Rookie Smarts: Why Learning Beats Knowing in the New Game of Work

Liz Wiseman. Harper Business, $28.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-06-232263-0

Given the author’s experience—Wiseman (Multipliers) helped build Oracle’s corporate university and is the president of a Silicon Valley–based research and development firm—it’s no shock that she offers an exceptional guide to staying vital in the changing marketplace. Wiseman targets mid-level professionals who want to revitalize their careers, as well as company leaders who want to invigorate their workforce. Her premise is simple: in a culture “obsessed with youth,” the key to success comes from “thinking young.” Wiseman explains why a rookie or “newcomer” approach will often be more effective than a tried-and-true strategy. For example, while the experienced manager will “collaborate alone,” a rookie rounds up a “network of experts.” A rookie who lacks “situational confidence” will pay more attention to negative feedback and work harder than an experienced counterpart. Each chapter concludes with a helpful summary that compares rookie and veteran behavior. Throughout, Wiseman cites a wide array of successful rookies and “perpetual rookies,” from the founder of Spanx (an example of “relentless resourcefulness”) to basketball great Magic Johnson, to photographer Annie Leibovitz, to business consultant Peter Drucker. Useful “discussion fire starters” are peppered throughout and gathered in an appendix for quick reference. For readers who are struggling to catch up with changing business needs, this book is a must read. Agent: Shannon Marvin, Dupree Miller & Associates. (Oct.)

  • “If you want to be a learning machine, improving and growing every year, this is the book for you.”
    SVP of People Operations, Google, Inc.
  • “Agility, resilience, grit, and a growth mindset—these are the attributes effective leaders need in a changing world. Rookie Smarts shows leaders at every age and at every stage of their careers how to master these skills.”
    University of Michigan professor and author of Leadership Sustainability
  • “Wiseman (co-author: The Multiplier Effect: Tapping the Genius Inside Our Schools, 2014, etc.) provides a big boost for first-time employees and others who refuse to be bound by arbitrary limits. . . .An exciting promotion of lifelong discovery and enthusiasm as answers to routine and business as usual.”
    Kirkus Reviews
  • “Wiseman masterfully shows why novices can outdo veterans, expertise blinds us to fresh ideas, and the brilliance of newbies remains untapped. With sage insights and fascinating examples, Rookie Smarts is a must-read.”
    Wharton professor and author of Give and Take