Monday, April 29, 2013

Work Like a Spy: Business Tips from a Former CIA Officer. J. C. Carleson. Porfolio. 208 pages.

Review by Richard Pachter

You need an angle, an opening, a hook — maybe even a gimmick — to get published and be remembered. In Work Like a Spy, author Carlson leverages the most interesting part of her resume and the result is an clever and enjoyable book.

Will you learn how to work like a spy? Yes and no.

Carlson uses her espionage background to provide various examples of scenarios from the world of cloak and dagger, then explains how an operative would proceed, and provides a parallel situation, with recommended actions in the more mundane world of business.

It's an entertaining and colorful formula, resulting in some breezy and pleasant lessons, especially the parts where Ms. Carlson shares her personal experiences (which were reviewed and approved for publication by her former employer prior to publication).

The question, of course, is whether or not the result adds up to something new and original, or at least a fresh view of the familiar from a different angle.

Not really. Most of what Carlson concludes and recommends involves common sense. If you can't figure out, for example, that you must be extremely careful not to hire a competitor's relative for an important position in your company, you're in big trouble.

And gathering competitive intelligence by listening carefully to disgruntled or harried employees, possibly while consuming an adult beverage or two, is a time-honored tradition, well known to most savvy managers.

Still, if you'd like some clues about intelligence gathering in business — and doing it legally, as Carlson repeatedly admonishes — it's here, undercover.


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