Connect First: A book review by Bob Morris

Connect First: 52 Simple Ways to Ignite Success, Meaning, and Joy at Work
Melanie Katzman
McGraw-Hill (October 2019)

Enlightening perspectives on personal growth and professional development

As I began to read this book, I was again reminded of another, The Book, in which Alan Watts observes, “We need a new experience — a new feeling of what it is to be ‘I.’ The lowdown (which is, of course, the secret and profound view) on life is that our normal sensation of self is a hoax, or, at best, a temporary role that we are playing, or have been conned into playing — with our own tacit consent, just as every hypnotized person is basically willing to be hypnotized. The most strongly enforced of all known taboos is the taboo against knowing who or what you really are behind the mask of your apparently separate, independent, and isolated ego.”

Before you can connect with yourself, Watts suggests, you must know — and have the courage to be — who you are, who you really are. Moreover, with all due respect to Oscar Wilde (“Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.”), you must do all you can to become a better person in terms of character and integrity as well as a more successful person in terms of adding value, making a positive impact, in the world in which you live and work.

The subtitle of this book refers to “52 simple ways to ignite success, meaning, and joy at work.” All are simple only to the extent that they can be identified and discussed; several are anything but to implement. For example, “Provide Feedback” (#7), “Challenge Negative Thinking” (#19), and “Dream Audaciously” (#52). Melanie Katzman organizes them in a covey of Parts:

1. Establish Respect
2. Engage All of Your Senses
3. Become Popular
4. Grow Loyalty
5. Resolve Conflict
6. Fight Fear
7. Have a Big Impact

Katzman devotes a separate chapter to each, making skillful use of several reader-friendly devices — notably “This Is for You If,” “Take Action,” and “Keep in Mind” — that serve two separate but interdependent purposes: enable the reader to interact with/apply key points, and, facilitate, indeed expedite frequent review of relevant material later. Readers will also appreciate Katzman’s provision of micro-case studies at the end of each chapter that suggest how to apply the given approach, “simple” or not.

These are the micro-case studies in Part I (Chapters 1-7):

o Melt-Away Bad Impressions
o Smile for Yourself
o “Please” Was More Powerful Than Botox in Pumping Up This Office
o End the Day with a ‘Please’
o To Make Your Deadlines, Offer Thanks Rather Than Pushing Requests
o Maker a Mental Note
o See and Name Everybody
o Don’t Just Give Your Name, Ask for Theirs!
o Olympic Skill
o It’s Not Just Your Questions That Matter
o Cultural Renewal
o Lose the Red Suit
o Don’t Be Afraid of the Detractors
o It’s Not About the Hair

Their titles suggest the playful precision of Melanie Katzman’s mind, one that reminds me of a Swiss Army knife. She addresses dozens of key issues involved with “igniting success, meaning, and joy at work,” and does so with empathy as well as with practicality.


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