Mean People Suck – Michael Brenner: Book Review

“People will try to convince you that you should keep empathy out of your career.  Don’t accept this false premise.” Tim Cook, Apple CEO, warned graduates at MIT. And he’s not the only one to stress on the importance of empathy at the workplace.


In the empathy-deficit era,  “Mean People Suck: How Empathy Leads To More Significant Profits And A Better Life” is the modern manual for empathy in the workplace. The book written by Michael Brenner shows how companies can fast-track their growth using empathy marketing.


About the author: 

Michael Brenner is the CEO of Marketing Insider Group, where he has helped over 75 brands with content development, employee activation, and thought leadership programs. He is the best-selling author of three best content marketing books, “Mean People Suck – How Empathy Leads To Bigger Profits And A Better Life,” “The Content Formula,” and “Digital Marketing Growth Hacks.”  


Empathy X Your Job

Company cultures either take a product-focused or promotion-focused approach. Therefore, attaching yourself to a vision gives you a foundation. For Brenner, it is empathy. “Be kinder or nicer.” Any short or single-sentence definition of empathy will likely provoke more questions than answers. Brenner picks on every problem in the book. 


Whether you are in HR, a management position, or a junior-level employee, if you are struggling with being empathetic at the workplace, this book is for you. To quote the author,


“Creating a million-dollar ad is not the key, 

Creating a work culture that values empathy is.”


Brenner says firing is not the solution. The book takes leaders and employees on a compassion-led journey. 


Chapters in the first half of the book


  • Your job sucks 

In chapter one, the author talks about how you can regain autonomy at work without breaking the rules. 


  • Your company sucks

Chapter two re-imagines the organizational chart. The author calls it “the bullseye org chart”.


  • Your manager sucks

Chapter three is about “how to champion ideas.” It’s time to quit the bosses and not the jobs. 


  • Our customers know we suck

Chapter four gives an actionable meaning to “help customers help themselves.” Today, the life expectancy of a company is 15 years. The only solution left is to focus on “what customers want?”


Chapters in the second half of the book


  • Don’t suck 

Chapter five’s mantra is “Ask! When you don’t know, ask.” 


  • Empathy wins

Chapter six teaches the reader, “Empathy is a counterintuitive secret to success.”


  • Tell the story

Chapter seven asks you to narrate your story to the world. After all, aren’t we all storytellers? 


  • Sell the story

Can you follow the Pixar storytelling formula? Chapter eight tells you in great detail why some ideas sell and others don’t. 


  • Be kind. Be cool. Be you. 

Don’t be the one who sucks! The last segment discusses actionable advice to develop deeper empathy. 


The book’s core theme, “mean people suck, and life’s too short to be miserable,” reflects in every page. 

Empathy X Marketing 

As a content marketer and former corporate marketer, Brenner understood the struggles within corporations. The misery and unsatisfied aura come from three things:

  • We are unhappy with our bosses
  • We don’t like the work culture
  • We don’t like the action plan as it doesn’t have an impact


Brenner’s book is a long-winded explanation of empathy-based decisions, strategies and leadership. His equation sums up as happy employees equal happy customers, and happy customers equal higher stocks and ultimately, higher stocks equal delighted investors. 

The math is not enough; the content ROI is insufficient to get people over the challenges.

For Brenner, empathy is the solution to any level of crises. He talks in-depth about every aspect of empathy in the context of people, processes, and organizations. 


The author explains everything in easy-to-understand language. Every claim follows proven research, statistics, and circumstantial examples. Mean People Suck is among the best marketing books that help you lead a gratifying professional life with meaningful relationships. 


Are you ready to create a culture of innovation, build an engaged workforce, and retain customers? Get the book here.


No. of pages: 168 pages.

Reading time: 03 to 04 hours.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Read more book reviews here.

Mean People Suck - Michael Brenner: Book Review
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