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Basic Black: The Essential Guide for Getting Ahead at Work (and in Life)

Basic Black: The Essential Guide for Getting Ahead at Work (and in Life)

by Cathie Black
  Above all, Basic Black is motivating. It provides a close-up look at the keen judgment, perseverance, and optimism that have propelled Cathie Black to the top of her game, along with the kind of straight-up practical advice you get in a one-on-one session with a career coach. You’ll find out how to handle job interviews, which rules to break, and why you should make your life a grudge-free zone. Equally important, you’ll be inspired to pursue your passions and achieve your very best.
  More information and prices from:
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Screw It, Let's Do It: Lessons in Life

Screw It, Let's Do It: Lessons in Life

by Sir Richard Branson
  In "Screw It, Let's Do It", I'll be looking forwards to the future. A lot has changed since I founded Virgin in 1968, and I'll explain how I intend to take my business and my ideas to the next level and the new and exciting areas - such as launching Virgin Fuels - into which Virgin is currently moving. But I have also brought together all the important lessons, good advice and inspirational adages that have helped me along the road to success. Ironically, I have never been one to do things by the book, but I have been inspired and influenced by many remarkable people. I hope that you too might find a little inspiration between these pages.
  Covers vary - more information and prices from:
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Career choice guides

Earning a Crust

What is it really like to be an architect or a chimney sweep? Is working as a life model sexy and glamorous or cold and boring? How does an embalmer cope with preserving her own relatives? And do chartered accountants secretly have it sussed?

This book is a lot more entertaining than any careers book has a right to be. Peter Cross uses interview techniques acquired as a broadsheet journalist to speak to seventy five women about their work. It's ambitious scope is matched with powerful personal accounts of unusual and challenging careers in entertainment, health, catering, arts, traditional crafts, professions and trades.

This is not just an ideal gift for school leavers and recent graduates. Any woman fed up with her daily grind will find solace and solutions here.

He is the author of the companion book, Jobs for the Boys: Men and their Work

Sample interview (originally published in the Independent on Sunday:

Nine to Five

Name: Kate Hudson

Age: 32

Job: Marketing Director

Salary: £36,000 plus dividends

Can you give me a run through your career to date?

"I left school at 18 with 11 'O' levels and three 'A's. I worked for a company in the West End called Albany Life for 2½ years before moving onto a company called General Portfolio, which was taken over by a French company, called Gan. I worked in Sales Support and became part of a small team called the Strategic Initiative Group. A year ago six of us, five men and me decided to set up our own training consultancy providing training and business solutions for companies working in the financial sector. We are coming to the end of our first year of trading and have turned over just under half a million pounds"

Describe what you do?

"My official title is marketing director. My role includes basically getting the company in front of prospective clients, producing press releases and newsletters. I have written articles for the financial press. As a new company we have commissioned extensive independent research from life assurance companies to understand the current and future use and attitudes towards training consultancies. We produced a report and have circulated it widely. Companies come to us for we provide different solutions. A company may for instance be introducing new technology and need help. In this case we would prepare a training proposal. It's not just a matter of training people how to use a computer. Training is not just about knowledge, but skills, attitudes; behaviours and the difficulties individuals may have with change. Techno Phobes for instance. All this has to be taken into account ameliorated and evaluated. Some companies may not have the training resources, which is also where we can help. At the end of the day it's about delivering the right result for the client. It's a very competitive business. Increasingly only those consultancies who adopt a proactive approach, concerned with delivering value and quality, will be the ones who survive."

Where do you live?

"I live in Bedford with Alan my husband and our son Sam who is 6½. We live in a large Victorian town house that had previously been two flats, and for the past three years we have been re-decorating it ourselves. I'm very impulsive so Alan will come home and find that I have changed something. As a new company we had to keep our overheads down for the first year. As I was going to be responsible for the day to day running of the company our office is currently at my house. On the top floor is the office with computer and fax and next to it is a room, which is used as a sort of 'think tank'. At some stage we will to move the business out into other premises: it's too easy just to slip upstairs and put in extra hours."

Describe your early morning?

"I get up at around seven. Either my husband will be leaving for work; he works far more hours than I do, Sam may come into my bedroom and wake me up, or failing that an alarm clock. I go and prepare breakfast and sort out things like Sam's sports bag and check he's done his homework. Breakfast is normally what Sam has Shreddies or Coco Pops. I'm not a health freak. I get him to school then its back here to start work."

What do you wear on a typical day?

"If I'm seeing clients I wear a suit, I still dress for work even if I'm working from home but less formally. You have to create an impression: first impressions are critical. I tend to wear black, pinstripes or navy."

Describe your journey to work?

"When I'm visiting clients I travel all over the place. Last week I flew to Edinburgh and drove to Liverpool, Bournemouth and Croydon. I have a CD in the car and play loud music, James Brown, Manic Street Preachers and George Michael. Some of my colleagues listen to Radio Four but this is not for me."

Describe your work environment?

"When I'm meeting clients I usually see them at their premises which are normally company headquarters. These vary enormously: I was at one recently that must have cost millions consisting of a huge hexagonal building, which included trees and a waterfall in the middle. Meetings are set up with training managers and much time will be spent talking over their plans and needs. As a consultant you are often able to see things in black and white but it's no good producing off the shelve solutions. Every client and every project is unique, so you never have and preconceived ideas. Each company takes a different approach to training so by talking to different people you can build up a bank of ideas and good practices."

How long do you have for lunch?

"I don't have lunch when I'm at home, I might have a biscuit or something. On the road I carry fruit in my bag and buy chocolates at a garage."

What are the most stressful aspects of your job?

"Going from being employed to taking the plunge, investing our own money in our own company has been stressful but positively so. We could have continued in an employed position with another company but the opportunity was too good to miss so we went for it."

What are the main perks?

"Being in business with friends I have known and worked with for years, and we are all equal shareholders. The present arrangements are good for family life, a good balance when you're working from home."

Hours per week?

"About ten hours a day, but there have been times when we have been working from nine in the morning till midnight or later including weekends to get important work done. But weekends are fairly precious and I try to keep them free."

What about holidays?

"We agreed to give ourselves 25 days holiday a year but one of my colleagues has only taken one day off. Last year we went to Minorca for a fortnight. A proper beach holiday with Sam making sandcastles for the first week and we just crashed out. Then in the second week we got a car and travelled around a bit. I'm no lover of activity holidays. Just like to recharge the batteries."

What do you do after work?

"I'm studying for a marketing diploma but work commitments means that I am not always able to get to the classes. I go to the gym about twice a week and I have just bought a piano and am starting to get my fingers around the keys again. I took my grades when I was at school. I play with Sam on his Nintendo."

What's the first thing you do when you get home?

"If I've been out I'll couch in front of the telly and watch the soaps. I like Coronation Street but you can't put that in."

How do you feel on a Sunday night?

"I used to hate Sunday nights. Now I look forward to the new week, there's always something different, and new challenges in the week ahead."

See also Jobs for the Boys: Men and their Work

Earning a Crust
by Peter Cross
  Unlike most career books, "Earning a Crust" talks to people who actually work and live their jobs. It is not a "how to get this or that job" book but an inspirational volume for anyone wishing to consider options that they might not otherwise have thought of. The book covers around 75 detailed interviews with women (and one man!) who, for the most part, work in atypical employments. The interviews developed from a series of articles that appeared in national weekday and Sunday papers. The jobs covered range from chimneysweep and canoeist to taxidermist, hat maker and lorry driver, touching on unusual and challenging careers in entertainment, caring and health, the outdoor life, food and drink, applied arts, around the house and the body beautiful. The book also contains a wealth of useful and useable references, contact details and trade organisations. This is a book for all readers, not just women, as the details of the jobs are just as applicable to men.
  More information and prices from:
Amazon.co.uk - British pounds
Amazon.de - euros


Jobs for the Boys: An Essential Career Choice Guide for Men
by Peter Cross
  Similar to Peter Cross's previous book, "Earning a Crust", on careers for women, this book presents discussions with a wide range of men who live and work for their jobs. The jobs in question are not necessarily those that a job-seeker would look for first, so they should provide an inspiration for readers to look further afield and consider some occupations they might not even have thought of. There are around 75 interviews in the book, presenting insights into employment possibilities and opportunities. The jobs range across most industries and include descriptions of the working lives of men who really know what those jobs are like. They reveal the downsides of their work, as well as the highs, so that readers can see their own suitability or otherwise for these unusual occupations. The book contains contact details, trade organizations and useable references. As with "Earning a Crust", the book is suitable for both men and women.
 More information and prices from:
Amazon.co.uk - British pounds
Amazon.de - euros



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