Sometimes blessings land in your lap. And luckily, that just happened to me. A few weeks ago, I got an email from a lovely woman at #TLCBookTours asking if I’d be interested in reviewing a new book hitting the market. I was pretty skeptical at first. Who asks people they don’t know to do this? But something told me I should accept the offer. What did I have to lose? I’d get to review a book, which I’d never done before, and it would push me to actually finish a book in a somewhat short period of time—a challenge that I, like many independent coaches, often struggle to do. I’m so glad I said yes.
Weird in a World That’s Not is like a girlfriend’s guide to making it in whatever you choose to do, in whatever way works for you. Written by Jennifer Romolini, a self-described “sensitive, awkward, over-thinker with zero chill”, the book is much more than a career self-help book. In some ways, it’s Jennifer’s memoir, but more than that it’s like listening to your older sister’s really cool best friend, the one you want to be like when you grow up, telling you what you need to hear even though the truth is pretty uncomfortable. It’s clear that Jennifer would say she is NOT the cool one, but she’s wrong. And that’s part of the message. We all feel dorky and weird and self-conscious and not good enough. We all have that voice in our head that tells us to run and hide before anyone figures out that we have no idea what we’re doing. But the mere fact that we all feel that way shows that we really aren’t as weird as we think we are. We’re all thrashing through life hoping we make more good choices than bad, and that others see the potential that sometimes we can’t see in ourselves. She tells you the honest truth about the ups and downs, and good and bad of anyone’s career, followed by some sane advice and a heavy dose of “suck it up, plow throw it, and learn from it”. But most importantly, Jennifer’s willingness to open up about her blunders and the anxieties they created, while also showing how she made it through, sends the message that maybe you can make it through too.
Although Weird in a World That’s Not is geared towards young women in the early years of their career, the book is valuable reading for any person, of any gender, during any point in their working lives. There were several relatable stories that reminded me of things I’d gone through decades earlier. Bringing back those memories was valuable. It reminded me of what it was like to be entering the workforce, and the pressure I felt to not let anyone down—not let myself down.
The earlier chapters of the book created the context for understanding just how big of a hill Jennifer felt she had to climb. It was helpful to understand why she found some things to be bigger struggles than others and how she looks on those situations today. It was around Chapter 5 that Jennifer started laying the groundwork for what she learned in different stages of her career. She gives practical advice, 95% of which I agree with, but most importantly she makes it clear there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer to any situation. There are hundreds of variables, so learning to ask good questions, being self-aware, looking for opportunities, slowing down in order to truly learn, asking for help, helping others, and taking some risks, are important to finding that sweet spot where you will feel you’re on the right track.
For a 20-something year old, this book is a must read, with the caveat that the reader needs to hang onto it for many years to come. She can’t pass it around to all of her friends, unless she has a guarantee that she’ll get it back, because there will be too many moments in her career when she’ll need to go back to this book and re-read a section that has suddenly become relevant; such as when she joins a company that is supposed to have a great culture, but doesn’t, or moves into a management role for the first time and is feeling out of her league. She’ll find the chapter titled “How and When to Quit Your Shitty Job” to be very helpful when weighing the pros and cons, and realities of leaving a job she hates. Jennifer lays out what-if scenarios that allow the reader to select which avenue she wants to explore, much like the Choose-Your-Own-Adventure books she read as a child.
Another chapter that can’t be skipped is “What no one tells you about work”, with such juicy topics as
- How to Write a Work Email and Not Seem Unhinged
- This is when you can leave the office
- It Helps to Strategically Suck
- It’s Not in Your Head: Bosses Play Favorites
Other subjects I really liked were
- Learning from jobs you don’t want
- Romanticizing the idea of a “side hustle”
- The difference between ambition and entitlement
- The value in not rushing your career
So, was there anything I didn’t like about the book? Not really. I’ll keep my copy and read it again. I might lend it to someone, but only if I know where they live, so I can snatch it back if they hang on to it too long. There were a few F-bombs, which is not my style, but I know the book wasn’t written for me or my generation.
I think Jennifer downplays the importance of a really good resume and what should go in it. It may be because Jennifer comes from a more creative industry, but in the corporate world where I came from, good resumes get you noticed and bad resumes kill any chance of getting past a recruiter or an Applicant Tracking System (ATS).
My recommendation is, if you’re feeling stuck in a dead-end job or your career hasn’t even launched yet, curl up on the sofa with a good glass (okay, bottle) of wine and start reading Weird in a World That’s Not. Jennifer will let you look at life and career through her lens, so you can see more clearly through yours.
It was my pleasure to read and review, Thank You to TLC Book Tours for reaching out to me and arranging the review!
Oh, and if this review doesn’t convince you to give it a read, here’s what Harper Collins has to say about it.
• Hardcover: 304 pages
• Publisher: HarperBusiness (June 6, 2017)
An honest, sharp-witted, practical guide to help you get and keep the job you want—from an outsider whose been there and done it, a woman who went from being a broke, divorced, college dropout to running some of the biggest websites in the world.
Jennifer Romolini started her career as an awkward twenty-seven-year-old misfit, navigated her way through New York media and became a boss—an editor-in-chief, an editorial director, and a vice president—all within little more than a decade. Her book, Weird In A World That’s Not, asserts that being outside-the-norm and achieving real, high-level success are not mutually exclusive, even if the perception of the business world often seems otherwise, even if it seems like only office-politicking extroverts are set up for reward.
Part career memoir, part real-world guide, Weird in a World That’s Not offers relatable advice on how to achieve your dreams, even when the odds seem stacked against you. Romolini helps you face down your fears, find a career that’s right for you, and get and keep a job. She tackles practical issues and offers empathetic, clear-cut answers to important questions:
- How do I navigate the awkwardness of networking?
- How do I deal with intense office politics?
- How do I leave my crappy job?
- How do I learn how to be a boss not just a #boss?
- And, most importantly: How do I do all this and stay true to who I really am?
Authentic, funny, and moving, Weird in a World That’s Not will help you tap into your inner tenacity and find your path, no matter how offbeat you are.
About Jennifer Romolini
Jennifer Romolini is the chief content officer at Shondaland.com, a website founded by Shonda Rhimes. She was previously the editor in chief of HelloGiggles and Yahoo Shine, and the deputy editor of Lucky magazine. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times and Lenny Letter. She lives in Los Angeles.
Connect with Jennifer on Twitter.