CBJ book review: Emotional Intelligence 2.0

Emotional Intelligence 2.0
Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves
TalentSmart, 255 p., $19.95

Anyone with a copy of Gallup’s Strengthsfinder 2.0 on the shelf probably did a doubletake when they saw the cover of Emotional Intelligence 2.0. Save for a shift from red to orange and an additional stripe, the covers are nearly identical.

That’s likely intentional. Those looking to tap into core talents can take the Strengthsfinder test online, then read about who to put those strengths to work. The folks behind Emotional Intelligence 2.0 offer a similar tool, but in this case, it is to measure how well you react emotionally to situations.

In both cases, the book (and accompanying online component) promise to help the reader identify aspects of their personality that are often difficult to self-detect. And, once identified, they promise to help you maximize those aspects to achieve success.

“Emotional awareness and understanding are not taught in school,” the authors write. “We enter the workforce knowing how to read, write and report on bodies of knowledge, but too often, we lack the skills to manage or emotions in the heat of the challenging problems that we face.”

They go on to claim that emotional intelligence accounts for 58 percent of performance in all types of jobs, and is the single biggest predictor of performance in the workplace.

Emotional intelligence is made up of four skills: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management. The authors take up several pages explaining what each of these is and how they affect your decision making and work habits.

The bulk of the book, however, is given over to strategies to improve your emotional intelligence in each of these four areas. After taking the online assessment (each book comes with a code that allows you to access the site), you can look for ways to address shortcomings.

Even if you don’t take the assessment, the book has valuable advice that can guide you through a process of self- improvement. For example, the section on self-awareness includes tips like “stop and ask yourself why you do the things you do” and “get to know yourself under stress.”

For those with low self-awareness scores, following such advice can help to boost those figures.

Beyond that, the book offers some brief information about emotional intelligence that helps to put the idea in perspective. It’s an interesting, helpful little book that, like Strengthsfinder 2.0, can help you on the path to self-discovery.

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CBJ Book Review: Ignore Everybody

This originally ran in the May 18-24, 2009 issue of the Corridor Business Journal.

Ignore Everybody

Hugh MacLeod

Portfolio, 159 p., $23.95

Having read Hugh MacLeod’s wildly successful blog, Gaping Void (www.gapingvoid.com), for the past four years, I feared that a whole book of his musings would be a bit too much.

That’s not a slight, necessarily. When you’re used to reading bite-sized nuggets from someone with an outsized personality like Mr. MacLeod, the prospect of 159 pages of the stuff is daunting.

I needn’t have worried, for Ignore Everybody was transforming. Where Mr. MacLeod’s blog posts offer the occasional burst of insight and inspiration, a book full of such thoughts was truly moving. I can safely say that this was the first business book I’ve been compelled to read in one day, and the first that made me actually feel like doing something immediately afterward.

Mr. MacLeod was a New York marketer with a cartooning background who started drawing cartoons on the backs of business cards while killing time in bars. He scanned these, uploaded them to the web and then wrote blog posts about marketing and cartooning to run with them. Today 1.5 million people monthly visit his blog, and screen prints of his cartoons sell for hundreds of dollars.

That in and of itself would be worth a book, and while Mr. MacLeod does share much about his own odd career path, he really focuses on his thoughts about creativity. He shares 40 such insights here, from “ignore everybody” to “none of this is rocket science.” In between, on pages liberally sprinkled with his funny, bawdy and incisive cartoons, he offers something that reads like a mash up of affirmation, advice and inspiration.

This may sound slight, and anyone paging through this in a bookstore would be hard pressed to argue otherwise. But it does what it sets out to do. Mr. MacLeod makes his point (“Ignore everybody”), amplifies it (“The more original your idea is, the less good advice other people will be able to give you.”) and then expounds on it for a page or two.

Each point is poignant enough, but it is the aggregation of all 40 points that drives home the key point: indulge your creative self, but don’t put so much pressure on yourself to make it your be-all end-all that you quash the energy that made that creative outlet so rewarding in the first place.

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