As the title of this book alludes to (hereby referred to as BS, to get around the censors), this is a book that serves as a shotgun blast of information, cutting the rhetoric and firing off the essential. Mostly. James says he has interviewed “hundreds of executives” to compile this book of helpfulness that “isn’t intended to be read from cover to cover”, but rather offers “step-by-step plans to handle specific situations.”
There is a ton of content crammed in: managing up, showing interest, mastering reviews, how to say “no”, earn respect from peers, shine in a meeting, reduce stress, and on and on and on. Each chapter follows a theme, offers wording around several major concepts, and bullet points it at the end. The overarching focus seems to be a focus on the importance of people, clarity, and courage. Which reminds me: be sure to read the introduction—don’t skip it—there’s a lot of good advice in there, too.
Now for the misnomers. Most of this book is serious and offers meaningful advice. However, some of the book reads like a parody. For instance, chapter one talks about the “twelve types of bosses”, but I don’t think he’s serious here. Referenced are the visionary bosses that you need to drink their Kool-Aid and work long hours for, and the bureaucrat boss that is easy to please but “can grind your creativity into dust.” And the chapter about “the seven times it’s ok to lie to the boss”—huh? James says it’s okay to lie to your boss if it is your business to lie with statistics, to protect a co-worker, or even if your boss tells a lame joke. Maybe I’m old fashioned, but growing up with Covey and others, I still say integrity is where it counts.
I really wish James would attribute where he’s pulling his material from. A little footnote, follow-up resources: something. A lot of his philosophy is reminiscent of what I’ve read in Csikszentmihalyi, Pink, Kahneman, and even Gladwell, but really, I have no idea where he’s pulling it from. If you’ve read my other reviews, you’ll notice that I have a footnote fetish; I like to follow-up on what I read. No such luck here, besides a couple of mentions in the acknowledgments.
Now, for the real BS: On James’s website and Twitter profile, he says, “Pre-order my new book and get an exclusive BONUS CHAPTER”. You’ll notice on the book’s tagline: “49 secrets and shortcuts you need to know”. To get the missing fiftieth shortcut you have to send him a picture of your pre-order receipt. The website also says, “WARNING: When the book is published, I’ll stop distributing the chapter.” That’s BS. If you’re dropping a twenty-spot or more for this book, I hope you’ll get the whole book.
Don’t let my grumpiness distract you (too much). I’m keeping this on my desk at work and have already implemented many of its ideas, yielding successful results, mainly for me: cultivating my items of gratitude, drafting effective e-mails, and building bonds with my peers. There’s a plethora of resources here that will be invaluable to anyone in the business world.
Thanks to Business Plus and Hachette Book Group for sending me a copy of this book to review.
This book comes out on May 13 in the States; be sure to check Amazon for its other reviews: Business Without the Bullsh*t: 49 Secrets and Shortcuts You Need to Know