Review: SHINE

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Shine: How to Survive and Thrive at Work by Chris Barez-Brown

Review by Richard Pachter

You CAN judge a book by its cover.

I own lots of books. More arrive daily by mail, UPS, FedEx et al. I also love bookstores and libraries. (Yes, I still go to my excellent local public library and even check books out!)
Most of the books I get are advance readers’ copies (ARCs). Plainly bound copies meant for reviewers and retailers (though those sample copies are a vanishing breed, supplanted by pdfs and other digital formats.) I also receive finished books but less these days than previously.
So when I received SHINE by Chris Baréz-Brown, it immediately popped.

Here was a book that’s nicely designed: user-friendly, easy to read: pleasant typeface and clean layout. Very inviting!
I skimmed it a bit and quickly decided that I wanted to read and share it with the Biz Books Club.
And here we are.
The sub-subtitle, “Upping your Elvis,” the author explains, comes from the question U2 front man Bono asks when he enters a roomful of activists who want his participation: “Who’s Elvis here?”
He’s seeking the one person in the place who posses irresistible charisma, the group’s singular go-to guy (or gal).
It’s a good question. There’s usually someone who’s the center of gravity in every organization— and it’s not necessarily the one who is nominally “in charge.”
I’ve never met the author, but it’s implicit that he’s pretty Elvis-y himself.
He’d better be! If he’s a boring stick in the mud, he’d be way out of bounds in writing this book and offer the advice contained herein.
Advice? Yeah, that’s the crux of this book. It’s an advice-and-affirmation text that can be summed up like this: “Be yourself — BUT BETTER!”
So he encourages the reader to dress comfortably — no ties, if you hate ‘em. Dress casually or formally, if that’s your thing. What-evuh!

Be nice; open to change; resourceful; aggressive; but go with the flow...etc.
The short chapters (really just brief raps and rants) are fun and upbeat. Some of the stuff may not resonate with you and some will. You’re free to pick and choose since Baréz-Brown knows that one size fits all is nonsense and unworkable.

But most of the things he discusses are either commonsensical and obvious or kind of miniature licenses to “go for it” and let your freak flag fly by being a bit flamboyant and out there, while still taking the high road and doing the right thing for yourself and others. It’s a virtual pep talk of positivity.
Now, one wonders if any of this stuff is grounded in science and empirical wisdom.
Well, it is, to a great extent. Your attitude determines your luck!
And if you want to be successful, luck — or whatever you want to call it — is essential.
“Upping your Elvis,” indeed!


Club Reviews: SHINE

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Shine: How to Survive and Thrive at Work by Chris Barez-Brown

SHINE: How to survive and thrive at work – upping your “Elvis factor”!  is an attractively packaged book… it’s small enough to fit into a briefcase or purse, with small excerpts on being the best you can be at work – as well as at home, with personal lives, and any other time you might have. I liked that each excerpt was just a page or two – easy to read, and easy enough to refer back to, if needed.
Barez-Brown has written a book that I’ll be sending to my children. It’s all common sense, so even if you say to yourself that you know what he’s writing, HE is the one who took the time to do so, and sell the product <grin>. If you read the short book, and can come away with just one or two tips to making life better for you, it’s worth the investment of buying the book and reading it. Betty Hubschman Miramar

The book is an easy read however it is a little simplistic in it is approach to daily work challenges. Suggest getting the cliff note version and save time and money. RW Groce, Miami

From the clever, creative cover where even the word SHINE shines to the end of the book, Brown shares his positive perspective and philosophy toward life and all aspects of it including work. Most lf the suggestions he offers are given in a positive format. There are very few do nots.
As he shares his suggestions, he points out ways to encourage a positive attitude toward life for yourself as well as for the treatment of others. His positive writing format makes you want to follow his advice and philosophy. The anecdotes he shares offer proof that his positive perspective works!
Shine is a book that needs to be shared with others. It's also an excellent book to have on hand to refer to and reflect on when you need a boost to remember to use positive attitudes. This book is a Keeper!!!! Margot Byrnes, Miami

I have a soft spot for the "Inspirational Ideas/Motivational Snippets" genre of business books. Such books tend to be extremely easy reads, invariably provoke a number of thoughts that I immediately want to put into action for my own business, and generally make me feel a positive rush about my work. Shine fits the bill perfectly.
While a sales pitch/brochure for author Chris Barez-Brown's company, the book contains many quite basic ideas about attempting to inject positivity into the day-to-day of the working world. Regardless, Shine inspires with a conversational and slightly off-kilter perspective of how we can change work from drudgery to energy. While somewhat "new-agey," Shine does not feel sappy or corny. It is simple, but not simplistic. It promotes the power of positive thinking about the work place. That we can choose to enjoy work; That we can choose to look and do things differently; The new normal is that nothing should be normal; How to take your business and work from good to great.
It won't revolutionize the workplace, but Shine is a positive, funny, frank, rapid-fire read that I thoroughly enjoyed. If, as Barez-Brown wirtes, "screw-ups create energy" then my work is full of energy. Excuse me while I go up my Elvis. Scott Rembold, Coral Gables

While this book aims to teach us how to Shine at work, it adds very litlle to the basic tenets of most self help and support white papers. Being aware and understanding oneself, showing your personal side and even emotional side at work as well as showing interest in others, has been said before and while perhaps positions one and ingratiates one, but is not new. Becoming special and unique not to mention breathing should be practiced by all. Marvin Stein, Coral Springs

I like how Chris broke out the book into several dozen short chapters all encompassing an intriguing topic. He has way too many good tips to list here. I completely agree with his position on company meetings and how many people spend a majority of their careers going from meeting to meeting, really never getting anything done. Make an agenda, stick to it and only allow people into the meeting that can have an impact on the outcome. Speak in pictures, the PowerPoint approach isn't as effective. I enjoyed the example he gave of Ben Rich who was trying to get funding for the F-117 stealth bomber. His initial presentation of charts and figures didn't impress anyone, but when he came back the next time with just one ball bearing...rolled it across the table to the general to illustrate the size of the radar profile these stealth bombers would have; he got funding immediately.  Another point he makes is to "Have Killer Numbers".  Numbers can have a profound impact, "the trick is to find those that are sexy and back up your strategic focus. To really SHINE always carry three good numbers around with you." With that said, I certainly recommend this book! David Mesas

This book was very unusual. I like a lot of what was said in order to Shine in the workplace or your business.  Most of what was said was already known so it was not a surprise to read it. The author makes it work for him that is all I can say. Patricia Garcia, Miami

First things first: Let me begin by saying that on an aesthetic point of view, I love this book. It is the perfect size to carry around… not too big, not too small. And the physical feel of the book is great. It makes you WANT to hold the book in your hands. No doubt, the author took this into consideration when designing the book.
As far as the content, it is filled with golden nuggets of practical, useful information from cover to cover. This is a book that doesn’t necessarily need to be read by starting at the beginning in order to benefit from its wisdom. Instead, it is set up as a reference guide of sorts for you access when wandering how to approach a particular challenge at work. For example, If you’re overwhelmed at work with projects and don’t now exactly where to spend your energy, just pick up this book and look under “Everything is Energy” to provide you with some direction.
The book is set up in a manner to encourage readers to keep it at hands reach.
Although the book appears to have 81 “chapters” they are more like “topics” that are presented in a manner that holds the readers attention with practical and insightful information that can be easily applied to the situation at hand.
Anyone who is truly interested in improving their performance at work should be required to read one topic each day before they even say their first “hello”.
A few of my favorite “chapters” were "Know your north star" followed by "Feedback with Funk".  When things don’t go your way, knowing your true north will guide you in getting through the rough patches so that you can reach your goal.  By the same token, how can you ever expect to learn and improve yourself if you close yourself to the benefits of feedback from your peers, bosses, etc. These, as well as the other topics discussed in this book provide a fresh prospective on how to approach many of the challenges that have plagued man throughout the ages.
Thank You… Thank You very much… The KING has left the building. Alex R. Camacho, Miami

This is one terrific book! I say that because it is full of practical ideas that can help people become stars. But even before that, you will be pleasantly surprised to read some items that you have already put to use. The book, thus, serves too great purposes; it reminds me that I’m already doing some things that have brought me to success, while showing me that I can get it to higher levels. For example, we all know that it is important to break out of an old habit once in a while to keep from getting crusty and dusty. On the other hand it might be a new idea that we associate with people who seem to be carriers of positive energy that flows outward to all of us. The bottom line is that this book full of valuable nuggets is hard to put down once you’ve started reading it. Bob Preziosi, Davie

First impressions are important; my first take on this short book?  "What's not to like about ths book? its so positive". Make yourself over, get rid of the negative in your work situation.  It's your feel-good best friend for openers, at least in the beginning. Take the power of Positive Thinking into the digital age and a "can do" comes through, until we get to a work message of reinvent yourself. I can understand downsize the negatives, but I can't be me? Where did the critical thinking go? I did not think I'd like the short, sweet style for very long: without asking a question - why is so much of our life going to PowerPoint these days?  But its good for a quick pep talk, and it serves the purpose of keeping focused.
For the Human Resources people I say it makes points that help. "Get Back to your Best Core Ideas" but then the skinny book gives the motivational twist that reminds me of Gladwell's Outliers, with a slightly repetitive orientation. I would like to have chapter on integrating your originality into the large organizations that we are not familiar with. Check it out, if that's your thing. Jim Swaner, Miami Shores

I really enjoyed this book. It is a fun read with short sections that are easy to put to use right away. This is a great book to help put the excitement back into getting up and going into work each day. I was able to put several of the topics to use, and turn my daily routine back into an exciting action oriented day. The book also makes your realize that it is about the people at work that makes it all happen, not the processes and procedures of the job. Frank Donn, Miami


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