Striving While Black is a quick read. It is a powerful collection of observations, tips, techniques as well as advice/counsel that will help the reader manage their corporate career. While anyone would benefit from this book, African-Americans who are currently working or contemplating a career in corporate America are the primary target and demographic. The author, Kwame Salter, distills over 22 years of successfully managing his own career and mentoring hundreds of other African-Americans in predominantly white corporate environments. The book is a combination of practical advice, self-help strategies and motivational insights that can be effectively utilized by those that Salter refers to as “the seriously ambitious.”
The book is divided into three sections and contains seven short, yet powerful, chapters. Section One, Get Ready, speaks to the need to gather as much information about the company before you start. More importantly, in this section, the author warns the reader to avoid stereotypical behavior that whites come to expect of blacks. Next, Section Two, Get Set, delves into the day to day behavior needed on the job to become successful. Finally, in Section Three , Go For It, introduces the concept of "relationship equity" to the reader. In other words, how important it is to be seen as a supportive and helpful co-worker.
Early on, Mr. Salter introduces the concept of Career IQ or Career Intelligence. Career Intelligence, he maintains, is the practical equivalent of the concept of mental intelligence coined and popularized by Lewis Terman of Stanford University in the early 1900’s. Terman used the IQ scoreas a way of quantifying intellectual functioning to allow for comparison among individuals. Mr. Salter uses the concept of Career Intelligence or CIQ to differentiate between mental ‘smarts’ and practical ‘smarts’. Salter defines Career Intelligence as a combination of organizational savvy, interpersonal skills and learning agility.
The book covers important topics, issues and challenges faced by African-Americans and to some extent by other People of Color in corporate America. More importantly, the reader is provided with sound advice and strategies to deal with these challenges. The book concludes with a powerful Epilogue along with Bonus Material and Worksheets that should prove helpful to the “seriously ambitious.”