Book Reviews

A No-Nonsense Reflection On “Accidental” Achievements

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Alexandria, VA – Review: Hard Talk–Confessions of an Accidental Marketing and Communications Professional

Publisher: Government Marketing Press

Author: Eileen Cassidy Rivera

Reviewed by: Ralph Peluso, Literary Editor

Zebra Rating–5 Stripes

One thing that has become remarkably evident during my ten years of penning the Book of the Month series and interviewing over one hundred area authors is the long-term influence that primary school educators have on their students. A simple assignment, whether in math, science, or English, that creates a positive impression may lay dormant with a student for a long time. Eventually, when acted upon, for those with the drive to write, the result is usually a refreshing perspective on a topic for the reader and a cathartic exercise for the author.

Eileen Cassidy Rivera’s work, Hard Talk, is an honest, refreshing and insightful roadmap that may serve as a catalyst for future writers and the new generation of professionals entering the business world.

Rivera said in a recent interview, “Ever since I was young, I’ve wanted to write a book. My first writing project was when I was ten years old. While in fifth grade, I wrote an original script for a funny Thanksgiving play.” Unfortunately, a family relocation deprived Rivera of seeing her words come to life in a performance, but she did not let go of her passion for writing.

“Over the years, I’ve channeled my joy of writing through articles and blogs on a variety of topics, from my journey of getting two hip replacements, advocating about issues near and dear to my heart, such as the need to support public education, helping immigrant families and their children and how to align policies to narrow the achievement gap in our education system.”

In Hard Talk, Rivera astutely details this comprehensive journey, fashioning business, and personal experiences and accomplishments into an easily understood outline for managing your career and whatever comes at you in life. Eileen will tell you when asked, “Lord only knows, I have had my share of hard talks.

“I start my story when I was at a crossroads, both personally and professionally, how I managed a new career, dealt with a painful divorce, and navigated being a successful working mom in a male-dominated industry. My story is one of perseverance and resilience. I learned to trust myself and my instincts, overcome self-doubt and vulnerabilities.”

The author used this hard conversation (talk) approach to drive for and ultimately achieve a major change in GOVCON leadership thinking. The result was the integration of corporate communications across the enterprise. Having the hard talk, asking the hard questions, and getting your voice heard is not trivial. Rivera cleverly knits personal and professional stories for working through challenges, dilemmas, and roadblocks into Hard Talk.

Eileen will tell you she did not write this book for the money but rather for the satisfaction of getting her story out, replete with several sage messages. She advises those aspiring to write a book to focus on something they are passionate about, get a mentor, and set a deadline.

Second, every industry needs diverse, talented, and passionate people, especially those just starting out. Worldwide industries are filled with complex challenges. Do not fear taking on such a challenge.

Next, Hard Talk can help government contractor executives look at every corporate function in new ways. Each department is potentially a “powerhouse” function. Fourth, challenge leadership teams to have the courage and confidence to show appreciation or provide that sometimes needed pat on the back. And, of course, to all out there in the workplace who have been told to “tone it down” or “don’t be so bold”: remain brave, passionate, authentic, and yourself. Businesses need more employees who do not shy away from delivering the “hard talk.”

Eileen Cassidy Rivera was born in Milwaukee, WI, and reared in Rochester, NY. She holds a BA and an MBA from American University. Rivera has also studied at the Kennedy School of Government and the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico. Eileen has served three years on the Alexandria School Board, on the boards of several area nonprofits, and as a volunteer for the Alexandria Medical Corps.

Currently, Eileen is enjoying her role as VP for Maximus, a leading public relations and communications company. She added, “I am fortunate to have a fantastic family, three great kids, Kyle, Carmen, and Drew, and a supportive husband, Andy, who encouraged me to write my first book. I’m also grateful and lucky to live in the vibrant community of Del Ray, Alexandria.”

Eileen Cassidy Rivera (Photo courtesy of the author)

Hard Talk is a terrific crossover between a personal memoir and a professional guide for success in the business world. There are valuable lessons and tips on how to make a difference, assess and apply your skills, and get yourself heard. At some point, each of us has to deliver the Hard Talk. ZEBRA–A SOLID HARD-TALKING 5 STRIPES

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