Sports agent and entrepreneur Henry Organ presents his “personal playbook to getting ahead in life,” couched in the framework of advice on mastering the informational interview.
Organ credits his own success to learning how to knock these interviews—designed to allow job-seekers to make connections and learn about new industries—out of the park; he’s had more than 100 informational interviews, he writes, which have helped him land jobs and close on real estate investments. Honing this skill can allow potential employees to find a first job or help those who have jobs grow their careers or businesses.
Organ’s advice on this topic is helpful: Make specific asks, be respectful of an interviewer’s time, set these up with potential mentors or interesting connections even once in a new role, etc. But his text sprawls far beyond this focus into suggestions on establishing routines, goal-setting, using LinkedIn, and more. Often, it feels like an excuse for Organ to tell stories from his own career. The result is neither a focused prescriptive business book nor an effective memoir. The book is also padded with workbook space that includes some perplexing questions, such as: “If you think you have had informational interviews in the past, list them below.”
Organ’s respect for his family is admirable, including for his grandfather Dr. Claude Organ, the second black president of the American College of Surgeons. But his privileged background has, perhaps, led him to offer the outdated advice that readers should take unpaid internships whenever offered. Unpaid internships have been out of reach for all but the upper middle-class for decades and have faced increasing criticism, even more so now that recent students are staggering under terrible student debt.
Readers will find useful tips on informational interviews in this offering, but Organ would have been more effective with a laser-focused article-length piece on the topic, rather than expanding his narrative into other areas.