right there, I would have concluded that David was a Company Man, part of that Greatest Generation that believed that you worked hard and gave your loyalty and companies rewarded you with lifetime employment and a pension. While reading those first three chapters, I thought he was bitterly lamenting the farce that modern employment is about anything but a social Darwinism gone awry.
That's what I would have thought, if I had stopped reading. I would have been wrong. The first three chapters, by necessity, define conditions where a person's career starts to head the wrong direction. They represent accurate descriptions of dysfunctional workplaces, not a harangue against former employers and co-workers. As I went through the book, the astounding realization hit me that David wasn't the one being bitter. That bitterness was me, recognizing portions of my career where managers failed to live up to my expectations.
What's great about this book is David really lays it out on the line as to why we're caught in those situations. It's not that modern employment is full of jackals and the insane, it's that some workplaces develop bad habits that bring the worst out of people, and learning when to stay and when to go is a survival skill that is not taught or trained.
Starting a new job is a time of hope and optimism. Far too often, the eventual reasons for our separation with a company are evident from the beginning, but masked in the hope of something better.
Where Danger Quicksand Have A Nice Day stands apart is in the message David delivers. There is hope. You can control your career if you are willing to analyze it and accept the tradeoffs that come with every position.
Don't let me fool you - this book won't be easy for some people. A sample comment is the sad fact that a willingness to move, taking the family out of the home and moving the kids out of their schools is an option many people don't take. When you close yourself off from options, you're forced into tradeoffs you may not like. As recruiters, we see this everyday when candidates in a bad position decide that commute, title, position, type of company, salary and work environment are all non-negotiable, and then find themselves unable to make a necessary change or find themselves unaware when layoffs appear at their door.
The book says its not your fault, but it is your choice.
Most of all, I recommend the book to people in all stages of their career who feel like they are, well, drowning in quicksand. The message of the book, in plain terms, is that you're not crazy, you're not alone, but you are responsible for making your own way in the world.
David St Lawrence is blogging his post-corporate adventures at Ripples.
His book can be purchased for $19.95 (a few bucks more if you want if faster) at www.bentcrowpress.com. If just might change your life.