Book Review: The Art of Doing

Updated on April 8, 2013

Book Information: c.2013, Plume; $16.00 / $17.00 Canada; 272 pages

Your goals are just out of reach – as they should be.

You’ll attain them someday, and that’s the day you’ll set more goals. It’s the best way you know how to operate and, looking back, you’ve been doing things that way for most of your life: set a goal, knock it down, and pounce for the next one.

You know what success looks like from your office chair, but what’s it like in other industries?  In the new book “The Art of Doing” by Camille Sweeney and Josh Gosfield, you’ll find out.

In your field of work, you know what it takes to get to the next level, then to the top. You assume it’s the same in a lot of places, but what does it take to become a successful race car driver?  How does one become a great major league ball player, a crossword puzzle creator, or a successful author?

Sweeney and Gosfield call those people “superachievers” and, after “months of research and over 100 hours of conversations,” they noticed, despite the lack of similarity in jobs, that superachievers have ten strategies in common.

Superachievers, the authors say, show dedication. They’re smart in their persistence. They know their community, they listen, and they know the power of story. They’re willing to test their theories, they never let their emotions run away from them, they’re patient, and they’re willing to evolve. Finally, they know that happiness and success are tied tight together.

As for advice, from game show winner Ken Jennings: “… enjoy the crazy experience…” and follow your bliss.

“Instill the ‘WOW’,” says Zappos’ Tony Hsieh.

From 30 Rock’s Alec Baldwin and Robert Carlock: “Good ideas come from anywhere, even from bad ideas.”

Be a contrarian and grow old ungracefully.  Know your values and focus on them. Love what you do. Seek out role models at every stage of your life. Be “a madman” when it comes to detail. Remember that you truly are what you eat. Work hard and devote yourself to that about which you’re passionate. Reward talented people for risk-taking and don’t let them leave.

Challenge yourself and your brain. Be likeable.

As business / motivational books go, “The Art of Doing” is a quirky little thing.

Authors Camille Sweeney and Josh Gosfield say in their introduction that they enjoyed finding and interviewing their superachievers, which is abundantly clear in every bubbly chapter. I also thought their format was fun: a short bio, followed by advice, then trivia about the person and their industry, all in just a few pages per chapter.

That makes this book a bit on the lighter (but very informational) side and, despite that there are some off-the-wall industries represented here, I think you’ll find it useful in many ways.

This is the perfect book for those days when you wonder what it would be like to have a different job, because it gives you a peek, then a boost. So when you need exactly that, “The Art of Doing” is the book to reach for.


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