Book Review of 'Improvise' by Fred Cook

Posted by on Jul 8, 2014 in careers, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Book Review of 'Improvise' by Fred Cook

Here is my recent review of the new career book, ‘Improvise‘ by Fred Cook. In short, I enjoyed reading this book and think it makes a refreshing addition to any careers library.

Gutsy & Smart!

This is a gutsy book on leadership & career development and in my opinion there should be more like it. Maybe there aren’t many CEOs with similar levels of ‘unconventional behaviour’ in their past. But I’m willing to bet there are plenty who got themselves in and out of the same kind of scrapes Fred Cook shares in this book. Although most other CEOs are ‘less inclined to fess’ for obvious reasons.
In the introduction to ‘Improvise’, Fred Cook mentions his PR work with business luminaries like Jeff Bezos and Steve Jobs. With amusing irony, he then goes on to break his own rules and confess the kind of stories he would have been paid by Jobs, et al to keep out of the papers. But that’s not a criticism from me. I’m glad Fred Cook is still willing to break rules, even his own. Rule-breaking is far more in-keeping with his career and the heart of the lessons & experiences he aims to share in this book.
The biggest wish I have upon reading this book is that there were more books like it and that more career stories could be told while the events were actually happening. Maybe I’m asking for the impossible but I’d like to read more career journeys from the middle. For instance, I’d love to read some of Fred Cook’s journals because I think I would be able to connect with his experiences (and with him) even more. Fred’s journals would tell his story from a time when he was putting his theory of improvisation into practice, and living it for real. Sure, that version of Fred wouldn’t have been a CEO, and he wouldn’t have known where he or his career would end up, but perhaps that would be the charm? None of us know where our careers are going. This kind of uncertainty makes us feel quite alone but the truth is we’re anything but alone. There are millions of people out there just like us. Thousands of young Fred Cooks following their own sense of adventure, doing what they think is best, regardless of how conventional or unconventional it seems to anyone else. I’d be the first to say that perhaps my wish for ‘live career stories’ is not a fair criticism of Fred Cook or ‘Improvise’ because Fred has done the next best thing. He has shared bravely in retrospect from a position of significant achievement and a fair degree of influence and power, and I thank & applaud him for that.
In the author’s words, this book is dedicated to, “those who don’t know exactly where they’re going, but have the courage to figure it out along the way”. I can think of no higher praise or recommendation than saying I believe Fred Cook authentically wrote ‘Improvise’ to support the people he pictured when he made this dedication.


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