Book to read for generations from any letter of the alphabet: Brazen Careerist

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brazenbook_frontAwhile back, I took off my earrings, smeared vaseline under my eyes and challenged my smart blogging counterpart Penelope Truck to a virtual smackdown over a blog post.  I got interesting responses from my readers, and she was very civilized in her reply, much to her character and credit.

I promised to write a review of her book Brazen Careerist:  The New Rules for Success which I have been enjoying in short bursts over the last month and a half or so (I catch up on my reading late at night in  the bathtub … which means it takes awhile to get through a whole book, especially if I fall asleep while reading it, getting it wet, then having to dry the pages).

This book is written as the antidote to tired, old-school career “experts” like me who keep hammering the same advice over and over to the new generation of 20 and 30-something workers.  As Penelope says, “the rules to success have changed.”

I think it is the aim of each new generation to provoke and challenge the next.  I catch my breath when I find myself saying things like “When I was their age, I had already been working for 6 years!” or “You really need to pay your dues before you ask for so many perks.”  As much as we try to act “sick,” “phat” and “tight” to prevent ourselves from appearing old and boring, we will have different opinions on work and life than the generations that proceed us.

Penelope organized her book in two parts: Part 1 “Relish the Path from Starter Job to Dream Job” and Part 2 “How to Get What You Want from the People You Work With.”  Within each section are a number of new “rules” that guide and shape new workplace behavior.

There are many rules which I clearly embrace and endorse, like:

  • #3:  Grad school will not save you
  • #18 If you are a mess at home, it shows at work
  • #21 When you are mudslinging, you are losing ground

There are others which give me pause, and some which I outright disagree with:

  • #28 Use harassment to boost your career
  • #33 There are no bad bosses, only whiny employees
  • #36 Differentiate yourself by staring at the wall (undecided on this one, really)

I got the greatest chuckle from Rule #35, “How to Manage a Boomer Boss.”  Excerpts:

“Managing up will not be easy.  You’re dealing with someone so different from you that he sits through PowerPoint presentations about emoticons.”

“When a baby boomer says ‘Do you realize how many years of experience I have?’ the baby boomer means, ‘Do you realize how long I have paid my dues?  Why do you think you are entitled to challenging, interesting work immediately?'”

If you see nothing wrong with the last statement, it would benefit you to pick up and read this book. The more we understand each generation’s perspective on work, the more likely we will all have a better work experience.

Feel free to virulently disagree, as do many Yahoo Finance readers who pick apart Penelope’s posts on a regular basis.  I find it a fascinating example of generational differences at war.  And you know who always loses?  The generation who fails to adapt.

Great reviews of the book have been written by Bob Sutton, Guy Kawasaki (with a follow up post, based on popular demand) and Ramit Sethi (who writes for a 20-something crowd, so check out his 71 comments on the post, and compare them to Guy’s).

As a slight aside, for those of you interested in parlaying a blog to a book as Penelope did should check out her post on the topic: “How to get a six figure book deal from your blog.”  It has really great insight, which I scribbled furiously in my notes since I am attempting a similar thing.

It is great to watch Penelope develop and grow her platform, both through her very informative blog, and now recent syndication on Huffington Post.  If you measure the “new rules of success” by results, clearly Penelope knows what she is talking about.

Filed Under: Book Review

7 Responses to “Book to read for generations from any letter of the alphabet: Brazen Careerist”

  1. gaydome says:

    Prisons treat, don’t treat prisoners too well

  2. liveprivates says:

    Pretty much nothing seems worth doing. I’ve just been letting everything happen without me these days. I’ve just been sitting around waiting for something to happen, but whatever.

  3. Pretty much nothing notable happening. My mind is like a complete blank. I’ve just been hanging out waiting for something to happen. Not much on my mind to speak of. I just don’t have anything to say. That’s how it is.

  4. Interviewed at the coffee house

    I was interviewed and now I am being photographed for a story in the Arizona Republic about people who work at Coffee Houses. I was at the Soma Cafe in Phoenix. Pam Slim made the connection with me and the…

  5. rick gregory says:

    I don’t think it’s a matter of paying dues… after close to 20 years, 5 companies and some consulting I’ve seen similar problems come up in different contexts and how they’ve been handled differently. That experience lets me make generally better judgements faster. Now, this is a double-edged sword – I’m going to tend to see an issue, know how i’ve dealt with it in the past and how that worked, and jump to that solution again. A younger person can’t do that, but they might jump to a solution that I would not come up with.

    However, it’s amusing to see 20-somethings feel entitled to something. No one is entitled to anything – you’re good? Prove it. The fact that you grew up in the era of email, IM and social networks isn’t impressive – what you can do is. Put forth your ideas – don’t be shy. But be prepared to back them up and realize that the idea that’s new to you might be something I’ve seen a dozen times… and seen fail.

    For my contemporaries, stay out of “that’s not the way we do it” or “your idea is bad because you’re young” mode. Ask yourself what you’d do if that idea came from someone with your experience.

  6. MuchTooLonginPR says:

    As a 40-something PR person, I’ve worked with a lot of the younger generation. I try to take them on a case-by-case basis. They all want the world immediately without paying dues. Some are brilliant and deserve it – working with others, however, is like cleaning up after the elephant in a parade. Since the Boomer generation had to pay their dues to work their way up the ranks, it is a bummer sometimes to see a 20-something walking around with a VP title, but I also remember feeling “justified” myself when I was in my 20s and working with 40-somethings at a large computer company. Some things never change, really.

  7. David says:


    You have an awesome blog and I always enjoy reading it.

    I purchased the Brazen Careerist recently after reading about it on Guy’s blog. I also read the Yahoo Finance daily and see the storms Penelope weathers on some of her columns.

    I have enjoyed the book but also must agree with you on on Rule #35. How would that rule work in a large law firm where the associates get pounded with large document reviews and other numbing work for years while they pay their dues to make partner?

    The rule applies far better in some environments than others. This applies to most of the rules in the book.

    I also think Rule #33, There are no bad bosses is out of synch with the rest of the book. There are bad bosses and often the best option is to invest time in becoming an entrepreneur or to move on to another job that will provide more opportunity and expand your network.

    I did find The Brazen Careerist an interesting read and give Penelope credit for writing a book that challenges the old school career experts.