Catalyst: How Confidence Reacts with Our Strengths to Shape What We Achieve and Who We Become

Steven Smith and David Marcum

Publisher: Veracity Pages: 134 Price: (ebook) $9.99 ISBN: 9780991568000 Reviewed: May, 2014 Author Website: Visit »

This is an unusual work in several ways, perhaps the main one being that it’s unfinished; and that, paradoxically, could turn out to be its greatest advantage. “Catalyst was and is a project with no deadline. No final word count. No last page. Catalyst is more of a pursuit than a book,” write the authors Steven Smith and David Marcum.

Their vision of a “living book” is not unique, but in this case, with the endeavor relying so heavily on contemporary social science research, it seems to make perfect sense. Many of those studies are ongoing, and the promise is that more chapters will be added as new findings come to light. Those paying $9.99 for this ebook (after a free download launch period) will receive the additional material at no extra cost.

The catalyst of the title refers to confidence, which Smith and Marcum contend governs performance in many aspects of our lives. They discuss in granular detail just what confidence is and how it can so easily be tipped one way — into arrogance and conceit — or the other — into self-doubt and insecurity. They quote research showing the close ties between confidence and competence, and hammer home the conclusion that maximizing confidence maximizes your strengths and, thus, your achievements.

Since the authors are in the business of giving career advice, Catalyst is clearly intended as a tool for young professionals wanting to burnish skills such as leadership, management, organization, and negotiation. This book offers them plenty of smart advice: “The truly great idea may emerge when you debate a good idea”; “The glass isn’t half empty or half full. It’s both.”; and “Encourage the clash of ideas and let the best ideas win.”

With its intelligent and lively mix of anecdotes, academic insights and research findings, Catalyst’s value lies not only in the business world, but it may also help readers build more fruitful relationships at home, among friends and in life generally.

Author's Current Residence
Salt Lake City, Utah