Book Review: I Didn’t See it Coming (Nancy Widmann, Elaine Eisenman & Amy Kopelan)

In all honesty, we weren’t sure what to expect from this book when we first picked it up.  Our initial assumption, based on the cover notes, was that it basically just provided a few tips on how people today could spot layoffs coming down the pike — or maneuver, internally, to avoid getting fired.  In reality, however, this book offered a treasure trove of advice that went WAY above and beyond the elements above; in fact, it might even be among the top three business books we’ve read all year!

The secret to the book’s success?  As opposed to the majority of career and management books based on the premise that stable, rewarding careers are possible for all of us — if only we learn the right tricks or master the right success habits — this book comes from the completely opposite perspective.  It describes today’s companies as “minefields” and maintains that no matter how safe a person might feel in his or her current job, each and every professional is statistically likely to have his/her career derailed at one stage or another, without warning, due to the politics and turbulence of today’s working world.  So the book encourages all professionals to think through and have an intelligent “exit strategy” in place at all times that will protect them against sudden surprises and unforeseen employment loss.

This strategy, as the book explains, should include a variety of critical elements including a personal emergency savings fund, a pre-negotiated severance package, formation of a personal advisory board, the cultivation of power networking relationships, and so forth.

Sound scary?  Perhaps.  But as frightening as the new marketplace might be to those accustomed to long-term career stability, there’s no denying that these dynamics are rapidly terraforming the employment landscape — and that a critical part of career success involves learning to adapt successfully to these new realities.   For what it’s worth, too, the Career Horizons client roster contains quite a few professionals and executives who THOUGHT their hard work, contributions, and reputation would insulate them from job loss, but who learned the hard way (one merger, acquisition, or cutback later) that this wasn’t entirely the case.  So in our minds, this book should almost be required reading for people seeking to build fulfilling management careers in the new millennium.  The authors do an outstanding job of picking the conventional wisdom apart — then arm their readers with a variety of practical tools, tactics, and insights to help people dodge the numerous “land mines” presented by the modern marketplace!

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