Review: Jan Cavelle – Scale for Success (S)

Scale for Success: Expert Insights into Growing Your Business
Jan Cavelle

“All it takes to start a business is a great idea and initial funding. But when it comes to growing and scaling a business – turning it into an enduring success – it becomes much more difficult to manage and sustain the various elements that are involved. You need to set out a clear plan, sustain funding, optimise marketing opportunities and develop an effective team. There are many opportunities to fail but, with Scale for Success, readers will gain valuable insights and practical advice from a global array of entrepreneurs and business leaders who have paved the way to their own versions of commercial success.”

This is a review by Suzanne, who specialises in reading and reviewing business books. I can tell you that she really enjoyed this book! She was either reading it because it was so good, or trying not to read it because she didn’t want it to end!

This book is a lot of short stories and lessons from entrepreneurs and CEOs sharing their experiences with scaling a business. I really enjoyed it! The book follows in a logical order with different sections on different topics. Each chapter has one or two stories from different entrepreneurs regarding that topic and providing advice. I love hearing the engaging stories from different business experts. The book still flows well overall as it’s all written from the same author, and not a collaboration of authors.

There are key take away tips, inspiration and advice from each entrepreneur. There is also their own personal definition of success which I found interesting. In similar style books with lots of stories there is normally some I’m uninterested in. However with this book, I loved all the stories and struggled to put the book down.

This book is aimed for businesses that have already started, mainly those that are larger and looking at growing further. It includes raising venture capital and other funding but isn’t only on these points. I think it was great to see not just scaling up, but how to exit and move on from a business as well. There are not many business books discussing how to exit. I don’t think I learnt any particular pieces of advice to implement right now, but it was a great enjoyable read and I do recommend it, even if you are not scaling up.

Bloomsbury | 2nd July 2021 | AU$34.99 | paperback

Review: Bella Green – Happy Endings

Happy Endings
Bella Green

“Bella Green is a Sunday-afternoon sex worker. Divorced dads, IT nerds, international students – she’s here for the idiosyncrasies of human behaviour, for soothing the lonely. But really for the cash… Taking us on a funny, candid, can’t-look-away journey through brothels, strip clubs, peep shows and dominatrix dungeons, Happy Endings is a hilarious and compelling memoir from a bright and bold new Australian voice.”

This isn’t the first memoir by a sex worker I have read (see my reviews of: Come and The Brothel). I liked this one in particular because it showed the way mental health can impact someone’s work life. And it’s not that Bella doesn’t work hard – she seems to work her butt off! It’s just that her work is different from the old boring 9-5er.

It was refreshing to see how Bella addressed the relationships she has with both binary and non-binary people. To her, her attraction is based on their personality and approachability. The self-insight she shows (no doubt through quite a lot of therapy) speaks a lot for what a fantastic person she must be.

What I’d like to see next is the reflection of a male sex worker – and whether they have some of the same complaints and commentary on their clients. Who knows? I’ll keep an eye out for this approach and review it if I find one…

I resisted the urge to google the author because I don’t really need sex worker ads popping up on my Facebook (no offense to sex workers, but I do work with underage persons so it is really inappropriate for me to have those ads come up). I like that Bella’s two professional lives and selves eventually came together – a real happy ending!

Pan Macmillan | 29 June 2021 | AU$34.99 | paperback

Review: Di Websdale-Morrissey – On a Wing and a Prayer

On a Wing and a Prayer
Di Websdale-Morrissey

“In 1934, Melbourne’s Lord Mayor announced a London-to-Melbourne air race to celebrate his city’s centenary. The audacious plan captured imaginations across the globe: newspapers and magazines everywhere were filled with it; the world’s pilots scrambled to get sponsorship; and the organisers scrambled to get the rules straight and permission to fly in foreign air space. Sixty-four entrants from eleven countries signed up, but only twenty planes eventually took off on 20 October 1934. The winner arrived in Melbourne seventy-one hours later—but three planes crashed and two pilots died in the attempt.”

I’m not 100% sure what I expected in this book. I initially didn’t pick it up to read because I thought it was a fiction novel and it triggered memories of Jackie Chan’s film, Around the World in 90 Days. However, when I finally picked it up I found an interesting non-fiction about an event I’m sure many people know nothing of!

While the blurb tries to draw in a reader with the fable of Albury saving the Uiver, this is really quite a small portion of the book. The book is written sensitively and clearly, and deals fairly with all of the pilots in the race. Not only does it have the details of the race, it also has the back story and the endings (ie. ongoing lives and deaths of those involved in the race). As usual for many of Text’s books, there are some beautiful colour photographs reproduced lovingly to illustrate and bring the characters to life.

This book is going to suit anyone with a love of engineering, planes and Australian history! It’s written in a nice engaging manner, and even someone like me who can’t care less about history can enjoy it. It’s a very suitable present for the plane fanatic in your life.

Text Publishing | 3rd September 2021 | AU$32.99 | paperback

Review: Sumner Burstyn – This Way of Life

This Way of Life
Sumner Burstyn

“In an isolated and rural New Zealand, Peter and Colleen Ottley-Karena raise their seven children on the thin edge between freedom and disaster. With its genesis in the multi-award winning 2009 documentary of the same name, we see where the Ottley-Karena family is now. Faced with a range of new challenges they approach life with characteristic dignity and strength. But is their unique lifestyle one that is sustainable in the long term?”

This is a collection of stories about this family which seem to be in no particular order. The writting style is rather strange and hard to parse. I wish the author had decided one way or another on what tense to use, and whether to use third or first person, and been consistent about the source of the stories.

Am I too cynical? Am I too widely read? For me this book was too short and ultimately unremarkable. I know of, and have read, similar non-fiction. I myself was somewhat brought up this way – only the serious things are out of bounds (eg. take the dog on your walk so you don’t run into a snake), the rest you learn by doing (eg. if you poke the ants’ nest, you will get bitten!).

There’s plenty of lovely colour photographs, but I wasn’t quite sure of the relevance of some of them to the stories. It’s simplistically written, yet too detailed in places to be considered a children’s book. I can’t think of who the target audience is, or why you would want to own it to read more than once. Maybe borrow it from the library if you are keen to read more of the Ottley-Karena family, but don’t rush out to buy it.

Review: Patrick Lencioni – The Ideal Team Player (S)

The Ideal Team Player
How to Recognize and Cultivate The Three Essential Virtues
Patrick Lencioni

“Lencioni presents a practical framework and actionable tools for identifying, hiring, and developing ideal team players.  Whether you’re a leader trying to create a culture around teamwork, a staffing professional looking to hire real team players, or a team player wanting to improve yourself, this book will prove to be as useful as it is compelling.”

My beloved author strikes again! Although it sounds similar to Lencioni’s other novel, The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team, the two books are substantially different. The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team talks about the qualities needed for a team to work together. It focuses on how to lift other team members productivity by how to interact as a team.

In contrast, The Ideal Team Player discusses how to improve team work by focusing on the individual person. This is includes hiring team members with these 3 virtues. How to look out for the virtues within a person. And how to support your current team members to improve these virtues if it’s not their strong suit.

Like Lencioni’s other novels, this one also has the fable as the main part, followed by a recap of the theory learnt. The fable gives you examples of people falling into specific categories which you can use to match against your current team members. The theory section then also gives you more self assessment tools as well.

Overall it is a great read with lot of value. I would recommend it to anyone who is hiring team members, even if it’s just your first. 5 stars, I would read again.

Review: Patrick Lencioni – The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team (S)

The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team

Patrick Lencioni

“Lencioni reveals the five dysfunctions which go to the very heart of why teams even the best ones-often struggle. He outlines a powerful model and actionable steps that can be used to overcome these common hurdles and build a cohesive, effective team. Just as with his other books, Lencioni has written a compelling fable with a powerful yet deceptively simple message for all those who strive to be exceptional team leaders.”

I love this author to start with and couldn’t wait to read it! It lived up to expectations and was a great read. It’s a similar style to the author’s other novels. That is to say, most of the book is a fable and then it had the theory at the end. The fable makes it relatable to the reader. As the reader you can picture the characters in the fable and have likely been in the same situations as them. You get caught up and invested in the characters, also wanting them to succeed.

The fable is structured in a way of very short little chapters. This is great if you need to put it down and you can still remember where you are up to (I did not want to put it down though).

I love that the author didn’t try and put too many theories into the book. As per the title there are only 5 dysfunctions of a team. Really that’s all you need to discuss so it isn’t over complicated, and it is possible to fully explore each. In the theory section at the end, the author gives practical examples of how to test of each of the dysfunctions. This includes examples of a good or bad team and a team questionnaire so you have something to take away and are able to evaluate your own team.

Overall, I would read it again. I recommend this book for anyone that is in a team. The book goes through it with the executive team of a large organisation, however is can be applied to a small business team of 5 or so as well.

Review: Jamie Cunningham – Jumping off the Hamster Wheel (S)

Jumping off the Hamster Wheel: How to run your business so you sleep at night

Jamie Cunningham

“Business owners need to know much more than a core skillset, but how do you figure out the right things to know? In Jumping Off the Hamster Wheel, award-winning business coach and CEO Jamie Cunningham provides a comprehensive and practical how-to guide for small business owners who want to build a profitable and sustainable business.”
This book was just average. I didn’t have any excitement from it or learn anything new. I guess the purpose of the book was to be a ‘only business book you need’ to learn most of what you need to successfully run a business. It’s basically all other business book theories in one. So I guess it did achieve this, and if you think about it like that, then this book is great.

If you have read many other business books like me, then you won’t really enjoy it. It’s nothing new to learn and wasn’t all that engaging or said in a different way. It started out promising for the first half, however after that didn’t seem to hold my attention. I kept putting off finishing it because I knew I would have to review it – and I just didn’t feel strongly enough about it to write much about it. 3 stars from me.

Review: Mike Southon & Chris West – The Beermat Entrepreneur (S)

The Beermat Entrepreneur: What You Really Need to Know to Turn a Good Idea into a Great Business

Mike Southon & Chris West

“Every business starts with a bright idea, and many a bright idea has been hatched in a pub scribbled on a nearby discarded beermat. But how do you turn the moment of inspiration into a well oiled plan? who do you need to talk to? How do you find the cash to back the idea? How many people do you need to work with to get the idea off the ground? And how on earth do you find them?”

I picked this book up for something lighter to read. This was lighter in comparison to other leadership books where you are constantly learning new things and wanting to implement them. The Beermat Entrepreneur was perfect for this! As you can imagine, the book was in a relaxed style. I could relate and laughed to some of the typical business things that happen at each stage of the business life cycle.

The book takes you through a typical entrepreneur journey starting from the business idea in the pub with mates, through to implementing this business and growing it to the “mighty oak” phase. It obviously can’t cover everything you will come across along the way of building your business but it does cover quite a lot of the typical obstacles you may come across. However, the book doesn’t go into great detail of each item. If you have a particular business issue you want resolved, this isn’t the book for you.

Overall it was a really enjoyable read. Not for detailed insight but is a great overview of the entrepreneur. If you are thinking about becoming an entrepreneur or wondering what the life of an entrepreneur is like, then it’s a great read for you. 4 stars.

Review: Yumiko Kadota – Emotional Female

Emotional Female
Yumiko Kadota

“Yumiko Kadota was every Asian parent’s dream: model student, top of her class in medical school and on track to becoming a surgeon… She was regularly left to carry out complex procedures without senior surgeons’ oversight; she was called all sorts of things, from ‘emotional’ to ‘too confident’; and she was expected to work a relentless on-call roster – sometimes seventy hours a week or more – to prove herself.”

Yumiko has claimed her title of Emotional Female and taken it to the next level. As a patient, I feel most listened to when the doctor seems to actually be 1) listening and 2) can empathize. Yumiko takes us on a frankly uncomfortable journey into the Australian medical system where things are rancid and wrong to the core.

Yumiko talks about how staff would get her and another woman of Asian descent confused. Thankfully I see this practice actively changing in the university system, where students are encouraged to learn how to pronounce a person’s given name, not just call them by a nickname.

I love that Yumiko has tried to make the most of her burnout time (if that is such a thing) and found passion in a related area of teaching anatomy. She’s also returned to some surgery, and I hope that her way forward is not as painful as the past. Funnily enough I recently worked with someone who went the other way – first an anatomy tutor and now she’s in post-graduate Medicine. I can only hope that the environment has improved since Yumiko’s time as a student, but I fear that the workplaces are much the same.

I requested this book because I work with both post-graduate and first year undergraduate Medicine students. I feel as if I should know more about what it takes to ‘become a doctor’ because there is so much more ahead of them after they have finished university. I want to be able to give good advice, or at least informed advice, to students about what they hope to achieve out of medicine – and whether they have healthy coping mechanisms.

I have previously read Going Under which is a fictional account of another young woman’s training in Medicine. The original blog of that author’s post was in 2017. It doesn’t give me much home that the profession is changing its ways in regards to its attitude towards mental health and chronic overwork here in 2021. I hope that further people feel able to speak up, and perhaps change will eventually happen.

Buy this book and be part of the change we need in the Medical system. Encourage others to read it. You won’t regret it.

Penguin Random House | 2 March 2021 | AU$34.99 | paperback

Review: Future Women – Untold Resilience

Untold Resilience
Future Women

“A timely and uplifting book of true stories from 19 women whose resilience has seen them survive extraordinary global and personal tragedy. What does it take to find courage in the midst of deprivation and devastation? Why are some people able to continue living with purpose, even when faced with loss and despair? How does our community turn challenge into triumph? And what can we learn from the exceptional women in our midst who have done just that?”

I had trouble with connecting to many of these stories. I am fortunate enough to work in an industry where gender doesn’t matter, and the same is true of my closest girlfriends. In Australia I think we are already very lucky that women tend to be well-protected and well-equipped to look after themselves. There are of course rapes and murders, but that could happen to anyone, not just women (although I admit women tend to be targeted more).

I read this in small hunks because it’s non-fiction and otherwise the resilience stories might have been overwhelming, or equally I could have gotten bored. I did finish the book, but I’m not sure I really gained anything useful from it. I know that times used to be tough for women (and in some places it still is) but I also know and have experienced the better times. COVID-19 really didn’t have an impact on me – but maybe this book will help others who suffered more.

Penguin Random House | 20th October 2020 | AU$32.99 | paperback