Book Review: Shine – How to Survive and Thrive at Work by Chris Baréz-Brown


is an inspiring book by Chris Baréz-Brown. It is one of those books they sell in the airports (I bought it in one) that provides you with a quick read for the duration of your flight. It is a book about how to enjoy the thing you are doing for living. Without further adue, here are my notes:

  • Be ruthless with your time and then give generously with absolute attention when you do share it.
  • When you wake up tomorrow, choose to emphasize facets of yourself that you really value. Then see how things change. If a perspective gives you more, live with it for a bit and try it on. It may become part of your wardrobe.
  • What have been the real highs and lows of the last year, and why? Are you passionate about learning and growth, trying new things, diversity? Do you feel challenged by exciting stimulation, collaboration, or risk of taking?
  • Getting out of the office creates a different state in you, which means you can access more of your brain. More brain means more processing and more rich stimulus, delivering better ideas.
  • If you really want a shiny business, make sure you notice when the people you work with are great. And appreciate them for being so. Notice when they’re great and make sure they know you noticed.
  • To get fresh, you have to break habits and do things differently. This will keep your brain stimulated and will help you find flexible perspectives. Start with simple things like sleeping on the other side of the bed or swapping your iPod with a friend’s. Add more habits as you progress. Freshness is a strategic choice; it’s not an investment that pays back in linear way. It’s surprising. It cannot guarantee a breakthrough idea, but it can guarantee a much greater chance of having one. Most importantly, it can guarantee that your journey through life will be much richer. Mess with everything: it keeps your brain fresh and your creativity pumping. Life will never be dull.
  • The secret to getting anything done lies in the classic pain and pleasure equation. If you associate pain with carrying on as you are, then you will have an incentive to do things differently. If, however, carrying on as you are produces no pain, nothing will change.
  • Whenever you find yourself in a situation that isn’t that great for you, you have three choices: avoid, accept or adapt:1. Avoid – There are some circumstances in life where it’s just easier to avoid the person or the situation that isn’t filling you with great energy.2. Accept – It takes real wisdom to understand when the situation is best accepted, but if you can truly accept what you can’t change, it can be a liberating experience.3. Adapt – Adapting is the most difficult and energy-draining option, so only choose it when you have no other option and you are confident of success.Next time there is somebody or something bothering you, ponder which of the three options will give you what you want for the minimum outlay of energy. If you use the right combination on your to-do list today, you will find that annoyances and energy-sappers are easily dealt with.
  • I’ve tried to encourage the energy-vampires I’ve met to become energy-givers, but I’ve reached the conclusion that it’s better to avoid them. They are intractable, yet strangely amusing, forever caught in the most desperate of dramas. If they are in your team, sack them. If they are ‘friends’, sack them. If you are married to one…take up drinking.
  • Feedback. My rule of thumb is that for every one piece of developmental feedback (i.e. on something that could be done better), I offer five pieces of reinforcing feedback (i.e. on things that are being done fantastically). A key to giving great feedback is the spirit in which it is offered. The intention must be to help the person receiving it grow.
  • Business has karmic nature. It can take a long time for the seeds you sow to bear fruit. For example, in sales functions a great deal of effort goes into building relationships that are of no immediate benefit in the expectation of reaping future rewards. You throw your energy out there and you hope that at some point it comes back. When it does come back it’s surprising – it’s often in disproportionate measure and the timing is anything but predictable. the same principle exists with the people inside your business. If you help them out in whatever way you can, karma will usually ensure that someday, in some way, you will be repaid.
  • Have a thing. Interesting people often have a thing. It may be that they dress in a particular way. It may be that they have a passion to try new things. It may be that every time they have a meeting they make people laugh. It doesn’t really matter what the thing is, but you need one. Things make us different; things make us interesting. All of that makes us shine.
  • The best leaders I know are relentless communicators, who always tell stories about the things that are most important to the business at that time. These stories soon become a part of company legend and culture. If you want to stand out of the crowd, make sure you know where things are going, and tell good stories to illustrate it. Populate your stories with people you want to make heroes of. The finance director who saved a million. The PA who saved her boss’s bacon by spotting a flaw in his plan. The engineer who fiddled with an idea over many weekends that ended up being the next innovation. Every time you tell a story you give your characters more energy and more chance to shine.
  • In the same way, make sure there are some stories featuring you. Just as you tell stories about others, others will tell stories about you. Tell stories and paint the picture of the future – but make sure you’re in it.
  • Everything is energy. Consider your business life as an electrical circuit. First, use your energy only on things you believe in. It is much harder to create energy when your heart isn’t in it. When you believe in something, your energy is greater, goes further and has more impact. If you don’t believe in what you’re doing, stop.
  • Standards. I have a clear view on what leads to success and what leads to mediocrity. The distinguishing factor is not talent, role or even ambition: it is standards. A great leader knows that the little things they do have a big impact on the psyche of the business. Those things include never keeping people waiting, being genuinely interested in what people have to say, upholding commitments, setting the context clearly in any interaction and sharing themselves even when they have been working flat-out for weeks. Those are the standards that help peaople shine.
  • Be consistent. One of the reasons standards are so important is that people know what theycan rely on you to do.Once they know that, they will find it easier to interact with you and make the most out of your talents. Flaky business folk are not liked by anyone because all they do is increase the level of risk. As a leader, you need to be consistent in the way you perform. people need to know what to expect from you each time they approach you.
  • Immediate action keeps your mind clear and your to-do list tiny.
  • One of my fears is living wasteful life. I can view this either as a negative source of concern or as one of the best possible motives to get off my bum and get stuff done. I choose the latter.
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