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The 5 Patterns of Extraordinary Careers: The Guide for Achieving Success and Satisfaction [Hardcover]

James M. Citrin , Richard Smith
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Aug. 5 2003 Crown Business Briefings
What is different about the careers of people like Lou Gerstner, the acclaimed, recently retired chairman and CEO of IBM? Or Senator Elizabeth Dole, Yahoo! COO Dan Rosensweig, and Tom Freston, chairman and CEO of MTV Networks?

Why did they ascend to the top and prosper—why did they have extraordinary careers—while others equally talented never reached their potential or aspirations?

Jim Citrin and Rick Smith of Spencer Stuart, the world’s most influential executive search firm, set out to explore this question. The result—based on in-depth, original research—is sure to be the most important and useful book for anyone seeking to crack the code of how to build a rewarding, personally satisfying career.

Like weather systems and financial markets, careers contain patterns. What Citrin and Smith found from their research and extensive experience is that people with extraordinary careers are guided by five straightforward patterns that can be harnessed and used by everyone. These individuals:

• Understand the value of you by translating their knowledge and experience into action, building their personal value over each phase of their career
• Practice benevolent leadership by not clawing their way to the top but by being carried there
• Solve the permission paradox, the dilemma of not being able to get a job without experience and not getting the experience without the job
• Differentiate using the 20/80 principle of performance by storming past their defined jobs to create breakthrough ideas and deliver unexpected impact
• Do not micromanage their careers, but macromanage them by gravitating toward the things they are best at and have a passion for, and working with people they like and respect

No one manages your career for you. But with Citrin and Smith as your guide, you’ll be able to understand—and act on—the root causes of success. And what better source for strategic career advice than Spencer Stuart, the firm that over the past ten years has conducted more than 60 percent of the searches for Fortune 1000 CEOs?

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Aside from some perfunctory tips on job searching, resume writing and interviewing, the authors, both consultants with the head-hunting firm Spencer Stuart, approach careers as problems in psychology and group dynamics. They urge mid-career executives with suppressed feelings of anxiety and helplessness to view a career as a free-form project of self-actualization that should fit with their personalities and inspire passion. More pragmatically, career building is also an exercise in image-management that should convey potential and experience to employers and their head-hunting consultants. This partly involves canny career moves allowing talent to shine. But climbing the ladder also requires consummate office politics-manipulating perceptions, networking with the powerful, strategic quid pro quos, gaining power by "masquerading as the leader"-all accomplished without stepping on toes, stifling subordinates or "sucking up." The authors convey these lessons in a sometimes turgid mixture of opaque managementese ("successful executives... literally achieve positive impact at an accelerating rate"), squishy survey data ("extraordinary executives... leverage both their strengths and their passions more than six times as often as average employees") and case studies in which executives move from industry to industry in a meteoric, triumphal procession of nebulous jobs in consulting, marketing and finance. The blend of motivational therapeutics and softly Machiavellian tactics may help some executives get out of their rut, but the generic, almost contentless corporate work experiences on display seem far from extraordinary.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Certainly, Citrin's latest book (after Lessons from the Top, 1999, and Zoom! 2002, with Tomas J. Neff) is filled with accolades for executive recruiter Spencer Stuart, his employer. Overlook that, for a while; instead, focus on the enormous potential his company has to analyze a vast array of executive talent and uncover patterns of achievement. That is exactly what Citrin, with coauthor Smith, does. Five differentiating principles--the contrast between a merely successful professional and the extraordinary executive--are not only described but also demonstrated in real C-level individuals in U.S. corporations. For the first principle, "understand the value of you," winning bicyclist Lance Armstrong is profiled, as is Yahoo!'s COO Dan Rosensweig. The benevolent leader, an executive focused on the success of others, is best exemplified in Herb Kelleher, former CEO of Southwest Airlines, among other singled-out individuals. Lists go on and on; what's more important is the application of these principles to the organization, which creates extraordinary people. Finally, the recognition and proof that talent matters to business! Barbara Jacobs
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Take Hold of Your Career Feb. 1 2004
I read a short article about "The 5 Patterns of Extraordinary Careers" on the Internet and decided it might be worth reading. Most of the career "guides" I had read up to this time were of the, 'choose your ideal career through completing a series of tests to identify your strengths' variety. But what intrigued me about this book was that rather than selecting the "right" career it was more about making the most of the career of you have. Still, Citrin and Smith do acknowledge the importance of being in a career that plays to your, "strengths, passions, and people" by making it one of the "patterns" of extraordinary careers; oddly, though, it is the last of the five rather the first. Perhaps one of my favorite quotes comes from this pattern, "...many people find, partway up the ascent, that their ladders were leaning against the wrong wall." Again, though, this book is more about what to do with the your career once you have found the "right" one. And therein lies perhaps the most important maxim of this book, successful careers are managed, sometimes unconsciously, rather than driven by fate or luck; a corollary is that opportunities are created and actively sought after rather than passively waited for. Even the authors acknowledge that these ideas aren't new. But the patterns represent a distillation of the interviews and surveys of extraordinary executives conducted across Industry boundaries and they, perhaps, are new, or are at least fresh.
The core of the book is chapters 2 - 6, one for each of the patterns: Understanding the Value of You, Practice Benevolent Leadership, Overcome the Permission Paradox, Differentiate Using the 20/80 Principle, and Find the Right Fit. Citrin and Smith go on to extend the patterns to extraordinary organizations in chapter 7.
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The Five Patterns of Extraordinary Careers: The Guide for Achieving Success and Satisfaction by James M. Citrin and Richard A. Smith. This is a refreshing look at the Self-Help Career book genre. Job seekers, employers, and human resource professionals - in short, anyone that's interested in enriching their career - will benefit from this book.
1. Understand the Value of You. People with extraordinary careers understand how value is created in the workplace, and translate that knowledge into action, building their personal value over each phase of their careers.
2. Practice Benevolent Leadership. People with extraordinary careers do not claw their way to the top, they are carried there.
3. Overcome the Permission Paradox. People with extraordinary careers overcome one of the great Catch-22s of business: You can't get the job without experience and you can't get the experience without the job.
4. Differentiate Using the 20/80 Principle of Performance. People with extraordinary careers do their defined jobs exceptionally well but don't stop there. They storm past pre-determined objectives to create breakthrough ideas and deliver unexpected impact.
5. Find the Right Fit (Strengths, Passions & People). People with extraordinary careers make decisions with the long-term in mind. They willfully migrate toward positions that fit their natural strengths and passions and where they can work with people they like and respect.
The authors have developed a razor-sharp vocabulary that brings welcome dialogue about careers into the new age of business. The executives in this book are all focused on their career, this is one aspect of those with successful careers. The authors have proven that ignoring one's career can greatly supress chances at success.
Is it the best book I ever read? No, but it did help me to focus my attention on skills I was utilizing, just not to my best advantage.
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This work describes a plethora of successful management
approaches/styles. The authors segment a career into the
promise phase, momentum in mid-career and harvest phase
at the height of a career. In addition, the need to build strong
management teams, motivate people and restructure organizations
is explained with appropriate examples. The authors describe
the importance of inventorying your skills so that opportunities
can be taken when they first appear. Big jobs go to men and
women who prove their abilities to outgrow smaller ones.
The importance of macromanaging careers is extolled rather than
the traditional micromanagement. The authors explain strategies
to penetrate top jobs without experience by learning to
make the complexities simple. They provide examples of
companies; such as , Cendian which have challenging jobs
in logistics outsourcing. Lastly, the authors provide a
definition of career success as:
o job freedom
o being well-regarded
o family happiness and contentment
o learning and challenge
o personal health
This book is a worthy addition to any personal library.
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A very useful book; of the 5 patterns, I particularly liked the 1st & 4th ones.
1st: Understand the Value of You, and the explanation of the difference between potential value and experiential value
4th : 20/80 Principles of Performance : turning the usual 80:20 rule on its head, emphasising that its the last 20% of what you accomplish that truly differentiates you.
The other patterns were just as relevant, but these are the ones I got most personal value from.
Other useful concepts that were described in passing included mentoring : and how you can mentor up as well as mentor down.
There was however one underlying disappointment : whilst not detracting from any of the underlying principles, the authors seem to have become engrossed in working for Large Corporations, when this is a book about Individuals careers. I'd have liked to have seen more examples about small/middle-sized Companies.
The examples & scenarios quoted all refer to Large US Corporations like AOL TimeWarner, AT&T, EDS, GE, GM, IBM, McKinsey, Microsoft, Xerox. There's one fleeting reference (page 187) when non-US firms like Nokia, Shell & Toyota get a 1-sentence 'also' mention.
The authors' Employer, SpencerStuart, gets plenty of promotion on the front cover as well as throughout the contents, and is described therein as "the worlds most influential executive search firm". The authors say that they interviewed "thousands" of Executives. I was therefore surprised and disappointed that they hadn't managed to cite a single example of a European or Asian Executive or Company? I can't believe that "success" is limited to American Executives or Companies? It even made me wonder how good the authors would be in performing an Executive Search for a European or Asian Company? Yet SpencerStuart has more Offices in Europe that in the whole of North America, so the absence didn't seem quite right to me?
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Good concepts, tight presentation.
Mixes anecdotes with concepts to give examples of applicability.
Published on May 6 2004
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting book, but just doesn't quite stick
Richard Smith and James Citrin are executive search professionals (headhunters) from one of the top firms in the world. Read more
Published on Jan. 12 2004 by therosen
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommend it
The book is result of seemingly solid research on extraordinary careers, and it shows. The material is rock solid with fine examples and reasoning. Read more
Published on Oct. 28 2003 by Jaewoo Kim
3.0 out of 5 stars Foundations of good career strategy
A good book overall, I still would rate it only 3/5 because I felt it was mostly oriented towards the white collar professional and big money. Read more
Published on Oct. 26 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Career Textbook
This was one of the best career management books I have read. It is unfortunate that material like this is not included as part of a college curricullum, whether its in B-School... Read more
Published on Sept. 21 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read - especially for aspiring 20somethings!
If you are aiming high with your career, you MUST read this book. It is well written, succinct, and has some of the most relevant (but fortunately, limited) number of examples. Read more
Published on Sept. 18 2003
4.0 out of 5 stars If You Aren't Strategizing About Your Career, You Must Read!
The Five Patterns of Extraordinary Careers, by James M. Citrin and Richard A. Smith was an easy read, and a worthwhile one. Read more
Published on Sept. 16 2003 by Dana
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Patterns and going from Extraordinary to the Optimal.
The Five patterns described in this book combined with the case studies, provide worthy guidelines for an extraordinary career. Read more
Published on Sept. 12 2003 by Kim Olson
5.0 out of 5 stars How to Succeed Without Machiavelli
Historically, have modern-day executives with extraordinary careers clawed their way to the top? As a group, have they manifested a pattern of ingratiating themselves to their... Read more
Published on Sept. 10 2003 by FCS
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