Book Review: Moving the Needle: Get Clear, Get Free, and Get Going in Your Career, Business and Life by Joe Sweeney

You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you‘re going because you might not get there.  – Yogi Berra

It is an old story: you feel stuck in your life, and you know that you need to make a change but are unsure where to begin. In fact, you are not even sure you know exactly what you want. Sound familiar?  Joe Sweeney, author of the celebrated business book Networking Is a Contact Sport, addresses all of these issues in his latest book, Moving the Needle. Sweeney breaks the book into three parts: getting clear about what it is that you want, taking responsibility for the things that happen in your life, and taking measurable steps toward your aspirations. Using this framework, Sweeney acts as a coach, driving the reader toward success.

According to Sweeney, “If you can create a big enough why, the how will take care of itself.” A large portion of the book is dedicated to “getting clear.” In order to do this, Sweeney provides tools for everything from finding your purpose in life to mapping your ideal day, month, year and life. He promotes a series of self-reflection tools to get clear on what change we want and need in our lives. One of these tools, his “Life Decision Wheel” challenges you to write specific actions steps for various areas of your life. The spokes of the wheel include:

  • Career & Job
  • Financial
  • Relationships
  • Health and Fitness
  • Contribution to Community
  • Personal Growth
  • Spiritual Growth
  • Recreation

Taking time for this activity will determine where to devote your energy and efforts.

Networking and interpersonal communication are clearly Sweeney’s strengths. His philosophy of “touch before technology” is highlighted in the “get going” section of the book. Moving the Needle is filled with ideas of how to build a personal support system to support your efforts and keep you accountable. While some of his techniques may seem old-fashioned in the age of digital marketing, it is hard to deny the personal touch, effectiveness and “wow factor” of his communication strategies. For example, Sweeney’s 5/10/15 is an especially effective tool for job seekers. The rule breaks down as follows:

  • Sweeney states that if you have at least 5 meetings and personal encounters per day, it will bring you closer to your goal. These could be job interviews, informational meetings or even speaking to recruiters at a job fair.
  • In addition to meetings, you should strive to send out 10 letters or emails each day. It may include resumes as well as thank you notes and emails to check in with members of your network.
  • Finally, it is optimal to make at least 15 phone calls per day. In the age of online job seeking, people often forget the importance of voice-to-voice contact. Following up job applications with a phone call and reaching out to people in your network are important parts of being a successful networker. According to Sweeney, the most effective thing to say at the end of a phone call is to ask whether there is anything that you can do for the other person.

Moving the Needle is compact and organized into succinct chapters filled with graphs, tools and examples. Joe Sweeney has built his reputation as a specialist in business with a passion for sports. The anecdotes and quotes that are featured in the book highlight wisdom from figureheads in both of these areas. However, Moving the Needle is not just a business book. Sweeney emphasizes the need to view your life holistically – toting the importance of family and health as a key component to overall success. If you are looking to make a change and would like an encouraging book which is easy to read, I highly suggest that you pick it up.

Additional Resources: Explore your strengths, skills, interests, values, and personality using the  “self-knowledge” tools  on the Career Services website.

Written by Senior Career Advisor Angie Lira