For my birthday this year my brother gave me a joke book called Be More Vader: Assertive Thinking From the Dark Side. It's written by Christian Blauvelt.
The book is funny as hell, complete with HR doublespeak to mimic the most inane training videos that you've ever sat through. But as I started reading in-depth, I also realized that Be More Vader was incredibly insightful. Which is a bit ironic, considering Vader's reputation as a figurehead for galactic evil. Still, I appreciate the good, practical advice on how to succeed in the workplace.
"You might be an apprentice," the story starts out, "but you can master your own career—you just need drive, ambition, and connections."
I mean, the book is right.
You do need personal drive to succeed, especially when things are tough or you have to slog through a task you might not like. Ambition is what gives you that long-term vision, and as they like to stress in university, networking is key.
So really, Be More Vader is a joke book, but only on the surface. Each section of the story is organized by the stages in your career.
Their "Starting Out" preface had me in tears, both because it was funny and a bit too real. Under "Perfect your interview technique," Be More Vader starts out with the following:
Stand out from the crowd in any interview by showing some backbone. Your busy interviewer probably has an inbox full of emails to which they must reply, budgets that need to be signed off, and rebellions to crush.
Which again, is actually true.
Hopefully when you apply to a job, there are no "workplace rebellions" because that's a sign of a toxic environment. But the most successful interviews I've ever had have always been the ones where I showed a backbone; where I went into the interview confident of my skills and myself as a person. Where I didn't waffle over the details.
And absolutely, your interviewers will be drowning in emails. Absolutely, they will have budgets to sign off. This core message of know yourself, know your employer, and be respectful of everyone's time was incredibly useful. Most people are busy and you don't want them to feel like they've wasted their chance on you.
Another piece of useful advice was "Finding a Mentor". I've been lucky to have mentors at each stage of my career, and they've always helped me out when I needed them. There's something inherently valuable about passing on specialized knowledge to a younger generation—that's what the whole profession of teaching is about.
The "Seeking Promotion" section was full of bite-sized wisdom, including "insist on proper recognition" and "make them understand—then make them grasp your worth."
"Devise a solid career plan and stick to it" was a skill I've learned personally. If you spread yourself too thin in your job hunt and become a generalist, it will be difficult to stand out in a crowded industry.
"Make your expectations clear" when working with colleagues was also good. Under "Manage the talents of others" they stress that it's best to put people in the right roles for their skillset, to maximize their efficiency and happiness. Both of these are incredibly important things to keep in mind to ensure your workplace is thriving.
There's Always a Worthwhile Lesson
When all is said and done, Be More Vader is still a joke book—a simple tie-in novel that's designed to provoke a laugh. But like most Star Wars media, it has the secondary intent of providing a message on how to improve your life. It just uses lightsabers as a vehicle to teach you about it.
Looking for more info on how you can learn the ways of the Force and be a better person? Check out our Star Wars movie marathon list!