Terri Schlichenmeyer

The Bookworm Sez: You’ll get around to reading ‘Soon’

Just do it. That’s a demand that comes from everywhere. Sneakers say it, your spouse says it, the law demands it, your diet may say it. Your boss does, for sure. Just do it. Buckle down and get it done because, as in the new book “Soon” by Andrew Santella, delaying and dawdling are not so delightful. Charles Darwin was a terrible procrastinator. It’s true that he got things done: he was an accomplished author, a father, a scientist who studied barnacles almost to the point of obsession, and his thoughts on what he called “natural selection” had been arranged cohesively and written. Twenty years went by before it was published. As he was preparing to write this book on procrastination — research which he’d put off until he couldn’t wait any longer — Andrew Santella began seeing a lot of foot-dragging hidden throughout history. Procrastinators, as it turns out, are in good company: 1 out of 5 of us chronically waits until the last minute to start tasks. Such delay, says Santella, “is one of the oldest stories ever told.” It’s also “notoriously difficult to define” and equally hard to eradicate. Not only do businesses demand on-time productivity, but self-improvement books and classes are filled with anti-procrastination advice. Says Santella, none of that takes into account “the stuff that makes life such a precious mess…” And it doesn’t do anything to eliminate what is believed by some to be the root of the problem, which is that people are ruled by emotions, and especially fear. To try to control time-frittering, remember that “behavior shapes mood.” Do that which you’re putting off and it “will make you feel better.” Keep in mind that there is a good side to procrastination, and that’s optimism: tomorrow is always a good day, for a procrastinator. Take a page from Benjamin Franklin, and make a list of things you need to do. Remember that it’s “nearly universal” to fit work into the time it’s allotted. Minimize distractions, utilize productivity apps, muster all the self-restraint you have, and remember that you’re not alone. And if all else fails, pray to St. Expedite. He’s the patron saint of procrastinators. Time’s a-wastin’. You need a book to help you conquer your habit of lateness but “Soon” isn’t it. Even so, it’s a great way to kill time because author Andrew Santella says he’s exactly in your same position. As it turns out, so were a lot of famous people — most of them, quite accomplished in fields of history, literature, and psychology. That, as Santella shows, indicates that even though foot-dragging is stressful and detrimental to one’s career, it doesn’t always lead to failure or worse. The anecdotes he shares sometimes get a little too deep, but they do provide insight as to why someone might dilly-dally and, if you’re willing to dig a little, what can be done about it. That makes “Soon” a book for procrastinators and for those who aren’t, but are irritated by one. Chances are, that’s you, and you’ll enjoy reading it. Tomorrow. Terri Schlichenmeyer is the author of The Bookworm Sez, which is published in more than 200 newspapers and 50 magazines throughout the U.S. and Canada. Schlichenmeyer may be reached at [email protected]

The Bookworm Sez: Make your own memorable moments

It was quite the event. Your staff really outdid themselves, and you were proud of them. Everybody pitched in, clients were overjoyed, and there wasn’t one attendee who didn’t leave without a smile and a promise to come back next year. In “The Power of Moments” by Chip Heath and Dan Heath, you’ll see how to make your event even better then. Think back to all the biggest, best memories of your life: that milestone birthday party. Your first kiss. The day you got married or became a parent. You can remember those things like they happened this morning. So how do you make those kinds of impressions with your business? The answer lies in the making of memories, or “Defining Moments,” as the authors call them. Those are moments that truly stick out, the lagniappes that make you rave about a hotel, the reasons you love your banker, why you shop where you shop. Many people think that those most memorable moments “just happen” but Heath and Heath say that manufactured ones are equally defining, as long as they have at least one of these four “elements”: Pride occurs when we are “at our best.” It’s when you finally finish a 5K, after being a couch potato all your life. It’s when the CEO offers kudos. It’s when you finally land that difficult sale. Connection is completely social. A wedding, a team breakthrough, a “work triumph,” friends-only weekend, or graduation. These things strengthen relationships “because we share them with others.” Insight changes perception. It’s that moment when you know you’re going to quit your job, start a new business, or eliminate a nasty habit. Insight, as a defining moment, might be a “pit,” rather than a “peak” in emotion. And finally, Elevation is when something is memorably delightful. A free coffee from a random barista, a rite of passage that’s unexpected, small lagniappes that don’t have to cost much but that delight employees as much as customers. “Break the script” to get to an elevation moment. “Once you realize how important moments can be,” say the authors, “it’s easy to spot opportunities to shape them.” So many competitors, so little time to best them all in your customers’ minds. How can your business do that in this ad-saturated season? “The Power of Moments” tells you, but first, authors Chip Heath and Dan Heath will get you thinking about your own memorable moments in business, leisure, and socially. Remembering them — and reading the anecdotes that Heath and Heath hold up as example — leads to seeing why those events left an imprint in our minds and how they might be re-created with a business focus. Heath and Heath also include comprehensive wrap-ups at the end of each chapter, further step-by-step tales of problems solved, and plenty of cautions. As it turns out, making an impact can backfire spectacularly. And that, it seems, could lead to an impactful experience, couldn’t it? And another instance of definition? So then… just reading “The Power of Moments” could become a big event. ^ Terri Schlichenmeyer is the author of The Bookworm Sez, which is published in more than 200 newspapers and 50 magazines throughout the U.S. and Canada. Schlichenmeyer may be reached at [email protected]

The Bookworm Sez: Who owns your ideas?

As a kid, what was your favorite toy? You can probably remember it instantly: the thing you couldn’t bear to leave at home, the doll you spent hours with, the toy truck that road-tripped your imagination. Just thinking of it gives you a warm feeling and a wistful smile, but in “You Don’t Own Me” by Orly Lobel, you’ll read about two toy companies that weren’t playin’. Years after it happened, Carter Bryant couldn’t tell you what spurred him to think the way he did that sunny afternoon. Maybe it was dissatisfaction with his on-again-off-again job at Mattel. Maybe it was a recent, nasty break-up with his on-again-off-again boyfriend. Or maybe it was a quirk in his impressively creative mind that made him notice three teenagers as they left their small-town-Missouri school, and that made Bryant think of his huge idea. All his life, he’d been an artist and he’d dreamed of designing clothes. After graduating from fashion school, he landed a job at Mattel to work with Barbie but Mattel had no tolerance for spontaneous creativity, says Lobel, and that was something Bryant couldn’t abide. And so, as he moved from Los Angeles to his parents’ home in Missouri then back to Mattel a few times, Bryant obsessed about three hip teenage dolls, drawing and re-drawing, putting them away and revisiting them, creating their fictitious lives, rounding them out and making them real. In August 2000, a friend and former Mattel co-worker introduced Bryant to two people who would change his life; both were executives at Mattel rival MGA. And both were excited to see what Bryant had been calling his “Bratz.” For many years, Isaac Larian, a Jewish-Iranian immigrant and the owner-founder of toy company MGA, had been looking for a blockbuster toy. He wanted to own it, not just distribute it, and he was “no stranger to litigation.” That was a good thing because, after many attempts to get Barbie back on her molded feet to fight against Larian and MGA’s newly-purchased Bratz fashion-doll line, Mattel got mad. And in 2004, it filed the first lawsuit… Do you own the ideas you concoct on your own time? Or can your employer take them for free? Those are just two of the intriguing questions inside “You Don’t Own Me.” Of course, in the case of Mattel vs. MGA, many arguments were made, and author Orly Lobel recounts them here. While there’s some lean in the narrative, and well-considered author opinion, Lobel also presents a nice full background of both companies, as well as biographies, to allow for better understanding before she launches her subtle argument-starters. Mixed with the story, Lobel looks at gender and the nature of play, which lends a nostalgic tone to a book that’s highly readable, even if you’re not in business. This book — and the story — ends on an uneasy note; absolutely, it’ll give inventors pause and businesspeople a reason for eagle-eyed vigilance. For sure, “You Don’t Own Me” shows that the ownership of ideas is nothing to toy with. Terri Schlichenmeyer is the author of The Bookworm Sez, which is published in more than 200 newspapers and 50 magazines throughout the U.S. and Canada. Schlichenmeyer may be reached at [email protected] “You Don’t Own Me: How Mattel v. MGA Entertainment Exposed Barbie’s Dark Side” by Orly Lobel c.2017, W.W.Norton $27.95/$36.95 Canada 304 pages

The Bookworm Sez: Cutthroat comics chronicled

You know what your workplace needs? A superhero. Sure, a superhero! Someone who can leap tall problems in a single bound. An invincible mutant who can handle customers, recall conversations in great detail, dispense product in minutes, and stop time in the break room. Yep, for sure, that’s what your business needs, so read “Slugfest” by Reed Tucker. Our story begins in the 1950s in a conservative, button-down warren of offices. National Comics (later known as DC Comics) was the “undisputed leader in the spandex… genre,” secure in their ownership of the Superman strip. Across town, Marvel Comics was “just a ragged little shop with basically one employee” named Stan Lee. Comic books then were often considered fodder for juvenile delinquency and had, a few years prior, come under fire from a Senate subcommittee investigating the “medium’s evils.” The controversy had decimated the industry; many comic book publishers went out of business, but DC stood strong. Still, says Tucker, readers were becoming “bored” with what they had to offer. It was the perfect time for a small upstart to get serious. When Marvel’s founder told Lee that they needed something like DC’s new Justice League, Lee had a few ideas. He and artist Jack Kirby created a group of superheroes with human foibles and modern problems. That created a kinship with readers and a problem for DC. They couldn’t figure out why Marvel suddenly had better sell-through with distributors. For the next several years, the two comic book giants battled like… well, like fighting superheroes. Employees were “poached,” coincidences that might not have been so coincidental stunned the industry, and new features were copied back-and-forth with impunity. There was a brief price war between the two publishers, and possibilities of illegalities. Even fans became deeply divided – until the unthinkable happened and, in 1976, with the utmost delicacy in negotiation, the two briefly became one… Remember summer afternoons with a pile of comics and a cold drink by your elbow? It’s hard to believe that the focus of that childhood memory was Big Business then, and even bigger now. In “Slugfest,” you’ll be taken — POW! BAM! — back to see how. Truly, this book speaks to the heart of everyone who spent (or spends) weeks in eager anticipation of the next comic book issue with the next exciting adventure, but the nostalgia inherent in the subject doesn’t minimize one thing: time and again, author Reed Tucker reminds his readers that comic books are a business. It’s difficult to imagine this pastime-slash-obsession being so cutthroat, but everything that keeps a business owner awake at night happened through the years in this industry. In telling it, though, Tucker keeps things on the lighter side. There’s a hint of amusement in this saga, as there should be, which makes it a fun read. Former kids will want this book for the insight to what’s behind-the-scenes. Business folks will want it for a new look at what’s surprisingly an old industry. If both, you’ll love “Slugfest” faster than a speeding bullet. ^ Terri Schlichenmeyer is the author of The Bookworm Sez, which is published in more than 200 newspapers and 50 magazines throughout the U.S. and Canada. Schlichenmeyer may be reached at [email protected]

The Bookworm Sez: Making a powerful pitch

Throw it out. That’s what always seems to happen to your best ideas, your finest interviews, the proud moments that fall flat as pavement. Ugh. When it comes to The Big Ask, what are you doing wrong? Read “You Get What You Pitch For” by Anthony Sullivan with Tim Vandehey; the answer is no throwaway. Back when he was 24 years old and selling mops, Anthony Sullivan lived in a van and slept atop the product, but he was on a learning curve. He developed a pitch, figured out how to use it, and ultimately attained his television goals by appearing on HSN. So how did he do it? He pitched. “Pitching,” he says, “is a superpower. Do it right and you’ll change minds, open doors, get opportunities…” That doesn’t mean pitching is selling. It “can be used to sell,” but it shouldn’t be the only thing in your sales arsenal. Master it, and you can “become a boss at” connecting with anyone, anywhere; in fact, chances are that you already know how to pitch and “you don’t realize it.” To “activate” your pitching superpowers, first determine what outcome you want before you make your pitch, but also know what else is acceptable to make it a success. Doing so is not failure; it’s being happy with an alternative outcome. Know your audience and what they need, and know how to “be the cure” for it. Practice, practice, practice, until you’ve got your patter down pat… and then practice some more. Learn how to work past what Sullivan calls “the Force Field” and how to call (positive) attention to yourself. Be a storyteller, but know when the time is right to start your tale. Embrace your mistakes and know how to recover from them in front of your audience. Understand when — and how — to “push back” properly. Forget the close and “trust the process.” And finally, be confident and have fun! It’s that last one that makes people want to buy from you… Okay, you’re saying. You know how to pitch but it still doesn’t work. So is “You Get What You Pitch For” still worth reading? It’s hard to argue with a man who sells products as successfully as does author Anthony Sullivan. Together with Tim Vandehey, Sullivan shares some of his secrets of success, as well as the things you should beware of doing (or not). This is extremely helpful, but it’s obvious that the authors’ encouraging words might not work with cold-calling or with phone sales; absolutely, this is a book about in-person pitching so it may not apply to gig economy workers. Also, this book may offend many readers with repeated references to “Getting her number” at a bar or cocktail party. Once was amusing; more than that was not cool. Still, if you need a new angle for a business. or life-pitch, this book is worth a try. It’s readable, and do-able. Just know what you’re getting from “You Get What You Pitch For” before throwing it in your cart. ^ Terri Schlichenmeyer is the author of The Bookworm Sez, which is published in more than 200 newspapers and 50 magazines throughout the U.S. and Canada. Schlichenmeyer may be reached at [email protected]

The Bookworm Sez: Plan to make most of retirement

White sandy beaches. Waves that gently kiss your toes with warm water. In your mind’s eye, they stretch for miles and they’re yours to explore. That will be your retirement — or so you hope. But as you’ll see in “How Do I Get There From Here?” by George H. Schofield, Ph.D., you might dare to hope for more. How long ‘til your retirement? If you’re over 50, you may count years, months, maybe even weeks until you don’t have to hit the alarm anymore. But get this, says Schofield: thanks to technology and modern medicine, today’s 50-year-old may have 50 more years to live. What will you do with all that time? Most people, Schofield says, will find that idleness is boring after awhile; a survey done in 2014 showed that the average retiree takes just more than two years to “relax and recharge” before returning to the work world. The “New Normal” is that we don’t want to slide “slowly downhill through golden years of leisure until death…” Instead, there’s chance for challenge ahead, opportunities to learn new things and to jettison that which doesn’t work for us anymore. To get there — and do it well — takes a good balance between planning and action. Be willing to listen to the experiences of others before leaping, and keep in mind that an “Old Normal” doesn’t necessarily apply here. Also, be sure you know the difference between “Continuous Change” (expected natural progression) and “Discontinuous Change” (the throw-you-for-a-loop things that happen). You’ll encounter them in abundance after you retire; be sure you’re able to deftly handle both. Become financially literate, and update that knowledge often. Gather a handful of pros you can rely on for various issues of your life. Ask your doctor what he or she would like to see you do to become healthier. Cultivate curiosity, learn new things, and let go of old notions. Remember that retirement is not a “life stage” so much as it is a continuation of life. And finally, know when you’re “done” planning. “If you are dead,” says Schofield, “you’re done.” Naturally, you want your Golden Years to shimmer like real gold. After all, you may have more Golden Years than you first thought, and “How Do I Get There from Here?” will enhance them. Right from the outset, it’s the whole-life advice that sets this retirement book apart from the others. Author George H. Schofield doesn’t just focus on the financial; he encourages readers to look within and ask hard questions before making any kind of move. This, of course, assumes that you’ll stay healthy, which Schofield tackles; it also assumes that you have no emotional baggage, a subject he also dives into. Quizzes help here, as do DIY worksheets. True, readers may scratch their heads over the weird faux-interviews that Schofield seems to have with himself, but there are takeaways inside those, too. This book means work, but it’s eye-opening work so grab a pen and “How Do I Get There from Here?” Read it carefully. Missing it’s a beach. Terri Schlichenmeyer is the author of The Bookworm Sez, which is published in more than 200 newspapers and 50 magazines throughout the U.S. and Canada. Schlichenmeyer may be reached at [email protected]

The Bookworm Sez: Memoir of a moving man

From here to there. That’s where you need to move your stuff: from Point A to Point B. Take it out of one place and put it in another, possibly many miles away. And it’s not like you can wiggle your nose or wave a magic wand to do it, either; you need someone who knows what he’s doing. In “The Long Haul” by Finn Murphy, there’s somebody like that out there. You could blame it on logo shirts and cheap beer. At the end of each workday, as a group of drivers from Callahan Bros., a local moving company, gathered beneath a nearby tree, Finn Murphy watched with envy. He was a teen then, working his first job at a “service station” in his childhood hometown in Connecticut. They were working men, beers in their hands and logo shirts on their backs, talking trash and razzing one another. It was a brotherhood he long to join – and so he did, on the day he turned 18. Before then, he couldn’t legally drive a large truck. Also before then, he had no idea that the job was hard work, but he stuck around to earn his shirt and his coworkers’ respect. He gained a reputation as a solid worker, “a good shipmate,” and a reliable employee, learned to pack a truck, meet a deadline, deal with clients, unpack a truck, and maintain everything at job’s end. Today, in his job, Murphy sees the usual amount of unusual things. He’s not a “cowboy”; he’s a furniture mover, sneered at by drivers who haul freight and derided at truckstops and diners. He’s been praised, yelled at, and bought dinner; he’s moved humble folks with very little, as well as prideful people with too much. He wears company clothing, unloads his own cargo, and doesn’t own his rig — yet, despite the latter, there are costs. His job, in fact, is expensive, exhausting, and exasperating sometimes. He’s one of the elite, he says. And “It’s the best job in the whole world.” “The Long Haul” is one of those rare books that peeks inside an industry that you almost never hear about, from a voice that’s more upbeat than hammer-down. Indeed, author Finn Murphy has an almost Zen-like composure in this memoir, although irritation does show up in his remembrances of dealing with rude clients and demanding company owners. Note that that aggravation doesn’t show up so much with co-workers, which isn’t surprising when you learn how Murphy’s niche industry works. On that business side, which is as much a part of this book as his personal tale, readers will be spellbound with tales about the job itself and its inner parts. That includes the kinds of anecdotes readers crave: stories of the best and worst, most unusual, and what to know when sharing the road with an 18-wheeler. This is a thoroughly enjoyable story, quick to start, and really quite fascinating. Get “The Long Haul,” and leave it by your bedside table. Tonight, you’re going to want it there. Terri Schlichenmeyer is the author of The Bookworm Sez, which is published in more than 200 newspapers and 50 magazines throughout the U.S. and Canada. Schlichenmeyer may be reached at [email protected]

The Bookworm Sez: Let’s get small

It’s always the little things. A chocolate on the pillow or slippers beneath a turned-down bed. Stickers for a customer’s kids. A lagniappe in the box to make a baker’s dozen: all things to ensure a speedy return of buyer or client. But are you missing anything in your zeal to retain business? Maybe; in “Small Data” by Martin Lindstrom, you’ll see that it’s always the little things… As a child growing up in Denmark, Martin Lindstrom was diagnosed with an illness that resulted in long hospitalizations and so, with nothing to do and nothing but time, he started to people-watch, keeping track of seemingly-insignificant observations. It was a skill that, once honed, became a career: Lindstrom now spends all but a fraction of his year traveling and working as a “global branding consultant” and using his eye for details to help businesses. That can mean going “so far as to move inside people’s houses or apartments” where Lindstrom says he “make(s) myself at home” and does what he calls “Small Mining.” He peeks into closets and pantries, peers at computer and TV screens, looks at the bottom of shoes and the tops of cabinets, and he asks questions. “Gardens talk,” he says. “Footpaths talk. Balconies talk. Mailboxes talk. Needless to say, walls talk.” And he listens. How else would he learn that magnets on Russian refrigerator doors can launch a profitable business that also boosts the self-confidence of a population? How did souvenir fridge magnets lead to an AHA! moment in Saudi Arabia, when he was asked to consult on the construction of a high-end mall? And why would he wonder if Americans really have the freedom they think they have? Borrowing from Japanese culture helped Lindstrom save a North Carolina grocery chain. The color of spices gave him clues to a “war zone” in India. And if simple beads could lead him to create a win for a well-known dieting center, what can you do to implement Small Mining in your business? “My advice?” asks Lindstrom, rhetorically. “Get a haircut.” The shirt you’re wearing now, the car you drive, the snacks you like, all purchased with more than just mere choice, which all means something to a marketer. In “Small Data,” you’ll see just how much. If you’re a mystery fan, it’s the sleuthing that’ll hook you: author Martin Lindstrom’s work would put Sherlock Holmes to shame. Even the tiniest tells are reason for his scrutiny — and his writing, for that matter; details and relevant facts make Lindstrom’s stories come full-circle as they illustrate how psychology, intuition, and observation can ultimately save a campaign or even an entire business. Readers will also learn about what drives our shopping urges, how angst and meaningful buying coexist, and how we’re so much like other consumers around the world. Reading this book will open your eyes to your customers’ habits; for sure, you’ll never shop the same again. Read it, and it may revolutionize your business because, now in paperback, “Small Data” could lead to big things. Terri Schlichenmeyer is the author of The Bookworm Sez, which is published in more than 200 newspapers and 50 magazines throughout the U.S. and Canada. Schlichenmeyer may be reached at [email protected]

The Bookworm Sez: Taking back the weekend

Zzzzzzzzzip. That was the sound of your last weekend as it passed by, but it probably doesn’t matter anyhow: it was packed with work, to-dos and obligations, kids’ sports, and more work. Sometimes, you wonder why you even bother. You might as well just go to the office – but first, read “The Weekend Effect” by Katrina Onstad, before you zip out Friday afternoon. When was the last time you had two full days without plans? If you’re like most working adults, answering may take you a few minutes. Chances are, it’s been awhile; like millions of North American employees, our weekend is “not a weekend at all.” Much like the seven-day week, weekends are manmade things: Ancient civilizations created our modern week, the Old Testament demarked a day of rest, and employers tried forcing workers to toil most of both. In 1791, U.S. carpenters held the first strike over hours; the eight-hour day started to take hold in the late 1800s; Henry Ford introduced a five-day workweek in 1926; and generally, there we were until the digital age, when employees could — and do — carry work with them everywhere. Considering that 15th century serfs enjoyed a holiday-filled church calendar, says Onstad, you may work more now than did a medieval peasant. That’s not good for mind or body, and employers are starting to recognize that. Known for obsessively-focused marathon workweeks, Silicon Valley may taketh away, but it also giveth: some high-tech start-ups offer employees flex-time and demand down-time. Your boss may welcome happier employees who aren’t so stressed. Four-day workweeks aren’t rare anymore, nor are half-day Fridays. And yet, Onstad says, if someone asked you what you’d do with free weekends, you might struggle with a list. Think: you can actually visit with real people, in-person. You could volunteer more, read more, attend more church, or go for more walks. In short, you can stop, and learn to do less. What would you do with two unencumbered days? Imagine the possibilities, and then read “The Weekend Effect.” While it might seem that few people need convincing when it comes to taking time off, author Katrina Onstad shows, in her first pages, why some people feel trapped into working more. Readers might see themselves in some of Onstad’s short profiles — we obviously have compatriots in our drivenness — as we learn why a “cult of overwork” is detrimental to both individual and to a business. Yes, we can brag, but it’s unsustainable and we’re hurting ourselves, as it turns out. Once you have the ammo needed to try to make change, Onstad offers things that might now take up that newly-gotten free-time. There’s a surprise in that: whatever you think you like to do on your weekends, you could be doing it all wrong. This book is eye-opening, but it may also tell you something you already know: you work too hard. For confirmation, though, or for further reasons why you need shut off your phone and find a hammock, “The Weekend Effect” has that all zipped up. Terri Schlichenmeyer is the author of The Bookworm Sez, which is published in more than 200 newspapers and 50 magazines throughout the U.S. and Canada. Schlichenmeyer may be reached at [email protected]

The Bookworm Sez: ‘Tough love’ on finances

You are so busted. And that’s never a good thing in relationships, recreation, or in finances; especially in finances. When your wallet is empty, so are both calendar and stomach, but what can you do when even the word “money” scares you? With the new book “Broke Millennial” by Erin Lowry, you can be a dinero hero. When she was a child, Erin Lowry’s parents practiced a sort of financial “tough-love” on their daughter, and it paid off: for Lowry, money has never been a taboo subject. It isn’t “stressful, confusing, scary,” like it is for many of her peers. Money is just a thing, and it’s entirely possible, she says, to “set yourself up for the life you daydream about” by taking control of it. Start by understanding your attitudes toward money, acknowledging that your family plays a large part in how you use it, knowing the myths about finances, and erasing them from your mind. If numbers make you numb, you’re in luck: there are only a few formulas you need to stay on top of your finances, Lowry says. Those formulas will help you see your debt, as a whole, which will help you know the pitfalls of credit, the difference between waived and deferred interest, why you should have a credit card, and why there’s only one way to use it. And yes, there’s an app for that. Put yourself on a budget (a “Zero-Sum Budget” is excellent), so you can pay down debt and grow your savings. Know that “Pay Yourself First” is not just a cliché. Shop around for banks and credit cards because they’re not all alike. Think of your credit score and your credit report as your BFFs. Know how to invest and how to create a retirement account, even if retirement seems eons away. And know how to do the tough things, like asking for a raise, hiring a financial planner, getting a mortgage, and “getting financially naked” with your beloved SigO. And what if you’re seriously in debt? Get out, with one of three methods that really work but be careful: scammers and spammers aren’t just online. Fifteen bucks isn’t a lot of money. Then again, it might be if you’ve got an empty wallet and a full pile of debt. Still, it’s a price worth paying to own a helpful book like “Broke Millennial.” In methods that are easy enough for a middle-schooler to try, author Erin Lowry explains nearly everything consumers need to know about finances, in layman’s terms and simple steps. The tone here is no-nonsense, and leaves hand-holding in the dust; indeed, readers aren’t coddled at all. Lowry says she’s “on a mission to stamp out financial illiteracy in our generation,” and her book does it, singlehandedly. Best of all, though it’s meant for 20-somethings, this book isn’t specific to them: you really can give it to a wise middle-schooler or a grown-up in need of the info. For anyone old enough to read this book, “Broke Millennial” won’t be a bust. Terri Schlichenmeyer is the author of The Bookworm Sez, which is published in more than 200 newspapers and 50 magazines throughout the U.S. and Canada. Schlichenmeyer may be reached at [email protected]

BOOKWORM SEZ: The Bookworm Sez: Dealing with the office schmuck

Your co-worker is an idiot. All day long, he’s blah-blah-blah, telling you how great he is, the coolest guy ever. If you’ve done something, he’s done it better. Twice. You’d love it if the boss fired the jerk, but then you’d be short-handed and that’s no good, either. So read “The Schmuck in My Office” by Jody J. Foster, MD, MBA (with Michelle Joy, MD) and find out a better way of dealing with him. When she was in business school, Foster, a psychiatrist, was often amused and pleased to be a go-to person when conflicts arose. Classmates constantly asked for help in dealing with others who rankled them, and she was usually successful in smoothing ruffled feathers and feelings. So what are her secrets? First of all, she says, don’t assume that people are being jerks on purpose. Most folks act one way or other when they think they’re doing the right thing, or because they haven’t been told any differently. Oftentimes, they don’t know they’re bugging someone with their behavior, so Foster advocates compassion when dealing with conflicts. Consider the other person’s story and way of thinking. It helps to step into their shoes. Then, and though Foster very strongly stresses that this book is not a psychiatry manual and that you shouldn’t make armchair diagnoses, understand that there are several basic kinds of office schmucks you might encounter in your worklife. Narcissists — up to 75 percent of which are men — thrive on compliments and hate being ignored. The “Venus Flytrap” loves chaotic and unstable relationships (think: “Fatal Attraction”). The Swindler only cares about the deal, and only if it benefits himself. “The Bean Counter” is obsessive and has difficulty letting things go, while Distracted people let go too easily. And then there are those with serious substance abuse problems, undiagnosed illnesses, true cultural differences, or just plain eccentricities. Finally, says Foster, when you’re angry and digging for any possible reason to lend a shred of compassion, don’t forget to look inside. “Go get the mirror,” she says. “Hurry.” And then go back and read the chapter entitled “Important Disclaimers.” As you’re reading “The Schmuck in My Office,” you can’t keep them in mind enough. That’s because using real psychiatric diagnoses to battle an office pest can be fraught with danger, and author Jody J. Foster (with Michelle Joy) is careful to repeatedly warn readers of this. Yes, the possibilities are undeniably interesting and can explain so much, and it’s the rare person who hasn’t smugly rattled off a layman’s diagnosis for an office bother, but remembering that “There is an important distinction between personality traits… and personality disorders” is the key to using this book. It helps that the authors also offer end-of-chapter hints for both workers and bosses, too. Though it’s not a handbook, this is fascinating. It may even teach you some compassion, so it’s recommended for anyone who works with others, shares an office, or is a supervisor. “The Schmuck in My Office may get you fired… up. ^ Terri Schlichenmeyer is the author of The Bookworm Sez, which is published in more than 200 newspapers and 50 magazines throughout the U.S. and Canada. Schlichenmeyer may be reached at [email protected]

The Bookworm Sez: When good enough is good enough

You know exactly where Monday’s report is. That, of course, doesn’t mean anybody else could find it. You put that report in a safe place in your office, which is organized to work for you. But is it really organized, or is it just a mess? Admit it: it’s probably the latter and nobody’s perfect, but with “Organized Enough” by Amanda Sullivan, you might find a perfect solution. You promised yourself on Jan. 1 that you’d keep your office clean and your desk clear. Same with your home: who needs 10 blue sweaters or eight pairs of black shoes, anyhow? First of the year, you were going to become a neatnik. But of course, that’s “not sustainable,” says Sullivan. You set yourself up for perfection (and therefore, failure), when you should strive instead for “organized enough.” The first step, she says, is to “Go with the FLOW.” Forgive yourself for the things you impulsively bought or wasted money on. Understand that you can “Let stuff go,” starting with one small corner and 10 minutes’ time. Throw things into the trash, donate other items, pay attention to unnecessary duplicates within a given category, and keep working; it might actually feel good! Then Organize what’s left and set up a time to keep Weeding on a regular basis. Working on FLOW may inspire you, but don’t “move too fast.” You want to make good decisions, not hasty ones, which could backfire. Remember that storage containers are not your friends but someone with fresh eyes is, so invite a trusted pal over to help you see things anew. Once you’ve let go of your fears (Will I have enough? Will I run out? Will it go up in price?) and your paper pile, it’s time to set good habits — starting with inventory. What’s in your supply room? You’ll never overbuy, if you know. Make time to organize, even if it’s just a minute; and always make “a last sweep” before lights-out, so you don’t start the day with a mess. Limit new purchases, “buy less but better,” and remember that nobody’s ever perfect. “What we want,” says Sullivan, “is joy… and to know where we put the car keys — and those things, my friends, are within your grasp.” So you say you don’t remember what color the top of your desk is. The corners of your workspace are piled with boxes. Get a pen — there’s one somewhere in that mess — and write down “Organized Enough.” Chances are, you’ve been down this very unkempt road before, and you might ask what makes this book different from several thousand others on the subject. This: author Amanda Sullivan isn’t proposing that you keep everything 100 percent ship-shape. She only aims to help the ship stay afloat with fewer items in the cargo hold and an unobstructed captain’s chair. That means no guilt, no pressure, use the advice that’s applicable, discard what’s not, no problems. And if that’s what it takes, then this book is what you need. “Organized Enough” might just work for you. Terri Schlichenmeyer is the author of The Bookworm Sez, which is published in more than 200 newspapers and 50 magazines throughout the U.S. and Canada. Schlichenmeyer may be reached at [email protected]

The Bookworm Sez: Find out why time flies

Your last vacation was really fun. Those seven days felt like 10 minutes. And then you were back to work, where 10 minutes can seem like seven days. Why is that? How come enjoyable things whiz by fast and why do you wake up seconds before the alarm goes off? Read “Why Time Flies” by Alan Burdick, and just watch… What time is it? Chances are, you ask that question many times a day, even sometimes when you already know the answer. But how do you know the time without looking at a clock? How does time speed and slow? Better yet, how do tasks seem to exactly fit the allotted time you’ve got to finish them? To find out, Burdick started at the International Bureau of Weights and Measures, near Paris. That’s the place where time is set, “uniform and equivalent across national borders,” and where the most exact time in the world is kept — a time that’s so accurate that it’s not set until next month. Time, you see, is a conundrum. It started — and remained through most of history — as an Earth-based thing, though early humans didn’t have the same sense of “time” that we have now, “now” being a slippery thing in itself. Ancient timekeeping used a sundial to indicate morning or afternoon; we generally use computerized systems run by exquisitely accurate clocks that “register 13 billion pings from computers around the world” each day. Even so, there is no such thing as a completely accurate clock, just as there is no such thing as accurate time. Time is set because we implicitly agree on it, although some countries are off by 30 or 45 minutes from the rest of us, not counting time zones, which were first encouraged in the U.S. by railroad companies. Also because we agree that we can, we bend and twist time. Shift workers push their circadian rhythms to the limits. Speeding jets can, in an Einsteinian way, slow time (by nanoseconds, but still). Time seems fleeter when you’re older for a good reason, and yes, time flies, but mostly when you’re not really looking. Here it is, February, and it feels like Christmas was both yesterday and a million miles ago. That’s all in your head, says author Alan Burdick, and in “Why Time Flies,” he explains. We can’t touch time, but we know what it is. It’s sometimes hard to define it, however, but Burdick’s research helps as he takes readers around the world, to the top of the Earth, and below-ground in a search that speeds through deep science so quickly that grasping some ideas can be a challenge. Fortunately, that’s balanced by eye-popping tales of experiments gone wild, lovelorn scientists, work-time, and Burdick’s personal stories of how infants learn concepts of time and its passage. That makes this science-y book readable as well as enjoyable, so jobholders, parents, the science-minded, or anyone who says “Look at the time!” should look at this book. Read “Why Time Flies” and you’ll be having fun. Terri Schlichenmeyer is the author of The Bookworm Sez, which is published in more than 200 newspapers and 50 magazines throughout the U.S. and Canada. Schlichenmeyer may be reached at [email protected]

The Bookworm Sez: Fill your tank, rev engine

At the end of the day, you’re out of gas. There’s nothing left in your reserves, not a drop. You’re done, wondering if this is as far as you’ll ever go but somehow open to new suggestions. So read “The Full Tank Life” by Ben Tankard. It might just rev your engine again. Imagine this: you’re driving down the highway on your way to somewhere important, when you glance at the gas gauge and oh, boy, it’s almost on “E.” That’s what your life may be like but Ben Tankard says you can boost your inner fuel with his “Full Tank Life” method. Since it’s easy to do, you can start now. It’s all about D-E-S-T-I-N-Y, he says. Begin by discovering your Dream. Get personal; this is your dream, not what someone else wants for you. Imagine it. Write it down. See yourself in it, then take steps to be in the right Environment to achieve that dream. Tell yourself every day that you’ll have what you want. Say it aloud and make it positive. That will help train your Subconscious to see your path as a decision, not a choice. Learn to see Time in a different way. Don’t waste it, of course, but don’t rush to use it, either. Haste, impatience, not prioritizing, and a lack of attention to detail can make time slip out of your fingers faster than you might realize. Try to keep Inspiration in your life. Find people who can support you, and put yourself in their company as much as possible. Find a mentor, and then be a mentor to someone else. Take advantage of Networks to maintain your outlook and to boost your business and personal life. Finally, remember the most important part of the Full Tank Life: You! Always be genuine. Do your best with whatever you have at the moment. Work around any roadblock you might find. And above all, don’t listen to naysayers: if your tank is full, you can do this. As faith-based business-slash-inspirational books go, “The Full Tank Life” is okay.  Not sterling, not great, but not horrible, either; just okay. Author, pastor, and “Renaissance man” Ben Tankard has a good premise here but, though his advice is solid, it’s similar to a lot of other books. He offers personal anecdotes to illustrate his points but those tales often seem to be elevated, which could smack of boasting. There’s a good amount of repetition here, too, and the lengthy Bible teachings sometimes feel like filler. To the good, however, the information offered is rock-solid. The book is written in an easy step-by-step format (although Tankard says you don’t have to read it that way). And there are helpful worksheets included with each chapter, which allow readers to sort through their thoughts and ideas. The audience for this book, I think, is in the reader with a totally blank slate, or in the businessperson who’s hit pause for just a minute. If you are neither, though, “The Full Tank Life” may only leave you empty. Terri Schlichenmeyer is the author of The Bookworm Sez, which is published in more than 200 newspapers and 50 magazines throughout the U.S. and Canada. Schlichenmeyer may be reached at [email protected]

The Bookworm Sez: Kareem shoots for solutions

The fix won’t be quick. It never is. There’s no magic wand to change the things that’ve been on your mind lately: social issues, inequality, poverty, politics, apathy, violence. Those ills didn’t arrive quick and they won’t leave quick but, says Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, they can be repaired. In his new book “Writings on the Wall” (with Raymond Obstfeld), he explains. When people ask Abdul-Jabbar what he might’ve become, had he not played NBA basketball, his answer often surprises them: he would’ve been a history teacher. History fascinates him — especially in the way it reflects racism, religious intolerance, and gender issues. In history, as in current events, the truth is sometimes bent. Take, for instance, politics, which is on everyone’s mind. We rail and complain about issues and promises broken and we like to think it’s all out of our hands. The truth is that we are the problem: we grow complacent about things we don’t want, acting “like children when it comes to politics” and hoping the government will “take care of us,” rather than taking steps to fix the system ourselves. White people may deny that racism exists, says Abdul-Jabbar, while black people know that it does. Racism didn’t stop with the election of the nation’s first black president. It doesn’t end with melting-pot cultural appropriation. It actually comes in two forms, he says, and education is the first step in dealing with it, not eliminating it, because racism is always going to be around. On religion, we should never lose sight of the fact that this “country was founded by religious outcasts running for their lives from persecution for their beliefs.” When it comes to equality for women, we must embrace the true meaning of “feminist” and adhere to what we tell pollsters when it comes to gender. We need to look at the media and how to maximize its potential, and we must take better care of our seniors. “We cannot afford to just wring our hands and depend on the kindness of strangers,” Abdul-Jabbar says. “We have to bring about change on our own.” Remember when your grade school teacher told you to put on your thinking cap?  You’ll need it again as you’re reading “Writings on the Wall.” Authors Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Raymond Obstfeld don’t just examine issues that are on the minds of every American. They turn them over and blow them apart, looking for solutions that can be accomplished and chiding us gently for not already working. That makes for a thought-demanding, intellectually heavy book but it’s also a worthy call to action; you may also be delighted to see that Abdul-Jabbar doesn’t miss a chance to add a touch of the personal here, which includes quietly unexpected humor. Readers with the right mindset will find this book to be informative and entertaining but be prepared to take your time get the most from it. There aren’t a lot of pages inside “Writings on the Wall,” but what’s here is deep and wide and nowhere near quick. Terri Schlichenmeyer is the author of The Bookworm Sez, which is published in more than 200 newspapers and 50 magazines throughout the U.S. and Canada. Schlichenmeyer may be reached at [email protected]

The Bookworm Sez: ‘Extra degree’ doesn’t move needle

Pick, pick, pick. That’s how you get to success these days. A little win here, a victory there, a couple losses, four steps ahead and two back. So many times, you’ve felt this close to the prize, only to have to start over again. Now read the new book “212: The Extra Degree” by Sam Parker and Mac Anderson, and pick another way to fight. Memes on social media and billboards have long reminded you of one basic truth: it’s the little things that matter. And if you don’t believe it, consider the mighty steam engine: at 211 degrees, water is just water — but heat it by only one degree and water can move that steam engine. That analogy might describe your career. Success, personally, in business, community, and relationships might be bubbling just beneath the surface at 211 degrees, waiting for you to turn it up a notch. What you want may be millimeters away, but you’ll never know unless you give it a single degree’s worth of effort. Imagine how many opportunities you’ve missed because you quit before you gave that extra degree, that extra mile. Now imagine how much money you’ve left on the table; in fact, say the authors, in many cases, the person who put forth extra effort to win came away with many times what the runner-up received. It happens in golf, in NASCAR, and in horse racing. Even in the Olympics, there can be fractions of a second between getting gold and getting nothing. Finding your personal 212 degrees may be easier than you think. Put your phone away and engage with the people in front of you. Invest in your children; give them something to aspire to. Improve your career by adding a few minutes to your workday for professional development. Spend one hour each day studying something that fascinates you. Stop hitting the snooze button in the morning. Make one extra sales call. Encourage one employee or co-worker. And finally, add the words “and then some…” to your business vocabulary. Do what you can, and then some, and you’ll be surprised at what can be accomplished. It’s obvious merely by picking this book up that it’s not going to take much time to read. Page through it, and you’ll see that it’ll take even less time to finish than you initially thought. Yes, “212: The Extra Degree” is thin, in more ways than one. Toward the beginning of their book, authors Sam Parker and Mac Anderson say that their steam-engine visual is so simple and evocative that you don’t even have to read any further. That may be advice to heed; if you do go forth, though, you’ll find a mishmash of quotations, half-thoughts, questionably-relevant tales, and pages of stats. I think that if you want a quick idea to present during a staff meeting, you can all take turns reading this new edition of “212: The Extra Degree” aloud in about an hour. If you want something with more meat, though, pick another book. Terri Schlichenmeyer is the author of The Bookworm Sez, which is published in more than 200 newspapers and 50 magazines throughout the U.S. and Canada. Schlichenmeyer may be reached at [email protected]

The Bookworm Sez: Being happy costs nothing

The board is all set up. All your pieces are ready for play, the cards are split, and the moderator has gone over the rules again. Once around the board, try not to get behind, keep all your pieces, and you win. Isn’t that the whole reason for the game of business? Maybe, but read “Profit from Happiness” by Jake Ducey before you roll the dice. Centuries ago, when various economies were created, there were “secrets to winning” them. The goal was wealth, and you worked for it. Climb the ladder, work some more, “the bubble burst,” you work harder, then you work again. Jake Ducey says that “three-quarters of us are spending most of our waking hours doing something we do not like or care about” just so we can win. Shouldn’t games be fun? Yes, says Ducey, but instead, “We are doing ourselves a disservice by perpetuating a society where the majority… would like to quit their jobs.” He offers “six creeds” to fix this problem; use them, and you won’t have to worry about money. First, offer more value to the people around you. Exude “positive energy” and understand that a paycheck isn’t based on per-hour pay; it’s based on “the value you put into” each hour. Be more valuable, less replaceable, and you’ll be successful. Secondly, don’t be too busy that you don’t appreciate people. Smile at them, even if you’re not feeling it, and make them feel appreciated. That could make you happier… and besides “What’s the worst that can happen?” Put yourself in someone else’s shoes; be present for them, reach out, and ask how you can make their life better. Listen with your whole brain; practice that superpower by starting a conversation with a total stranger and pay attention. Understand that things aren’t always about you; the grump you’re dealing with may have a legitimate issue that has nothing to do with you. Remember that “it is not what a person says or does (to you) that affects you but your reaction to what is said or done.” And finally, be genuine and open. Don’t build walls. Don’t be afraid. Sounds a little new-agey-huggy? Yeah, I thought so, too; absolutely, there are things in this book that may be just too much for button-down C-Suiters. Then again, maybe “Profit from Happiness” isn’t for them… Someone who’s in a less-formal position, perhaps, or a newbie in business might find plenty of usefulness in author Jake Ducey’s words. His ideas and advice should be easy to implement — it’s all low or no-cost — and his personal, unique success is hard to argue with. The payout could be big: for the properly-attitudinal employee, this book could result in a huge paradigm shift personally, if not professionally; and habits readers might build could be invaluable. Like most business advice books, there are things to discard here, and things to embrace but if you’re willing to try it, “Profit from Happiness” might slide you over into the winner’s circle. It’s your move. Terri Schlichenmeyer is the author of The Bookworm Sez, which is published in more than 200 newspapers and 50 magazines throughout the U.S. and Canada. Schlichenmeyer may be reached at [email protected]

The Bookworm Sez: Make most of managing money

Back-to-school time is almost here, which means back-to-school bills. Your first-grader needs all-new everything. Your third-grader needs a certain kind of crayon. Middle school requires three different notebooks, and everybody wants new clothes. You’re not sure how that’s going to happen this year, but with “Smart Mom Rich Mom” by Kimberly Palmer, you’ll learn how being financially savvy can help your future. Some years ago, when two editors of “a prestigious investing magazine” told money expert Kimberly Palmer that women didn’t read financial publications, she was taken aback. Women, she says, and “moms especially,” make the majority of today’s consumer purchases. Within the coming years, we’ll “control two-thirds of the country’s wealth…” You’re pretty wise, financially, but can you better harness that power? Your first thought might be couponing. That’s fine, Palmer says, but it’s not all. Don’t forget to take advantage of bigger financial boons, like signing up for flex accounts at work or putting money toward better-yield savings. Make goals, figure out how to set aside funds for long-term and short-term needs, and get to know your “beautiful old lady” self. “That lady is going to need some money” in coming years, which might mean “extra sacrifices today.”  But, by the way, there’s no need to be Draconian; just be smart about little splurges. Remember that kids cost money – more in the beginning, less later on – and babies don’t care about designer clothing. As your children grow, teach them simple but valuable lessons by giving them an allowance and insisting they save some of it. Show them by example that happily-delayed gratification is possible. Ask your employer if you can take advantage of flex-time. Know if opting out of work altogether is right for you, or if entrepreneurship is better. Educate yourself on investing by reading everything you can find on the subject. Don’t let your husband or partner take over financial reins completely; be aware of what’s going on with your accounts. Talk to your parents about house-sharing. And above all, consider your kids: their financial security may someday depend solely on you. No doubt about it: there’s a lot to take away from reading “Smart Mom Rich Mom.” Each page, it seems, is packed with useable, reliable information and good advice. That is, as long as you have a well-paying job in place. If you don’t, author Kimberly Palmer doesn’t seem to have much to offer except that you need to “make slow and steady progress out of the troubles” you have, which isn’t very helpful. Yes, you can learn how to manage money and cut costs with this book but if you don’t have much money to begin with, you’ll have to patch something together from what you’ll learn here. Sigh. Admittedly, that might be frustrating and though this book could still help, I think I’d have been happier with it, had it been more inclusive. Still, if you need a boost, an idea, or a fresh financial outlook, “Smart Mom Rich Mom” is a start for a good education. Terri Schlichenmeyer is the author of The Bookworm Sez, which is published in more than 200 newspapers and 50 magazines throughout the U.S. and Canada. Schlichenmeyer may be reached at [email protected]

The Bookworm Sez: ‘Famous Nathan’ is a weiner

Mom always loved you best. I can beat you at that. You got more than me, more from Santa and a bigger birthday cake. I was Dad’s favorite, I’m better than you, and sibling rivalry can linger long past childhood. It’s not pretty and, as you’ll see in “Famous Nathan” by Lloyd Handwerker (with Gil Reavill), it can bring down an empire. Born in 1892 in Austria-occupied Poland, Nathan Handwerker was a go-getter, even as a boy: his family was poor and had many small mouths to feed so he, as the third-oldest son, begged his father to let him leave home to work. Eleven-year-old Handwerker found a series of jobs that paid little but he settled on one in a bakery, reasoning that he would never go hungry there. Living in Poland at the turn of the last century could be dangerous for a young Jewish man — gangs and military recruiters were on the hunt — so Handwerker began saving to move to America. He left the Netherlands in March 1912 and upon his arrival in New York a month later, he quickly found a job, then another, and another. Remembering his life back home, he found employment in restaurants and worked his way up, toiling seven days a week while he learned English. While at his part-time job in Coney Island, Handwerker noticed a counter location that would make a perfect place to start a business. It took awhile for Nathan’s (later, Nathan’s Famous) to be successful; Handwerker was initially charging too much for his hot dogs but once he settled on a nickel apiece, two cents for a drink, “the store” started to take off. Coney Island was the place to be for New Yorkers escaping the city; Nathan’s was open year ‘round and became famous for speed and spectacle of service. Handwerker was at the store every day, sometimes for 20 hours a day but he still managed to marry and have three children; the younger two, both sons he hoped would someday take over the family business. As they say, though, all good things must end. Coney Island changed quite a bit in 1966, thanks to a man named Trump; and Nathan’s began to struggle, partly because of  “small-is-beautiful versus big-is-better debate” and good old-fashioned sibling rivalry. As business biographies go, I thought “Famous Nathan” was one of the tastier. Author Lloyd Handwerker, grandson of Nathan, starts his sweeping story with a Coney Island tradition, then moves in directions that truly couldn’t be more opposite. We travel from a competitive eating stage to the sleeping-pallet of an illiterate, dirt-poor immigrant who stumbled into his life’s work to avoid starvation, the irony of which is never allowed to be lost on readers. Handwerker’s storytelling (with Gil Reavill) is clear, lively, and filled with such twists. I thoroughly enjoyed it. From the first page, this is an easy book to like: it’s interesting, has a smooth timeline, and sometimes reads like a novel. If you’re hungry for that, “Famous Nathan” is a wiener. Terri Schlichenmeyer is the author of The Bookworm Sez, which is published in more than 200 newspapers and 50 magazines throughout the U.S. and Canada. Schlichenmeyer may be reached at [email protected]  

The Bookworm Sez: ‘Born’ isn’t all good advice

You have a job. It’s fine. Really, it’s nothing earth-shattering. You show up, do the work, get paid, go home, and do it again the next time. Sometimes, you’re miserable but mostly, it’s okay — though you wonder every now and then if that’s all there is. In the new book “Born for This” by Chris Guillebeau, you’ll see that it doesn’t have to be. Your best buddy has a job he loves and you have to admit, you’re a little envious. Your job is okay, at best; “soul-crushing,” at worst. Ah, but what can you do? You don’t necessarily want to be an entrepreneur. You like working for “a conventional employer.” So what then?  Guillebeau says, when choosing a road to workplace happiness, to remember that there are actually many roads and none of them are smooth.  The first step, he says, is to ignore mythology. You don’t have to think like a CEO. You don’t have to find a niche. And “if you miss one opportunity, there will be others.” Next, to find what you were “born to do,” use Guillebeau’s “Joy-Money-Flow” formula: if work makes you happy, pays the bills, and utilizes your skills, then it’s a fit.  Know what working conditions you need to stay happy. Don’t just take a job to have a job; FOMO (fear of missing out) is one hazard on your way to a dream career. Have a Plan A, but “remember that there are 25 letters left.” Understand that everybody’s good at something and “if you’re good at one thing, you’re probably good at something else.” Make a list of your best strengths, and hone the ones you know you’ll need. Follow through on commitments. Know when it’s time to shake things up and when it’s time to quit a job. And cultivate a “side-hustle” that can support you during those in-between times. You might be surprised to see it become a full-time gig. Like so many career-advice books today, “Born for This” contains some useful, helpful information, as well as some advice you might want to avoid. Author Chris Guillebeau surely practices what he preaches: he uses his own dream-job path as one of his many case studies, which is proof that his ideas are mostly workable. They might not be easy, however, and this book doesn’t seem to be as step-by-step as some readers may need. What bothered me were the things that made my eyebrows raise. Advice to show up at a job you didn’t get, then “just start working and see what happens” is social-media fodder, and could get a job-seeker in trouble. Over-confidence, brass, and sassy questioning of an assignment could get an employee fired. I think this book is good enough but, like many such works, is only useful to a point. It might help a new graduate or a C-suiter find the perfect job, but it needs to be read with maturity and balance. You may, therefore, find limited help inside “Born for This”… or you may like it just fine. Terri Schlichenmeyer is the author of The Bookworm Sez, which is published in more than 200 newspapers and 50 magazines throughout the U.S. and Canada. Schlichenmeyer may be reached at [email protected]  

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