quick book review: how to SELF-DESTRUCT

Written by Jason Seiden, this book wins the longest title award. The full title is: how to SELF-DESTRUCT: making the least of what’s left of your career (and what to do if you fail at failing)

The short version: I really enjoyed it. It’s funny, off-beat, and spot on career advice. A quick and useful read.

The longer version: There are a lot of career success books on the market, but this is the only one I’ve seen that makes its point by describing how to completely prevent success. I find this most powerful with the little things that we tend to think of as quirky or not that big of deal. By flipping them around, Jason makes it obvious how damaging they could be.

Three quick examples:

1. On appearance…

Nothing says “No more promotions for me, thank you!” like a pair of khakis and an oxford. The unpressed, only-work-once-since-you-washed-it-last Banana Republic uniform is still the most subtle,  yet effective way to keep yourself off everyone’s “next in line for the presidency” radars.

2. On long job titles…

There is an inverse relationship between the length of someone’s title and her status within the corporate hierarchy. If your job title can be abbreviated into three letters, you’re not failing hard enough. On the other hand, if your title must be abbreviated in order to fit on your business card – and especially if it requires additional explanation before it makes sense to anyone outside your immediate department – kudos to you, you are well on your way to being overlooked by just about everyone.

3. On stalling your forward progress…

“Nothing ventured, nothing gained.” Well, this one’s easy: venture nothing!

Chapter titles include:

Falling Down of Your First Job

Making the Least of Junior Management

Frittering Away a Business Education

Alienating Your Friends & Family

Squandering Your Money.

Just in case you “fail at failing” (that is, you actually want to succeed), Jason also includes the straightforward take on each subject at the end of the chapters (on red pages so you can’t miss it).

How to SELF-DESTRUCT offers a unique perspective and a funny take on a serious subject. This isn’t a new book – it was published in 2008 – but just came across my radar and lept to the top of my “need to read” stack after I spent a few minutes flipping through it. It’s also a quick read, perfect for a two or so hour flight. Enjoyable and practical – a tough combination to beat.

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