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Book Review| Edge by Laura Huang

Updated: Dec 8, 2020

Hi Friends! This is a review of another one of the insightful random book picks found on sale at Barnes and Nobles several weeks ago leading the collegiate humanities sector. And it is sure to become an asset to many bookshelf collections around the business world.

Laura Huang, a Harvard business professor, hypothesizes that everyone is subject to stereotypes and bias therefore, depending on what that stereotype or bias is, hard work might not be enough alone to get ahead in the business world. Huang writes about how to use the opinions of you as a person, from others (good or bad) as an advantage in communication, branding and business relations. In other words, about finding your distinguishing factor using the lens in which the world already sees you.

Huang is one of the youngest Harvard business professors, making the 40 Best Business School Professors Under 40 list by Poets & Quants. The pages of Huang’s first book, Edge: Turning Adversity into Advantage, aims to teach the reader how to create their own edge and open proverbial doors-wide open-for themselves. In this read, through personal stories, the reader will learn that gaining an Edge, in business and life, is likened to rowing with the current carrying you.

The writing is fun and relational with a mix business and psychology. A good weekend binge, it is a neatly packaged lesson on Emotional intelligence for beginners. It’s an easy read, but may require some reflection time, as a 257-page hardback inclusive of the acknowledgements and index.

According to the author and business researcher, people usually underestimate two things when pursuing an opportunity:

1. How hard it is to get their foot in the door as an outsider (whatever “outsider” means to you).

2. How wide doors are open once they are on the “inside”.

Huang shares techniques used in Harvard business classes and from her professional research which focuses on how soft factors drive the outcomes of individuals and firms. Soft factors include personality, the extent to which a person is seen as trustworthy, passionate, or committed, and the way others interact with you.

“This is not a book about “gaming the system” or relying on insincere methods; There is no magic formula offering you success.” ~Laura Huang

This non-fiction, self-help read is broken down into four parts, each entitled by 1 of 4 stages to create your personalized Edge:

1. Enrich: …the ability to provide value to those around you; the ability to effectively communicate the value your bringing, rather than leaving it up to others to guess is vital.

2. Delight: This step occurs before Enrichment. Before you can enrich you have to be let in to gain the opportunity to show how you can add value. Delight is not synonymous with being charming or entertaining, or charismatic in the typical sense.

3. Guide: “Navigating the perceptions we have of ourselves, the perceptions others have of us, and the attributions about our skills, competence, and character that are made as a result.” Guide your own context.

4. Effort: “Effort and hard work reinforce the edge that you create for yourself. Sometimes it is as much what we do as it is the effort that we put into not doing other things.” Hard work in critical…. gaining an edge requires hard work, plus.

“With an eye on your true assets and shortcomings, you can create your own unique advantages…When we are more fully own what is that we more fully own what is within us, by making allowances for what is around us, we actually end up affecting others more organically and authentically, furthering the edge that we have.” ~Laura Huang

Huang continues to weave lessons into the 4-step journey to creating an edge (Enrich, Delight, Guide Effort) by offering 13 Edge Principles. These principles appear throughout the book following a preceding example story:

1. Hard work should speak for itself. (But it doesn’t)

2. It’s not about giving it your all. Your basic goods help you get it all.

3. To use your basic goods in distinct ways, go where others don’t.

4. Embrace constraints. Constraints provide opportunities.

5. Your powers of discernment come from trusting your intuition and your experiences.

6. Before people will let you in, they need to be delighted.

7. Don’t overplan. Instead, aim for flexibility and opportunities to delight.

8. Stay authentic and embrace how delight occurs in situ.

9. “Being yourself” entails guiding others to all the glorious versions of yourself.

10. Know how others see you, so you can redirect them to how they should see you.

11. Guide others to what is within you by recognizing what is around you.

12. It’s now where you’ve been; it’s where you’re going. Guide how others see your trajectory.

13. Turn adversity into your edge.

This is a great read for anyone looking to improve business relationships, work outcomes and/or personal communication. Yes, just about all of us!

Happy Reading Friends,




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Check out Laura Huang describe the inspiration for Edge -Turning Adversity into Advantage at the Rotman School of Management.



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