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Is Your Genius at Work?: 4 Key Questions to Ask Before Your Next Career Move Paperback – 30 Nov 2005

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Product details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Davies-Black Publishing (30 Nov 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0891061940
  • ISBN-13: 978-0891061946
  • Product Dimensions: 19.3 x 1.1 x 23.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,107,479 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Recently, in response to a few pleas for advice from fellow classmates, a gentleman posted about a book that had made quite an impact on his quest for revealing his genius: Is Your Genius at Work?: 4 Key Questions to Ask Before Your Next Career Move by Dick Richards. Given his passion for the book, I immediately ordered a copy from Amazon and promptly inhaled it yesterday.--Recently, in response t

About the Author

Dick Richards has tested and refined this life-transforming process with more than 600 individuals and in fifty organizations across the U.S., Canada, South Africa, and in six European countries, including NASA, Lockheed, and the Center for Creative Leadership. Already well-known for his pioneering work to reunite artistry and industry in the award-winning Artful Work, he is also author of The Art of Winning Commitment and, as one of "today's leading business authors and thinkers," contributed to the landmark reference, Business: The Ultimate Resource.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Rolf Dobelli TOP 500 REVIEWER on 18 Jan 2008
Format: Paperback
This is a serious self-help book which requires thoughtful effort on the reader's part, but promises a concomitant reward. Dick Richards urges you to find your genuine inner talents and spiritual beliefs, your "genius," and to pursue them to find your career, your purpose and true fulfillment. However, the quest for genius is difficult to execute, though many successful people may have already completed this internal search and made genius-based career decisions without even knowing it. Richards is writing for those who have not. His audience is people who hold jobs that don't give them a sense of accomplishment or meaning. Richards spends a good bit of time explaining how people can find and name their genius, and perhaps not enough time telling them what they can do with it once that "eureka" moment has happened. As a result, we find that he articulates a noble goal but may leave some of its realization up to you. Then again, that seems valid: After all, no one can activate your genius for you. This book is useful for counselors and therapists, as well as for spiritually oriented readers who are willing to undertake serious introspection to refocus on their true gifts and purpose.
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33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
Not just for job seekers 18 Jan 2006
By Brendon J. Connelly - Published on
Format: Paperback
Before I go any further with this review, let me set something straight: the value of this book is not limited to jobseekers. This is stuff that will help you reframe the way you view your life. There are plenty of other books that help you figure out your most basic competencies (books on enneagrams, Now Discover Your Strengths, etc...). I've only done a little bit of messing around in this genre, but from my experience, Genius takes the most direct path to the heart of the discovery process. The book is an easy read but, like another reviewer said, a deep one. If you take it seriously, you'll likely struggle with naming your genius for more time than it takes to read the book.

The four questions that the book asks are, What is your genius, Is your genius at work, What is your purpose and Is your genius on purpose. About 2/3 of the book is devoted to working through these questions and the last third is filled with excercises to help you narrow down the search for the name of your genius. The excercises are awesome-nothing trivial or useless here. These are thoughtful and clearly designed to help you think in new directions and they do it well. I've been working through the excercises and they're hard for me. This kinda bums me out because there was a time, not all that long ago, that I was intently focused on self-knowledge, and I felt like I knew myself pretty well. To some degree the excercises make me feel kinda bad that I don't simply have snap answers anymore. On the other hand, it's been good to get to know myself again.

I'm still unsure of the name of my genius. The book describes several ways that you might know when you've landed on your genius' name. I experienced none of this when I wrote Exploring Service. Last week I felt like that was a servicable name for use while I kept seeking, but this week I don't think that's the case. I'm continuing to work on some of the excercises and also allowing things to just sit and simmer for a while. I think that's important. What's really different about Genius versus other books like the ones I mentioned earlier is that there aren't any easy quizzes or surveys to take which will spit out the answer. Figuring out the name of your genius takes work and time. It feels like you can't look directly at it...gotta look kinda sideways or pretend you aren't looking and wait for it to pop up. I suspect it's worth the wait.

This book has been really well received by other folks I think highly of. Check out reviews by Dave Pollard[1], Steve Pavlina[2] and Dwayne Melancon[3]. Also, Dick Richards is doing something really remarkable for an author of a book like this. He's created an online discussion group, called Genius Workshop[4], where readers of the book can get some personal insight from him and from others who are on the same journey. Very, very helpful. Also, for more good reading, check out Dick's blog[5] where he's also got a sample chapter and some exercises you can work through.

26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
Inspiring, and deeper than What Color Is Your Parachute 23 Nov 2005
By David Pollard - Published on
Format: Paperback
The following review is from my How to Save the World weblog and can be found in its original form including graphic at:


Dick Richards' new book Is Your Genius at Work? is designed for people contemplating a career change. Its focus is on helping people find their genius -- the one thing they are especially and uniquely good at, and then finding application for that genius in the work world. Its audience is anyone who believes they are currently doing they than they could or should, both for their own fulfillment and to make a contribution to the betterment of the world. It's especially valuable for those who are in need of an ego-boost -- those who don't believe they have genius, and don't believe they are especially good at anything.

There is no rocket science to Richards' process. It is essentially a workbook, in the vein of Bolles' What Colour Is Your Parachute? but less focused on researching jobs at the intersection of What you love, What you're good at, and What's needed, and more on identifying and naming What you're good at, and Why you're here.

Like Parachute, Genius is full of exercises, and I worked through them to see whether they provided insights different from Parachute's. Richards seems to take it on faith that What you're good at is congruent with What you love. I think that's debatable, but perhaps it doesn't matter -- since the exercises get you to identify both, and then find 'common denominators', the result is one genius, one talent, that lies at the intersection between them (spaces 2 & 3 in my diagram above).

I particularly liked the 'sales pitch' at the start of the book for working through it. Many people give up too easily on self-discovery exercises like this because they're not sufficiently convinced that the outcome is worth the effort. The arguments Richards makes for discovering and applying your genius are: (a) stronger sense of identity, (b) clearer sense of direction, (c) increased self-confidence, (d) language to communicate the value you can add, and (e) greater satisfaction and productivity in your work.

The four stage process outlined in the book is (1) discover (recognize) your genius, (2) ask yourself whether your current job/career makes good use of it, (3) discover your purpose, and (4) ask yourself whether your genius is being (or can be) applied to fulfill your purpose. Your purpose is your self-acknowledged reason for living, what you feel you were born to do.

Richards posits several 'restrictions' or 'conditions' to force you to narrow your (many) talents and passions to your one true genius:

1. You have a genius.

2. You have only one genius.

3. Your genius has been with you your whole life.

4. Your genius is natural and spontaneous.

5. Your genius is a positive, rather than destructive, energy.

6. Your genius is what it is, not what you would wish it to be.

7. Your genius' name consists of one gerund (word ending in -ing) followed by one noun.

8. Your genus is unique to you.

When you've recognized your genius, Richards says, you'll know it. Alternatives won't improve the name you've given it. It will be specific enough to be truly unique (already directing your mind towards how that uniqueness could distinguish and fulfill you if it were properly applied). It will be powerful. And, while it may take some time to reveal itself and may evolve over time, it will prove durable.

If identifying your genius proves elusive, Richards recommends looking at the following:

* Your disrepute: Things you do passionately that others criticize you for

* Your frustrations: Things you are discontented with

* Your elation: Things that bring you great joy and sense of accomplishment

* What you offer: Things you give to others openly and voluntarily

* Your interests: Things that pique your imagination and attention

* Your successes: Things that worked well, that were easy for you

* Images that attract you: Art and models that resonate with your perception of reality

The process for recognizing your genius is less rational and more intuitive and emotional than Bolles' Parachute discovery process, more a process of self-realization than research and self-analysis. This works for me, since I enjoy that kind of exercise and am reasonably good at it. But I'm not sure it can work for everyone. If you really don't know yourself, I can imagine you would find this book frustrating.

Richards spends only two pages on the second stage of the process: Asking yourself whether your current job/career makes good use of it, or could be changed to make good use of it. He knows, I think, that the people who will be attracted to this book will probably answer this question in the negative, and trusts each reader to decide for herself what to do about that.

For the third stage, discovering your purpose, Richards again suggests a set of 'restrictions' or 'conditions' to narrow the candidates and help you hone in on your one true purpose:

1. Your purpose must be discovered, not invented

2. Your purpose is directed outward -- it is the specific, tangible way in which your genius, your gift, is given to the world

3. Knowing your purpose allows you to be more intentional and effective in fulfilling it

4. Your purpose gives focus and meaning to your life and directs your decisions on what to do

And, again, if identifying your purpose proves elusive, Richards suggests looking at the following:

* Your strong emotions: What stirs you

* What other people ask of you: How they see your purpose

* Unexpected occurrences and turning points: Life events that might at least suggest what is not your purpose after all

* Your suffering: What you have had the courage to survive and overcome

* Meditation or prayer: Revelations that come from quieting your mind

* Your family history: What your family has seen as its purpose, and has suggested, with their special knowledge of you, might be yours

* Recurring ideas: Ideals and intentions and unmet needs and possibilities that have intrigued you for much of your life

And finally, redirecting your genius so it is focused on achieving your purpose requires, in addition to a lot of thought and energy and passion, a sense of personal responsibility, a sense of knowing your own heart, a sense of deep self-awareness, and personal courage. These personal qualities and capacities both emerge and find expression through the realization of your purpose by applying your genius.

The book is well-written, concise, un-preachy, illuminating, and down-to-earth, and I would recommend it not only because it can help you with your next career move, but more profoundly because it can help you to realize yourself, be happier and more fulfilled in all aspects of your life, and, in the process, make the world a better place.

What is your genius? What is your purpose? And is the former helping you achieve the latter?
79 of 90 people found the following review helpful
Two thumbs up! 20 Dec 2005
By Steve Pavlina - Published on
Format: Paperback
Is Your Genius at Work? by Dick Richards is a fantastic book about discovering your genius and your purpose and identifying a career that fits well with both. This book was recently provided to me by the publisher, and it's one of the few unsolicited books I received that I can enthusiastically recommend to others. Why do I say this? Because I personally derived a valuable result from reading this book - the identification of my own core genius.

Genius makes the bold statement that every person has one and only one core genius, and that genius is unique. Think of your genius as your greatest strength. Long before reading this book I had developed a strong awareness of my key strengths and weaknesses, but I hadn't given serious consideration to the idea that I might have only one "genius" from which all my key strengths could be derived.

As I went through the exercises in the book, I easily identified many of my own strengths. I'm able to learn very quickly. I'm good at understanding complicated concepts. I can communicate well with both humans and computers. I've developed great synergy between my logic and intuition. And so on. But when I listed them all out, I didn't see any single root genius from which all these strengths could be derived. It was as if they were all relatively prime, with no single common denominator.

But Genius pushes us to think outside the box when looking for our core genius. For example, what's the lowest common denominator between the numbers 9, 15, 21, and 30? It's 3, right? How about 15, 25, 65, and 90? The LCD there is 5. Now what about 2, 10, 13, 29, and 300? The book says it's the letter t, since all these numbers begin with a t. Very sneaky. It's exercises like these that cause you to keep looking at the question of genius from different angles until you eventually find an angle where the common denominator becomes clear.

I spent about an hour working with the book's exercises and eventually succeeded in identifying my core genius, from which all my other strengths could be derived. As stated in the book's suggested terms, my genius is "Optimizing Results." That's something I'm uniquely good at. From that core genius I can derive my interest in personal development, productivity, self-discipline, technology, entrepreneurship, reading, writing, blogging, speaking, podcasting, exercising, exploring belief systems, generating passive income, conducting wacky growth experiments, polyphasic sleep, veganism, living consciously, etc. I often see life itself as an optimization challenge.

This is one reason I enjoy the ready-fire-aim approach to goal achievement. I like to just dive in and experiment, since my first attempts (often failures) provide me with a base from which I can begin optimizing. It doesn't matter what my starting position is - I will always find a way to improve from there. For example, every month I review the stats and feedback from this web site, tweaking things behind the scenes to make the next month even better - more impact, more traffic, more revenue. That's one reason I was able to raise the monthly income generated by this site by a factor of more than 90x from February to November. This kind of increase isn't unusual for me. If you give me a stream, I will eventually turn it into a mighty river. I can't really help it - it's just my nature.

This idea of optimizing results also gives me a new perspective on my previous career choices. I was an employee for only six months before I concluded it was suboptimal. Then I worked as an independent contractor, which was an improvement on being an employee but still suboptimal. Then I started my games business... another positive step, but I lost money at first. Then I optimized the business model to make it profitable and to generate mostly passive income. Then I came to see that working in the gaming industry was suboptimal for me because it didn't capitalize on my greatest personal strengths, so I launched this personal development business. And since then I've continued the process of optimizing this new business as I teach other people ideas for optimizing their own lives. And no doubt that five years from now, I'll have found an even more optimal method of expressing my key strengths for the highest good of all. My life tends to get better and better year after year.

Once I discovered this core genius of optimizing results, the whole long-term pattern fell into place. No matter where I find myself, I express an insatiable drive to improve results. I'm constantly giving people ideas to improve their results.

Genius has given me a wonderful boost in clarity, and for that I'm grateful. I like the idea of thinking of my work in terms of optimizing results. That succinctly explains what I do, and it also helps clarify why I write on so many different topics - optimizing belief systems, optimizing relationships, optimizing time management, optimizing emotions, optimizing sleep, optimizing health habits, and so on. All of these factors are important in optimizing one's results in life.

Although this book doesn't explicitly address it, I also thought that perhaps all my key weaknesses can be derived from a single core anti-genius. For me this would be anything that interferes with the optimization process. This includes complacency, apathy, negativity, close-mindedness, laziness, inefficiency, tardiness, messiness, stupidity, and incompetence. (My children may have a rough time surviving their teenage years.) Those are the qualities I find most repulsive. "Encouraging chaos" or "increasing entropy" might be reasonable descriptions of my anti-genius, since optimization is a process of increasing order. Somewhat ironically though, I tend to be a disruptive influence on others, since optimization is inherently disruptive. Initially I often increase chaos as I break old systems before pushing things to a new level of order.

Genius also addresses the concept of purpose, although not with as much clarity and depth as genius itself. I honestly didn't get much out of this part of the book because I've already been working with a clear sense of purpose for quite a while. You might, however, find the book's exercises here valuable if your purpose isn't yet clear to you. The book will help you choose a career that fits both your genius and your purpose.

The only thing that disappointed me about Genius is that I feel it stopped a bit short in its model of human behavior. While your genius and your purpose are two key factors in choosing your career, there are a couple of others that are equally important: passion and need. Your passion is what you most love to do. It isn't necessarily the same thing as your genius, since passion is usually about the how while genius is about the what. Genius covers the topic of passion indirectly but doesn't separate it out like it does with purpose. Need is what you must do, including earning enough money to pay your bills. You can work from your genius and know your purpose and be financially destitute if you don't find a way to meet your needs. I think Genius would have been even better if it separately covered all four elements instead of just two: needs (body), talents/genius (mind), passion (heart), and purpose (spirit).

I've previously written about these four elements in a blog entry called "Living Congruently." Stephen Covey presents a similar four-part model in his books.

I can't really fault Genius for using a two-part behavioral model instead of a four-part one, since the book certainly accomplished its purpose in my case, which was to help identify my core genius. I'm fortunate that I already have a career that wonderfully balances my needs, talents, passion, and purpose, so I knew this book wouldn't induce a major career overhaul. However, I am deeply appreciative of the new level of clarity this book has given me. That alone made it worth reading. It has assisted me in my own self-optimization process.

If you don't already enjoy a career centered around your genius and your purpose, then working through this book will probably be more challenging for you than it was for me. Many personal development books contain miserably pointless exercises, but this book is the exception to the rule. Its exercises are intelligent, well-designed, and insightful. There are no pointless quizzes that force you to rate yourself on some arbitrary scale. I also liked that all the exercises are put into a separate section of the book, so first you can read through all the content, and then you can work through the exercises.

As I've previously mentioned, I'm very picky about which books I'll recommend in this blog, especially those I receive unsolicited. But this book is one that I can wholeheartedly recommend. If you actually work through all the exercises (and none are very difficult), I think you'll achieve a greater level of clarity. I think this book would be especially great for people in their 20s who are still uncertain about the right career for them.

Two thumbs up!
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
You ARE a Genius! 6 May 2006
By Kevin Eikenberry - Published on
Format: Paperback
The subtitle of this book is "Four key questions to ask before your next career move." Unfortunately I think the subtitle is wrong. Really, this book asks us four key questions about our life.

The book revolves around those four questions:

1. What is your genius?

2. Is your genius at work?

3. What is your purpose?

4. Is your genius on purpose?

And after the chapters devoted to each question comes some fantastic exercises to help you put the ideas in this book into action.

When I read a book I typically view it in four ways:

1. Content

2. Writing

3. Layout

4. Overall feel

By each of these criteria this book, this book is a winner. The content is fantastic. The writing style is approachable and includes stories I can relate to and that illustrate the points very well. The layout if the book is outstanding - there are helpful illustrations and plenty of room for notes - an important consideration for a book like this. Above these tangible dimensions, the feeling I get when reading is book is positive. The author cares about his readers and it shows in every part of this book.

I recommend this book highly for anyone - not just those in a career assessment or transition situation.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
A Workbook for Your Life 19 Dec 2005
By Dwayne Melancon - @ThatDwayne - Published on
Format: Paperback
The full version of this review is available at [...] along with links to order the book via Amazon.


I've been reading interacting with Dick Richards' book "Is Your Genius At Work?" for weeks now. This book is not long and is very easy to read and understand. But man, is it deep.

When I say I've been interacting with the book, I mean that I've been doing (and repeating...and revisiting....) the simple exercises Dick provides in the book. The exercises come at the challenge of finding your genius from a lot of different angles, to enable you to get a glimpse of the essence of your power. I feel like I'm getting closer, but I haven't gotten the "buzz" that others in the book describe when they finally name their genius (I'm looking for that "tongue on 9-volt batttery" kind of buzz - I know it's out there).

Provisions for the journey


The book provides you with the tools to go through a personal discovery process to discover and name your "genius." Dick goes into lots of detail about genius, but I describe genius as: that special capability that you have that makes you special, and flavors all the other parts of who you are and how you interact with the world.

The whole concept was very intriguing, and Dick provides some vivid examples of how others have found and named their genius. If you want to see what the book is like, head on over to and you can check out a sample chapter and sample exercises.

Here is a brief overview of what you'll find in this book.

Playing by the rules


As you go through the process, Dick provides the ruls of the road about genius reminds me of the notion of "trying on beliefs" that I've written about in the past):

* You do have a genius.

* You have only one genius.

* Your genius has been with you your entire life.

* Your genius is natural and spontaneous and a source of success.

* Your genius is a positive force.

* Your genius is not what you wish it would be; it is what it is.

* Your genius should contain one gerund and one noun (examples below).

* Your name for your genius will be unique.

What's in a name?


Going through the process of naming your genius creates a way to identify your special gift, unlock its power, and help you focus on things that ignite your passion. Through the naming process, you will learn about your genius and begin to tap into its power. What Dick wants for all of us is to provide us with the means to spend more time engaging in things that get us jazzed. I don't know about you, but I want some of that action.

Once you use this process to name your genius, you can use this conscious awareness to "filter" activities, job choices, and other aspects of your life so that they are more in line with your special gift. There is even a section that takes you through an evaluative questionnaire to guage how closely your current job fits your genius, and a process to help you decide what to look for in future opportunities.

During the book, Dick provides a bunch of little pictures of "name tags" on the pages so you can track your current thinking at key points in the process. It's a great way to feel connected to the book and the process, and can definitely bring the experience beyond words on a page (if you can bring yourself to write in it, anyway...)

An interesting realization through this process - some aspect of my psyche apparently makes me resist "declaring" conclusions. As a result, I can't bring myself to write in my book - "What if I change my mind?" Instead, I write everything on a separate notepad. It's an interesting dynamic, and I think it is somehow connected to my Genius - whcih probably means I'm in for a long journey before I settle on a name.

The recommended construction for naming your genius is to use two words - the first is a gerund (a descriptive word ending in -ing), and the second word is a noun. Some of the examples of genius names shared in the book include:

* Gathering Spirit

* Exploring Pathways

* Building Platforms



This book is like no other I have read. It's both analytical and "touchy feely" at the same time. It's both fun and serious. It's rewarding and frustrating.

I like it (though I can't profess love for it until I get that 9-volt feeling, of course), and recommend it to you highly. This book will make a great gift for those you care about (at so many levels).

I also recommend getting acquainted with Dick Richards at his Come Gather Round blog.

Here's to you and your genius!
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