JOAN KUHL: http://joankuhl.com/
Joan Kuhl’s Dig Your Heels In: Navigate Corporate BS and Build the Company You Deserve is clearly aimed towards women finding their way through the often shark-infested waters of modern employment, but a single reading of her book convinces me many men, given a healthy degree of open-mindedness, will find the experience of reading this volume fruitful and rewarding. Advance press for Kuhl’s book rightly bills it as a manual – indeed, Dig Your Heels In provides readers with a clearly delineated “road map” for sweeping away antiquated and biased attitudes fostered in male-dominated work environments in favor of women asserting their talents and right to equitable treatment in workplace culture. There are no broadsides contained in this book, no wide-ranging denunciations of the male gender. Instead, Kuhl’s volume identifies the longstanding systemic inequality often marring otherwise successful organizations, provides multiple examples for how it stymies sustained professional success, and lays out steps by which an empowered female might reverse that course in their own career.
It isn’t Kuhl’s first book and the fact is apparent on every page. She writes with the fluency and clarity you expect from an experienced author – there are no needless sidebars or excursions. The same focus she advocates for her readers lives in each page of Dig Your Heels In – she has marshaled a plethora of relevant data to back up her ideas and confidently presents her argument. A crucial aspect of the book’s value is how Kuhl grounds that aforementioned argument in personal experience. It is likely that a writer and thinker of Kuhl’s talents could make her case in a dispassionate, distanced manner, but Kuhl wisely opts for a more intimate approach and the vulnerability she shows revealing her personal experiences with workplace bias is key to the book’s overall success.
She explores this subject in a logical and thoughtful way. The first part is about arriving at a place in your life and career when, to borrow a phrase from the iconic 70’s film Network, you’re mad as hell and not going to take it anymore. Kuhl rightly points out many women are hesitant to assert themselves in the workplace because they fear retaliation of some kind or else being labeled as “difficult” or other even less desirable terms. Kuhl, however, makes a convincing case for readers why standing their ground is ultimately a better route to pursue with the clarity already cited as a hallmark of this work. The second part of the book details her ideas about how you put these efforts into quantifiable action – it is notable that Kuhl never advocates an adversarial approach, but rather a stance that relies on individual self-worth and making a case for better treatment based on hard facts and a person’s inalienable right to be heard and respected.
The final section of Kuhl’s work returns to more personal footing as she delves into the subject of how to incorporate these efforts into the larger scheme of an individual’s life. Her empathy for others is an outstanding element of the book on the whole but truly takes flight here and concludes Dig Your Heels In on a highly appropriate note. Joan Kuhl’s life experiences with this subject, extensive experience with others, research, and natural intelligence fuel this work and make it indispensible reading; moreover, men stand to gain from reading this work as well so they might garner a better understanding of the challenges their female contemporaries face in their ongoing struggle for professional respect.