Outsiders on the Inside: How to Create a Winning Career...Even When You Don't Fit In!

Image of Outsiders on the Inside: How to Create a Winning Career...Even When You Don't Fit In!
Release Date: 
June 30, 2010
Career Press
Reviewed by: 

Thank goodness not everyone can make a living off of their childhood ambitions. Otherwise, who would serve as insurance actuaries?

Yet, I have no doubt there are bean counters, ambulance-chasing barristers, and real estate vulgarians who are actually secret artists, poets, and book reviewers. They stuff those talents and yearnings far down their psyches, trying to fit into the company and industry with which they’ve thrown their lot.

Naturally, they’re not happy campers. In fact, some of them have probably lost their jobs because they never do manage the proper chameleon act. Others hang on, miserable, in it only for the paycheck. Some get through the day with peppy pills, funny weeds, or adult beverages.

David Couper would like to help you. In Outsiders on the Inside: How to Create a Winning Career . . . Even When You Don’t Fit In!, Couper, a career coach and veteran outsider, relates his own challenges trying to meld with Arthur Anderson’s culture and provides many pages of advice and anecdotes for the square pegs of the business world.

Unlike other career books, Couper’s will not tell you how to climb the greasy pole, play cutthroat office politics, leaving your rivals rubbing their eyes in wonder and disbelief. He is a gentler soul: For him, being a successful outsider is about not fitting in and celebrating it—whether it means finding an employer that loves your uniqueness or starting your own enterprise.

This is a good thing.

I do have a few issues, however.

Couper’s own Arthur Anderson example, because it is a centerpiece of Outsiders, leaves the distinct impression that fitting in can often be a matter of serendipity. Whereas British-born Couper’s quirky creativity was verboten in Anderson’s London office, it was a winner at Anderson-Chicago. The fact that Couper even ended up in Chicago was somewhat by chance.

Sadly, that may be the whole point. People may be able to control their careers (or destinies) to a point but that critter called “chance” gets in the way, sometimes opening, other times closing doors. Sometimes it offers doors number 1, 2, or 3. Best of luck.

Of course, the subjects of chance, luck, or chimps throwing darts at the stock listings’ page don’t necessarily sell books. “Proven” methods do. Couper has many—topics, sub-topics, and endless numbered lists—all which cry out for a firmer editorial hand and book design.

Nevertheless, if you can’t afford Couper as a coach, Outsiders on the Inside may be the next best thing.

And for those of you in the hipster community still harboring dreams of becoming actuaries . . . your book has not yet been written (but will be shortly, I promise).