Friday, March 4, 2011

Book Review: More Secrets of Consulting

So I will have to confess, this is going a little bit out of order. One would expect that I would read "The Secrets of Consulting" and then read "More Secrets of Consulting" after-wards. I'm actually doing it in reverse order. There are a few reasons for that, the first being the fact that I hadn't gotten to reading the first one yet (it's in my queue and I already paid for the book, so It's on my flash drive with all of the other PDF books I'm working though). No, the biggest reason why I'm doing "More Secrets of Consulting" before "Secrets" is that I was asked if I would. Specifically, Jerry offered me a free copy of the E-Book if I'd read it and post a review. How can you turn down an offer like that (answer: me personally, I don't :) )?

Early on, Jerry goes into a description of some of his most famous laws, specifically the law of Raspberry and Strawberry Jam, and then put's a new one in, the Law of Grape Jelly. His point is that while the raspberry jam and the grape jelly can be spread forever to the point where they lose their taste (and with the opinion that Grape Jelly never had much taste to begin with) Strawberry Jam is stubbornly un-spreadable. Chunks remain and will not break down and spread. His point in More Secrets of Consulting is that the chunks are the human element, the actual people that do the work and give the message. It's the humanity of the message, and thus, More Secrets of Consulting was geared towards providing that humanity and liking consultants to become more "Strawberry like". Yes, I just made that comparison, Jerry makes them a lot. If you can't tolerate a bit of hokey, this book is going to irritate you. If you can tolerate a little hokey and actually find it endearing, I think you'll love this book :).

There are various tools that are discussed in each chapter, and how Jerry uses those tools to help him become more effective in the role he plays as a consultant. This is valuable information to everyone in the job market today, and who will ever be in the job market. At the end of the day, most of us are consultants in one way or another. We provide a certain level of skill and expertise to help solve a variety of problems. Thus, if you think that you are not the target audience for this book, guess again!

There are various metaphors and objects used throughout the book, including "The Wisdom Box", "The Golden Key", "The Golden Lock", "The Yes/No Medallion", "The Wishing Wand", "The Telescope", The Fish Eye Lens", "The Oxygen Mask" and other items that are supported throughout the text as tools that a consultant needs. Ultimately, what you will discover as you read this book is that the tools to use are an exceptionally well tuned common sense, a focus on street smarts, a little bit of technical knowledge, and a whole lot of discernment.

Also, there really aren't any Secrets. There is a lot of planning, hard work, moral fiber, and guiding principles that need to be reviewed and applied regularly. Again, don't be fooled, you do not need to be a consultant to find value in this book. All of these tools are vital for anyone to have in their work-a-day tool chest. Notice, each and every tool is an internal attribute. Much like Steven Covey's guiding philosophy, Jerry looks at the internal character of the individual as the guiding and telling component. All of the tools described help to support that focus, that of helping to develop and build the inner character of the individual. there are no slick techniques presented here, no formulaic negotiation tactics. there is a lot of focus on personal preparation and integrity.

More Secrets owes a debt to who Weinberg feels deserves much of the credit for many of the ideas, Virginia Satir. Her names is mentioned often in many of the chapters, and many quotes are attributed directly to her. There are also many other quotes and memorable passes associated with other authors and individuals. Some memorable ones that ring through the text:

  • The Mercenary Maxim: "One of the best ways to lose lots of money is to do something only for the money."
  • Dani's Decider: "When you stop learning new things, it's time to move on."

  • The Detective's Fourth Rule: "If you can't understand where the questions are coming from, they're probably coming from an agenda someone doesn't want you to know about."

  • The Parallel Paradox: "If you're too much like your clients, you don't attract them; if you're too different, you frighten them away."

Bottom Line:

The Original Secrets of Consulting is high on my list of titles to read, especially now that I've read "More Secrets" before I read the main book. In the Introduction, Jerry says that it is not required that the reader have gone through "Secrets of…" to be able to receive profitably the message inside of "More Secrets…". I've found much to ponder and find interesting in this book. Some may say that there is a bit of a self-promotion aspect to the book, and hey, why should that come as a surprise to anyone? It's Jerry's work and ideas, and hey, as a consultant himself, of course he's going to hawk his own ideas from time to time. Still, even with all of that, "More Secrets of Consulting" is a gem of a book, and remarkably quick reading (my Smashwords copy comes to 165 pages). Needless to say, a single read through will not impart all the wisdom and experience of this book, but there's much to ponder, and it's my hope I'll be able to put much of this in practice in my most recent venture. Perhaps a year from now, I'll be able to come back and see how well I did :).


Phil said...

I've got Secrets of Consulting, read it several times - guess I'm going to have to add More Secrets now after reading the review
I'm gonna have to stop reading our reviews as every time I do I end up with a bigger book pile

Michael Larsen said...

@Phil, haha I know the feeling :). I have several books that are threatening to smother me at the momenbt, so I'm actually going on a moratorium of new titles until I can get the ones I already have finished and reviewed. Actually, now that I've covered More Secrets, I'm going to read the original Secrets of Consulting so i can see what pre-shadowed this one.