Young Professional’s Guide to Success Book Review

Young Professional’s Guide to Success, by Ryan Kohnen definitely lives up to its cover billing: “Featuring Advice from CEOs, Senior Executives, and Community Leaders.” The book consists almost entirely of an annotated collection of advise to the person beginning a career.

The list of contributors are impressive, from dean’s of business schools, to CEOs who have founded their own company. Kohnen has done a good job of colleting, presenting and organizing them into a guidebook for the journey. The author leads from the preparation for success and having the right mentors; through the necessary attitude, confidence, and passion needed to make it in the business world.

The author draws on his own experience (currently 29 years old) as an entrepreneur, community leader, and an advocate for young professionals. Sharing this insight, he bring an understanding with which to apply the leadership principles taught in the book, and provides the guidance new professionals require to succeed.

Pointing out the necessity of finding the right persons to help lead you to success, and just how crucial it is to have the right connection, Kohnen says:

I have yet to meet someone who has achieved remarkable success who doesn’t say how instrumental his or her mentors were along the journey to the top. (p. 77)

Exactly how to come about these connections? Kohnen suggests:

Mentors can be parents, your first boss, friends, business partners, spouses, a pastor, or almost anyone else with whom you interact. – I dispense with the formality of actually asking someone to be my mentor. Instead I use a process of creating “mini-mentors.” (p. 77)

In a lengthy quote of a speech by Roy Terracina, President of Sunshine Ventures [pp. 40-57], Kohnen attempts to pin down that most elusive life goal: success. In this chapter, success may be defined using the “Five Fs:” Family – Finances – Fitness – Faith – and – Fun. If this doesn’t work, the book recommends that you “Have your own measurement of success” [Linda Rimer, p. 57], and that “Simply Stated: It’s a marathon, not a sprint” [John F. Lundgren, p. 58].

Hitting straight on, the author addresses what has been identified as a major obstacle for those sporting a new college degree: Entitlement Disorder [chapter 3, pp. 11-16]. The author challenges those fresh from the university with the caution:

You’ve graduated from college-does this mean that you deserve a corner office? – . Or as if certain work was “beneath me.” This probably includes those jobs that most people consider unsuitable for a college graduate: anything that involves getting their hands dirty.

Kohnen includes several examples of top leaders who overcame this attitude, and started careers from the bottom (i.e., forklift operator, chair mover, copy machine fixer).

Avoiding “Career Killers” is good advice for anyone, and the author highlights with a symbol in the margin throughout the book when one is mentioned. Using an icon of a bomb, a Career Killer is advice on what not to do during your career; and “lack of social graces” is listed as one example.

While short on sources or suggestions to find that first stepping stone job, there is an abundance of good advice for making it all happen, and concise guidance for young professionals to success. Kohnen gives as a theme of his writing, a quote from a speech by Norm Brodsky which sums up the mission of the book:

Because smart men learn from their mistakes, but wise men learn from the mistakes of others. [p. 202]

Young Professional’s Guide to Success

Ryan Kohnen

Emerald Book Company, Austin TX

202 pages, 2009