Let me tell you about my holiday reading. I had two books vying for my attention during Easter, they were very different in style, and I found myself reading them both at once, (no, not at the same time. You know what I mean) which turned out to be a really interesting experience.
I’ve met both authors once. Emma-Sue Prince is Director of Unimenta, an organisation I am proud to belong to. Steve Abel is an entrepreneur, and founder of P4D, a successful, innovative company in my own town. I use P4D when I need to send out books in bulk.
Let me give you a quick overview of both books. Emma-Sue’s book is The Advantage: the 7 soft skills you need to stay on step ahead
The seven soft skills Emma-Sue discusses are adaptability, critical thinking, empathy, integrity, optimism, being proactive and resilience. I’ve seen a lot of text describing how the world is changing and the impact it is having on how we function, but I’ve never before come across such a well reasoned, convincing explanation of how we need operate in the world we live in to succeed. Emma-Sue is a force to be reckoned with; she not only backs up her thoughts with excellent references, she also explains how we can develop these skills, using case studies and a step-by-step approach.
Talking of success:
Steve’s book is Big Fish Little Fish: How to start small to build a £million business that will run without you This is Steve’s story, from being a teenager reselling porn mags at school, through running several businesses; each one shows how he has always noticed opportunities and followed through. His most recent business is P4D, where he has pretty much put himself out of work – but still with a salary. Neat. If you read Big Fish Little Fish, you’ll feel you know Steve – it isn’t so much written as Steve’s normal colloquial spoken style put onto paper.
You can see where this is going, can’t you? Steve pretty much epitomises many of the skills and attributes that Emma-Sue upholds. On several occasions, I would pick up the other book, to find they were both talking about the same topic, in very different ways. The best analogy I can think of is a good documentary. You may be listening to the reassuring, compelling tones of David Attenborough imparting knowledge and wisdom (in our story, that’s Emma-Sue) while the screen is a riot of colour and action as lions and tigers hurtle round the jungle, demonstrating what is going on (Um, that’s you Steve!)
Usually, Emma-Sue and Steve sing from the same song sheet, but occasionally they don’t. I could sense Emma-Sue’s disapproval when Steve advocates that entrepreneurs need to work all hours God sends to achieve, while Emma-Sue stresses the importance of work life balance. Steve has the passion and drive to follow through at any cost – and yes, he learnt the hard way – while Emma-Sue identifies the potential breaking points and gives sound advice on how to change thought patterns and behaviour. They do, thankfully, both concede that maintaining our health is important.
Emma-Sue shows us how to ride the waves; meanwhile Steve has already jumped in the water, splashed around, and worked it out for himself. Steve does, in his own style, explain what he has learnt. He talks about goal setting, commitment, emotional intelligence, being self motivated and thinking yourself stronger, using NLP techniques like anchoring and getting into a positive state. I’m sure Emma-Sue would commend him for taking these on board and telling us how they have contributed to his success. For Steve, the proof is evident. I’m probably doing Emma-Sue a disservice here. I’m making her sound like a wise old sage – Master Po to Steve’s Grasshopper – which isn’t an entirely accurate portrayal. She does talk about her own life and the challenges she has faced; disrupted schooling, being a single parent and a mature student.
I wished I’d used a highlighter while reading The Advantage – there were so many rich quotes I will want to use, so much underpinning knowledge I can use in my own training business. Steve’s stories stick in the mind too, I found myself quoting a couple while discussing business issues with friends. Emma-Sue uses excellent ‘before and after’ case studies’ in each chapter. I had the benefit of Steve’s boundless energy and adventures to add a great fat, very real case study.
I could go on….You might, by now, have decided which of the two you should read. If you’ve chosen just one…I’d say that’s not a good decision!
By Julie Cooper
Author of Face to Face in the Workplace
“If you deal with people you need this book” Buy your copy here