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book review

Are we a collection of our highlights?

I was in Florida this week working with a senior team. The people were great and I had the chance to get to know them over two dinners. Our conversations focused on our highlights, both personally and professionally; we were introducing ourselves through our best moments. 

I do the same when people ask me about my book. The first thing I share is the most recognizable accolade. I highlight the best of what people value in Change with Confidence

This week I got a new highlight. On Wednesday at 11 am, I received an email from a friend saying, “Great review by Harvey in the Globe and Mail today”. This is a big deal. For those outside of Canada, the Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with paid weekly circulation of 143,000. Harvey Schachter is an award winning and highly respected writer who specializes in management and business issues. 

Harvey Schachter

When I met my publicist team at Media Connect in New York, they mentioned Harvey by name and said he is one of the few business book reviewers who reads the entire books he reviews. The Wiley team also talked glowingly of his journalism and influence. He’s the best.

Given the unlikeliness of finding a printed copy of the Globe and Mail in Miami, I searched for the article on my Blackberry. My mind was working faster than my fingers and I impatiently tapped on the Google search button while it was in mid-search. Once the article appeared, I reread the title and my name a few times before going further, as if to confirm, “Yes, that’s my book and yes that’s my name.” It’s funny what you do when you are excited.

The Change with Confidence review, “A nuts an bolts guide to managing change”, is long (845 words), comprehensive and thorough. It provides an excellent overview of the content and format of my book. I am grateful.

Another friend emailed me today asking how my book was doing. I responded, “Really well. It was reviewed in the Globe and Mail this week.”


How would you react to your first book review?

It felt like I had been waiting a long time for the first review. My Wiley Senior Publicist counselled me that reviews of leadership books take longer because the reviewers invest time in thoroughly reading the books. That was helpful but didn’t make waiting any easier or go any faster.

I thought of all possible scenarios. Would it be positive or negative, long or short, academic or conversational? The burning questions was, would the interviewer like my book, or more personally, like what the author wrote.

Jim Taggart

My first reviewer is Jim Taggart, a leadership thought leader who lives in Ottawa, Ontario. He sent me a LinkedIn invitation saying he had been contacted by my publicist and was going to write a review of Change with Confidence. I was thrilled and offered to answer any questions he might have, although I guessed he wouldn’t need any help.

A week ago, Jim posted his review, “Are you ready to CHANGE WITH CONFIDENCE?” on his website, Changing Winds. It was re-posted the same day on The Leadership Hub, a “Top 30 Hidden Gem Leadership Blog” award winner. It fascinates me to see the connectivity and communication power of social media blogs and networks like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Google+. This is where my book will take flight.

Jim’s review is everything I could have hoped for. He liked design decisions that were important to me and took a lot of time to get right. For example, he noted that I write “clearly and succinctly”. It took five month of editing to achieve this goal. My book needed to be stripped of jargon and complexity to appeal to a wide audience including corporate, public and academic audiences. Writing jargon was a lot easier. 

The one criticism Jim had is that there are too many Cadbury stories. This is a fair point. Fifty-five organizations are profiled in my book but there is a weighting toward Cadbury stories . It was important to me to share my experiences of good and bad change capabilities. The cost of doing so are more references to a few organizations. 

Jim offered a suggestion about an alternate subtitle. I smiled when I read it because I had thought of a similar one as I was in my writing stage. I know where he is coming from and I am delighted and thankful that after reading my review that he probably would say the same. 


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