Times are tough. Unemployment rates hover around 8 percent. Job satisfaction levels are at 47.2 percent — a slight increase since 2008, but still well below the 61.1 percent recorded in 1987. Our rocky economy has left those working full-time jobs holding onto their employment status like a life vest in a storm swell, hoping the next giant wave won’t crash directly overhead. In a world where having a job feels like a gift, liking that job seems like an unattainable luxury.
Enter Eric Sinoway’s new book, "Howard’s Gift—Uncommon Wisdom to Inspire Your Life." Based on conversations with his mentor, iconic Harvard business professor Howard Stevenson, Sinoway describes the book as “'Tuesdays with Morrie' with an actionable plan.” It’s a plan the author says can change your perspective on your work and ultimately, your life.
Recently, we spoke with Sinoway to talk about "Howard’s Gift," the Great Recession and its silent victims (meaning, us).
MNN: A lot of us have fond memories of former professors, but you took this a step further. Why were you inspired to write "Howard’s Gift"?
Eric Sinoway: While very many people at Harvard and other universities are smart, Howard Stevenson is wise. In 2007, he experienced a massive heart attack that he was lucky to survive. If you’ve ever lost anyone who you are close to, imagine that happening and getting a second chance. This motivated my start to capture Howard’s wisdom to share with the world.
What makes "Howard’s Gift" different from other self-help or “books of inspiration” on the market?
I’m told if you like "Tuesdays with Morrie," you’ll love "Howard’s Gift." But unlike "Tuesdays with Morrie," which is really a book of pure emotion, this book also contains an actionable framework. It’s inspiration for the working professional.
We think there is an untold story of the Great Recession — the silent victims of an economy stuck in neutral. There’s been a great deal of dialogue about the under and unemployed, but there are still tens of millions who do have jobs. And they feel like their careers have been stalled, their aspirations have been crushed, their lives have been stagnant. There’s a constant feeling of a life stuck in neutral.
So this book is specifically written for people who want to achieve satisfaction in their lives and success in their careers. We’ve written very specific thought tools to help people chart a life of career satisfaction.
That’s an interesting point you bring up about the Great Recession. It seems like work satisfaction is a luxury most people can’t really afford these days.
That’s exactly right — that’s why we call them the silent victims. Many have jobs. College debt. Families. Then there is this stubborn unemployment rate makes people feel frozen in their careers, causing them great frustration.
So you think this book could help people awaken their career fulfillment?
It’s intended to give folks a sense of inspiration and opportunity. Howard is considered the father of entrepreneurship around the world. He changed the concept of an entrepreneur as a person who started a business to anyone who pursues opportunity beyond the resources they currently control. This means any of us can be an entrepreneur. It’s really a mindset — it’s an approach, an attitude.
In today’s economy, all of us have to be entrepreneurs. So really, we want people to free their inner entrepreneur.
This book has been described as helping people be “fulfilled holistically” in their careers. Can you expand on that?
Often people try to put their lives into silos — my personal and my professional life. My work-life balance. The reality is there is not such hard delineation between the two. We want people to ask themselves, how do you create a holistic legacy vision of the life you want to lead? What is it you want your kids to say about you at your funeral?
With that answer in mind, we want the reader to build a life and a career that brings them closer to their life legacy vision. In the end, this book is a largely a self-help tome for the working man and woman today.