Getting Ahead and Making a Difference at Work

by Jennifer Miller on February 13, 2013

in Book Review, Personal Effectiveness

Book Review: Getting Ahead by Joel Garfinkle

Getting Ahead by Joel GarfinkleThe book Getting Ahead: Three Steps to Take Your Career to the Next Level is very straightforward in its premise:  hard-working, competent professionals will not move their career to the “next level” unless they do three important things that many people say they’re too busy to do. The book’s author, executive coach Joel Garfinkle, asserts that at any phase in your career, you must:

Improve others’ Perception of you

Increase your Visibility

Exert your Influence by leading people, situations and events

There is an ideal balance of “keeping one’s head down” and “tooting one’s horn”. Says Joel,

 The ideal type of employee does valued work and showcases it appropriately. This person is the one who advances quickly because he or she has the substance to back up self-promotion.


Joel calls this the PVI model for getting becoming an invaluable resource for your company. He divides the book into three sections that address each of these three main ideas via anecdotes from his executive coaching practice, research on career development and tools/worksheets to help the reader determine appropriate action steps to take for furthering his or her career advancement.

The focus of this book is laser-like; as the book title suggests “getting ahead” is repeatedly equated to career satisfaction and success. If that is your sole reason for reading this book, you’ll be very pleased with the detailed charts and actionable ideas presented that will help you take your career to the next level.

What if, however, you are at a point in your career where “getting ahead” is not your goal? Might this book offer any value?

Yes, I believe it would and here’s why: if you replace “getting ahead” with “making a difference”, all of the ideas offered would still be relevant. Even if you’re not currently seeking a promotion, as a workplace professional, you can easily make use of the concepts in this book.


The following sections of the book are those that I think would be most helpful to all professionals:

Bonus online material – Joel offers free online assessments to help you determine your current state of PVI

Chapter Summaries – The end of each chapter offers a “Take Action Now” section that identifies 3 – 5 specific actions the reader can take to practice the outlined concepts.

Page 58 – A chart of 28 behaviors you might exhibit at work – and how the same behavior can be perceived both positively and negatively

Page 64 – A very detailed roadmap for how to get feedback on others’ perceptions of you

Page 113 – Chart on how to track your value to the organization

Page 125 – An entire section on promoting the good work of others and establishing a culture of credit-sharing

Page 157 – 165 – How to speak up effectively at meetings, including four great questions to interject and how to disagree in a productive and positive way.

Page 189 – Excellent questions to ask yourself to gauge your level of influence in your organization

Page 197 – Joel’s statement on influence:

Power  . . . Authority.  . . Title.  [These are] not necessary. What is necessary is influence – and the desire to be influential. No matter where you sit within the organization or in your life, you can make an impact.

Page 202 – Five ways to be influential – which outlines specific tactics you can take an offers examples of famous people who used these five strategies to influence in a variety of situations.

Pages 234 – 241 – Offers several ideas for leveraging influence that would be helpful in matrix organization such as influencing laterally and building relationships with peers and department leaders from across the organization.


Whether “getting ahead” at work means landing a promotion or providing value and service to others in your organization, you are sure to find specific and actionable ideas in between the pages of Joel Garfinkle’s latest book.


Disclosures: I received a free copy of this book for the purposes of writing this review. I was not required to write a positive review. Some of the links in this post may be affiliate links, meaning if you click the link and make a purchase, I will be paid a commission.


{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: