Book Review: SuperBetter

Have you ever encountered a difficulty, challenge, or trauma that was overwhelming to deal with? If you are human, chances are the answer is “yes”. In her book “SuperBetter,” Jane McGonigal offers a new, fresh, and, in most eyes, unusual approach to overcome such situations. She uses gaming methodology to getting “stronger, happier, and more resilient”. If this turns you off and you think this is quackery, hold on.

About the Author

McGonigal, in addition to being an avid video game player and designer, is also a PhD and Director of Games Research & Development at the Institute of the Future. She has led workshops for numerous Fortune 500 companies and taught at UC Berkley and the San Francisco Art Institute. Her TED talks on this topic have been viewed more than 10 million times. Her SuperBetter methodology has been scientifically researched and validated by several universities and medical centers.

How the Book Works

While the SuperBetter approach is easy to understand and follow, the book is long and not a quick read. It is divided into three parts, and the reader does not necessarily need to follow them chronologically (though the book is worth reading in its entirety). Instead, you can pick and choose the parts that you are most interested in. Not surprisingly, the book is full of gaming terminology. That makes it easy to understand and fun to follow. It is simply part of why this approach works.

Throughout the book you will find more than 50 quests to complete. Those quests represent the real-world applicability and interactive qualities of the book. Of course they are fun too. Follow along and complete the quests, like in a game; they start off very easy and will get more and more involved. The quests address one of four areas: physical, mental, emotional, and social resilience. Through those quests you will gamefully address and manage your life challenges.

Why Games Make us Superbetter

The first part of the book is a detailed overview of the science of games and presents evidence on why they work in alleviating physical and mental pain. It’s fascinating to read how games we all know and which are easily available on a smart phone can benefit our well being (Tetris and Candycrush for example).

This part of the book also discusses what it means to be gameful. Being gameful is the state of mind we are in when we play games and it is key to why games are successful in helping us cope. McGonigal defines gameful as “bringing psychological strengths you naturally display when you play games – such as optimism, creativity, courage and determination – to your real life”. Whenever we approach life’s hurdles optimistically, courageously, determined, and creatively, we stand a much higher chance of prevailing.

How to be Gameful

Part two is the practical part that introduces, explains, and demonstrates the SuperBetter method, which readers can immediately apply to their lives. Here McGonigal gives us many quests to fulfill.  And, as is befitting for a book about gaming, she uses gameful concepts and language, which doesn’t only make it useful but also fun to follow along. The seven rules that make up the SuperBetter method are:

  1. Challenge yourself
  2. Collect and activate power-ups
  3. Find and battle the bad guys
  4. Seek out and complete quests
  5. Recruit your allies
  6. Adopt a secret identity
  7. Go for an epic win

While being gameful, these seven chapters address physical, mental, emotional, and social challenges, how to approach and cope with them.

Adventures

The final part of the book consists of three adventures addressing issues of relationships, body image, and time management. McGonigal defines adventure as “a set of power-ups, bad guys, and quests, designed to help you tackle a particular challenge”. In other words, this chapter represents three full tutorials of how to apply the SuperBetter method to problems in these three specific areas. This also serves as a blueprint to design your own adventures for challenges that you are facing and need to get SuperBetter at.

Final thoughts

Overall this book is well worth reading all its 425 pages (warning: take your time, it is not a quick read). McGonigal’s truly unique (and scientifically validated) approach will surely help people address serious real-life issues from a new angle. If you follow along and complete the quests and adventures while you are reading, you will have gained new coping techniques by the end of the book, guaranteed. For those readers already well versed in gaming terminology and methodology, go ahead and jump right into the quests. For all others, the methods in the book will represent a change in mindset about problem-solving, which is itself a worthwhile effort.

If you want to try out the online and app versions of the game, find more info at www.superbetter.com  If you are interested in the science behind SuperBetter, you can learn more at www.showmethescience.com

Written by Anne Nowak

New Career Center Books

This month’s selections are all about those most crucial job-search tools: networking and personal branding.

100 Ways to Overcome Shyness: Go from Self-Conscious to Self-Confident
by Barton Goldsmith and Marlena Hunter
Shyness can hold your career back by making you less able to forge connections, communicate effectively, and handle difficult people. This guide, written by two accomplished psychotherapists, aims to help you overcome your shyness, through a combination of useful information, case studies, and simple exercises.

The 11 Laws of Likability: Relationship Networking
by Michelle Tillis Lederman
This book is subtitled, “Because People Do Business with People They Like,” and that philosophy is the foundation for this whole book. The guide combines activities, what-if scenarios, and self-assessment exercises to create a plan to help you become more likable – without being phony or insincere. Author Michelle Lederman is a corporate trainer specializing in communications and leadership.

How to Write a Killed LinkedIn Profile
by Brenda Bernstein

 

LinkedIn Profile Optimization for Dummies
by Donna Serdula
Too many people make the mistake of simply pasting their resume into LinkedIn, which can give it a generic look that may not be as attractive to potential employers. Instead, use the tips in both of these thorough guides to create a customized profile, focusing on your personal keywords, experience, and accomplishments. These tips can help you make a great first impression on the world’s largest business networking site.

If you’d like to check out any of these books, you may place a hold on them through the East Baton Rouge Parish Library website.

Written by Lynnette Lee

New Career Center Books

Job interviews: they’re stressful, uncomfortable, and absolutely crucial to your job search success. Thankfully, the Career Center can help you prepare – both through our interview-related blogposts, and through our newest books on the job interview.

Job Interview A-Z Guides

Get That Job! The Quick and Complete Guide to a Winning Interview
by Thea Kelly
This short book can probably be read in a single day, and covers everything from choosing the right outfit to gracefully accepting the job offer.

The Essential Job Interview Handbook
by Jean Baur
An in-depth guide to different kinds of interviews (including phone screenings, recruiter interviews, HR screenings, and behavioral interviews) and how to handle each type.

60 Seconds and You’re Hired!
by Robin Ryan
A career counselor and HR expert, drawing on a lifetime of experience, discusses the best ways to take charge of the interview process, including making a great first impression and selling your skills in quick memorable responses.

Step-by-Step Interview Success
by JIST Publishing
Since nonverbal communication counts for so much in the job interview, sometimes a book is not enough to prepare you. If you prefer the visual approach, check out this DVD for a strong introductory guide to the job interview.

The Ex-Offender’s Job Interview Guide
by Ronald Krannich
This guide focuses on the unique interview challenges faced by ex-offenders, including what red flags may worry employers, how to talk about a criminal record, overcoming problematic body language, and showcasing skills learned in prison.

interview questions and answers

Powerful Phrases for Successful Interviews
by Tony Beshara
If you have trouble finding the right words to describe your skills and experience, this guide aims to help, with templates and scripts for handling a variety of job search situations.

101 Job Interview Questions You’ll Never Fear Again
by James Reed
This book is a great resource for helping you answer the trickiest interview questions, with example answers and detailed explanations.

Winning Answers to Common Interview Questions
by JIST Publishing
This DVD provides detailed strategies for answering the most common interview questions, in an efficient and engaging format.

101 Smart Questions to Ask on Your Interview
by Ronald W. Fry
A good interview is about more than your answers – it’s also about your questions. This guide discusses the questions you should ask, during your research, during the interview, and during the negotiation process, to make sure that you’re choosing a job which is a great fit for you.

If any of these books catch your eye, you may place a hold on them through the East Baton Rouge Parish Library website.

Written by Lynnette Lee

New Career Center Books

If you’re itching to become your own boss, you are in luck! This month, the Career Center has several new books about starting your own business. Additionally, we have a great seminar next week for would-be entrepreneurs:  How to Buy or Expand into a Franchise.

The Franchising Handbook: How to Choose, Start, and Run a Successful Franchise
by Carl Reader
Franchising can be a great choice for aspiring entrepreneurs who don’t want the risk/hassle of starting a brand new business. But franchising has its own set of rules. This detailed guide aims to tell you everything you’ll need to know in order to buy and grow a successful franchise, including finding and shortlisting franchises, creating a business plan, managing funding, and checking for red flags.

The Ultimate Freelancer’s Guidebook
by Yuwanda Black
With the advances of modern technology, the decrease in full-time 9-5 jobs, and the prevalence of the “gig economy,” more and more people are moving towards becoming professional freelancers. Author Yuwanda Black draws on her years of freelance experience as a writer and editor to create this guide for would-be freelancers. It covers such topics as determining prices, creating a budget, marketing, structuring your workday, and building long-term client relationships.

The Young Entrepreneur’s Guide to Starting and Running a Business
by Steve Mariotti
Author Steve Mariotti is the founder of the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship, a nonprofit dedicated to helping at-risk youth create small businesses. In this extensive how-to guide, Mr. Mariotti provides a step-by-step pathway for starting your own business, including finding investors, navigating legal requirements, and handling financial statements. The book is written in an easy-to-follow, approachable style, and interspersed with inspirational stories of reeal successful entrepreneurs.

Venture Mom: From Idea to Income in Just 12 Weeks
by Holly Hurd
Entrepreneurship can be a godsend for some new parents – allowing them the freedom and flexibility to stay at home raising a family, while also providing income and professional fulfillment. This book contains a twelve-step plan for starting a new business, as well as inspirational stories from mothers who’ve become successful entrepreneurs.

If any of these books catch your eye, you may place a hold on them through the East Baton Rouge Parish Library website.

Written by Lynnette Lee

Book Review: The Knack

The Knack by Norm Brodsky and Bo Burlingham is a must read for all small business owners and would-be entrepreneurs. Loaded with need-to-know information, this book gives straightforward, invaluable advice and walks its audience through real life situations that can help the astute reader to avoid the most common pitfalls of business development.

CREATING A BUSINESS PLAN

One recurring bit of sage advice was “Business is a means to an end.  Do a life plan before you make your business plan.”   Brodsky advises that you should prepare for a “long-term commitment.”   In doing your first business plan he lists four questions that should be answered as honestly as possible:

  • “What is the concept?”
  • “How are you going to market it?”
  • “How much do you think it will cost to produce and deliver what you’re selling?”
  • “What do you expect will happen when you actually go out and start making sales?”

Creating a good business plan will require a lot of research.  Doing your homework is another major ingredient to success.  Being able to speak passionately and knowledgeably about your business can be powerfully persuasive and completely necessary when explaining your concept to investors or potential clients.

THE KEYS TO SUCCESS

In the “X Factor” chapter, the authors’ advice can be summed up in one word:  Perseverance.  Rome wasn’t built in a day (or even a week), and thus the average entrepreneur can expect to put in several years of focused, dedicated sweat equity before taking a rest. One of the most important messages within this book is the idea of having an inherent ability to not give up when the going gets tough.

Along with perseverance, a successful entrepreneur must have an innate aptitude to sense customers’ needs and the flexibility to adjust accordingly.  Brodsky and Burlingham bring home that point in the chapter “Keeping and Losing Customers,” where they describe a complete failure in public relations and a really good save.

Internal customers are equally important to the success and failure of a business. The authors explain that “Your company’s culture can be your most powerful tool for finding and keeping great employees.”  This is beautifully illustrated in the retelling of Elsa the cat and her missing kittens, as it brings home how important the culture of a business is, and how seemingly unrelated moments can define a company’s culture.

If this sounds like the book for you, you may check it out from the East Baton Rouge Parish Library.

Written by Cynthia Payton

New Career Center Books

This month, the Career Center has gotten in several new titles about effective communication and presentation. You may place a hold on these titles at the East Baton Rouge Library website.

The Power of Presence: Unlock Your Potential to Influence and Engage Others
by Kristi Hedges

“Presence has many descriptions. We may call it confidence, or charisma, or being compelling – but we experience it the same. When we meet someone with a strong presence, we can feel it. And if the person is a leader, we are inspired by it.” Thus begins this book, dedicated to helping its readers develop their own presence. Its chapters contain tools, strategies, exercises, and personal stories from years of corporate experience. These tools are designed to help you improve your ability to connect, communicate, inspire, motivate, and impress.

You Said What?! The Biggest Communication Mistakes Professionals Make
by Kim Zoller and Kerry Preston

Putting your foot in your mouth in a professional setting can be more than simply embarrassing -it can hurt your career. Learn to polish your communication skills with these stories, including specialized sections on small talk, email, social media, communication styles, handling and giving feedback, and the most common blunders.

The Small Talk Handbook: Easy Instructions on How to Make Small Talk in Any Situation
by Melissa Wadsworth

Calling all introverts: this is the career book for you. You probably dread having to make conversation with people. Yet when used appropriately, small talk can be a powerful career tool for making connections, winning over clients, and impressing your superiors. This book contains concrete suggestions in such areas as: recognizing your natural conversation style, making a good first impression, finding icebreaker topics, remembering people’s names, and improving your body language. It covers settings from business meetings and trade shows to networking parties and luncheons.

Manners Boot Camp: Professional Courtesy
by Learning Zone Xpress

This one is not a book, but a DVD. It teaches a lot of the unwritten rules of proper office behavior which a first-time job-seeker may not know. Its topics include etiquette for the job interview, phone, and email, as well as an explanation of why manners are important in a work setting.

Written by Lynnette Lee

New Career Center Books

Are you hoping to start 2018 off on the right foot? Did you make a New Year’s resolution to reinvigorate your job search? The Career Center can help, with these new books full of career advice, job search strategies, and motivational tips.

100 Ways to Motivate Yourself: Change Your Life Forever, Third edition
by Steve Chandler

Everyone has occasional struggles with how to stay motivated. This series contains 100 strategies for getting and staying on track to achieve your goals. The author, a Fortune 500 trainer and consultant, draws on research, the recommendations of professionals, and decades of personal and professional experience to create motivational tips. This new edition is an update on the original best-seller.

Best Job Ever! Rethink Your Career, Redefine Rich, Revolutionize Your Life
by Dr. C.K. Bray

Are you unhappy at work, but unsure why (or what to do about it)? Are you having trouble figuring out how to find the right career and get a job you’ll enjoy? You may benefit from checking out this book, which includes specific tools and personalized methods to identify your dream career, determine how to attain or create the right job for you, and achieve your career goals to get out of your career rut. The author is a Fortune 100 consultant specializing in career development, success, and engagement.

Job U: How to Find Wealth and Success by Developing the Skills Companies Actually Need
by Nicholas Wyman

Having a college degree is no guarantee that you’ll have a job. Sometimes other skills are more important. Despite high college graduation rates, millions of American jobs go unfilled because employers cannot find people with the right skills. This skilled-labor shortage can create a great opportunity for you to gain in-demand skills and build a lucrative career – without having to get a bachelor’s degree. This book provides detailed information on what skills are in highest demand, and what educational options you have for learning those skills. These options include: professional certifications, associate degrees, apprenticeships, and occupational training.

Overcoming Employment Barriers: 127 Great Tips for Burying Red Flags and Finding a Job that’s Right for You
by Dr. Ronald L. Krannich

Many people have “red flags” which make it harder for them to find employment. Some are obvious, like having a disability or a criminal record. Others are a bit subtler, such as having a difficult personality or a lack of commitment. This book addresses hundreds of potential red flags for jobseekers, including self-awareness exercises for recognizing your own red flags, strategies for changing any negative behaviors which may be hurting your chances, and ideas for overcoming the obstacles which are holding you back.

If any of these books catch your eye, you may place a hold on them through the East Baton Rouge Parish Library website.

Written by Lynnette Lee

New Career Center Books

Here are the newest books in the Career Center Library. You may place a hold on any Career Center book through the East Baton Rouge Parish Library website.

This month we have a number of career information books, to help you explore and choose a career.

Careers in Law Enforcement
by Coy H. Johnston

If you have an abiding interest in law and order, you may want to check this out. This book is an in-depth guide to choosing the right law enforcement career. It provides an introduction to a variety of fields of law enforcement, including police, CSI, victim services, corrections, private investigation, security, evidence management, animal control, and more. It also includes sections on self-assessment, determining your career goals, and job search strategies.

Next Gen PhD: A Guide to Career Paths in Science
by Melanie V. Sinche

It used to be very easy for someone with an advanced scientific degree to have a long, stable career in academia. Unfortunately, such is no longer the case – in today’s troubled economy, a mere 14% of science PhDs receive tenure within five years. Many PhDs need to find an alternate career plan. The book aims to help by providing information about the career options available, techniques for matching your interests and values to a career, and job search strategies for making a successful transition.

Success as a Real Estate Agent for Dummies
by Dirk Zeller

So you think you’ve got what it takes to be a successful real estate agent? You can make absolutely certain with the help of this guide. It contains a thorough A-Z strategy for every step of the real estate career, including: positioning yourself for success, selecting a company, generating online leads, open houses, marketing your properties, closing the deal, and keeping clients for life. This book will give any neophyte real estate agent a swift boost towards mastery.

Written by Lynnette Lee

New Career Center Books

Here are the newest books in the Career Center Library. You may place a hold on any Career Center book through the East Baton Rouge Parish Library website here.

If you’re looking to start your own business, you are in luck! We’ve recently received several new titles from the same series: the Start Your Own Business series by Entrepreneur Magazine. Each book in this series tackles a different type of entrepreneurial business. The books walk you through a step-by step process of creating your own business, and includes specialized, industry-specific information on such categories as: performing the day-to-day tasks of the business, creating a business plan, acquiring financing, marketing the business (including creating a website and using social media), and finding helpful resources.

Start Your Own Travel Hosting Business: AirBNB, VRBO, Homeaway, and More
by Jason R. Rich

Start Your Own Event Planning Business
by Cheryl Kimball

 

Start Your Own Information Marketing Business
by Robert Skrob

Start Your Own Personal Training Business
by Cheryl Kimball

Start Your Own Transportation Service: Taxi, Limousine, Rideshare, Trucking, Specialty, or Medical
by Cheryl Kimball

Written by Lynnette Lee

Book Review: Captivate: The Science of Succeeding with People

“Hi, I’m Vanessa, and I’m a recovering awkward person” is the first sentence of Van Edward’s book Captivate: The Science of Succeeding with People. It is aptly dedicated to “anyone who has ever felt awkward in a social situation.” In other words, it’s written for most people. While not everybody will transform into a social butterfly after reading the book, the good news is that there are certain tricks, or hacks as Van Edwards calls them,  that everyone can learn to improve their social interactions.

Since people skills didn’t come naturally to her, Van Edwards decided to study and learn them just like math problems. She became so good at it that she made studying people her business and is now a requested teacher, writer, and speaker on the topic who has been featured on all major TV networks. Van Edwards also created the website Science of People.

She calls her approach human behavior hacking, which her company achieves by rigorous analysis of the latest scientific studies, creating actionable strategies and putting them to the test in her lab. The book is a synopsis of the company’s last eight years of research, which is supposed to illuminate “how people work.” According to Van Edwards there are hidden rules to human behavior that can be decoded and then be used to your advantage. She introduces the reader to 14 techniques or hacks to analyze and improve interpersonal relations. These hacks are worked into three parts of the book:

  1. The first five minutes
  2. The first five hours
  3. The first five days.

The first five minutes

The first part is all about the power of first impressions, how to read them, and how to make a good first  impression oneself. The author explains how social interactions work and what makes people likable. She introduces the first four hacks in this chapter, which give valuable and actionable input on how to best work a room at a social function, start interesting and memorable conversations, and form more lasting relationships.

The first five hours

As the title suggests, this chapter represents the next step in a relationship — taking it from first impressions and introductions to a deeper level. The reader is introduced to techniques for decoding and reading people and how to customize interactions accordingly. A large part of this chapter is dedicated to reading facial microexpressions. Microexpressions and theories behind them are well explained, but being able to decode them quickly in a conversation takes a lot more practice than just reading about them. Van Edwards offers more in depth practice and classes on her website, and readers who want to be able to actually use those decoding skills will have to invest more time and money to carefully study and practice what’s presented in the book.

For Van Edwards, the next step in establishing a lasting productive relationship is to decode peoples’ personalities, your own as well as others’. Her go-to tool for this is the five-factor-model, which she then introduces in detail and explains how it can be used to improve relationships with the people around us. Again, she presents valuable information, but in order to use the tool effectively the reader will have to put in a good bit of practice first.

The last part of this chapter deals with appreciation and value. According to Van Edwards, we will form the most meaningful relationships when we know how the people around us like to be appreciated and what their core values are. Along with the five-factor model, she presents techniques on how to do so. This is very insightful and falls into the category “easy takeaway” because some of the information presented in this part can be directly applied to real life situations.

The first five days

In this final part, Van Edwards wants to teach the reader how to level up their relationships and make them more meaningful. Meaningful relationships are formed around a good connection between people. An important tool for establishing connection is storytelling. Van Edwards proceeds to explain why storytelling is so important to connection and how to do it effectively. Again, this chapter represents an easy takeaway: Real life tips and tools the reader can adapt and use.

From forming connections, Van Edwards moves to empowering and leading people. The leadership “hacks” presented here are widely applicable, beyond people in formal leadership positions. They can be used by everybody and in everyday situations. Another hack to forming connection is to admit vulnerability. Admitting not knowing and asking for advice makes people more likeable according to the author.

Last but not least, Van Edwards presents her research on how to deal with difficult people. She presents tools on how to interact with frustrated and hurt individuals and steer the conversation back to a less emotional level. This part represents another quick takeaway for the reader.

Overall this is an interesting, engaging, and easy-to-read book with a wealth of information about interpersonal relations. After reading the book and using the tools, the reader will be much better equipped to handle interpersonal communication and relationships. However, some of the techniques presented in the book require careful study and practice. While most readers will walk away with good information and a couple of quick takeaways, interested readers can use the materials at Science of People (most of them are online courses available for a fee) to really deepen their understanding of human relationships and take them to the next level.

Written by Anne Nowak.