If you need a gift for a soon-to-be graduate, or just want something interesting and fun to read on an airplane, I have a suggestion.

Local manners maven Callista Gould has a new book called “The Exceptional Professional: What You Need to Know to Grow Your Career.” It has advice about how to dress, speak and eat in public, as well as tips for job interviews and advice on everything from how to hold effective meetings to handling workplace knuckleheads.

The 450-page book has a bit of attitude and much of the advice comes in story form, which makes it easy to read. It sells for $19.99 and is available at Beaverdale Books. 

Here’s how Gould began a chapter about job interviews: 

“The interview was not going well. I was a sneezing, dripping mess. I left all my Kleenex in the car and I had one, tiny tissue to mop up the Niagara Falls pouring from my nose.”

To make matters worse, she added, she lost her voice during that particular interview and was reduced to answering with hand gestures. 

Much to her surprise, she was offered the job. Gould figured part of the reason might have been because she showed up “sick as a dog” but prepared, sending the message that she was reliable and would show up no matter what.

Another reason, she added, may have been because the job was difficult to fill. “The interviewers repeatedly asked, ‘How are you at dealing with difficult people?’” she wrote. “I finally asked why they kept asking that. They said, ‘Because the engineers who work here don’t respect us.’”

She turned down that job, but accepted one from another interview she had a few days later when she was suffering from the same cold, suggesting there may be something to her sick-as-a-dog reasoning.
I’ve known Gould since 2011 when she began teaching business etiquette at the Des Moines Social Club. I’ve written about her twice before, most recently in 2015 after she launched a business etiquette blog that included feedback from the many seminars she conducts across the country.

Now, she’s put it all in the book, which I feel comfortable recommending because her common-sense advice includes tips that go well beyond the business world.

Her air travel chapter recommends avoiding checked baggage when possible and offers these sensible packing tips for a four-day trip: Place a second pair of shoes against one side of the carry-on; roll or fold the outfit you plan to wear last and place it on the bottom; layer other clothing in the order you plan to wear them; fill in gaps with socks and other items; place folded suit jackets on top; and in the front pocket near the top handle, place pajamas with makeup or shaving kit on top.

Once you are past security, she added, put a luggage lock on the bag in case you have to check it at the gate, and so no one can reach into it in the overhead bin while you sleep.

My favorite piece was her advice about knuckleheads. 

There are lots of reasons co-workers may treat you poorly, Gould said. Maybe you look like someone who treated them badly or a relative they don’t like. Or maybe you’re smarter or better looking. 

“Whatever it is, it’s out of your control,” she said. The key is to not let them make their problems your problems. Rudeness often feels personal, she said, but it isn’t.

“Just leave the package of rudeness unopened, since it doesn’t belong to us,” she wrote in her “Knucklehead” chapter — 18 pages that have some really good suggestions.

Check it out.