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The Bigs    by Ben Carpenter order for
by Ben Carpenter
Order:  USA  Can
John Wiley & Sons, 2014 (2014)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

If you are a recent graduate or have children (as I do) ready to embark on new careers and independent lives, you'll find Ben Carpenter's The Bigs: The Secrets Nobody Tells Students and Young Professionals About How to Find a Great Job, Do a Great Job, Be a Leader, Start a Business, Stay Out of Trouble, and Live A Happy Life intriguing, insightful and wise.

In his Introduction, Ben Carpenter tells us that The Bigs is all of: a memoir, a how-to book, a self-help book, and a collection of 'war stories from the front lines of commerce.' The book is in two parts - How to Survive, Thrive, and Have Fun in the Big Leagues, and How to Choose, Get, and Do a Great Job. Each chapter ends with some sort of summary of final thoughts on its subject.

Part 1 topics range from Managing a Corporate Career to Living a Happy Life (IMHO, one of the most important chapters of the book). Entrepeneurship, leadership and staying out of trouble are addressed in between. What kind of advice is in here? Re. entrepeneurship, he advises you to ask the 'What's your edge?' question, and emphasizes that 'You will never again have as much energy, and quite possibly creativity, as you have in your 20s and 30s' - take advantage of it. The comments on leadership reminded me of Rudyard Kipling's If poem. And Staying Out of Trouble is worth reading - and Carpenter's Golden Rule worth remembering - for anyone in the working world.

In Part 2, re. career choice, the author suggests giving more weight to what you do well than to the typical guidance to follow your passion. Step-by-step advice on getting a job is specific and relevant, including how to use social networking, what to say (and not to say) in interviews, and the value of following up with thank you emails.

I recommend The Bigs as the perfect gift for the graduate embarking on a new phase of life. I've already given copies to my own sons. And it would be just as relevant for a young professional in career midstream. An excellent book.

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