Review of Schawbel’s Latest Book: Promote Yourself

According to Dan Schawbel, professionals should adopt a steady regiment of self-promotion. I read his second book, Promote Yourself: The New Rules for Career Success, where he basically picks up from where he left of from his previous book Me 2.0. In the book, there is great advice to gain influence and success for all professionals. Some of the themes of the book include: discussion of soft, hard, and online skills; cross generational communication; intrapreneurship and entrepreneurship; and the proper use of self-promotion.

He categorizes skills into soft, hard, and online skills and provides compelling reasons why a professional must develop each type of skill. His arguments make sense in the context of personal branding.

Mr. Schawbel says soft skills often have more influence than hard skills regarding success – something backed up by other sources I have come across. A trending adage is EQ (“emotional intelligence”) is more valuable than IQ (“rational intelligence”). However, I think hard skills have more of an impact on success than Mr. Schawbel gives credit. I know many brilliant computer programmers or economists who lack social skills, but are still very well-respected and accomplished in their fields. When I hire a computer programmer, in most cases I choose one who is going to program the best solution. There are many CEOs of startups whose skill sets heavily favor hard skills.

There are three trends influencing the demand for hard skills: a skills gap, globalization, and automation (according to Mr. Schawbel). I think hard skills are extremely important and there is a lot of public discourse regarding how to best introduce and build these skills; in fact, there is a global movement to address shortages of professionals in STEM related fields (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). Therefore, professionals who spend more time developing hard skills in these fields increase their chances of success – soft skills are less of a requirement.

Every professional should have some basic online skills (related to leveraging social media to build an online reputation), but not necessarily to the extent Mr. Schawbel talks about in his chapter on online skills. I think your level of experience with online skills depends heavily on your profession. If your profession demands online interaction, you have insightful things to say, or you are a spokesman for your company, then fine-tune your online skills so you build an online reputaton (in social media and blogging). Otherwise, managing a personal website and LinkedIn connections should suffice.

With a skills-based approach, I make a delineation of skills as transferable (soft and hard skills) or technical (hard skills). This is easier for career planning and development and for a target audience to search for and assess your functional value. Though, altogether, a skill set is comprised of the same skills.

I think Mr. Schawbel’s analysis of collaborating between generations is well-conceived and useful. To illustrate cross generational communication preferences, here is a basic example: my father talks on the phone; I send email; and my nephew utilizes social media. There is a great table in the book where he outlines expectations of different generations. Social media is transforming how people connect and build relationships, and there are stark differences in how generations prefer to communicate.

I believe he coined the term, an intrapreneur: someone who introduces a new project, product, or idea for their current employer.  This suggests becoming proactive and insightful while you work and many companies promote this intrapreneur concept. The most common example is Google that has their famous 80 – 20 rule, where employees can spend 20 percent of their time working on their own project (of course, Google lays claim to the work but gives ample credit to the creator).  I think the underlying theme is the Information Age and technology has transformed the typical requirements of a professional; it is no longer possible to do the same everything every day, instead professionals are required to think and be creative and insightful. (This is also something Seth Godin asserts in his books.)

Overall, I think this book is a great read for all professionals, however as far as following the advice, it depends on your profession; some advice might be relevant, some might not be.

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