ofThe Age of Speed, by Vince Poscente (Paperback, 2008)|
(You can print this review in landscape mode, if you want a hardcopy)
Mark Lamendola, author of over 6,000 articles.
Years ago, I traveled and spoke on time management. I stopped doing that after I realized that there was something inconsistent about wasting several hours in airport lines while presenting myself as an expert on time management. Vince Poscente had all kinds of options for what kind of book he'd write on the subject of speed. He chose to write a book that's a quick read. That seems fitting.
The book has 36 short chapters, with four pages probably the average length. Nearly every chapter serves to make only one point. The book is in eight sections, each of which is about the length of a normal book chapter. To me, those are the actual chapters.
But it's more useful to see this book as consisting of four parts:
In part one, Poscente describes our age of speed and gives his take on how we got to where we are. Then, he shows that speed isn't good or bad in itself. It's what you do with it that counts.
In part two, he looks at how people cope (or not) with speed. He presents four profiles:
- Zeppelins are slow-moving folks who have a tough time maneuvering or changing course quickly. They are dangerous and potentially explosive.
- Balloons just happily float along. They don't
seek speed and don't need to. They interact with our fast culture
only from a distance.
- Bottle rockets embrace speed, but do so
without a real purpose. They can blow up in your face.
- Jets move very fast, but have outstanding
records for reaching their destinations safe and intact.
In part three, he presents three "A" characteristics that really matter in our age of speed: agility, aerodynamics (reducing drag), and alignment. This is modern time management material, and his spin on it is personalized but accurate.
Part four consists of a final titled section and one untitled section. The final titled section is titled, "Harnessing the Power of Speed" and it consists of three chapters. Unfortunately, Poscente seems winded by the time he gets here and this part is a little too lean. It should provide answers to the challenges described earlier in the book but it doesn't quite fill the bill.
This section is followed by three chapters "Conclusion," "Applications" and "Tips and Tricks from the Age of Speed." While useful, these are also overly lean.
Does it deliver?
Being a book on speed, it doesn't have cumbersome analysis. But there is some light analysis and there is some insight. Given the smallish size and the subject matter, this seems about right to me.
However, I suspect Poscente went a little too fast in writing this book. Remember the old saw, "I wrote real slow, 'cause I know you can't read fast?" Kind of the opposite applies here. As a reader, I felt the author wrote too fast--as if he made a connection between how fast he wrote and how fast the reader would read.
The execution could have been thought out a little better to make the book come across as a unique work rather than a compilation of existing material. What do I mean by that? Maybe it isn't the case, but it seems to me that Poscente wrote much of this book by using PowerPoint slides for the core material and just expanding a little on each one. Especially in certain places (such as "Tips and Tricks" and "Four Profiles"), I got this impression. For people who want a quick read about speed and some ideas to think about, the results are probably fine.
Some readers will be disappointed because the book doesn't get very deep, and it doesn't provide a structured game plan for the reader to consider implementing. But then, the book doesn't claim to provide any such thing. It's not a "how to" manual. The subtitle is "Learning to thrive...." and that means an attitude adjustment, not a procedural adjustment. On this score, the book delivers.
I think it makes a good addition to a library on related topics such as productivity, time management, and work/life balance. On that last topic, Poscente provides a viewpoint that would be of immense benefit to probably 80% of readers. I'm keeping a copy in my own library.
There's also a layout aspect of the book that might set some people off. I can't recall seeing any other book that wastes so much paper. It's a small book, but probably 20% of the pages are either blank or nearly blank. You don't get "thud factor" with a small paperback to begin with, so I'm not sure of the purpose in doing that. Perhaps it is to help give the reader a feeling of fast progress through the book.
The drawbacks (perceived or real) of this book don't cancel out its benefits. I think anyone who hasn't absolutely mastered time management will find some benefit in this book and anybody who feels exhausted or overwhelmed by the demands of today will benefit immensely.