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on 14 September 2014
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Reasonable enough self-help book that works through strong, contemporary metaphors and imagery to get it's points across.

The basic premise is many of us treat work as if it is like 'school that pays' and we have merely projected our early educational experiences to the workplace. That is we accept hierarchy and the commands from above without much questioning and on the whole keep our heads down, wary of innovation both in ourselves and others.

Well as would be expected, the author lays out an action plan for us to break out of this mould and become adaptable, innovative workers capable of extending the power of capital into the 21st century, with the nerve to promote good ideas with a twinkle in the eye and a spring in our step as we continually reinvent ourselves like different versions of employment software.

The book is well presented and easy to digest with some good pointers but ultimately, as with so many of them in this now overloaded genre, there is little new here. In these days of fluid capital it is of course a natural development that the cogs in the machine should be expected to be malleable and adaptable too- although the risk is of course, that you will innovate and adapt yourself out of a job if you're not careful. A increasingly common state of affairs never fully addressed in these business books of course.... so approach with a fair degree of caution and scepticism I'd say. Whatever, if business self-help handbooks are your bag and you have a gap on your bookshelves calling out for another one to fill it, this is a decent enough one to plug the space.
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VINE VOICEon 16 January 2015
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Inspirational book which examines workplace dynamics. It is healthily sceptical of those of us who treat the workplace as an extended version of school, with the boss the forbidding headmaster.

Robson's philosophy is anti-conventional. He eschews unecessary time spent in meetings and conferences, cc-d emails and fancy job titles.

He makes lots of IT analogies (apps, ubuntu), references social media and tv shows.

I found it a little disjointed with so many mixed metaphors. However, I have given it four stars as I liked his ethos of lateral thinking and that, like me, he hates "being cc'd in to other people's emails."
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VINE VOICEon 4 August 2014
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The author's central thesis, that work is 'school with pay', is an interesting one. All too often people do work, without thinking about it - this book is a wake-up call. It starts by comparing people to apps as things that can be updated. The book explores five ways in which work is 'school without pay'. These include automatically deferring to a boss as we would a teacher, doing what we are told rather than thinking for ourselves, not answering back even when we've got a valid contribution to make, not sharing what we've learned, and being unnecessarily agreeable just for a quiet life.

I like the alternatives the author suggests for the above learned patterns of behaviour. He wants us to think, create, believe, connect and believe 'all is well'. The latter idea particularly struck a chord as I feel a lot of miscellaneous paranoia at work. Sure, if there's a problem to be dealt with that's fine, but sometimes I'm worried about spectres of my own devising. I disagree with the author's dismissal of the work/life balance, I don't think I'll ever think 'all is well' enough to want to dissolve the barriers between both sides of my life, but I was intrigued by the suggestion that I should.

There's enough of the author's personality to give the book character, but not so much that it becomes all about him. I got the idea we wouldn't get on in real life, but it's a testament to the quality of the book that I still wanted to hear what he had to say. While I loved the anecdote he shares of sending an automatic email every time he receives a cc'd message saying he doesn't read them, but that his PA would review all these messages once a week. However, I winced when the author shared the fact that he'd told her he'd 'kill' her if she passed any of these emails on to him.

Sometimes the suggestions fall into the genre of generic self help advice, but at least they are given a workplace twist. And I regularly need to be reminded 'no failure, only feedback' so I don't mind hearing those sage words again. The idea that we should state objectives in positive terms is hardly new, nor is the idea that we should be careful who we spend time with because they influence us. On the other hand, the idea of 'leading without authority' was a new one to me. I was also fond of The Outcome Wheel which seems more practical and powerful than SMART thinking.

Overall, I liked this book. It got me thinking more about my work life. The suggestions are practical and easy to understand. I'm not sure I'm going to be able to apply all of them, but the ones I can I'm sure will affect my attitude and the way I feel work. Hopefully, they will lead to greater success in the workplace, they'll certainly make me happier on the journey to the top.
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on 16 July 2014
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I confess that I am not usually a reader of what I would call "self help" literature.

However - this book appealed as it seemed to have a slight whiff of "wake up and smell the coffee" about it. A reboot for work.

Some of the things I gained from it:-
- A refresh in terms of how I view my work place - and my colleagues.
- A reminder to "be there" - don't just arrive to do the job.
- Look up! See the bigger picture.
- And more besides (read the book...)

Tim Robson comes across as a man who believes what he espouses - and invites you to see the common sense in it with plenty of examples.

I did - particularly initially - find some of the metaphors a little irritating. However I sort of got used to them and in the end found myself to be quite enthusiastic about the way in which messages were being put across.

A lot of what this book has to say is common sense. And that is probably, for me, what actually makes it pretty worthwhile.
Furthermore the book does not labour points excessively - it is a pretty slim tome and moves from point to point pretty concisely.

If you find your workplace stressful or difficult (and you're not in the SAS) then this book may well impart wisdom that will help you deal with things more levelly - indeed energetically. It may also help you be a better manager. It will certainly encourage you to be a team player.
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VINE VOICEon 11 November 2014
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is a sort of self-coaching-at-work book, rather quick and easy to read. The blurbs of praise from various people of eminence in the worlds of sport and business are impressive. If you enjoy self-help books and pop psychology books you’ll be comfortable here, and you may find something to give you pause for thought and even to help you make “work” work better for you. There’s an undercurrent of Neuro-Linguistic Programming about the book, with talk of “anchoring” states and Well-Formed Outcomes for example.

I was prepared to dismiss the somewhat trite approach – the early metaphor of humans being like smartphones (inevitably Apple by name) irked me, with the idea that as humans we have Apps that we often fail to keep up to date. This was a metaphor too far for me. But even this old cynic had pause for thought in places, like the idea that the “work/life balance” by definition carries assumptions that should be deconstructed – are Work and Life in opposition? Maybe they shouldn’t be. I’ve been working at undermining this myself for years.

So, probably some useful ideas for some people who find work a chore and a mere means to an end. But sometimes maybe that’s actually what some jobs are and books like this are just a way of ignoring the politics and economics of life in a capitalist society. Just a thought.
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VINE VOICEon 17 September 2014
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Your whole life at work is spent in water. You are an iceberg. An iceberg that never left school. And that needs updating. You need to pull the plug, leave school and update your apps as soon as possible.

These are the central premises of this book. A mish-mash of metaphor, analogy and anecdote that manges to uncover, almost incidentally, some important truths, and then buries them deep within an iceberg. The author's over-reliance on analogy is made painfully clear in the first chapter, which tells you that you are like an iPhone, with dozens of apps that need updating if only you'd visit the App Store once in a while. I read through this thinking "but I have an Android phone. All of the apps update automatically every night. What the hell is this iPhone hell Tim Robson is trying to paint me into?" And then, at the end of the chapter, a scant paragraph clearly written after the rest of the book was put to bed concedes that in recent versions of iOS apps update themselves, which means that this chapter's metaphors are in need of (but have not received) an update.

And this is the biggest problem of the book: it clings so tightly to its analogies that often the real-world application suffers. It concludes with some genuinely useful (though more-often-than-not trite) components and methodologies for improving your presence and performance at work: "Think, Believe, Create, Connect, All Is Well". By this stage in the book, however, I was so tired of the book's clumsily repetitive analogies that, like listening to a teacher in love with the sound of their own voice, I found myself gradually drifting off to sleep.
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on 17 March 2015
I personally thought this book was excellent, it is not the kind of book that I would of normally read but it has made me challenge the way I behave and present myself at work and it has definitely encouraged me to become a better manager.

The way Tim Robson has written the book is very inspiring and vivid. Every situation or scenario Tim mentions I was able to relate to as it was about everyday life and situations that at some point I have had some experience of. Every time I put the book down it made me think about something else in my work and personal life that I could change or "update" which was a really uplifting experience to challenge myself everyday. The methods and tools he uses are simple and easy to understand and absolutely practical to any working environment. I often find myself using his catch phrases in general conversations and I am constantly asking myself, which version of me is showing up today?! His School with Pay mindset particularly affected me and challenged me to review my entire management style from presenting in a Show and Tell style or competing in Stacked conversations trying to "best" the person before me!

I would absolutely recommend this book to anyone who would like to update their work ethic or management style. It has made me a better Manager and really challenged me to review the environment I was working in and also inadvertently helping to create!

Now Show Up!!
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on 20 May 2014
I love this book! To be honest,I don't think the cover title does it justice. This book will not only help you "create a greater impact at work" but could actually change your outlook on life. Packed with amusing anecdotes,easy to remember acronyms and a frighteningly accurate comparison between corporate life and school,this is a book to pick up again and again.
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is a game of two halves! Get your gameplay right and sort out the team, because this is not a game!

Whilst this book is full of headache-inducing metaphor, there is still a lot to like. I'm in the rare spot of actually liking my day job, and also having a hobby (which could be considered a second job) which I also love. However, you can still get complacent. You can still just "show up" and, with enough time spent in a job role, you can find yourself going through the motions without realising it.

If you can get your way through the smoke and tomfoolery in this book, there are some great little gems (and kicks up the backside). It isn't, however, the best book on the subject; it's not the best written, nor is it comprehensive. I think it's perhaps aimed at university-leavers and young go-getters. Whilst I'm by no means at the business end of the employment conveyor belt, even I felt a bit ancient when trying to resonate with the message(s) the author is trying to get across.
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VINE VOICEon 26 July 2014
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I thought Robson made an excellent, if scary, comparison between the world of school and the world of work. There are so many patterns of behaviour at work which replicate school, such as Teacher Knows Best, Don't Copy, Don't Answer Back, and Stay Out of Trouble.

The second half of the book, the new paradigms like Think, Create, and All is Well, is not quite as valuable due to being rather theoretical. It's difficult to see many of the themes being implemented. The four gears (Mindset/Outcomes/Strengths/Time) also fall foul of this, and one detects flagging towards the end. Time management tools such as the important/urgent matrix are well-trodden to the point of being almost clichéd.

It's rescued by good stories, which are indispensable. The challenge is simple: put it into practice!
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