[Note: Update is at the end of the review]
I've just finished reading David St. Lawrence's book "Danger Quicksand - Have A Nice Day." After reviewing David's blog, Ripples, I found out he'd published the book and I ordered it. After I placed the order, I read the cautionary post on the Bent Crow Press site. I began to brace myself as the book came to me via the US Postal service.
I'm very happy with my job and company at the moment, so I tried to read it with the lens of someone in a job that's sucking the life out of them and negatively impacting work/life balance (yes, I have those memories and can draw on them vividly when I choose).
To me, the book felt like a journey seen through David's eyes. The book begins with a primer on how to determine whether your job truly is a pit of despair. During this portion of the book, I was a bit unnerved by David's cynical tone - perhaps the old feelings were becoming too vivid... He calls them like he sees them, and his unvarnished observations were eerily close to some of the experiences I've had.
Suddenly I realized, "Wait - this is Quicksand. Don't fight it, you'll only make it worse." I pressed on - and I'm glad I did. The cold sweats were worth it. I feel I got a glimpse of the pain and frustration David experienced while trying to be effective in dysfunctional environments.
The book then moves in to the "OK, so do something about it." phase. The next several chapters deal with creating your exit strategy so you can move out of bad situations with as much dignity as possible. There are also pointers on how to recognize when your employer has flipped the bozo bit on you, in which case it's time to start updating your resume' - and fast.
Once you get out of the pit (regardless of how you leave), the book talks about how to get to the next phase of your life. In this section, the positive side of David's philosophy really comes through. These chapters are all about what to do next, how to take responsibility for your post-Corporate existence, and how to create a new reality in which you can work with integrity, fulfillment, and life satisfaction.
If you (or a friend) are working in a dysfunctional environment, this book can help you move on to a better situation. If you are having a tough time finding a new job after leaving you old job, the last 1/3 of this book provides great methods to lift your spirits, design and define your 'dream job.'
There is also an interesting section on how to start a "micro business" and some terrific insight on working for yourself.
In summary, I liked it. This book is unique blend of dry wit, cynicism, and practical advice. If you work in a dysfunctional company, or have unexpectedly lost your job, I recommend this book. David's hard-won lessons may be what you need to get up the gumption to move on sooner rather than later.
Update: July 10, 2005
This past week, I recommended David's book to a guy I met who feels like he is either a) being set up to fail, or b) hung out to dry in his current job. I think there are some great techniques to help him in these pages.
Like Bren at Slacker Manager, I yearn for an index so I could just point people at specific topics. Also like Bren, I think this book works better when you're having less-than-ideal work experiences. If your job sucks, this book could be just what you need to get yourself out of the pit of despair.