Book Review: Unlocking Your Business Voice

New book review!! Unlock Your Business Voice: How to speak as well as you think by Simon de Cintra. This one was done by our external reviewer Chris Connors. He has been out and about traveling but managed to send in another review during his off time.

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Synopsis: The foolproof results of a polished and professional verbal delivery illustrate how the voice can be used to achieve greater confidence, credibility, professional success, and sales in this handbook on applying voice-control techniques used by voice-over artists in business communications. From a comprehensive voice evaluation of a step-by-step voice improvement plan, a range of activities provides information on how to improve diction and articulation, speak with greater warmth and enthusiasm, and make a lasting impression. Practical tips include how to leave a voice-mail message that is 40 percent more likely to be returned and how to make outgoing messages sound professional. Insider secrets about the influence of the spoken word will help speakers acquire and practice the skills necessary to sound more credible, tell great stories, and add a more musical quality to the speech by mastering voice pitch and inflection.

In book reviewing it isn’t often a title will raise a red flag. This one did because the title assumes people think in words. Many people do not. They see pictures or their thoughts are like road maps (general overview of many possible conversations, but no details).

Others deal with colours and flavours. One of the big challenges for people who think differently is to translate their pictorial representations into words, as well as take other peoples’ words and translate them into pictorial representations. At the end of the day, the need to translate can leave them mentally exhausted. However, as I read on the above critique doesn’t apply. The author’s point isn’t so much about how to speak as well as you think, but how to structure and order your message to get it across clearly regardless of how you “see” thoughts in your head. It is also about how you present yourself to an audience—how to command the attention of the audience—even if that is an audience of one. Personally, I’d just remove that whole subtitle so as not to distract from the message of the book.

The author’s VOICE (Vocation, Observation, Intention, Casting, Experiment) Methodology is outlined in the Introduction, but the details don’t appear till page 76 (in a 169-page book). He goes on at length about the business voice but buries the lede (to borrow a phrase from journalism). Chapters end with sentences like “Unlocking Your Business Voice is the logical and appropriate next stage in your career development”. Or mentions My Business Voice Methodology®, but doesn’t really explain it. In fact, the first half of the book comes across like an infomercial or that awful book on natural cures “they” don’t want you to know about that doesn’t actually have any natural cures in it: that author is currently serving a 10-yr jail term for criminal contempt related to his fraudulent claims.

Despite the rambling and slightly confusing first part of the book, there are some good bits of advice. For example, “playing it safe with non-verbal communication is a false security because dialing down your body language, contact and facial expressions too much is likely to be interpreted negatively by recipient”. People will see what they want to see—or fear to see—in a neutral face (see The Kuleshov Effect), so bosses playing it neutral to give their employees a voice may actually discourage their voice.

He also recommends hitting people with the conclusion first. Don’t fall in love with your own well-reasoned arguments as you build to a conclusion. People hearing the argument for the first time don’t need to know all the details; they don’t need to have a logical step-by-step process to arrive at the conclusion. Perhaps this advice should be applied to the book because it takes too long to get into the details of the Methodology®. For example on page 116 is the VOICE template. This is the page that should be stuck right in the first few pages of the book! Put this template on page 10 where the generic ambiguous
VOICE is now. Giving people this template will give them the mental “hooks” on which to hang the ideas they find in the book. Perhaps with this template, the chatty rambling in the first half of the book will be less confusing.

And while I’m nitpicking please note that the table on page 17 has the acronym spelling VIOCE (just switch Intention and Observation in that table and it’d be fine). Page 37 continues with a story about “Jerry” except in one paragraph the name is changed to “Scotty”. The paragraph about what science entails is also woefully incorrect. I hope he doesn’t use that example in his classes.

Another good bit of advice that I found useful was “Your intention is a choice you make first in the mind. It is then carried in the language your [sic] use, the simpler the better,…”. At the time I read that I was struggling with a science communication letter. It was down to 8 pages from 15, but I wanted it at a page or two, each paragraph one or two lines for easy reading. When I read the paragraph about intention I realized my intent with the letter was not to persuade the person I was sending it to but to have that person understand how their views unintentionally hurt others. A detailed logical argument wasn’t necessary—I just needed to show how the views were harmful. After that, it was easy to get the letter down to 1.5 pages.

Once de Cintra gets into the VOICE details the book comes together. It is like the author had two books in mind as he wrote, but wasn’t clear on what the first book should be—i.e. his intention wasn’t fully formed. The latter part of the book though has the intention much better formed. There is some excellent advice to follow for speaking to an audience summarized into easily remembered phrases (“Did you take the opportunity to sparkle or did you just deliver the main ingredients?”). There’s also a good section on what he calls “low status” and “high status” behaviours that nicely summarize how to
present yourself to an audience. These are presentation tips that should be taught in all high schools.

I’d give this VOICE detail section 4/5 stars. The first half of the book probably 2/5 stars. Overall, 2.5-3/5 stars. With a bit of reworking of the order of the chapters, removal of some of the earlier material, and jumping right into the details first rather than trying to sell the VOICE methodology this could be a 4 to 5 star book. It has some good advice scattered throughout, and a solid workable outline of learning and applying the VOICE methodology. I can see why people would want to take Simon de Cintra’s courses—there’s some solid working material that everyone can use.

Book Rating: 3/5

You can find the book on Amazon and the author on Twitter!

Disclaimer: This book was sent to us in ebook format to read and give an honest review.


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Book Review: The Telltale Tattoo

Whats new bookworms? I have another review from Sara MacTaylor. Oh, and by the way, she has a shop on Etsy that she sells these cool little craft creatures. Check out her Etsy page called AdorkableLilCrafties!

Now, to the book review. This one was called The Telltale Tattoo by John L. DeBoer. See what Sara had to say about it below 🙂

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Synopsis: The Telltale Tattoo begins with following the story of Chinh, a man who watched both of his parents get murdered during a raid on his village during the Vietnam War. He has become a successful businessman, and finally has the means to track down the soldier who committed the murders. The story then begins to involve a web of characters whom all become connected in the pursuit of the one awful man who committed the murders, as well as many other immoral things since his time as a soldier. Clay Archer, a private investigator, becomes one of the several main narrators in this story. He helps track down and put the pressure on Taggart, the man at the focus of the story, which accelerates the storyline.

DeBoer’s writing is entertaining to read, and adequately shares the story with the reader. Unfortunately, having several different narrators doesn’t allow for much character developments, so we only become superficially acquainted with the characters. It is interesting to read where the story will go, as there are many twists and turns, with many characters having their effect on where the story goes.

Overall, I found the novel an acceptably interesting read, but nothing to brag about. It is a simple mystery novel with a variety of characters and an interesting progression through the story. I didn’t become overly invested in any of the characters, or the result of the chase, as we know that Taggart won’t get away, but we don’t know which of the many interested parties will be his downfall.

Book Rating: 3/5

You can find the author on Twitter and this book on Amazon!
Have any of you read this book? If so, tell us your thoughts in the comments below!

Disclaimer: This book was sent to us in ebook format to read and give an honest review.


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Book Review: Career Rocket – 101 Tips to Launch Yourself to Success

Chris Connors is back with another review. He has been out and about, super busy with work but found some time to read and review a business book.

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101 Tips to Launch Yourself to Success: Turn the bumpy road of “beginning” into a fast lane to your greatest aspiration (referred to as “Tips” in this review).

Unfortunately, the version of Tips I received was a mangled Mobi so sentences from previous paragraphs were inserted into unrelated paragraphs. A foreword was found at the end along with the Document Outline and a Table of Contents, both of which were the same thing. The Forward also seems like it was written by a different person in a different language, run through a translation program without checking the output, and then mobi-mangled.  It made it difficult to tell at times if the fractured sentences were due to the glitch or the author’s lack of familiarity with the English language.

E.g. “If you received or purchased a copy of this eBook from sources other than [us or [other sources], then that copy The license will be terminated without notice upon breach is a pirated. ”, and “Authentic copies of you shall delete copies of the eBook from your electronic

the eBook can be bought from [www.amazon.com/books].

devices and destroy paper copies of the in your control”. 

And I’m still not sure what the copyright notice was trying to tell me (see below) or the Authentic copies of me. It also seems like it was pasted in from another book. [irony sobs quietly in the corner].

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However, the rest of the book is relatively free from this mangled English. Tips covers some very basic material for people who haven’t yet started on their careers. When I worked with street youth who were in trouble with the law we taught them things like how to do your laundry, how to use a library, how to set up a bank account, how to write a cheque, etc. Tips contains advice that they would also find useful, but that older people would—or should—already know. Send a note of gratitude to your interviewers, keep it brief, polite; always take notes, apply your skills, be a team player, be approachable, etc.

There are also tips that some people who are well into their career don’t apply like, have a bedtime ritual so you can stick with a set bedtime; turn off your phone and computer before bed.

Overall, there are certainly some good tips in there that are, as the author states at the beginning, culled from many other career books and now brought into one place. The weakness from this culling though is that there are sparse details on how to implement these tips as he doesn’t source the books from which he took his ideas.

Example 1:  35. Don’t Settle for One Income has this: SECRET INSIGHT: Freelancing is a great way of supplementing your income if you are strapped for cash and strapped for time. Freelancers set their own schedules and work from home or even over weekends. Be just as dedicated to your freelancing gigs as you are to your day job. Your clients will pay well and even offer you extra jobs in you are hardworking and reliable”. Wonderful idea, but how do I start? If this was sourced the reader could go find more information in that book.

Example 2: SECRET INSIGHT in 45 Friendly First Impressions is “Try to learn everyone’s name”.

It would have been relatively simple to suggest going to the library to pick up a book on remembering names and other items. In addition to sourcing this he could say, for example, Too many people go into a meeting thinking I won’t be able to remember all those new names. They’re right, they won’t, because they’ve already admitted defeat—it is a self-fulfilling prophecy. So go in thinking “I’m going to learn at least three names”. Be sure to use the names in conversation to reinforce it in your own mind. People like to hear their own name; check your local library for books that will help you remember faces and names.

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Like all generic advice some of it will not apply to your situation, as the author also states. For example tip 73 is have a one page resume. That will depend upon the job. I have to write a 5-6 page resume for some jobs.

I personally didn’t find the book helpful. I have concerns about the sourcing in this book–If you’re going to compile advice from other self-help then document your sources so people can go to the source to obtain more information. Plus, you avoid the charge of plagiarism, a charge which is strengthened considerably by the Copyright mess. I’m also confused as to how a book this badly formatted was sent out for review as the butchered format is evident at quick glance. These issues undermine the author’s credibility as he’s not taking his own advice: e.g. Tip 23: Build Your Online Credibility, Tip 72 Observe Everything, and 81 Proofread Your Resume.

Overall, the book concept is solid. The implementation of the concept is flawed.

Book Rating: 1/5

You can find this book on Amazon.

Disclaimer: This was sent to us in e-book format to read and give an honest review.


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Book Review: Burying Leo by Helga Gruendler-Schierloh

Woohoo! Another review is done and another book added to the shelf. This one was called Burying Leo by Helga Gruendler-Schierloh.

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Synopsis: Ingrid always loved to sing. Auditioning for a summer job after high school shattered her dreams. She fled Germany for Detroit where she married with the hopes of starting a family. When hope crumbled, she attempts to sing again. Will singing bring the life Ingrid always desired, or will her mutilated soul lose her everything?

This book was somewhat interesting. I feel like it was definitely too long for the storyline it had because once the characters were introduced and you got to know them, there was little left to build on their personalities.

Ingrid was struggling with her inner turmoils and it was frustrating because it takes her so long to do anything about it. Granted she did have some events in the past that were deeply unsettling and would be hard to cope with. The introduction of another character named Mick to help her work on and push past her barriers was a good way for the author to add some depth to the novel.

Her husband Joe was just annoying. I know that the book is set in the 90’s so they weren’t exactly up to date on equality (2018 millennial mind here) but he did not treat her well and any woman in her right mind would have left him rather than put up with his bullshit. This is also a good thing that the author created his character this way because it helps you feel for Ingrid and want her to succeed in the end by escaping her clutches and attaining her dreams.

One thing I found kind of hard to follow was the dialogue at points. This novel is very obviously written by a multilingual author and there are many parts where people make statements in German and you don’t really find out what they said.

There were lots of little twists that kept me going to the end of the book so that was good (I like when a book is unpredictable).

Book Rating: 3/5

Click on the image of the book below to see it on Amazon!

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the author in a paperback version for an honest review.

Also if you guys are feeling generous or compassionate, my cousin just received a diagnosis from their vet that his dog has bone cancer and they are doing surgery to amputate one of its legs. They don’t have a lot of money and the surgery is quite expensive but this dog means the world to him. They have set up a GoFundMe page to help with the costs. You can check it out at the link below and even if you don’t donate, just sharing it and spreading the word would mean a great deal to my cousin who is just doing anything he can to save his dog.

https://www.gofundme.com/help-save-spryte

Charles Tyrwhitt