Wednesday, January 16, 2008

"Never Eat Alone" by Keith Ferrazzi

Review by Stan Starygin
In this publication Keith Ferrazzi decided to add to the growing body of "the Schmoozer's Bible". Ferrazzi outright rejects the terms which normally describes the type of behavior he champions. These terms are 'schmoozer', 'apple-polisher', 'sycophant', etc. Instead, Ferrazzi is more comfortable referring to himself -- and others of his ilk -- as 'connector'. This, unfortunately, does not change the nature of what he does and, most important, how he does it. The book teaches that, if put in a nutshell, all moral scruples are suppressed, there will be nothing standing between him/her and his/her goal. Ferrazzi claims that he has perfected the art of "connecting to people", whereas the truth is that what he has really perfected is the art of manipulation and pretense. There are hysterical parts of this book where Ferrazzi encourages the reader to "develop" certain interests, focusing in on the most popular interests of the rich of this world, such as, for example, golf, which Ferrazzi himself does not particularly enjoy but is afraid to speak strongly against it in the same measure as he is afraid of speaking strongly against anyone or anything, hedging his bets and thinking that he might have to ask this person for a favor some time in the future which is why irating him/her in this publication would be imprudent. Perhaps the most laughable statement made by Ferrazzi is the one he makes towards the very end of this book where he talks about how his strategy of "connecting to people" can change the world. Keith is either delusional or just can't snap out of the overall pretense of this book, but the way he does things achieves the exact opposite -- it creates a nation of adaptable and spineless people who even arrange their tastes in music to the liking of those they "want to meet". Ferrazzi, according to his own admission, has grown into the lifestyle his schmoozer philosophy affords and, apparently, has done very well for himself applying it. I, personally, wouldn't want someone like him as a friend and I wouldn't want his type around in professional settings either.
It is not all bad, though. There are certain parts of the book that -- although do not contain new information and a new way of presentation of old information -- are instructive as they remind us of certain aspects of social etiquette. Thank-you letters is one such aspect. Remembering people's birthdays is another. These are very simple and widely known forms of social etiquette which sometimes, unfortunately, escape people's attention. There are a few other things that can be picked up on the way.
Considering the cost of time that takes to read this book and the benefit one can attain, I recommend you get it on audio and listen to it in your car where there is little else to do. Do not treat this book as a revelation, though. There is no hidden message and Ferrazzi does not know much more about "connectivity" than most of you unless of course you accept his version of "persistence". The greatness value of this book, though, is how entertaining it is and how fun it is to watch Ferrazzi "connect to people" in what most would consider as humiliating ways.

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