Early Development and “The Book”

The “Doom Loop” was created before the development of the internet, so getting the word out to people who might be interested in the concept was rather difficult.

Writing a book about it was not an early option mainly because I had no “credentials” (so the publishers said) as a psychologist . . . even though I had years of experience counseling individuals about their careers, recruiting executives for large corporations, and I had a Harvard MBA Degree.

So the options were to write articles about the concept and, mainly, to give talks and speeches to whoever might be interested.

Those talks and speeches were mainly to students at the nation’s major business schools such as Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Northwestern, University of Chicago, Michigan and the like.  Additionally some good audiences were the various Harvard Business School Clubs such as the Harvard Business School Clubs of Chicago and New York.

The topic of the speeches in those days was “Critical Skills and The Doom Loop.”  Essentially I introduced the concept of the “Critical Skills” and then moved into the dynamics that occurred when skills were learned on the job and feelings and attitudes changed about what a person was doing on the job over time.

That was a pretty good message to deliver, and the entire concept was well received by all audiences.

In 1985 I was invited to give a presentation about “Critical Skills and The Doom Loop” to the national convention of the American Psychological Association in Los Angeles.  There I met the late Dr. Dory Hollander who attended the presentation and expressed interest in learning more.  Dr. Hollander had a business in St. Louis, MO called “New Options” which was essentially a career counseling practice.

Dr. Hollander and I met on several occasions to discuss the “Doom Loop” and her experience with various clients who had faced the various career crises I had outlined in the presentation.  Together we made a few joint presentations that included one to the 1986 national convention of the American Psychological Associations.  All presentations were well-received.

In 1987 Northwestern University expressed an interest in creating a video about “Career Management and The Doom Loop” because of the popularity of the presentations that I had given to MBA students at the Kellogg School of Management.  We created the video (which is included in this blog) later that year in the studios of the First National Bank of Chicago.  Northwestern University included the video as part of their library of VHS tapes for purchase.

During that time, I was encouraged to write a book about “The Doom Loop.”  Since I had no experience in authoring a book, I contacted Mr. Bruce Wexler who had a business called “Bookwriters Anonymous” in Chicago.

Bruce eagerly embraced the idea of such a book and I provided him with an outline which included the concept of the “Critical Skills,” a description of “The Doom Loop,” and the seven “Career Crises” described elsewhere in this blog.

Mr. Wexler contacted several publishers and John Wiley & Sons expressed interest.  However, they were concerned that I was not a psychologist with the sort of “credentials” they felt were necessary to be an authority as an author of such a book.  They and Mr. Wexler suggested that I find a licensed psychologist to co-author the book.  That led me to suggest the idea to Dr. Dory Hollander who agreed to participate with me in the project.

Dr. Hollander and I met on several occasions and began writing the book from the outline I had prepared for Bruce Wexler.

During this time, however, it became clear that the reaction from all of the presentations about “The Doom Loop” were not consistent with the business in which I was then engaged – the Executive Search Business.  I had (wrongly) thought that such presentations might lead to more search business.  Instead, I was being inundated with requests for personal career counseling as well as being flooded with resumes from psychologists around the country who wanted to go to work for me and create a career counseling practice.  That was clearly not my goal in co-authoring the book.

Accordingly I proposed that I remove my name as a co-author of the book and, instead, permit it to be written with Dr. Hollander as the author with appropriate credit being given to me as the creator of the concept.

The book, “The Doom Loop System,” was completed and published by John Wiley & Sons with Dr. Hollander as the author in the early 1990’s. In the preface Dr. Hollander gave me credit for introducing her to the concept, but, quite frankly, my reaction was that such credit was given in a quite oblique fashion leading readers of the book to conclude that Dr. Hollander was the originator of the concept.  If you want to buy the book, you can purchase it on Amazon.com.

Doom Loop Book
Doom Loop Book

My opinion of the book, as it was ultimately written, was not so positive because it seemed to be quite boring to me and missed the point of the Doom Loop being an easy-to-understand tool which could be quickly learned and effectively applied by anyone.  My thoughts were that the book should have been more like “The One Minute Manager” series written by Dr. Kenneth Blancher and Dr. Spencer Johnson.

My criticism of the book is NOT a criticism of Dr. Hollander.  She was an enthusiastic and effective promoter of the concept and fully embraced it.  Rather, my criticism is directed at the requirements of the PUBLISHER who, in my opinion, missed the point of the simplicity of the concept and required more of a dry and methodical explanation of the concept rather than presenting a quick and fun way to use this valuable tool.

My focus then was shifted toward the “Critical Skills” and, ultimately, to the application of the “Critical Skills” in education.  I ultimately left the executive search industry to develop programs and tools designed to teach the “Critical Skills” in high schools and training organizations around the country.