I just finished two great books and I wanted to share them with you.  The first book “Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell looks into the individuals that are the top of the field and the second book by “The First 90 Days” by Michael Watkins is about how to transition into a new opportunity.

First off, you can’t go wrong when you have a book by Malcolm Gladwell and yet again, he has written another book you will not want to put down! “Outliers, The Story of Success” takes you into the world of Outliers and helps to demystify it.

We all love the stories of rock stars, the computer geeks that changed the world, and amazing sports stars that are un-human. These must be individuals that were given a gift from god to excel in their fields, though Gladwell walks us through these different scenarios and helps us see that it is actually a series of events, some random, some lucky, some cultural that fit together to provide us with an outlier.

I really enjoyed the story like way that Gladwell used to discuss his findings. This ranged from hockey player’s success linked to their date of birth, to the cultural importance of Asians when it comes to their ease with math. The stories suck you in and you feel as though you’re with Gladwell as he is researching the different subjects and just as surprised as he is as he learns that there are many similarities among them.

One of the most powerful chapters for me was when Gladwell explores two plane crashes and how the culture of the pilots may have contributed to them. As he walks you through the pilots past up to the black box transcripts, you can not help but feel you are in the cockpit as the tragedies are occurring. The chapter outlines multiple real life learning lessons that parallel the fire service, which I’m going to bring back to my fire department about high stress situations and the multiple small mistakes that individually would not be bad, though combined create the tragedy.

It is important to note that Gladwell stresses that even though there are a bunch of events that help outliers get to where they are, these individuals do have an incredible drive and dedication towards their interest and put the hours of practice and experience (over 10,000 to be considered an expert) to become the best of the best!!

And now to change gears a bit. “The First 90 Days” does exactly what the cover says, “Critical success strategies for new leaders at all”. This is a quick read that I would recommend to managers that are making their next career step or managers that are promoting different individuals under them. It provides practical advice and gives a handful of examples of individuals taking on a new role and the obstacles they’re going to experience and advice on how to handle them.

The book stresses the importance of planning out your first 3 months and outlines the 10 strategies below:

1. Promote Yourself
2. Accelerate your learning
3. Match strategy to situation
4. Secure early wins
5. Negotiate success
6. Achieve Alignment
7. Build your team
8. Create Coalitions
9. Keep your balance
10. Expedite Everyone!!

Taking a new role can be daunting and this book will provide you with some practical advice to ensure you have a plan set forward to not only shine in front of your new boss, though to gain the buy in from your team.



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