Monday, 5 January 2009

Book Review: She Inc. by Kelley Keehn

She Inc. is part of the Kelley Keehn Inc. product line, a complement to the public speaking product line of the author. Think of the multitude of Disney products that reinforce and add to the profit of the movies.

The "Inc." of the title refers to the central piece of advice from Keehn - one that has oft been proffered in the modern career management world - that one should consider oneself to be a mini corporation to be planned and run professionally. In this book she tells how to do that successfully. To imitate Keehn's own constant device of using quotations from famous people to illustrate and introduce a point, "Eighty percent of success is showing up" (Woody Allen). Keehn tells us how to "show up".

What is most interesting about the book is not the advice she imparts, which is quite standard, nor the way she does it, which is also very straightforward, but that Keehn herself is an exemplar of what can be achieved from ordinary roots and no initial advantages in life. The essential value of this book is the inspirational message "you too can be like me, drive a Mercedes, carry Louis Vitton handbags and stay in the best hotels if you do as I say". Keehn obviously gained her success by unrelenting years of hard work, calculating and focused attention to improvement and ironhard self-management and discipline. In addition, Keehn Inc. follows the money and is not shy to shift careers/market from banking to financial planning to media personality accordingly. Check out Articles on her website to see how her self-description has evolved over the years.

The book's subtitle "A woman's guide to maximizing her career potential" more accurately describes the content than the Disclaimer's broader objective that "This book, in part, is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information on the subject of personal finances". It is mostly about how to generate money from work earnings and only a little about how to keep and grow that money.

There is no reason to limit the audience to women since the methods advocated apply perfectly well to men as well. I find this to be an artificial limit resulting probably from Keehn Inc. deciding to target the "women" market niche.

Most of the personal finance content is about credit/debt, providing a basic introduction to various types of loans, credit cards, credit scores. There is simple advice along the lines of "don't have too much and pay up on time". The very little provided on savings and investment is woefully weak and presents loose mildly inaccurate description of things like stocks, bonds and GICs, the most egregious example being the use of the word principle when principal is meant in reference to a GIC on page 236. It is disappointing to read on the same page that one can find "recommended advanced reading" on her website Well, I looked and could find nothing like that.

Having tried to apply the Me Inc. method several times during my career with the beginnings of success, only to backslide and stop following the method, I can vouch for how hard it is to sustain. In fact, no knock on this particular book but sometimes I wonder about the value of advice books in general. If you have the problem the book tells you how to solve, then likely your habits, motivation and capabilities prevent you from succeeding.

My rating: 3 out of 5 stars.

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