Bare Knuckle People Management is a clever, straight-forward, practical guide to understanding and managing each of your people to get the most out of them. A refreshing break from ‘leadership books’ that insist the key to management success is a one-size-fits-all formula. Finally, a book that speaks directly to the manager for the real world.

—Christopher Heck, Senior Vice President of the National Basketball Association

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Judging Books by Covers

Every once in awhile I get a gentle reminder about the perils of leaping to conclusions.  Far too often, I overvalue my intuition, and make a snap judgment based on only a cursory examination of something.  Then, often too late, I learn more details that completely contradict my earlier conclusion.

This week’ reminder came courtesy of fellow blogger, Wally Bock, whom I’ve never met.  Mr. Bock posted a negative review of my book, Bare Knuckle People Management, based on a very favorable review of my book, on the trade website,  Now, I’ve never been known for my thick skin, so I got my defenses up as I dug into Mr. Bock’s article.

Mr. Bock lacerated Bare Knuckle People Management because he concluded from my “pugnacious title” and the few off-color words in the excerpted text that I condoned “jerk-like” behavior from managers.

Mr. Bock, if you had actually read my book, you would have found very little evidence for your conclusions.  I advocate a very thoughtful approach to people management.  I urge managers to take a careful look at who’s on their team and what each person needs from her manager to perform her very best.  For Sally, it might be a hug.  For Sam, it might be a proverbial kick in the butt. But, in either case, I never call for unprofessionalism or bullying!

Mr Bock, you looked at the title, the cover with the bold fist coming through (which I quite like, by the way), and the two swear words, and concluded something that just isn’t true.  Yep, you judged my book by its cover. 

I feel your pain.  I make that mistake sometimes too.  Tell you what: if you’d like, I’ll send you a free copy.  You give it a read from cover to cover, and then review it.  Listen, you still might hate it.  It’s not everyone’s cup of tea.  And yes, I really do have swear words in it (though I did take out all F-bombs).  It’s just that I hate to have your review of my book be based solely on another’s review rather than on the actual contents of my book.

If you care not to do that, no sweat.  No matter what, you reminded me not to rush to judgment.  And as I explain above, I’m always in need of that!

About Sean O’Neil

Sean O’Neil considers himself a workplace and team dynamics expert (which is really a ploy to sell books and speaking engagements).  He is also Principal and CEO of One to One Leadership (, a sales and management training firm with clients that include the National Basketball Association, Major League Soccer, News Corporation, First Data, ADP, Xerox, the Oakland Raiders and the New York Knicks.  Sean and John Kulisek co-authored Bare Knuckle People Management:  Creating Success with the Team You Have – Winners, Losers, Misfits and All, which is due to be published in May 2011.  Sean has contributed to or been featured in, among others, The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Selling Power Magazine and Incentive Magazine.  He can also frequently be seen pacing the sidelines of a youth team he’s coaching.

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  1. by Wally Bock on

    Hi Sean. Thanks for posting this and also commenting on my post. You’re right that my post left the impression that I was reviewing your book. I was not. I was reacting to the review. I apologize for that and I’ve changed the post wording to attempt to clear that up. I haven’t read the book, but if the HR Morning review is an accurate representation of what you say, then I think we have a basic disagreement about what good management looks like. Of course, if it’s not accurate that’s another story.


    • by Sean O'Neil on

      Thanks for your prompt reply, Wally. Just looking at your blog and your take on things, I think our management philosophy is more alike than it is different. In any event, I’ll chalk this up to not being able to win them all. 🙂

      Best of luck to you, Wally!


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