Friday, October 14, 2016

Booknote: 100 Tricks to Appear Smart in Meetings

Sarah Cooper, 100 Tricks to Appear Smart in Meetings.  Kansas City, MO: Andrews McMeel, 2016. ISBN: 9781449476052.

Genre: nonfiction
Subgenre: humor, office politics, business
Format: e-book galley
Source: NetGalley

On the one hand the book can be amusing for some of its at times ridiculous suggestions. On the other hand, the book can be quite depressing when you notice it captures the reality of meetings pretty well. It is a case of "it's funny because it is true" though the book is not really funny. It is amusing at times, very accurate at other times, but it does not rise to funny. It's just enough to give you a smile here or there.

Like many of these light books, this one started out on the Internet as one of those listicles you see often. The book came from the author's listicle of "10 Tricks to Appear Smart at Meetings," which is supposedly a viral sensation with millions of views and shares, though apparently no one saw fit to share it with me before. I suppose I could goggle the list, but I already read the book. It's a book that I get the feeling draws from other listicles and humor out there as I get a it of deja vu reading it. I am not saying the author outright plagiarized, but she is likely drawing from a communal well at least For instance, I'd say Scott Adams' Dilbert has presented some of these "tricks" over the years. By the way, this book is in fact published by Dilbert's publisher.

The book is arranged in three parts. setting the stage, core conversation, and next steps. The tricks are then presented under each part. The book is illustrated to provide some visual elements.

In the end the book was OK; I did not think it was a big deal. As an academic librarian, a lot of my workdays are devoted to meetings that could have been e-mails. So there are some things in the book I could relate to now and then. I still would not go so far as calling it funny.

2 out of 5 stars. 

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Additional reading notes:

What you could get out of this book according to the author:

"By learning, internalizing, and actionizing all of the strategies here, you'll be on your way to becoming a major player at your company without ever knowing what that means" (vii). 

The thing is I have already seen some of those "major" players, including a few in my profession who are "major" players (or pretend to be "major" players), and it can be scary often due to their incompetence, stupidity, arrogance, or all of the above.

This next point is sad but oh so true:

"No one pays attention at meetings. So, to get ahead, you need to not pay attention better than everyone else. The fact is meetings are one of the few opportunities you have to show leadership potential, soft skills, and analytical creative thinking abilities" (viii, emphasis in the original). 

Trick #26 is "Take the call using some 'cutting-edge' technology." This trick is dedicated to all those bushy eyed technolust freaks who just feel a need to show off their Apple watch or whatever gizmo they overpaid for in a pathetic attempt to show status. You know the types, and yes, librarianship has its good share of those.  

Library directors are often particularly fond of regularly scheduled time suckers with various names.. If you are a librarian, you may recognize these, especially in academia:

"Whether it's called a stand-up, status meeting, or all-hands, these time suckers are those inescapable daily, biweekly, weekly, monthly, quarterly, or yearly requirements that never, ever go away, long after everyone's started wondering why it's still on the calendars" (58). 

Trick #74 is "Don't wear your nametag." This applies to events; it's  usually some self-important dick who thinks his belief of people should just talk makes him a maverick. Actually, it just makes him a rude, obnoxious prick others ignore. Come on. Everyone by now knows you assess ranking, social standing, and pedigree by nametag.

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This book qualifies for these 2016 Reading Challenges:

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