Book Review: Overcoming Underearning

​In the opening parable of Barbara Stanny’s Overcoming Underearning, the fairy godmother says, “When you learn to face what makes you fearful, it need never control you again.”  I cannot think of a more liberating opening.

the voice of experience

Stanny states, “if you don’t deal with your money, your money will deal with you…often in ways you’d never expect.”  She experienced this maxim first hand when her husband lost “a substantial portion of [her] inheritance”. She blatantly says that “staying stupid was not an option”, but when confronted by her financial counselor about being an underearner, she insisted she was not. She ignored her financial counselor’s advice until she “research[ed] financially savvy women” and interviewed “154 high-earners, several of whom were writers” she discovered to be “supremely confident.” She shattered her mental block holding her back, that people who make a lot of money are “cold, aloof, designer-dressed snobs.”  Her pivotal confession was that “they didn’t let self-doubt stop them” like she did.  Then Stanny miraculously earned six figures.  “Without even realizing it, I had seamlessly incorporated their strategies into my life, which I’ll share with you throughout this book.”

planning the life you want

The purpose of this book is to help you achieve financial independence. This process begins with one simple question:  What do you want? Stanny asks, if you had only six months to live:

  • “What would you be doing?”
  • “Where would you be living?”
  • “Who would you be with?”
  • “What would you change?  What would you add?  What would you eliminate?”

Based on your answers to these questions, you can formulate plans for how to change your life. “Make your plans as fantastic as you like, because twenty-five years from now they will seem mediocre.  You will wonder why you didn’t make them 50 times as great.”

the psychology of underearning

Stanny explains, “The problem we’re dealing with isn’t really about money at all.  Money is simply a metaphor.  In fact, the problem isn’t even about overcoming underearning.  Underearning is merely a symptom.  Lasting change never occurs by treating the symptom.  My belief is that you’ve kept yourself an underearner for a reason. Bottom line:  Underearning is a condition of low self-esteem.  Inside every underearner lies some degree of hopelessness or helplessness brought on by a perceived lack of self-worth or absence of self-love.” Stanny follows this insight with a Self Esteem Inventory designed to help readers identify their self-esteem roadblocks.

Stanny now counteracts the voices in our heads that tell us we cannot be anything.  “Those voices may never shut up.  Mine haven’t.”  She talks about how she has learned to ignore them.  “So should you.  Just because you hear voices in your head doesn’t mean you have to listen to them.” Defiantly she encourages us to “Start replacing the voices with different, more positive statements, a personal mantra or affirmation.”

Section Two:  Taking the Steps

The second portion of the book outlines the steps you can take to begin changing your financial state and achieving success. This begins with a five-part plan, each step of which contains detailed plans and exercises:

  • Step 1:  Tell the Truth-The Defining Truth:  No one is doing this to me.  I am doing this to myself.  Therefore, I have the ability to change it.
  • Step 2:  Make a Decision-profit motive.  THE GRAND CONUNDRUM:  You get what you really want, not what you ask for.
  • Step 3:  Stretch:  Your biggest barrier is fear.  And it’s usually that which we’re most afraid to let go of that is the very thing we need to release.
  • Step 4:  Create Community-who are your true believers, confidants, way showers, messengers, and naysayers?
  • Step 5:  Respect and Appreciate Money-The Big Must for Overcoming Underearning: Stop Debting Now!

This book can be placed on hold from the East Baton Rouge Parish Library website.

Written by Andre de la Fuente

Book Review: Stillness Is the Key

Maybe the pandemic forced you to rethink your life or career. Maybe you had arrived at the point of change regardless. But how to let go of the old and focus on and strategize about the new? According to Ryan Holiday, Stillness is the Key.

distracted and distressed

This book echoes similar sentiments to those of a popular Rascal Flatts’ song: “Sunday was a day of rest, Now, it’s one more day for progress.”  The author states that we “are pulled in countless directions by competing priorities and beliefs.  In those battles, in that war, stillness is the river and the railroad junction through which so much depends.  It is the key…”  Holiday gives several obstacles that present us with so many distractions.  For instance: “We are afraid of the silence.  We are afraid of looking stupid.  We are afraid of missing out. We are afraid of being the bad guy who says, “Nope, not interested.”  The author adds a quote from John Cage: “If the mind is disciplined, the heart turns quickly from fear to love.”

finding peace through stillness

Holiday divides the book into three domains: The Mind, Spirit, and Body. The head, the heart and the flesh.  It is in these three areas the author encourages us to focus and develop methods for stillness.  The author references a wide range of the world’s greatest thinkers to show us what stillness is and how we can achieve it.  The objective is to reduce the disturbances that make stillness impossible. To be at peace within ourselves, and to establish a lasting inner and outer peace.

It is critical that the mind domain is mastered in order to find success in stillness.  That will involve managing the amount and type of information you allow in and to properly appreciate being present in the moment. Protect yourself and your mind by managing your thoughts.  Invest time and mental energy to find truth and solution to problems you face.

tips and techniques

One effective method for stillness is to journal.  Journaling allows you to transfer some of the thoughts that are floating around in your head to another medium and to clarify your thoughts. Seeking wise counsel is another proven method for gaining stillness along with receiving constructive criticism.  Cultivating a flexible attitude will allow you to grow and experience situations in a whole new light.

Holiday gives a laundry list of goals one must meet in order to find stillness, some of which include…

  • Developing a strong moral compass,
  • Steering clear of envy and jealousy and harmful desires, and
  • Coming to terms with the painful wounds of childhood.

The author instructs us to take responsibility for our own emotions and impulses.  To strengthen our bodies as the physical vessel of our minds and spirit by developing a routine and investing in ourselves through personal hobbies.  Holiday states that “when the body is busy with the familiar, the mind can relax.  The monotony becomes muscle memory.”

Holiday insists that we “Get out from under all your stuff.  Get rid of it.  Give away what you don’t need.  Declutter.

In the midst of stillness, you can find peace. And with peace of mind you can better find your new career or life’s purpose.

This book can be placed on hold from the East Baton Rouge Parish Library website.

Written by Cynthia Payton

Book Review: The Introvert’s Complete Career Guide

Do you find you struggle to land a job because you’re introverted? If so, you may benefit from the book The Introvert’s Complete Career Guide, which you may place on hold through the East Baton Rouge Parish Library.

“even wallflowers can blossom”: thoughts on introversion

In her Introduction, Author Jane Finkle immediately states that introversion and extroversion are not etched in stone, but mere moving preferences–ideal “situational” comfort zones.  Finkle declaratively confides she is an introvert, yet touts the fine balance between extroversion and introversion equally.  She characterizes her older brother’s extroversion as demanding of Mom’s “attention with nonstop chatter” yet speaking “freely to any stranger in his path.”

She continues that balancing act:  “My grandmother’s entrepreneurial spirit was supported by my quiet immigrant grandfather, who was content staying behind the scenes.  And my socially timid father chronically complained of upcoming social gatherings, though in the end he thoroughly enjoyed such events despite his reticent nature.”

Jane Finkle’s long familial line of introversion includes her own willingness to listen to stories and come up “with ways to solve their problems” then “helping them rewrite a chapter in their lives that would lead to a happy ending” which led her “to a career in counseling.”  As a result, she toots the proverbial “introvert’s” horn saying “listeners by design, introverts prefer to take in all pertinent information before speaking, but then often surprise their audience by making relevant, thoughtful contributions.”

The elephant in the room, according to Jane Finkle, is that “In America, we live in a culture that favors extroversion” which leads to many introverts questioning “their personal value and ability to compete in the face of market changes.”  In contrast, introversion does not impede success.  Although “Asian cultures and some African cultures identified more closely with introversion” related to “tradition, conservatism, and compliance…Asian Americans are the best educated, earn the highest incomes, and constitute the fastest growing racial group in the United States.”

Introverts may feel invisible like a wallflower, but Finkle notes that “even wallflowers can blossom!”  Author Jane Finkle encourages introverts to assess themselves to discover their values and put their strengths on display.  She ultimately prods all readers to strive for “rewarding” work where “your daily tasks and work environment are aligned with your career values.”

How introverts can succeed in the job search

In Chapter 3, Finkle encourages introverts to tell results-oriented stories using the résumé, even if they are uncomfortable blowing their own horn.  Listing achievements and personal brand using short-and-sweet descriptions along with keywords are résumé writing trends, she continues, and of course we can help you at our Career Center.  We have downloadable templates here to trigger your résumé’s starting line which the author defines as “focusing on your industry/field and target audience.”  She then dives into achievements which makes me think of specific goals met that enhanced your organization’s effectiveness.  For example, did you compose new manuals to maintain consistent training, or develop a website or brochure, or simplify Frequently Asked Questions?  These are essential to making any organization function better and if you are a change agent, then toot that horn, because these accomplishments should not go unnoticed.

Chapter 4’s Promote Yourself in Real Time delves into examples, such as creating blogs like this one or updating your LinkedIn page to make it more current?  Jane Finkle demonstrates that social media “is a perfect marketing tool for introverts” since it allows “exposure to support your professional development while respecting your need for adequate privacy.”

Talk to Strangers, as Chapter 5 encourages, might seem audacious at first, but in reality stepping out of your comfort zone might be the best thing ever.  I remember first presenting at a local conference after the organizer stated quite frankly that she was always looking for an opportunity to state her thoughts, even though she was polite and thoughtful and did not come off as pushy.  Now I am not saying you must go out and present at the next convention, but as Jane Finkle states, “use your inquisitive nature” to “consider what truly matters to you and what you want to say” and “form solid relationships”.

Eventually you will get The Interview (see Chapter 6), Navigate a Job Offer (Chapter 7), Onboard (8), then finally Survive and Thrive (9) by setting short-term goals then achieving them using your talents and interests to solve problems, commit to learning, and meet experts and leaders, which, in my opinion​, you were already doing from the beginning.  She aptly closes:  “Embrace your introversion as a familiar friend, and challenge its nature now and again by periodic bold moves.  In time these won’t seem so bold at all, just another variation of your theme.”

Written by Andre de la Fuente

New Career Center Books

COVID-19 has made this a challenging time for workers. Unemployment is high, layoffs are widespread, and some people are finding themselves out of work for the first time in years. Please remember, though, that the Career Center is here to help. In addition to our in-person and online services, we also have books on a variety of job-searching topics. Here are a few of our newest guides:

Taking the Work Out of Networking: An Introvert’s Guide
by Karen Wickre
We often tell clients that the best way to get job leads is through networking. The old adage is true: it’s not what you know; it’s who you know. Too often, our clients feel uncomfortable and shy about reaching out to their network. This book aims to help jobseekers with networking strategies via an unconventional approach which can work well for introverts. Subjects include: maintaining relationships through social media, mastering small talk, managing email communications, and blending the personal with the professional. Author Karen Wickre, journalist and former editorial director of Twitter, brings to bear a lifetime of experience in communications.

Modernize Your Resume: Get Noticed. . .Get Hired
by Wendy Enelow and Louise Kursmark
The rules of resume design change fairly frequently, so if you haven’t reworked your resume in a few years, it may be outdated. Fear not, though: Master Resume Writers Kursmark and Enelow have drawn on their significant expertise to provide a thorough compendium for resume structure, content, and design.  From the big (How do I make a resume ATS-friendly?) to the small (What font should I use?) to the tricky (I haven’t worked in five years. . .), this guide aims to answer all your resume questions. Included are several dozen example resumes.

Job Interview Tips for Overcoming Red Flags
by Ronald Krannich, PhD
The job interview is a stressful process at the best of times. This is of course doubly true if you have a sticky situation that may come up in the interview. Perhaps you have been fired, or received a negative reference. Maybe you lack certain relevant skills, have an unstable work history, or possess a criminal record. Whatever your situation, this guide aims to help you identify your red flags, formulate strategies to overcome them, and find ways to present yourself in your best light at job interviews. Author Ronald Krannich is a job search expert with more than 100 published books to his name.

Comeback Careers: At 40, 50, and Beyond
by Mika Brzezinski and Ginny Brzezinski
Workers over the age of 40 face an extra obstacle in the job search – age discrimination. For women especially, this obstacle can compound with other issues, such as years spent raising children instead of focusing on a career. Yet restarting one’s career in middle age is possible. This book features interviews with dozens of successful professionals who have reinvented and relaunched themselves into a second career. The book discusses ways to use the knowledge and experience you already have as a foundation for building a new image and career. There are also strategies from expert career coaches tailored especially to mid-career jobseekers.

If you’d like to place a hold on one of these books, please visit the East Baton Rouge Parish Library website.

Written by Lynnette Lee

New Career Center Books

The Career Center has just received a set of books from the Masters at Work series by Simon and Schuster Publishing. This series of career exploration guides aims to help job-seekers understand their career options.

Synopsis: Each book in this series contains in-depth interviews with  experts in the field, including discussion of how the person achieved success, what the job is like on a daily basis, and pros and cons of working in that field. Described by the publishers as “the best virtual internship you’ll ever have,” these books hope to provide job-seekers with insight into whether the chosen field would be a good career fit for them.

Titles in this series include:

Becoming an Architect by Janelle Zara

Becoming a Baker by Glynnis MacNicol

Becoming an Ethical Hacker by Gary Mivlin

Becoming a Hairstylist by Kate Bolick

Becoming a Life Coach by Tom Chiarella

Becoming a Marine Biologist by Virginia Morell

Becoming a Neurosurgeon by John Colapinto

Becoming a Private Investigator by Howie Kahn

Becoming a Sommelier by Rosie Schaap 

Becoming a Venture Capitalist by Gary Mivlin

Becoming a Yoga Instructor 

You can place a hold on any of these books through the East Baton Rouge Parish Library’s online catalog. And for additional career path advice, please feel free to call the Career Center at 225-231-3733 to make an appointment for career coaching.

Written by Lynnette Lee

New Career Center Books

Happy New Year! As we begin a new year many people make resolutions to do something new and different. Such as perhaps starting a new business. This year the Career Center offered a seminar on how to buy or expand into a franchise as well as a series of seminars on how to start a non-profit. We have witnessed a great deal of interest in how to start a non-profit or a business. The Career Center has a whole section of books on how to start your own business, including a few new titles.

Start Your Own Business, 7th edition
by The Staff of Entrepreneur Media

If you see yourself as an entrepreneur or aspire to become one this book is for you. It is designed as a “road map to help you plan a course for your own journey to business ownership”. The team at Entrepreneur provide more than 700 pages of information and lessons to help you make your business dream a reality. It begins with a forward by Jason Feifer that encourages the reader with a revised understanding of what is means to succeed as an entrepreneur. The forty-one chapters are divided into eight parts that cover how to Think, Plan, Fund, Prepare, Buy, Market, Engage, and Profit.

HBR Guide to Buying a Small Business
by Richard Ruback and Royce Yudkoff

Would you like to be your own boss, fashion a company environment that meets your own needs, and profit directly from your success? Roback and Yudkoff offer an alternative to a career path at a big firm or the risk of founding your own start-up. In this book they take a big idea from their popular courses at the Harvard Business School and for the first time share it. That you can buy an existing business right now and run it as a CEO. Twenty-one chapters are divided into five parts: Think Big, Buy Small; Preparing Your Search; Finding the Right Small Business to Buy; Making an Offer; and Completing the Acquisition.

Lost and Founder: A Painfully Honest Field Guide to the Startup World
by Rand Fishkin

No one should found a startup alone. Fishkin, founder of Moz (a software provider that creates products for professionals to help client with search engine optimization), shares from his own experience so the reader can avoid the mistakes he made. In addition to covering the difficult realities of founding a startup, Fishkin provides tactical tips and tricks (what he calls the “startup cheat code”). Chapters cover such topics as Great Founders Don’t Do What They Love; They Enable a Vision, Don’t Raise Money for the Wrong Reasons or from the Wrong People, Founding a Top 5 Percent Startup May Not Make You Rich, Living the Lives of Your Customers and Their Influencers is a Startup Cheat Code, and Self-Awareness is a Superpower.

Be Your Best Boss: Reinvent Yourself from Employee to Entrepreneur
by William Seagraves

Becoming an entrepreneur midcareer can be confusing. Perhaps you feel stuck at work, are recently unemployed, or are hanging on to your job. And you want to do something more, something better, something new and different. Seagraves, president and founder of Catchfire Funding, draws on the stories of new and once-reluctant entrepreneurs and offers advice to those wanting to begin a second act in their careers. He breaks down the process of becoming an entrepreneur, explaining how to evaluate yourself and your business opportunity.  Chapters cover whether you are entrepreneurially ready, how to be a company of one and a business of many, how to buy a franchise or existing business, how to navigate the first six months to beyond the first two years, when and how to exit, and how to use your 401(k) (without penalty) to fund your new business.

Written by Richard Wright

New Career Center Books

Happy Halloween, dear jobseekers! We hope you enjoy the chills and thrills of the season. We know however, that some of you are terrified – not by ghouls and ghosts, but by scary career situations. Don’t get too spooked, though: the Career Center is here to help, with books to guide you past the fear and into action.

Scary Career Situation #1: I want to go back to school. . .but it’s been so long.
Read: Never Too Late: The Adult Student’s Guide to College
Synopsis: This book is for non-traditional college students, who may have to balance college classes against working a day job and raising a family. The guide aims to assist you in choosing a college that will work around your schedule, picking a major that will give you a great career, finding a way to make schooling affordable, and ensure that you graduate successfully. The book is filled detailed information, including a massive list of best colleges for adult students.

Scary Career Situation #2: I need to sell myself. . .but I’m not good at talking to people.
Read: The Introvert’s Complete Career Guide
Synopsis: This guide aims to help with every step of the job search process that introverts tend to struggle with, including networking, interviewing, succeeding at a new job, getting along with co-workers, and asking for promotions. The book’s approach is to begin by identifying introverts’ strengths and how best to utilize those, then adds a few extrovert techniques to round out the strategy.

Scary Career Situation #3: I want to start my own business. . .but I don’t know how.
Read: Small Business for Dummies
Synopsis: Each book in the For Dummies series strives to be a thorough compendium of knowledge, and this one is no exception. This guide is a one-stop shop for would-be entrepreneurs, covering everything from business plan creation and fundraising, through legal and financial issues, to employee retention and marketing strategies.

Scary Career Situation #4: I need to ask for a raise. . .but I’m scared of messing it up.
Read: The Only Negotiating Guide You’ll Ever Need
Synopsis: This newly revised and updated edition expands on the wildly successful 2003 original. It features 101 Winning Tactics to help you get what you want in any situation, whether you’re asking your boss for a raise/promotion/better schedule, asking a bank for a small business loan, or even just asking for a discount on your cell phone bill.

You can check out any of these titles from the East Baton Rouge Parish Library.

Written by Lynnette Lee

New Career Center Books

The lazy days of summer have come to an end. . .but it’s not always easy to kick your career back into high gear. If you need a boost, the Career Center’s got your back, with these books on motivation, productivity, and efficiency:

Harvard Business Review Guide to Being More Productive
The Harvard Business Review consults subject matter experts to publish how-to guides on a variety of career- and business-related topics. This guide contains a compendium of techniques to maximize one’s productivity while avoiding burnout. Topics include: Prioritizing tasks, Cultivating willpower, Minimizing distractions, Focusing on meaningful work, Taking proper vacations, Recharging with micro-breaks, and Setting healthy boundaries.

Eat That Frog! Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done
by Brian Tracy
From the book: “There’s an old saying that if the first thing you do each morning is eat a live frog, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing you’re done with the worst thing you’ll have to do all day.” Author Brian Tracy uses the live frog as a metaphor for all of the unpleasant – but crucial – tasks we tend to avoid. The book offers suggestions and strategies to help us stop procrastinating, get the frog-eating over with, and get on with our lives.

Smarter Better Faster: The Secrets of Being Productive
by Charles Duhigg
Have you ever wondered how some people manage to accomplish so much? Why some companies have such breakthrough successes? Pulitzer-Prize-winning journalist Charles Duhigg used his investigative skills to search for the answers to these questions. His findings are published in this treatise on the science of productivity. Each chapter covers a real-life success story, followed by an in-depth analysis of the productivity techniques involved.

Harvard Business Review Guide to Making Every Meeting Matter
If you’ve ever left a meeting thinking, “That was a total waste of time!”, this is the book for you. This guide aims to help make your meetings more efficient and useful. Sections include: Setting a purpose, Preparing an achievable agenda, Inviting the right people, Moderating conversation, Regaining control, and Ensuring follow-through.

If you’d like to place a hold on one of these books, please visit the East Baton Rouge Parish Library website.

Written by Lynnette Lee

New Career Center Books

One of the most difficult workplace skills to master is the skill of getting along well with people. Not to worry, though: the Career Center is here to help. Our newest crop of books from the Harvard Business Review features several guides focusing on people skills.

The Harvard Business Review is a paragon of helpful and accurate career advice. Each guide in this series is written by subject matter experts and crafted to give readers a step-by-step plan for achieving the goal at hand. Whether you need help with handling conflict, leading and managing groups, or general emotional intelligence, these books can be a great place to start.

HBR Guide to Emotional Intelligence
How well do you know your own emotional intelligence? This guide aims to teach you to determine your strengths and weaknesses, manage your emotional reactions, make smart decisions, and bounce back from difficulties.

HBR Guide to Delivering Effective Feedback
Do you want to ensure that you’re giving your employees the right kind of feedback – for both positive and negative performance? This guide aims to help supervisors fairly assess performance, motivate top achievers, handle defensive employees, and create individualized development plans.

HBR Guide to Dealing with Conflict
What are your methods for handling workplace conflict? This guide aims to help employees identify causes of conflict, explore options for handling disagreements, manage emotions, and develop resolutions.

HBR Guide to Leading Teams
Could you use some help in getting your team to work together and achieve things quickly? This guide aims to help managers choose the right employees to build a cooperative team, set clear goals for employees and groups, hold people accountable for bad behavior, and keep the team focused and motivated.

HBR Guide to Coaching Employees
Would you like to mentor, inspire, and empower your employees? This guide aims to help supervisors create realistic growth plans, engage employees in development, teach employees to problem-solve, and give effective feedback.

All of these books are available for checkout from the East Baton Rouge Parish Library.

Written by Lynnette Lee

Book Review: Workplace Poker

This book is about workplace politics and other common obstacles to employees’ career development and how to better achieve the latter by learning how to master the former.

what’s holding back my career?

Having worked with many training and coaching clients and observing their career trajectories, Dan Rust concludes that it is rarely people’s actual work performance that determines a successful career or quick bounce back after job loss. Therefore, he wrote this book for those who “are talented, ambitious, and hardworking but feel your career just isn’t accelerating as fast as it should” as well as for those who “have been frustrated to see others (less talented, who don’t work as hard as you do) achieve rapid professional progress”. He wants to peel back the layers of corporate politics, put them out in the open and help the reader to successfully navigate some of the pitfalls of corporate America. Corporate politics is one hurdle but there are more hurdles to career advancement that usually lay within each individual. Rust identifies those as well and helps the reader steer through the common obstacles working life puts up. His insights are derived from more than 30 years in the corporate world.

structure and layout

The book is divided into 9 chapters, each addressing a particular workplace issue that often derails employees’ career advancement. The topics addressed are:

  1. how to observe and read colleagues
  2. navigating office politics
  3. taking responsibility for one’s failures
  4. strengthening one’s career by increasing physical, emotional, and mental energy
  5. how to deal with personal rejection
  6. strategic self-promotion
  7. creating personal rapport and how to influence others with it
  8. making effective career decisions
  9. bouncing back from adversity and setbacks

how can I overcome my obstacles?

Rust’s primary goal of the book is to provide practical skill development to his readers. He wants to drive home the point that talent, ambition, and hard work are integral to any career advancement, but are often not enough, because employees’ career trajectories get derailed by the obstacles outlined above. Chapter by chapter and obstacle by obstacle Rust details how to overcome them. Each chapter contains a number of real life stories from his training and coaching experience. Rust concludes each chapter with a call to reflection and action. “Think Now” contains prompts to reflect the chapters’ content in relation to the reader’s own career situation. “Act Soon” outlines actions that can be taken quickly and “Long-Term Thoughts and Action Points” challenges the reader to more long term planning and thinking about the specific issues addressed in the preceding chapter.

general thoughts

This book contains a lot of good information and practical advice. That is its pro and con at the same time. If read like a novel or in one sitting it is easily overwhelming. This is a book best taken in bits and pieces. The best approach would be to either use it as a work book and, taking one’s time, work through it chapter by chapter taking full advantage of all the prompts and exercises at the end of each chapter. Or the reader can just use it a chapter at a time. With this book it would make perfect sense to just pick out the chapter(s) that are applicable to the reader’s current issue or situation and maybe come back later to work with the rest. Overall this book represents a good toolkit and go-to resource to address specific workplace and career advancement issues.

Written by Anne Nowak