Issue No. 333 of Your Weekly Staff Meeting highlights—just in time for Thanksgiving for my U.S. readers—a laugh-out-loud little book on “little victories” by the very funny sports columnist of The Wall Street Journal. And this reminder: subscribe here for Drucker Mondays, as 52 guest writers share their favorite quotes and commentary from the book, A Year With Peter Drucker.
Rules for Flawed Folks
Oh, my. After convulsing through chapter two of the funniest book I’ve read all year, maybe in the 21st century, I approached a fork-in-the-road moment. Should I stop reading…or plow further?
What if…the humor is downhill in chapter three? What if I got sucked into the hype...and wasted good book money I could have invested on eggnog lattes?
Or...I could press ahead. If chapter three is even remotely funny, I could graciously give the author a break. No one bats 1,000. But what about chapters 4, 5, 6, 7, and my sky high expectations inflated by 1 and 2?
Good news! And just in time for your Christmas gift-giving. Little Victories: Perfect Rules for Imperfect Living, by Jason Gay, sports columnist at The Wall Street Journal, exceeded my expectations. And they were sky high—because the author is the brains behind the annual “Journal’s Rules for Thanksgiving Family Touch Football” and other lists.
The author explains the big idea of Little Victories: “The advice in this book is both practical and ridiculous. It is neither perfect nor universal. A few years back I began writing advice ‘Rules’ columns for The Wall Street Journal—Rules of Thanksgiving Family Touch Football, Rules of the Gym, Rules of the Office Holiday Party.”
(Click here to read his fifth edition—hilarious—“33 More Rules for Thanksgiving Touch Football.")
“The idea was to make a little fun of the Cult of Advice, the absurd surety of know-it-all experts and, of course, our blossoming era of inane Internet lists (29 WAYS TO WATCH A SUNSET WITH YOUR PONY!).”
Jason Gay adds, “Ours is a culture that is always telling people what to do, but what do we really know? We’re all still learning. Everyone’s flawed. Everybody drops their ice cream on the floor, hopes nobody saw it, picks it up, and eats it. Please tell me that’s not just me.”
Really—I’ll just spoil every page for you if I keep going here. But let me tempt you with his treatise on what the book is and is not.
“This is a rule book. There have been rule books before—stacks upon stacks of them—but this book is unlike any other rule book you have ever read." [Editor’s note: He’s right! I’ve reviewed several rule books: click here and here and here.]
“It will not make you rich in twenty-four hours, or even seventy-two hours. It will not cause you to lose eighty pounds in a week. This book has no abdominal exercises. I have been doing abdominal exercises for most of my adult life, and my abdomen looks like it’s always looked. It looks like flan. Syrupy flan. So we can just limit those expectations.
“This book does not offer a crash diet or a plan for maximizing your best self. I don’t know a thing about your best self. It may be embarrassing. Your best self might be sprinkling M&M’s onto rest-stop pizza as we speak.
“This book is not a four-hour career plan or a four-hour workout or four-hour anything. I appreciate a good hustle, but there are only two things in life that take four hours: the drive between Philadelphia and Syracuse, and baking and eating two entire trays of brownies by yourself.”
To my readers who are leaders and managers, read his chapter on “Office Heavens, Office Hells” first—especially the dimwit supervisor that couldn’t fire anyone and how the dimwit management proposed a solution. Hilarious.
In “Nobody’s Cool, Especially Me,” you’ll appreciate this: “You have taken your family to the vacation destination ranked as the number-one cool vacation off the beaten trail, only to learn that the beaten trail is lying on the pool chair next to you, talking loudly into a cell phone. There is no misery quite like a gathering of people who believe they are the special ones, doing the coolest things imaginable. This explains the Hamptons and much of Los Angeles.”
In “Travel and Snack Packs,” you’ll want to buy stock in Gay’s new venture. “One day I will launch my own airline called Air Uptight & Organized, which will come with an advance screening of all fliers on their packing ability. It’s a billion-dollar idea. There will be a test. You will need to be able to enter and exit a plane in less than three minutes.”
Do you work at home so you’ll be less distracted and more productive? “This is not to say there aren’t plenty of distractions you can find working at home. Raise your hand if you spent an hour this week lying on the living room carpet taking close-up black-and-whites of the cat. Just me?”
“Your Phone Is Not You” is good filler for any sermon. In his color commentary on how technology is making us very, very lazy. “At the moment New York is awash in smartphone apps that promise alternatives to hailing a taxi. Hailing a taxi! We are not talking about building a log cabin in the backyard. We’re talking about walking outside onto any avenue and raising your arm.”
Oh, my. Wisdom and hilarity ooze. You must buy this gem—and you must (you must) read lots of little victories out loud to family and friends. In fact, if you can read this entire book without guffaws erupting, laugh-out-loud snorts, and numerous “Listen to this one!” tear-filled recitations, I will send you a Starbucks card.
Warning. It’s not all fun and games. It’s poignant and frequently powerful. I can hardly wait for Little Victories 2.
To order from Amazon, click on the graphic for Little Victories: Perfect Rules for Imperfect Living, by Jason Gay.
Your Weekly Staff Meeting Questions:
1) The author says the best job in a restaurant is dishwasher. “You’re in the engine room. You’re essential. The chef can flip his lid and walk out the door and the kitchen will figure out a way to cover, but the dishwasher is the glue. Everyone’s nice to you; the chef makes sure you get fed. There are loads of prima donnas in restaurants, but there’s never been a prima donna dishwasher.” So…what’s the most essential job at your shop?
2) Quick! Before you sit down to your Thanksgiving meal today, read “Aunt Genie Says Mind Your Manners.” Jason Gay writes, “I find Genie’s house to be one of the most relaxing places on earth.” He adds, “…good manners aren’t an inconvenience—they’re a relief, a survival strategy. The daily routine gets easier, less confrontational.” What etiquette practice would enrich life in your home or office?
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As we cycle through the 20 buckets, here is an insight from Chapter 5, The Book Bucket, in Mastering the Management Buckets:
Mentor your team members with niche books. Leverage their strengths with thoughtfully selected books and chapters. Books make great Christmas gifts!
For a master list of books, categorized within the 20 management buckets, visit the Book Bucket webpage.
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