One thing that higher education doesn’t seem to be very good at is telling you what to do next. Oh, you can visit the career counselor and they’ll give you tips on your resume and interviewing; if you’re lucky they’ll point you in a general direction, though that direction might not always be the right one.
As a result, it’s really easy to get stuck in a job you don’t particularly enjoy, or aren’t particularly good at, like the titular hero of The Adventures of Johnny Bunko, by author Daniel H. Pink and illustrated by Rob Ten Pas. Johnny majored in accounting because his father told him it was a good “fallback,” a way to always be employed if his dreams didn’t work out. Unfortunately, Johnny is nowhere near where he really wants to be, and he’s gained a reputation around the office as the guy who makes mistakes—to the point where a screw up is called a “Bunko.”
Everything changes when Johnny gets his hands on a bundle of enchanted chopsticks; splitting a pair summons a magical being named Diana. Diana offers to help Johnny by showing him the keys to a successful career, all he needs to do is snap a new pair of chopsticks and she’ll come and impart some useful advice. He only has six pairs, but it’s okay because Diana has six lessons to impart, each told through an amusing vignette at his company.
Rather than fall into the usual cliché of having Johnny attempt to tell his coworkers about Diana and fail miserably, thus looking like a delusional fool, Johnny Bunko instead bucks the trend by letting the coworkers in on the secret and having them benefit from the knowledge Diana imparts. In this manner the book follows its own advice: “The most valuable people in any job bring out the best in others. They make their boss look good. They help their teammates succeed.” We watch as Johnny switches departments and works on a major advertising campaign whose success will be a major boon for the company—and for Johnny, of course. He makes mistakes, but as the book explains, this is all part of the process.
The art by Rob Ten Pas is clean and energetic, making it easy to forget that you’re reading a career guide, much less “the last career guide you’ll ever need.” That’s the tagline, but I can’t say I completely agree. This book is only so long, and can only cover so much; it doesn’t tell you how to deal with troublesome coworkers, or how to get yourself the job in the first place. But for such a quick read, it’s pretty packed full of useful advice that had me wondering where my own career decisions fit into Diana’s six lessons.