A Review of The Fearless Fish Out of Water: How to Succeed When You’re the Only One Like You

In an earlier post I introduced the author of a book I’ve recently read called The Fearless Fish Out of Water: How to Succeed When You’re the Only One Like You. I have several observations and opinions regarding this work by Robin Fisher Roffer.

So what is this book? The hardcover is 213 pages divided into eight chapters. The front of the book is a fluid blue with an illusion of a fish bowl. Maybe I’m strange, but I like how a book looks on a book shelf, when it is among its peers. The Fearless Fish passes this frivolous test. The words chosen for the title and subtitle pull in its audience: “succeed” “only one like you” and “Fearless.” They make me think, yeah, that’s me.

I have two versions of my opinions on this book. The first is from the notes I took as I read the book. Its important to do this because after you finish a book you can’t unknow the book as a whole. The second set is the holistic impression I accumulated. So I will begin with my specific comments and finish with my overall stance.

The introduction of the book is something I always look forward to. Its like starting a road trip – you have so far to go but optimism abounds. I was immediately drawn in with this line from page ix “… Be more of who you are. When you give the world an authentic representation of the real you, you’ll find acceptance and even admiration.”

Unfortunately, my attitude changed early in the first chapter. It comes across as Ra Ra Cheerleader and I’m not that type of person. I could see this as being helpful for some people, so maybe I’m just being impatient. And that ends up being the case; by the middle of the chapter I settle in and the book begins to play to my tastes. A few observations of the writing format: there are tidbit recaps every page or so. They come too often and I start to gloss over them as I read. There are also segments that are testimonials. These are used to emphasize the writing and they work fairly well. It is always good to have an anecdote to put the reader in someone else’s shoes. One of my favorites is about a woman who cried in the office. It is a good story about emotional manipulation in the workplace, “The bottom line is, tears have no place in the office.”

The first chapter, along with the rest, ends with a segment where you can answer questions about yourself and do a little self reflection. I don’t care for these type of things, they just remind me of a text book. Maybe others interact with them better than I do.

Similarly to the story about the office crier, the book really starts to provide many great examples of how to succeed as a Fearless Fish. For instance, I love the idea on page 103 about taking a company historian out to lunch. There is so much value in meeting with someone who knows the culture and the dos and don’ts of the company. And then to adjust your approach based on those findings. For the next 50 pages or so there are narratives and accounts of value. From the prospective employee who leveraged their unique skills to impress the company president to Susan O’Meara who went to work one day and quit on the spot with no back up plan because she was starting to lose herself.

The conclusion is slightly flat. And I say that mainly as a complement to the strengths of the middle portion of the book. The material toward the end is formulaic in comparison i.e. always be prepared and you have to always look forward and not dwell on the past.
The finale is some insight from the different contributors. It is good to see them have the platform, even if some of their lines are clever for the sake of being clever.

Enough with the critique.

My overall feel for the book is very positive. I learned several tactics I can take to succeed. But what really got me about this book was the underlining theme – identity. We live in a world where very few people have the courage and confidence to maintain one authentic self across their different relationships. These people tend to draw people in. Charles Barkley is a great example. And the book is saying if these Fearless Fish draw others in then lets make more of them. Here is how to do it.

But you can decide for yourself. Here are some lines I pulled from the book that made me either smile to myself or nod in agreement as I was reading:

  • … Be more of who you are. When you give the world an authentic representation of the real you, you’ll find acceptance and even admiration.
  • The bottom line is, tears have no place in the office.
  • Gratitude is important. It directs your actions when you are on the journey.
  • It helps to have someone around who gets you.
  • Take a company historian to lunch.
  • We recognize that change is our friend, not our enemy. Even though we may understand that conceptually, we may need a little nudge to prompt us to take action. But when we do – look out.
  • Sometimes the most effective change comes from changing our point of view.
  • You’ve got to stand up for yourself, or you won’t stand a chance. The only person who’s going to appreciate your being a martyr is you.
  • “Many people try to compartmentalize their lives. This is part o the reason people are struggling. They haven’t learned to move fluidly between both worlds taking the best in each and finding an appropriate way to bring them together to create greater synergy.”
  • Taking action has so much to do with being open to the unknown, readying yourself for what will be and realizing that if it doesn’t work out, you just learned what not to do. Letting go of expectations for a particular outcome helps. You can visualize a positive conclusion and then tell yourself that no matter what happens, you are grateful for the opportunity.
  • You can be satisfied knowing that you gave it your best shot. When things don’t go their way, Fearless Fish figure out what went wrong, regroup, and take action again.
  • Embrace mistakes as the learning tools that they truly are. Martha Beck recently said that the most successful people are those who have failed the most. There’s no good, bad, or ugly – there’s just what happens and what doesn’t.


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