Book Review: Who Moved My Cheese?

We love books here at Any Old Task! That’s why once a month, we’re going to review and recommend books that have motivated, inspired, or challenged us to improve our business. First up we have Who Moved My Cheese?, first published in 1998 and written by Dr. Spencer Johnson, who also co-authored the best seller The One Minute Manager.


Who Moved My Cheese? tells the story of four characters (two mice – Sniff and Scurry, and two littlepeople – Hem and Haw), who live in a maze and seek out cheese to find joy and nourishment.

In the book, cheese is a metaphor for what we want in life – whether it’s a good, stable career, fulfilling relationship, money, material wealth, good health or spiritual peace of mind. The maze represents the places we search for those things – in our communities, within our families, or in the organizations we work for. The story follows the four as the cheese is moved from the place they’re accustomed to, to an unknown place within the maze. Because Hem and Haw hadn’t noticed the small changes that were taking place each day, they were caught completely by surprise when the cheese was moved.

While Sniff and Scurry seize the opportunity and soon set out to find more cheese, Hem and Haw remain stuck for some time – because they grew so complacent (even a little arrogant!) they continue to return to their existing spot day after day, long after the cheese has disappeared in hopes that it will be put back.

As you can imagine, they grow hungry, irritable, and discouraged. The discomfort reaches a critical point, and the two must decide between two choices: stay in their familiar but barren comfort zone in their current cheese station, or leave to explore the uncertainty that lies within the maze – corridors full of possibility, some dark corners, and dead ends – in a search for new cheese.

Lessons Learned: Change is good. To thrive, we need to anticipate, accept, and embrace it.

I won’t give away the ending, but trust me when I say this book will remind you how critical it is to constantly venture beyond your comfort zone, push beyond your fears and resolve to embrace change.

We learn important lessons such as, ‘Smell the cheese often so you know when it is getting old.” This may seem odd (and kind of gross!) when you first think about it, but it essentially means that you should be aware of when the success, happiness, or peace you have currently is dwindling, no longer satisfies you, or becomes stale. Though this book is an easy read, expect to be hit with revelations about your mindset when it comes to growth and change – are you an early adapter, or do you instinctively fear and avoid change as long as possible?

You’ll start to reflect on how you and those around you have adapted to change in the past, and which actions you want to take in the future to better anticipate, accept, and *gasp* even welcome change!

You won’t regret starting your 2018 with Who Moved My Cheese?. Think of it as the comfort food of books. With its easy-to-follow story, large print and short length (94 pages, including a Discussion section, where readers discuss what the story meant to them and how they will use it in their work and in their personal lives), you’ll find yourself devouring this book within a couple of days. It really is a testament to the power of storytelling, as well as a reminder that it’s the simplest stories that are the most memorable, challenging, and empowering.

What books are you planning to read this year? Have you read any in the past that inspired you to change your life or take your business in a new direction? Tell us in the comments!

Meet your host

Sandra Booker, Founder of Changemaker Inc. (home to Sidekick COO and The VA Studio) and creator of Scale Society and The Advisory Board, is a mentor, Fractional COO  and growth strategist. She specializes in helping overworked, overwhelmed, multi-hatted entrepreneurs become the CEOs of sustainably scalable, and powerfully profitable businesses. 

After helping local businesses thrive, and receiving accolades in her community (like the 40 Under 40 award) Sandra turned her attention to the world of online service providers, and her clients include familiar names like Chanti Zak, Tarzan Kay, and Laura Belgray.

In her (efficiently used) spare time, she teaches others how to build and grow their own 6-figure virtual assistant practices and is on a mission to create a million jobs by helping her clients and students scale their businesses.

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