BOOK REVIEW: JON ACUFF’S DO OVER + PALOMINO’S MUSHROOM SOUP

I read Jon Acuff’s ‘Do Over: Rescue Monday, Reinvent Your Work and Never Get Stuck ’ on the flight to London and there were so many good takeaways that I could not type up notes on my iPhone fast enough. I have had several Do Over moments in the last year, but this book is for anyone that wants to reflect and improve upon their current career.

We’ve all experienced Do Overs – changing jobs, moving, a promotion, self-employment, freelancing. When this happens, it can be terrifying, exciting, and frustrating all at the same time. I bought the book because one of my other favorite authors, Seth Godin, had high regards for Acuff and said it is the ‘best career book ever written.’ SOLD. I bought the book before you could say ‘life advice.’ Two years ago, Acuff left his dream job to be a writer full time. During this transition, he realized that it’s all about how you invest in your career. There are four key factors: Skills, Relationships, Character, and Hustle. These are all valuable assets in your CSA or Career Savings Account. He also lives in Nashville, which is one of my favorite places.

First, Acuff is hilarious and he has a great sense of humor. I found myself laughing out loud several times on the flight. Second, he offers realistic advice – you can do more than you believe you are capable of doing, but it will take a lot of hard work.

Another reason I loved the book is because he strongly believes everyone should have an advocate. This can be someone ten years older than you with experience in your industry area or just someone with overall life experience.

You also need someone with ‘you’ expertise. This is someone that knows you really well and will call you out on why you are doing something. Not everyone in your life will be honest with you, which is why you need people that will tell you the truth, no matter how painful. I have a handful of advocates in my life that I regularly meet with for coffee or lunch to get advice or perspective. They often ask me for advice too – don’t discount your life experiences just because of your age. At 29, I have been through a lot and have a completely different outlook than I did as a 19-year-old congressional campaign intern.

He also focuses on character quite a bit, which is often an overlooked quality in the workplace. Throughout my eleven internships, time as a government staffer, freelancer, and PR account manager, I hope and believe that my character was evident in each position. It’s not always the popular thing to do, but if you stay true to you and do the best that you can every day, I have found that you sleep better at night.

This book is not necessarily life changing or revolutionary, but I recommend it for anyone that wants to take stock of his or her career and relationships. Acuff also has a blog and a short video about the book, so if you’re not ready to fork over $15, I’d start there. Here are a few of my favorite quotes from the book:

  • “Employees who add value end up being invaluable.”
  • “I can’t predict the future, but I can change the present.”
  • “Character is a competitive advantage.”
  • “I’m not going to argue that strong character is the only way to win. It’s not. It’s just the best way. The one that leaves you with relationships intact. The one that protects your name and reputation. The one that makes it easier to sleep at night.”
  • “Unless you’re a heart surgeon who performs emergency transplants via text messages you can probably be away from your phone for a whole meeting.”
  • “In the years to come, being present at work is going to be game changing.”
  • “Busy-ness is not the same thing as hustle.”
  • “Hustle knows you have to do the work others don’t to enjoy the results others won’t.”
  • “Grit is believing in can when can’t is loud.”
  • “The only thing more exhausting that chasing a dream is running away from one.”
  • “Some of the worst decisions are made alone.”
  • “There’s not a job where you get to do only the things that you love doing.”

Senate internship – Session 2008 with Senator Bob Meeks. He taught me a lot, including the importance of remembering ‘that everyone puts their pants on the same way: one leg at a time.’ I then interned in the Governor’s Office for Mitch Daniels that summer and then spent the following semester in DC on the Hill.

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Working for the Lt Governor in 2011 – the best job I have ever had. I wore a large hat the day Kate Middleton and Prince William got married. The school kids on tours of the Statehouse liked it. Also, notice my snack situation: clementines, Snapple, and m&m’s.

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Now for the recipe! I recently went to lunch with one of my advocates, a rockstar lobbyist that has supported me and given me great advice over the years, and she raved about the Palomino’s mushroom soup. They have had it on their menu for ten years, so you know it has to be good. It is creamy and rich, topped with a drizzle of sherry. I had to re-create it and after googling, I found the Palomino inspired recipe on Epicurious. I am happy to report that it is very similar to the original! I lightened this up a bit with half and half instead of heavy cream.

PALOMINO’S MUSHROOM SOUP

Recipe via Epicurious

  • 2/3 cup unsalted butter
  • 8 oz leeks, sliced and diced thinly (the entire package from Trader Joe’s)
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 boxes of portabello or crimini mushrooms, chopped
  • ¾ cup flour (I used Cup for Cup to make this gluten free)
  • 5 1/2 oz chicken stock (a tiny carton)
  • 2 oz dry sherry (I just drizzled on top of each bowl)
  • 1 quart heavy cream (I used two pints)
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (Optional)
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt

Melt 1/3 of the butter in a stockpot over medium heat. Add leaks and onions, sauté until tender. Add mushrooms and sauté for five minutes. In a second pot, melt remaining butter. Add flour and cook roux for five minutes. Slowly add in chicken stock and whisk until incorporated. Simmer for 30 minutes. Add cream, cayenne pepper and salt to mushroom and leek mixture. Stir in sherry and strain the thickened chicken stock mixture. Let soup slowly simmer for an additional 15 minutes or until all ingredients are completely incorporated.

I thought this was better the next day and the soup continues to thicken.

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