Monday, November 29, 2004

Book Review: The Experts' Guide to 100 things everyone should know how to do

Whew, what a title! And, surprisingly, it lives up to it.

The Expert's Guide is a fantastic concept. It's like the finishing schools they used to send future aristocrats to, only small and blue. And it's the clever concept that's almost as gratifying as the good advice inside.

It's not comprehensive advice, just a few pages for each subject, but it's surprising how much you can glean. For instance:

  • How to give bad news
  • How to make a bed
  • How to shovel snow
  • How to wash your hands (what the?)
There's even a section on kissing. It's good to know I've been doing it right! ;)

Why mention this book in a leadership blog? Because why are these people experts? Why is it somehow reassuring to read about how to shake hands from Jackie Onassis' former secretary?

It's all about social proof. We live in perhaps the most individualistic society ever (generalising here, but I'd say all of us, American, Canadian, Danish and New Zealander share this) yet it really matters what "they" think and say.

And that's not a bad thing; not at all. Peer pressure can be positive. It can be neutral. Of course it can be bad, but it can be very helpful. Thankfully, in our society, we have the option to disagree.

The Experts' Guide to 100 things everyone should know how to do is written by Samantha Ettus and published by Allen & Unwin.


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