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My Secret Life on the McJob: Lessons from Behind the Counter Guaranteed to Supersize Any Management Style Hardcover – January 2, 2007

4 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“Jerry Newman offers entertaining anecdotes and wonderful descriptions of the personalities working at every station of responsibility….Unusual for a business book offering management advice, My Secret Life on the McJob is written from the perspective of a crew member on the receiving end of the boss’s expectations rather than from that of a manager who faces the challenges of building a team, running a business and earning a return on investment….It offers many lessons that would be helpful to managers in almost every segment of business—or even government.”

—Andrew H. Card Jr., President Bush’s chief of staff from January 2001 to April 2006; The Wall Street Journal, January 17, 2007 (The Wall Street Journal)

From the Back Cover

What happens when a distinguished management professor works undercover in fast food?

He learns powerful truths about what makes businesses great…

From minimum-wage floor sweepers to corner office kings, anyone with a job can learn something from Jerry Newman's experience behind the counter at major fast food restaurants. My Secret Life on the McJob reveals brilliantly simple “Supersized Management Principles” that many Fortune 500 bosses still haven't grasped.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill; 1 edition (January 2, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0071473653
  • ISBN-13: 978-0071473651
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.8 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,070,715 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Alas, in his attempt to describe the McJob from a behind-the-counter perspective, Newman and his inept editors have managed to create a mere McBook. As an intellectual meal, it promises more than it delivers and it ultimately leaves the reader feeling unsatisfied.

This short book is blessedly free of business jargon but it also is essentially devoid of content. What little content there is is highly repetitive. Newman has collected a handful of anecdotes, and he returns to them over and over again, even within chapters. On page 100, for example, we are told that his interview with Kris lasted an hour, and on page 103 we are told so again. We are told several times that Daniel likes to play with a Hacky Sack, that training DVDs aren't very good, that Newman once had a job on an auto assembly line that required him to make 11 welds. If he tells you something once, you can be sure he'll tell it to you at least twice. This may be effective lecturing style, but it makes for bad, bad reading.

You keep turning the pages because you're thinking that the mess will cohere at the end, that some deep insights and words of wisdom will emerge. After all, the author (as we are reminded repeatedly) is a professor and the publisher is McGraw-Hill. But there are few lasting lessons to be gleaned. Based on Newman's account, the key to success in these jobs is to show up, shut up, and make an effort. The jobs can be mentally and physically exhausting. Training sessions are grossly inadequate to prepare workers for the high-stress realities of the lunchtime rush. The combination of high stress, low prestige, and low pay results in high turnover, but some managers can attenuate the turnover rate by, well, being nice to their employees.
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Comment 14 of 16 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Hardcover
This book offers an inside look at management practices in the fast food industry in a way we can all relate to. Dr. Newman draws us into his world by sharing from his own personal perspective as he learns to cope with working for minimum wage in a variety of fast food establishments under a wide range of conditions. His honesty concerning his own limitations and challenges is refreshing and makes it easy to relate to his experience. The writing style employed, rather than being a chronological narrative, explores key management principles drawing upon various personal experiences and observations to illustrate the author's opinion of whether or not a particular approach is effective. Although Dr. Newman avoids the "expose" approach, he does give us plenty of stories concerning particular individuals and situations that are both entertaining and enlightening, and they help us to identify with both workers and managers as they interact with one another. The value of this book lies in the author's objectivity and fairness in assessing each manager's strengths and weaknesses, and his ability to compare and contrast different management styles. Anyone involved in leading or managing people, especially those working in the capacity of management in the fast food industry, should consider this book required reading. It will help anyone to better understand how to motivate and inspire people at any level in any industry.
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Format: Hardcover
I read a review of this book in a newspaper and decided immediately that I had to have it. The author writes in an easy, conversational tone - in point of fact, I finished it in one weekend. Through his various part-time job descriptions at fast food restaurants you become acquainted with far-ranging management philosophies (especially the "toxic" managers), training programs (or lack thereof), and a greater appreciation for life behind the counter. Both my wife and I are much more tolerant of the mistakes made by people who hold these McJobs. And, yes, I would love to take a business management course from Dr. Newman!
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Format: Hardcover
The premise of the book is to see what a college professor, in his mid-50s, Jerry Newman, can learn from working in entry-level positions during a 14 month sabbatical in fast food restaurants. The expectation would be to derive a set of best practices that would be applicable to the corporate world.

That being said, this may be the worst edited book that I ever read published on a major imprint (McGraw-Hill). The antidotal stories seem to be random in nature and do not fit even within the chapter distinctions. Additionally, too often stories are repeated in different chapters as if the reader would not have read the prior chapters.

Even the author's cloying sarcasm at times seems out of place in this text.

This book may be interesting to resurrect memories that individuals may have had from working in the fast food industry earlier in their life, but there is unfortunately little that a reader can take away from this text to improve their own business operations.

With significantly stronger editing, this premise may have been a readable four-page story in Fast Company or INC Magazine. It is disappointing that the distinguished professor was unable to cull a more insightful recollection of what should have been an otherwise interesting experience.
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