The Chronicle-Herald

Business, Saturday, November 27, 2010, p. C4

These tips not just for new employees Inspire Your Career: Strategies for Success in Your First Years at Work by Patricia Barbato (Insomniac Press, 2010, $19.95)

Kaye Parker
Yet another easy-to-read book by a Canadian author with an inspiring message. Maybe it is just the time of year, but I find myself drawn to books that won't take too long to read, yet offer something of value.

Barbato says she has three key messages she wants to get across to readers in this book. The first is to have a great attitude. Everyone appreciates people who are positive and have a can-do attitude. While this is not exactly a new concept, I'm always amazed at the number of people who just want to complain about the rest of the world. They don't exactly endear themselves to the rest of us by complaining but they do it anyway.

Her second message is the value of taking time to self-reflect occasionally. She reminds us that there are opportunities every day to learn more about who we are. She has even included a number of exercises to help those of us who are challenged in that area.

One suggestion she has for self-reflection is the 5 Whys. By asking ourselves ever more demanding whys, we may be able to get to the root cause of a problem. The concept, inspired by Sakichi Toyoda, was eventually adopted by the Toyota Motor Co. It has certainly worked for it so why not give it a try.

The third message is to build great relationships. This, too, makes sense since we never know whether that person we just were rude to in the elevator might turn up as the person we want to sell something to a few minutes later.

In addition to her three messages, Barbato has three intentions for us. The first is that if we follow the tips and suggestions she gives us, we can give our career a big boost. While I'm not sure about that, I am absolutely certain that a poor attitude, no self-awareness of how we come across to others and no ability to build relationships can do our careers a lot of harm.

The second intention is to encourage us to help our workplace reach its potential. It is just much easier to complain rather than become a vehicle for turning things around. Mahatma Gandhi's words - "You must be the change you want to see in the world" - are never truer than in the place where we work.

The third intention is that if enough of us practise a positive attitude, reflect before we act, and work to build relationships, we can be the catalyst that changes the world of work. These intentions resonate with me because, without getting too sentimental, I believe we do get back what we put out into the universe.

The author is senior vice-president, home health and business development, for Revera Inc., a health services and accommodation organization, with 26,000 employees in North America. A graduate of the University of Waterloo, Ms. Barbato is a certified general accountant and a chartered accountant.

I don't find the layout of the book attractive and the underlining is unnecessary with all the technology at our fingertips today. Besides, this gets in the way of my own underlining. However, I appreciate the summaries at the end of every chapter and I do think it has a message every one of us should take to heart. We create our own workplace.

Reviewed by Kaye Parker, president, Think Training. You can reach Kaye through her business website .

© 2010 The Chronicle-Herald - Halifax. All rights reserved.