Book Review: The Napkin, the Melon & the Monkey

The Napkin, the Melon & the Monkey: How to Be Happy and Successful at Work and in Life by Simply Changing Your Mind

By Barbara Burke (reviewed by Peter DeHaan)

Promoted as “a customer service fable,” The Napkin, the Melon & the Monkey is ambitiously subtitled: How to Be Happy and Successful at Work and in Life by Simply Changing Your Mind. I believe it lives up to its grand intention. The inside back cover notes that author “Barbara Burke is an internationally known consultant, speaker, and author who specializes in the ‘people side’ of customer service management.”

Reminiscent of the classic The One Minute Manager, this fable follows the vocational pursuits of Olivia, a harried customer service representative at the local utility. Starting her position with much excitement and high expectation, it isn’t long before the crush of complaint calls and barbs from angry customers bring her to her breaking point.

Enter Isabel, a wise and insightful veteran of the team, fortuitously comes to Olivia’s rescue. With one simple piece of advice, Isabel changes Olivia’s job outlook and career trajectory. This, however, will not be their only interaction, but the first of many such exchanges between mentor and mentee. Along the way, Olivia records twenty-two “aha!” moments, which have broad application for her work, customer service, and even life itself.

In case you’re wondering how a napkin, a melon, and a monkey fit into this, let me assure you they do, serving as apt metaphors for three key points, the reoccurring themes in the book. But don’t take my word for it. Read The Napkin, the Melon & the Monkey yourself and then share it with your coworkers. It might make a huge difference.

[The Napkin, the Melon & the Monkey: How to Be Happy and Successful at Work and in Life by Simply Changing Your Mind, by Barbara Burke. Published by Front Wheel Learning, 2006, ISDN: 0-9746379-3-9, 137 pages.]

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