Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Book Summary: Rookie Smarts by Liz Wiseman

If I face the facts, I'm a rookie. I've only been in the workforce 5-6 years and that's only if you count 2 years of business school. I read Liz Wiseman's book Rookie Smarts hoping to get some ideas on how to navigate a fast paced workplace as a rookie and I got exactly that. Here are my high level takeaways.

picture of liz wiseman book, rookie smarts

You have more to offer as a rookie than you think. Often, when you're early in your career all you can think about is the experience you don't have and the questions you don't know the answers to. In reality, being a rookie can be a competitive advantage.

Hire an expert....get one expert, hire a rookie, get 5 experts. One of the main advantages we have as rookies is that we don't think we know everything. Our instinct to learn from others when we don't have the answers will actually give us a broader perspective and lots of fresh ideas.

Quick wins are important. If you're in a situation where you're in over your head, look for some quick wins to build momentum, something that can be done in a few weeks.

Take small steps and increase the frequency of feedback. Instead of asking your manager how to do something, consult with experts, do your homework and come back with a recommendation. Do this every few days if needed. If you're checking in for feedback frequently, it's unlikely you'll fall flat on your face with a project since you've had so much time to implement feedback and iterate.

Rookie's need a network to succeed. Rookies are successful because they aren't afraid to leverage those around them. If your network is small, don't worry. Leverage classmates, colleagues and friends. Start building your network by going out to lunch with fellow employees. The bigger the network, the more of an asset it will be to you as a rookie and beyond.

Since I write a lot about the advantages of working in fast growing tech companies early in your career, I just want to point out that if you're in a fast growing tech company you might always feel like a rookie. This book will help you think like a rookie, even when you've got more experience under your belt.

I'm about to take on a new project at work that is definitely going to stretch me. After reading this book, I now have a better understanding on how to make being a rookie into an asset.


  1. Hi Derek. Thanks for the summary. I was looking for book recommendations to give to our staff participants of our firm's mentor program. I'll put this one on the list. Thanks!
    And go Cougs!

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