Suits and Ladders by Suzen Fromstein, Book Review
A few months ago I met Suzen Fromstein at an 85 Broads Toronto event. Recently, we had coffee, and she presented me with a copy of her new book, Suits and Ladders. The book is very short and can be digested in two hours. Suits and Ladders by Suzen Fromstein is based on interviews of 102 highly accomplished people, evenly split between men and women working in a variety of industries and job functions. Fromstein was restructured out of three jobs within a short time frame, so she decided to find out if there were things that she wasn’t doing correctly, and out of her interviews, Suits and Ladders, a corporate survival guide was born.
As I read the book, I paused frequently to reflect on what I was reading. The information in the book isn’t new, which is not a bad thing, because it’s information that’s important, that we often forget, and need to reminded of. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe once said, “Everything has been thought of before, but the problem is to think of it again.” I liked Suits and Ladders, and I appreciated the fact that Fromstein took the time to explore what she could be doing better. However, I did not agree with some of the advice that the interviewees are dispensing.
For instance, in one of the closing chapters in the book, based on what Fromstein discovered from her interviews, interviewees are recommending that to keep your job, employees should work long hours because senior level executives arrive early and stay late. When I was an employee, I arrived early for work, and I stayed late, and I do agree that the folks that arrived at 9:00 am and left promptly at five were the first to be restructured out of a job. But what is the definition for early and late? I remember one week going to work at 4:00 am because of a service launch, but it was only for a week. What I object to is working 60 to 90 hours a week consistently. If someone is working over 60 hours a week all the time, either she is not managing her time effectively, or her employer is overworking her. No one on her death bed ever says, “” I wished I worked longer hours!” And I don’t believe that your work is your life.
Despite that, there is some information that was revealed early in the book that is a cure for this situation, and that is self-awareness. Self-awareness was the top corporate survival strategy. I was very surprised by that, but when you think about it, it makes perfect sense. Socrates said, “Know thyself!” Self-knowledge enables you to select a position at a company whose values align with yours. It also enables you to have a code of values so you know when to draw your line in the sand.
10 Corporate Survival Strategies
- Personal reputation
- Emotional intelligence
- Presentation/writing skills & Time/project management skills
- Change resilience
- Helping others
- Knowing the business
- Working hard
- Having/being a mentor
The strategies are not silos, they work together so that you can effectively manage your career. Personal reputation is big these days, and managing your reputation includes paying attention to what you say on social media platforms, behaving with dignity and aplomb – always taking the high road. It’s often been said never say or do anything that you wouldn’t want to see on a billboard. Suzen Fromstein mentioned Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours concept in his book, Outliers: The Story of Success to build expert status. In the book, it is stated that hard work is not enough for success, you have to have talent and lucky breaks. That’s where knowing the business, networking, and having/being a mentor comes in. I can’t say enough about mastering the fundamentals of your field and building on that. And the more people that are in your sphere of influence, the more breaks you will get in life. Having and being a mentor, also assists with professional development and building solid relationships.
Suits and Ladders by Suzen Fromstein is worth the read, and I recommend that when you are reading it, think about how the strategies relate to your experience. You do not have to like all the advice offered, but reflect on it and don’t just toss it out if it’s contrary to what you believe and feel.
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Author Bio: Avil Beckford, an expert interviewer, entrepreneur and published author is passionate about books and professional development, and that’s why she founded The Invisible Mentor and the Virtual Literary World Tour to give you your ideal mentors virtually in the palm of your hands by offering book reviews and book summaries, biographies of wise people and interviews of successful people.
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