The Story Behind The Book: Irresistible, Launching Now

This week we officially launch Irresistible, a book that has been in development for more than seven years. It’s a leadership, management, and HR book filled with stories, tips, and best practices from years of my research, consulting, and meetings with business leaders around the world. (News release here.)

Let me tell you the story behind it.

Over the last 25 years I’ve been studying hundreds of management practices in the world of HR. And as I expanded into more and more areas (learning, recruiting, pay, employee experience, productivity, and more), I kept asking myself, which of these practices are really working?

What I found, despite the best intentions of HR and business leaders, is that many management practices are “institutionalized.”  The way companies create job descriptions, the methods we use for performance management, and even the functional hierarchies of our business structures – are often based on old ideas developed in the industrial age.

Many of the fundamental practices of HR come from the days when companies had “management” and “labor.”  Labor “did the work” and managers “told laborers what to do.” Artifacts like competency models, stack rankings, and even cascading goals and performance bonuses are based on this distribution of work. And it all worked in the days when most companies sold widgets or industrial services.

But now, as you know, the world has changed. More than 70% of all jobs are in the services sector and almost every company has turned into a digital, service-centric, innovation-focused organization. So managers, as smart as they may be, cannot simply tell people what to do.

Employees create, invent, and solve complex problems every day. So a new generation of management practices focuses on empowerment, development, and trust.

And people are far more resilient than you think. The pandemic taught us that under the right conditions employees can do pretty amazing things. The pandemic taught us that people are fragile but also highly resilient beings.

And that’s what this book is about: my research shows precisely how you can create an organization that thrives, grows, and inspires people every day.

If there’s a single philosophy I discovered while writing this book, it’s this: the unquenchable power of the human spirit. People will surprise you if you create the right environment.

Let’s assume you agree with me and you want your team to feel this spirit. How do you pull this off? That’s what the seven secrets are all about.

How did my research take place? I spent many years scratching my head. Not only did I look our studies of HR practices, I poured through Glassdoor data to look for trends. What I found was quite profound. When measured by employee sentiment, every industry has a bell curve when it comes to inspiring and managing  people. On a one-to-five scale, the average company in Glassdoor is around a 3.2, but some are well over 4 and many are deep into the 2s.

I then dug into the companies at the top of the scale  in detail. What I found is that these top-rated companies are exceptional in many ways. Not only are they filled with happy people, they are more profitable, more innovative, and have endured through many difficult business cycles. In other words, they are what I call “Irresistible.”

And that is what led me to this book. I took apart all the ways these  companies excel and the practices they employ, and summarized the findings into seven distinct principles.  Each of the seven “secrets” is both simple but complex. Chapter by chapter, I describe the history of an established management practice and why my recommended new model makes sense.  I also share around a hundred examples of how leaders put these principles into practice, along with comparison charts and recommendations for using in your own work.

As I wrote the book I focused on creating something useful for HR managers, professionals, business leaders, and senior executives.  The book’s seven secrets are management principles for anyone  Every time you go to a meeting, think about a thorny problem, or try to figure out how to get a team of people to solve a problem, these principles will come into play.

I believe the concept of “Irresistible” is so profound that we are creating a multi-faceted project around it. We’re starting a series of podcasts and articles I call “irresistible in action,” in which we continuously update and expand on these principles. We are also in the process of planning workshops and even a roadshow highlighting the book’s principles. And, of course, our second Irresistible Conference will be next May.

Let me add one more thing. Many of you right now are grappling with employee burnout, hybrid work strategies, or preparations for a potential recession.  I promise this book will show you the way. Being irresistible is not just a “good idea”; it is an essential business strategy that will even further differentiate companies and help leaders deal with whatever is ahead.

Making work better for people and organizations has been the most important undertaking of my career. I hope this book gives you many good ideas and inspires you to make your team, your company, and your own work more productive, exciting, and fun.

I invite you to join me on this journey.

How To Order The Book

There are three ways to order.

First, you can go to Amazon or other resellers or ask for it in your local bookstore.

If you are an HR professional or leader we have volume purchases for your team. The book is designed for workshops, and I can guarantee each chapter will give you lots of important things to talk about. And we can help you conduct workshops (more details here). PS I am happy to do an overview of the book for our corporate members.

Finally, if you’re a teacher, professor, or academic institution, you can purchase the book for your students at the Ingram Academic site.

If you register at the Irresistible website ( we’ll keep you informed about my new podcast series “Irresistible in Action” where I interview CHROs and other business leaders to hear their stories about becoming an Irresistible Organization.

Reviews Coming In

“This book is a road map for creating more humane workplaces. Josh Bersin gives us unusually clear and compelling directions to make people the heart and soul of organizations.”

—ADAM GRANT, #1 New York Times bestselling author of THINK AGAIN and host of the TED podcast WorkLife

“A must-read primer for business leaders considering how and why to build a people-centered business. Irresistible is an essential book and an opportunity to learn from one of the best.”

—ARIANNA HUFFINGTON, Founder and CEO, Thrive Global

“For too long, businesses have been claiming that people are their most important resource. Irresistible offers an array of smart insights and shrewd advice to—finally!—turn that idea into action.”

—DANIEL H. PINK, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Power of RegretDrive, and To Sell Is Human

“If you want the secrets of maintaining a workforce of fulfilled, engaged, and loyal teams, read this book—now.”

—KATHLEEN HOGAN, Chief People Officer, Microsoft

“Josh, with his reporter’s background and analyst’s instinct, is terrific at describing practices that affect people. The seven themes offer an outstanding view of emerging practices that will shape employee-focused organizations.”

—DAVE ULRICH, Rensis Likert Professor, Ross School of Business, University of Michigan Partner, The RBL Group

“I have been following Josh’s work for years and not long ago had the chance to teach executives alongside him. He has always taught me a great deal. And now I see some of that so beautifully encapsulated and extended in Irresistible. This is a book to absorb.”

—RICH LYONS, Former Dean, Haas School of Business, and Chief Innovation and Entrepreneurship Officer, UC Berkeley