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4.3 out of 5 stars
Myself and Other More Important Matters
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on 24 April 2013
While nearing the end of my own working career some five years ago this book came along at an appropriate moment for me also to reflect on my own life of work and play. This was one of the last business management books I read having got a bit fed up with all the ambition posturing and office politics of earlier work life. Having left full time employment just before 2000 with organisations and set up on my own I quite enjoyed looking into other organisations at these scenes still being played out. I often think to be successful in business one has to be a good actor. I recommend Charles Handy's book strongly to those in a similar stage in their lives. As in his other books opinions good and bad are given openly and honestly. I took his advice from 1990 on portfolio working and living perhaps overlooking the fact that one does need to put a limit in any portfolio especially when one slows down with that horrible thing called aging. I often wondered why my father used to get so frustrated with life at my age and I now know having reached the same age. I have read this book twice and perhaps need to read it again.
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VINE VOICEon 9 March 2007
A weekend's 5-6 hours is all it took me to read this book. I think that says something about the easy pace of the book, the vivid writing style of the author and the imaginative weaving of tales by the raconteur Charles Handy. Having recently read two American autobiographies, I was pleased to note that this one is different, perhaps because Handy is not American. There is no pomposity, no grandiose claims, no hyperbole. Handy does not forget to give credit for his achievements where it may be due, whether it is his education, his wonderful wife or his late father's colleagues. Nor does he go on about I, me, myself although he could have done so, this being his autobiography. His life was clearly not lived in isolation. Highlighting this allows a better understanding of how he discovered opportunities and how he made his decisions about taking them on. One can paint a fairly full picture of his life, with all its characters. That he is well-read is apparent throughout the book, and in his approach to management issues, I think he may be the closest thing we may have to Peter Drucker, who now sadly is no more.

Why 4 stars? Well, a note about proof-reading in the book: I do not know if this vexes many people, but it irritates me because poor spelling, missing words and malapropisms can distract from a perfectly engrossing piece of writing. Why do editors let authors down like this? If I were 12, I would find 'pubic' instead of 'public' funny, but no more.
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on 13 May 2010
Hard to categorise this book - ostensibly a biography, from a business thinker relecting on simple questions about how to lead one's life. I have read it a number of times now, and the writing is still fresh and surprising. Unlike many other books in this genre, he doesn't promise or provide 7 steps to success or any equivalent, but reflecting on how he built up eminence in his field, and the integrity with which he used that position provides inspiring food for thought.
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on 20 November 2015
Wasn't quite as good as I was expecting. Still very interesting though
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on 13 March 2015
Next day efficiciency!
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on 15 May 2016
Brilliant read!
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on 22 July 2006
I love Charles Handy's writing. I first came across him in 1990 or thereabouts when I was given his book 'The Age of Unreason' to read by my then boss. I loved it so much that I have now read vfirtually everything he has written. This book is semi-autobiographical but much more! The author belittles himself somewhat by suggesting in the title that he is less important that his ideas - he is greater than the sum total of his ideas! For anyone who wants to know more about the man, this is the book to read. Its sets out his life but also his philosophies relating to business and other issues. Long live the portfolio worker Professor Handy!!!
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VINE VOICEon 18 July 2007
Amongst the management dross that gets published, Charles Handy's books have always stood out in a positive way because he tells it from the soul rather than the cheque book. How refreshing then, to read that even with all his accummulated wisdom and experience, Handy has room for regrets at decisions he's made throughout his life, and reflects on what he could have done differently.

This is an interesting stroll through Charles Handy's life and work - but what comes through for me is his sense of humility - decency even - that frankly you'd be hard-pushed to find amongst most people who ply his trade. At the core, simplicity and a sense of integrity seems to drive everything Handy stands for, which are sound values in anyone's book.

Easily read and digested, Handy's book lingers in the mind beyond the last page. The tragedy is, that in a market dominated by ghost-written biographies of non-celebrities, this gem of a book should be read by more people - but probably won't be. A shame.
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on 12 June 2008
Where other gurus offer glib answers and seem overly ego-driven, Handy has always specialised in helping us question what our organizations are for; how best to structure them; how work fits into life and what our driving purpose is.

Handy is the author of The Empty Raincoat, The Elephant and The Flea, The Age of Paradox, 21 Ideas For Managers, and other books that help us stop, think and analyze exactly what it is we are doing at work and what we are for.

Myself and Other More Important Matters is Handy's autobiography so far. It is a pleasure to read, and you learn about leadership, work, management, life, parenting, yourself, while you are enjoying reading it.

There is a growing consensus now that, after decades of process improvements, what people are looking for in the organizations they work for, invest in, lead and buy from is organizations that act more like people and less like machines. It is time for the more human organization to emerge. Handy has been teaching us this for years.

My own area of interest is business leadership. This book is full of insights into organizations, their culture and how to lead, such as "Great leaders seem to live with a mix of humility and confidence, which includes the ability to admit on occasion they were wrong."

From McGregor's Theory X and Theory Y to Aristotle's definition of happiness or 'eudaimonia' meaning to flourish and be fulfilled - challenging the prevailing assumption in the west that hedonism is happiness - to how JoHari windows work, the learning you pick up almost in passing from Handy is rich and deep and enjoyable.
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on 6 May 2008
I once saw Charles Handy speak at a business conference and was really impressed with how he just spoke for an hour or so without notes, using only an empty whiteboard and pen. However, his "Thoughts for the Day" on Radio 4's Today (20 years worth, apparently!) were no more illuminating than any of the others brought into do that slot.

This book is a kind of lightweight autobiography interspersed with commentary and discussion on a variety of contemporary topics that address many of the "big issues". He is sometime just a little too modest for my tastes (a foible he recognises on p171); and at the halfway stage I imagined that this review would say something like: "the author must have had fun writing this book; more so perhaps, than I had in reading it". But the second half of the book I found much more engaging, so I reckon that by the end the pleasure is mutual.
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