Book Review: They Don’t Teach Corporate in College

by Joe Lavelle on May 17, 2009

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corpincollegeMy passion in life is helping others accelerate their career growth and as such I am a voracious reader of blogs and books on the topic of career advancement, Several weeks ago I was lucky enough to win a copy of Alexandra Levit’s updated book, They Don’t Teach Corporate in College on Dan Schawbel’s Personal Branding Blog. In coordination with the release of the updated version of the book, Dan gave away three copies of the book to the three people who posted the best comments for what they wish they had known when they graduated from college. My winning comment is included below.

In fact, I had already purchased They Don’t Teach Corporate in College from because I am an avid follower of Alexandra’s blog and I was very excited to get my hands on the book as soon as it was available. My excitement only grew more and more as I read the cover, the Forward and the Introduction. In the Introduction, Alexandra explains that the book presents “best practices” or the ideal way to be successful in a large number of particular situations that will be presented in your career. As someone who has researched the topic of accelerating career success thoroughly, I can tell you that They Don’t Teach Corporate in College will provide you far more than a listing of career advancement best practices. Each chapter details a “play in the playbook” by first providing the reasoning behind the strategies and then by decomposing the strategies into the knowledge, skills and capabilities that you will need to develop in order to fully implement the strategies successfully. Each chapter concludes with specific Take Home Points so that you do not have to figure out for yourself how to get started implementing each strategy.

It is clear that Alexandra’s book is written from experience as she not only provides theory, she provides very detailed instructions for practical application of the strategies presented. Although targetted at recent college graduates, the book is a must read for people at any stage of their career that interested in accelerating their success. Expect to be challenged. Alexandra presents the strategies that you need to hear versus what you want to hear. For example, in Chapter 6 Check Your Attitude at the Door, she discusses the implications of negativity and provides great insight to help you manage any negative emotions that will inevitably pop up from time to time. For those times that you have not managed your negativity successfully, Alexandra provides an outstanding lesson in damage control.

They Don’t Teach Corporate in College is the playbook for getting you from “Finding Your First Paycheck’ to “You’re the Boss Now”. It is easy to read and should only take you a few hours. However, you are likely wear out your highlighter marking salient and useable points and better yet, you are likely to refer to it often for years to come.

If you are still undecided about going to Amazon to purchase the book, here are a couple more great reviews:

· Book Review from one of my favorite sources on career advancement Mariam Salpeter on Keppie_Careers

· Book Review from THE expert on personal branding Dan Schawbel on The Personal Branding Blog

· Reviews from many career advancement experts on They Don’t Teach Corporate in College’s home page


Best comment wins FREE copy of my final draft!

Best comment also wins FREE copy of my final draft!

I will send my extra copy of They Don’t Teach Corporate in College to the person that leaves the best marketing advice for my soon to be released book Act As If It Were Impossible to Fail. To be eligible you must provide your advice in the comments of this post. Please follow me on Twitter and check out my blog and then provide me with your best marketing advice. I will select the best comment on June 4 and then I will send the book to you. Additionally, I will send the winner the final draft of my book that was sent to the printer last week.

As Always, Act As If It Were Impossible to Fail

Joe Lavelle Follow Me on Twitter

MY WINNING COMMENT on the Personal Branding Blog

April 23, 2009 at 8:42 am

Joe Lavelle says:

What a great idea; thank you for the opportunity to share my opinions!

My Computer Science Engineering degree at the University of Arkansas provided me with exceptional technical knowledge and skills that helped my accelerate my career growth, but I definitely wish I had also been taught more soft skills while still in school. Additionally, I have observed that many people that have worked for me have come up short in soft skills as well.

Here is my list of things that they did not teach me in college:
1) Planning, goal setting, and performance management – I have observed that many people take a reactive approach to performance management. I wish I had learned the following in school versus later.
– Ask my boss specifically what goals I am expected to accomplish and how I will be measured
– Establish and document progress toward goals or plan by month, quarter or year
– Engage with my boss and Human Resources in the performance management process before my boss puts something negative on my review avoiding the anger that made me less effective working the process.

2) Personal Financial Management – Too many people that I have worked with and for me have been in terrible shape financially. Despite making a great income, they still carry tremendous consumer debt and live hand-to-mouth. I believe this makes a person less effective in their job because they are beholden to a paycheck and are not capable of taking stands to do the right things when required. I know too many MBAs in the situation!

3) Business Financial Savvy – I have since learned that mastering ROI accelerated my career tremendously, but there are many people that I have worked with and for that don’t understand what it takes financially to get their product or service in the hands of customers. These people can turn into whiners and victims because they feel the company owes them a job for life even if it does not make sense financially.

4) How to Build and Maintain High Performing Teams – Unless a person wants to be an individual contributor throughout their career, their value will be measured by the effectiveness of their teams. I wish I learned the following about building teams in college:
– One bad apple does spoil the whole bunch. You have to rid the team environment of victims and whiners because the sap productivity. This should be done first by educating the victim about what is important. If that doesn’t work, the victim must be shown the door.
– Creating an maintaining an efficient internal “operating system” is essential. These are the internal processes and procedures by which the team completes the work and defines hand-offs from person to person in detail. He/she who creates or improves dramatically the operating system gets to be boss!
– Fostering team spirit is easy, inexpensive and very valuable.

5) Mastering Storytelling and Empathy – Early in my career people would regularly hear me say something like, “that is the dumbest thing I have ever seen”. I learned by observation that ist was much more effective to “tell a story” to make your point and it was far less insulting. I have thought about creating and teaching a course like this on the web because I feel it is far more important than many “electives” that people are forced to take in college.

Thank you again for the opportunity to share my opinions on this topic about which I am so fond. I have just finished writing my book on this topic with a slightly different spin “Act As If It Were Impossible to Fail: The Employee Handbook That Your Employer Has Not Given You” and I can’t wait to read the new edition!

Joe Lavelle
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