I specialize in reviewing Print-On-Demand (POD) published books for my website and Midwest Book Review. Please query for a review by email to hgunther234@hotmail.com.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

BETTER LIVING THROUGH BUREAUCRACY - How to Make It to the Top Without Doing Any Real Work by Greg W. Starr

Llumina Press
PO Box 772246, Coral Springs, FL
Genre: Professional/Business
Rating: Very Good
ISBN: 9781595266330, $15.95, 176 pp.

Well, well . . . what do we have here . . . a contemporary, synergetic version of Niccolo Machiavelli’s The Prince and Phineas T. Barnum’s The Art of Money Getting? . . . the antithesis of Henry Ford’s What I Learned About Business.

Yes, that is precisely what we have: a new, in-depth guidebook on how to succeed in the business world without doing any "real" work, as advertised in the subtitle–How to Make It to the Top Without Doing Any Real Work.

Greg W. Starr is clearly not a man to write a book without a goal (‘mission’) or plan (‘strategy/framework/tactics’), nor one to choose his words frivolously, as demonstrated in his subtitle. In Better Living Through Bureaucracy Mr. Starr shares his perspective and knowledge acquired over thirty years working or, as the case may be, ‘not working’ for major corporations and federal agencies.

Quoting from the back cover he tells us:

"You will discover how to:
- Bring great distinction to yourself while leaving the work for others.
- Sound like a natural leader without making commitments.
- Turn everyday activities into powerful image enhancers.
- Allocate your time to benefit you and avoid wasted efforts.
- Quickly get noticed by top management as the next person to promote.
- Establish and grow your own organizational empire with ease.

"Why not zoom up the corporate ladder with a minimum of effort? You could spend hundreds of dollars on career development courses that won’t get you anywhere, when everything you need for success is in this book."

And my favorite . . . Chapter 10, Corporate-Speak Bureaucratese, will instruct you how to become a ‘subject matter expert’ on ‘The Power of Language’ and ‘facilitate’ your ‘objectives’ by mentoring you in the use of nebulous (‘champion’) and noncommittal (‘framework’) words, power adjectives (‘strategic project direction’), compound nouns (‘plan process strategy’). You can learn how to mangle the language, make up new words, and use buzzwords, acronyms and jargon . . . "to fool people into thinking that you and what you are doing are important, while at the same time obfuscating what, if anything, you personally will be doing." He tells us that "Effective Corporate-Speak Bureaucratese (CBS) requires a confident, self-important delivery spoken as though the meaning of the words is self-evident, even though no real definition of the words could be given." Use plurals as an easy way to sound like you’re doing more. "Always use the royal ‘we’, as in ‘We need to follow up on that.’" And to ‘advise’ you in your endeavors to become a ‘subject matter expert’ in CBS, he has included an ‘English to Bureaucratese Dictionary’.

Personally, it sounds like a lot of work and expense to learn and apply Mr. Starr’s techniques needed to ‘fool’ your co-workers, avoid work, and ape and ingratiate yourself into upper management, but then, if you’re an egomaniac, me-me-driven, integrity-lacking Prince (or Princess) looking for the easy way to Easy Street, this may be just the book for you. The author tells us, "It’s the American dream. Something for nothing . . . or nearly nothing."

My, my . . . how the American dream has changed, and very possibly this is the new dream, as our young people who have been given so much take it for granted that life and success should continue to come easily. In the end, however, there is very little value in things that come too easily, and usually, if something appears too good to be true, that may, indeed, be the case.

Better Living Through Bureaucracy is well-organized, well-written and -edited. I can recommend the book based on these qualities; however, I do not support Mr. Starr’s efforts to encourage others to share his American dream: "Something for nothing . . . or nearly nothing."

Reviewed by Kaye Trout - February 22, 2007

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