Book review: Be Brilliant by Janine Garner

Garner contends there are four laws to live and lead by if you want to be your brilliant self.

Many successful people will admit that they owe much of their success to a mentor. That person may have been a parent, a coach, a boss, a teacher – someone who guided them, inspired them and coached them. Janine Garner mentions that ‘people with promoters (aka sponsors) are 23 per cent more likely to move up in their career than those without sponsors.’ Acting as a sponsor is part of the roll of a mentor.

But not everyone has the good fortune to have a mentor; for them, one possible substitute is to seek self-improvement with a selection of the many books on the market that offer some of the guidance a mentor might have given. Garner has entered that market with Be Brilliant, a book squarely aimed at ambitious people in search of success. Although not specified in the book, the target reader appears to be in junior to middle-management in medium to large organisations, although readers outside this range might still find Be Brilliant useful.

Garner contends that: ‘We face chronic exhaustion from the pressure to keep up and this mental, emotional and physical tiredness is interfering with our levels of happiness and personal fulfilment, our relationships and our ability to work effectively and navigate the options and choices in front of us.’ Readers who feel this describes their condition may also find Be Brilliant is the book for them.

‘Being brilliant’ is Garner’s way of saying being the best that you can be. To that end she says there are four laws to live and lead by if you want to be your brilliant self. She defines them as:

1.             Be You: Own your spotlight

2.             Be Ready: Harness your energy

3.             Be Together: Connect with intent

4.             Be Heard: Magnify your influence

Most of Be Brilliant consists of four major sections, each focusing on one of these four laws. Garner uses a medley of personal reminiscences, quotations from successful people, examples and exhortations to make her points. Each section concludes with a useful list of warnings about the things that may work against self-improvement. At the end of the section on connecting with intent, for example, Garner warns against the ‘dream stealers’ – the people who may, sometimes even with good intentions, put doubts in your mind about your aspirations or visions.

The ‘About Janine’ section at the beginning of the book mentions that Garner is a highly sought-after keynote speaker who has helped many of Australia’s top 50 ASX companies. So it is hardly surprising that the style of presentation in the book reads like the lectures or talks of a person using PowerPoint, Keynote or something similar in presentations to middle management. It is none the worse for that, but it is a style that does not suit everyone.

In one sense Be Brilliant resembles a recipe book. If you follow all the instructions, it is strongly implied, the finished product will turn out exactly as illustrated. The problem lies in the ability and desire of the reader to follow all the instructions. And as in cooking, where your oven may need a different setting to that recommended in the book, what Be Brilliant recommends may need modification for some readers. That is why having a mentor is so much more desirable. Unfortunately, we can’t always have what is best for us.

Rating: 3 stars out of 5 ★★★

Be Brilliant: How to lead a life of influence by Janine Garner
Publisher: Wiley
ISBN: 9780730383765
Format: Paperback
Categories: Self-help, International
Pages: 368
Release Date: 1 July 2020
RRP: $22.99

Erich Mayer
About the Author
Erich Mayer is a retired company director and former organic walnut farmer. He now edits the blog