Animal skills? Who knew?

Hello, The Job Stalker readers … I’m coming off another “complex” week, and missed my Friday post with new links, less though not intending to have something up, and more from being faced with the dilemma of not having enough “Twitter time” during the week, leading to only having a handful of links, and leading to a choice of digging up obvious “filler” or just letting things slip (again) into the following week. As I really hate to run with “lesser links”, I opted for the latter, which I do realize simply leaves you hanging. Sorry about that. If you need a dose of job-search links you can always check the latest edition of “the big list o’links”, available here: TJS-LinkList-110708.pdf

It’s also been a while since I had a book review to bring you on a Monday. Although I read (and review) a target of 72 non-fiction books a year, most are not about the Job Search (or even close), so I’m frequently looking at a “grey area” of how much a book “fits” for inclusion here. This week’s entry is off in that zone, not (as in many cases) because it’s specific to my particular job search, but because it’s more a general book that has varying levels of applicability to the job search.

In this case, we’re taking a look at Stefan Swanepoel’s Surviving Your Serengeti: 7 Skills to Master Business and Life which claims to be “a fable of self-discovery”. I’d encountered this on Twitter, one of the first books that I’d run into that had its own Twitter account, and requested a review copy from its publisher, Wiley.

This is a fictionalized tale based on the author’s experiences (he’s originally from Kenya), spun out into a story about an American couple coming to Africa on a vacation. There are a lot of parallels to other books I’ve read, both in the “native knowledge” vein and of the “business parable” sort. Ultimately, this is one of those “think out of the box” business books, with an interesting hook of taking the behaviors of different kinds of animals (encountered within a Safari to the Serengeti) as patterns that could be emulated within one’s life. These are framed within both the work and home settings, with an occasional nod to the job search. Frankly, the most notable thing about Surviving Your Serengeti is that it’s not horrible … there are so many things here which could have veered off into forms that I can’t stand, but it’s constantly pulling back to a center which makes its messages seem very reasonable and applicable.

Again, the “skills” of the sub-title are behavior patterns exhibited by various African animals, and, to cut to the case, as it were, here’s the list:

  • The Enduring Wildebeest
  • The Strategic Lion
  • The Enterprising Crocodile
  • The Efficient Cheetah
  • The Graceful Giraffe
  • The Risk-Taking Mongoose
  • The Communicating Elephant

What I found most appealing in this (for “this kind of book”) was that the story-based elements dealing with these animals are, at the end of each chapter, distilled into a 2-3 page “summary” of how the specific animal’s “skill” can be generalized, and an action plan for “maximizing” the skill in practice. The author also provides a web site with a quiz that quickly lets you determine which of the seven is “your animal”. I have more info on that, and some other background and context on this in my review … do go check that out. Surviving Your Serengeti is a quick read, so you’ll not be bogged down in it for any length of time, and it might just give you an insight on your own talents that could be useful in your job search.

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