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June 28, 2006

Staff Picks: Review of The Radical Edge by Marianne Powers

By: Dylan Schleicher @ 6:24 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

The Radical Edge by Steve Farber
Have you ever had a WUP upside your head? In The Radical Edge, Steve Farber gets hit with a WUP (Wake-Up Pad) by his friend Smitty, a hyperactive beach bum and successful CIO (Clear Insight Officer) with red dreadlocks, a giant, red mustache, and round, lemon-yellow sunglasses perched on top of his wide, prominent nose. He also consults with a tall, slightly plump African-American woman named Agnes, at least 90 years old, with gray, luminous eyes, who tells Steves leadership trainee that shell kick his ass from here to Hialeah if she thinks it will help him but then explains that it all starts with the heart. Agnes runs the Wake-Up Call, a cafe where she practices her philosophy of doing what you love in the service of people you love, who in turn, love what you do for them. In his introduction, Steve says, The characters you are about to meet represent people (or combinations of people) whove inspired me over the years. The same goes for the places and events. In other words, Ive jumbled the made-up stuff with the real to the point that Im not even sure where the facts end and the fiction begins. Steve must have had a weird and wonderful group of mentors! But its all good for us, because it makes for a riotously funny and fast-paced story about his trials and tribulations trying to coach a 26-year-old super-salesman. Steve has been hired because Cam is failing in his new job as senior vice president of the sales team. Although Cam has been amazingly successful in sales himself, he doesnt know anything about motivating and rewarding other people so that they can succeed. In the alternate reality that we find ourselves in, the most surreal part is that Steve, who seems relatively normal himself, is constantly trying to convince Cam, a cocky CQ wannabe, that he needs to learn from these crazy people. It is the juxtaposition of extreme opposites that make the story so entertaining. After Cam has taken all he can stand and stormed off (to have a epiphany later and end up well), Steve joins Agnes in a meeting of extraordinary people who get together once a month to encourage, inspire, and cajole each other to keep on keepin on. Their common goal is to change the world, each in his or her own way, and they explain exactly how they are doing that to their new friend Steve. The book ends with a chapter entitled, Getting Your Radical Edge, a most detailed and practical plan for changing the world:
  1. Set Up Your WUP scan and eavesdrop, ponder, talk it over with a team of extreme leaders that you have recruited, and do something bold
  2. Stoke Your Business do what you love in the service of people you love, who in turn, love what you do
  3. Amp Your Life tune into your frequency, the values or principles that are most important to you in the way you live your life, and turn it up
  4. Change the World define what you want to do, give it steps, write it down, create a community for change
The only part of The Radical Edge that I didnt enjoy was the depressingly accurate description of a typical businesspersons reaction to a question that Steve apparently asked in real life, How are we going to change the world? You guessed it, Ive asked that question, too. But, if these are the people that Steve hopes to inspire to seek The Radical Edge, I think he should have been a little more compassionate in his description of them (the Jims), especially for the sake of anyone whose name really is Jim! And I think he could have left the description of the Michigan countrywide as covered in a downy soft blanket of white instead of characterizing it as a blinding, frozen wasteland. Otherwise, I highly recommend this book. It is entertaining, informative, and inspirational! --------- Review by Marianne Powers

About Dylan Schleicher


Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.