Book Review September 2008
Good Is Not Enough: And Other Unwritten Rules for Minority Professionals
Author: Keith R. Wyche with Sonia Alleyne
Reviewed By: Soroya Brantley
When is good not enough? When you are a minority professional, says Keith R. Wyche. Wyche is a minority professional himself — a division president at a Fortune 500 company. His career success did not happen overnight and he recounts his experiences and observations in Good Is Not Enough: And Other Unwritten Rules for Minority Professionals so that other minorities can avoid certain mistakes and missteps in their own careers.
Although it targets minorities, the information in the book is useful to all professionals. Chapter One, “Corporate Culture Is Critical,” covers the importance of knowing when a company’s culture is a good match for you and your values. The chapter’s subtitle states, “If You’re Going to Play the Game, You’d Better Know the Rules.”
Another important discussion is “Perception Is Pivotal: Know How Others See You — Your Brand Means Everything.” Here, Wyche discusses “personal branding,” the notion that you need to determine the way you want others to perceive you and your value to the company, then work to make this desired perception a reality. This “personal branding” is what will separate you from the pack and it ties neatly into Chapter Three: “Be Visible: You Can’t Get Ahead If No One Knows Who You Are.” Many professionals believe that their hard work speaks for itself, while others fear that being more visible makes them stand out as much for the bad as for the good. To the latter, Wyche points out that you are unlikely to reap your desired rewards without some risk being involved. There is nothing wrong with a little self-praise, Wyche notes. It may cause you to be given a second look when a position opens up.
Subsequent chapters address such topics as “Career Killers You Must Avoid,” “Must-Have Skills Every Senior Leader Needs,” “Being More Prepared Than Everyone Else” and Overcoming Gender Bias.” Two chapters, “Mentors and Sponsors” and “The Importance of Giving Back,” were a pleasant surprise. Business books concentrate on making money and getting ahead. In these two chapters, however, the emphasis is on helping others. Wyche stresses the need to mentor other young minority professionals, thus making it easier for them to navigate the corporate waters. He also explains his “success versus significance” theory, which says that you can choose to simply be successful personally, or you can “invest your success in others in order to perpetuate it beyond your lifetime.”
The book offers numerous experiences to show how each unwritten rule may be applied in a real work situation. For each experience, Wyche clearly points out what the employee did wrong or could have done differently. He keeps it simple, eschewing the usual pages of graphs and charts that make so many business books seem daunting.
Keep the Faith: A Memoir
By Faith Evans with Aliya S. King
Grand Central Publishing, August 2008
$24.99, 368 pp.
R&B songwriter and singer Faith Evans traveled a tumultuous path to land at the peaceful place where she is today. (Her 2005 hit “Again” is a lyrical account.) In her memoir, which follows Evans from an impulsive teenager to an abused girlfriend and much-cheated-on wife, from “The First Lady” of Bad Boy Records to award-winning performer, Evans owns up to the missteps she’s made along the way. She writes: “I was growing up fast — too fast…I had to have faith that God would provide a path for me to follow.” From an insider, the behind-the-scenes drama and shenanigans into a slice of the hip-hop music business is described in lively detail. But it is Evans’s overcoming personal trials that becomes the focus and learning life lessons that is the underlying message.
By Stephen L. Carter
Knopf, July 2008
$26.95, 513 pp.
Carter’s latest novel, his third, is another intellectually crafted thriller. Eddie Wesley, emerging as a literary star, stumbles over a dead man’s body in Harlem; and one year later, he sets out to find a connection to the ornate cross he noticed on the corpse and a similar one he sees again. A political conspiracy, a secret society, a puzzling suicide, and the disappearance of Eddie’s sister are also twists in this tight plot. The suspense is set during the 1950s, through the ’60s and into the ’70s; and many prominent figures of the time including Langston Hughes, J. Edgar Hoover, Richard Nixon and Adam Clayton Powell make appearances in the story. Carter’s elaborate writing style is befitting of the characters and upper-crust societies he so cleverly portrays.
—Clarence V. Reynolds