Book review of Rene Carayol’s SPIKE

I was conflicted about this book (Spike, Rene Carayol, LID Publishing, 2017). Something about the positioning of it, and author Rene Carayol himself just doesn’t seem to match the experience and gravitas this man has. The quirky chapter headings (each heading is crossed out, and an alternative put in its place), the sometimes forced use of the acronym ‘spike’, and the positioning of Carayol as almost Tony Robbins-esque feels at odds with the real person. In my view, Carayol has too much amazing experience to be repeating over-used phrases like ‘fail fast, fail often’. The positioning of Carayol as a ‘leading business guru’ just sounds a bit downmarket. Or, maybe I was just having a bad day when I first picked the book up. Anyway, if you feel the same when you see it — don’t be put off.

Here’s what you need to know. Carayol has an MBE (for those of you outside the UK, this is a super prestigious award by the Queen – for outstanding service to the business community). He has worked with Prime Ministers and global multinational businesses at the highest level. If anyone has the credibility to be offering business advice, it’s him. He is the real deal.

Despite my initial reservations, I think this book is a really good read. Part autobiography, part inspiration, part handbook, SPIKE will draw you in and make you think, right from the very first page. The key message is about finding your core strengths and using them to your advantage. Seems simple. And it is. But Carayol helps us see that we might not be looking hard enough for the strengths in others. He recounts a story about a student given an opportunity to get valuable work experience. He is sent home after turning up in inappropriately informal clothes. After some digging, Carayol uncovers the fact that these clothes were given to the boy by his mother as a gift for his work experience. He chose to walk away from the opportunity rather than make his mother feel ashamed of not being able to provide better for him.

There’s a particular sentence from the book that has stuck with me: good leaders create followers. Great leaders create leaders. I agree wholeheartedly with this statement and without articulating it in this way, it has underpinned much of my own career. The lessons Carayol shares throughout the book always come back to this.

If you are looking for a book filled with fascinating stories that you won’t have heard before, and that will communicate memorable and important learning for you as a leader – then this is the book for you.


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