Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Book review: Fire Them Up!

Richard Bailey will tell you that I'm always praising him for including book reviews on his blog. As the book review editor of Journalism History, I write and edit dozens of reviews every year, but somehow I never got around to doing one for my blog. So, when I presented with the opportunity to review Fire Them Up! by Carmine Gallo, I decided to jump at the chance.

Fire Them Up! promises to explain 7 simple secrets to "inspire colleagues, customers and clients," "sell yourself, your vision, and your values," and "communicate with charisma and confidence." American workers are unhappy in their jobs, Gallo argues, and the solution is better leadership.

The seven secrets (acronym: INSPIRE) are...

Each tip is illustrated with the stories of leaders, from top executives like Patrick Charmel, CEO of Griffin Hospital in Derby, Conn., to Krista Hawkins, Hyudai auto plant tour guide in Montgomery, Ala. Gallo, a communications coach and former journalist, hosts the Useful Commute podcast and is a speaker who also wrote 10 Simple Secrets of the World's Greatest Business Communicators. This background explains why many of his tips include advice on making good presentations.

Part II of the book shows how individuals -- Steve Jobs, Disney teacher of the year Ron Clark, Peter Fleischer of Ketchum -- apply the secrets to their work. The fact that Gallo included a wide range of jobs and people throughout the book is a real strength, in my opinion.

Although I'm usually skeptical of a book that promises "simple steps" to anything, I would definitely consider assigning to my students various chapters from this book, such as "Paint a Picture" for PR writing or "Navigate the Way" for a discussion of vision and mission in PR administration. They're clearly written, lively, and provide relevant examples. Moreover, the book draws upon rhetorical theory and provides tips on using such literary tools as analogies and metaphors, which is not often the case in the popular business press. I would also include it on a list of choices for student book reviews in the administration class. It's a cut above many of the business/leadership books I've seen.

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