How to Be Useful: A Beginner's Guide to Not Hating Work
by Megan Hustad, Houghton Mifflin Company, 232 pages, $19.95, Hardcover, May 2008, ISBN 9780618713509
Basic common sense and courtesy sometimes seem to be lacking in today's organizations. So what if someone had read (and re-read) all the important "success literature" of the past 100 years, put it together in one resource, and then modernized it for the contemporary business world?
Megan Hustad has done just that with her new book, How to Be Useful
, showing how to restore courtesy in your work and your organization, and move up in the world while doing so. In her book, Hustad draws lessons from recognizable sources such as Stephen Covey, Napoleon Hill, Dale Carnegie, and Donald Trump, and other, more surprising ones like Emily Post and Helen Gurley Brown--even Paris Hilton and Jennifer Aniston. But Hustad makes it work, putting many years worth of these "success books" to the test of today's more cynical business world.
One simple story Hustad relates is of a woman offering a beverage to a client. He replied that "apple juice would be fine." She didn't mention that all they had was coffee. Instead, she went to a vending machine, saw they were all out, went to a store across the street, purchased 2 cans of juice and returned promptly with them. In the not-too-distant future, she got a promotion. Could it have been the courtesy displayed? It certainly didn't hurt her chances.
Hustad has done the legwork that many people just don't have the time or the energy to do. Many of her resources will be new to business readers which makes the material fresh and useful. She does scorn some materials that many have stood by for years. For example, she firmly believes that nothing from the 1970's needs to be scrutinized, analyzed or discussed, because, other than the book Dress for Success
, there were no original business ideas in that decade.
By pulling some of the etiquette and social commentary from the past into the current discussion about the workplace, Megan Hustad provides an approach to relationships that is missing in much of today's business literature. With its "where we've been and where we're going to" mentality, How to Be Useful
puts those 7 Habits
and How to Make Friends
in a much needed context, providing a refreshing take on business.