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!


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