How We Lead Matters: Reflections on a Life of Leadership

Overview

From one of "The World's Most Powerful Women" (Forbes)
An inspiring collection of stories, insights, and profound life lessons

As a CEO, daughter, wife, mother, and grandmother, Marilyn Carlson Nelson has always put people first—a key priority in her uniquely effective philosophy of corporate leadership. How We Lead Matters combines her adventures and insights with wisdom from renowned spiritual, political, ...

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How We Lead Matters: Reflections on a Life of Leadership

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Overview

From one of "The World's Most Powerful Women" (Forbes)
An inspiring collection of stories, insights, and profound life lessons

As a CEO, daughter, wife, mother, and grandmother, Marilyn Carlson Nelson has always put people first—a key priority in her uniquely effective philosophy of corporate leadership. How We Lead Matters combines her adventures and insights with wisdom from renowned spiritual, political, and literary figures to convey the leadership precepts behind her business, managerial, and corporate success.

From stargazing and world travel to equal rights and corporate wrongs, this thoughtful combination of professional and personal experiences is one of Carlson Nelson's proudest legacies. It is a book that will inspire you to think about how you live, how you lead, and how you can make impactful choices that create your own brand of success.

"These stories are the ones that are closest to me...life is made up of a series of days and choices, and how we lead matters."—Marilyn Carlson Nelson

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780071600170
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill Professional Publishing
  • Publication date: 8/21/2008
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 144
  • Sales rank: 407,077
  • Product dimensions: 7.80 (w) x 10.90 (h) x 0.63 (d)

Meet the Author

Marilyn Carlson Nelson is chairman and CEO of Carlson, a global group of companies providing travel, hotel, cruise, restaurant, and marketing services, including such brands as Radisson® and Regent® hotels and resorts, Country Inns and Suites By CarlsonSM, Park Inn® and Park Plaza® hotels, Regent Seven Seas Cruises®, Carlson Wagonlit Travel®, Carlson Marketing®, and T.G.I. Friday's® restaurants.

Deborah Cundy, an assistant dean at the Carlson School of Management, has worked with Marilyn Carlson Nelson for nearly 20 years as a former vice president at Carlson and speech writer. She assisted Ms. Carlson Nelson in the founding of the Center for Integrative Leadership at the University of Minnesota.

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Read an Excerpt

How We Lead Matters

Reflections on a Life of Leadership


By Marilyn Carlson Nelson, Deborah Cundy

The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

Copyright © 2008Marilyn Carlson Nelson
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-07-160017-0


Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

Star Gazing


Business is one of the most powerful forces on the planet—for good or for ill. Its domain is far-reaching and pervasive. Those of us who are "called to business" as our life pursuit must learn how best to leverage our influence and work across sectors on complex problems for the common good. We must be what I call "integrative leaders."

I am reminded of the story of Ruth Shaw, the first woman to head a U.S. power company. When she was tapped for the top job, she was baffled. She knew she didn't have a deep specialization in a particular competency such as marketing, human resources, business law, or operations. The chairman told her, "I have accountants, lawyers, and salespeople. I need someone who can connect the dots." We know that connecting the dots within a company is critical to success. But connecting the dots between a company and the outside world may be as important to the world as it is to the company.

Do you think, for example, in August 2001, I had any idea that a small group of people living in caves in Afghanistan could bring my business to its knees? I did not. And then there was September 11.... Do you think that throughout my education I ever thought it might be useful to take a course in engineering? I did not. And then there was Six Sigma.... Do you think I could imagine the need to give speeches in defense of business as a morally upstanding way to earn a living? I did not. And then there was Enron.

In an increasingly complex and interconnected world, business leaders must pause and contemplate the way our businesses can best interact with the nonprofit and public sectors. It's not unlike the way the ancients looked at the skies: some just saw stars, but others saw the patterns of dogs, bears, goddesses, and hunters. They connected the dots, and we'll never again see the sky in the same way.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.

Margaret Mead (U.S. Anthropologist)


The Sunday School Lesson

Of all the gifts given to me by my father, the greatest was personal responsibility.

Our family always went to church on Sunday, and because I was in the seventh grade, I attended Sunday school classes instead of the main service. One day, after a particularly chaotic class with flying spitballs and little or no order, I announced to my parents on the ride home that I was quitting Sunday school and from then on would be going to the main sanctuary with the adults.

Instead of praising my maturity, as I thought he would, my dad pulled off the highway, turned around, and said, "You what?" When I repeated my complaint that Sunday school was of little value, he looked at me sternly and said, "Then change it." Keep in mind that I was only 13 and my father was ordering me to fix a Sunday school that even the adult teachers couldn't control!

My mother tried to intercede and for her trouble was given the job of setting up a meeting with the Sunday school superintendent so that I could present my ideas for fixing things. When the day came, she drove me downtown to the big meeting. I was nervous, to say the least. But the superintendent was pleased to hear my ideas, and together we "fixed" Sunday school.

From that early lesson I learned that if something needs to change in our homes, schools, workplaces, or churches, it's up to us to change it rather than wait for "they" or "them" or someone else to do it.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts.

Daniel P. Moynihan (U.S. Senator)


As a Matter of Fact

Part of my college career was spent studying international economics and political science at the Institute des Hautes Etudes Economiques et Politiques in Geneva, Switzerland. Away from home in that stimulating setting, I was filled with confidence and idealism.

I learned a great deal that year, but one lesson in particular has served me well throughout my business career.

One day, my professor asked a classmate and me to debate two sides of an economic philosophy in front of a very large audience and in French, no less. I painstakingly translated my points and rehearsed until I could recite my side of the argument fluently. On the day of the debate, I laid out a compelling case, illuminated by my personal belief.

At the end of my energetic and colorful presentation, the audience applauded wildly. I felt supremely victorious and certain of my success—until I received my grade. It was the worst grade I'd ever received.

Perplexed, I confronted the professor. "I don't understand," I said. "My argument was a huge success. You were there. The audience loved it."

"Yes, Marilyn, your performance was brilliant," he conceded. "But your facts must equal your passion."

Even the winner of the argument has a hard time sleeping

Takashima Gyokutoro (Japanese Poet)


Payback

In my second year at Smith College, I agreed to arrange a mixer at a downtown ballroom on behalf of my class. The tradition at the time was for the girls to submit the names of boys they knew who were going to schools in the area. The boys wouldn't know which girl invited them, as the invitation went out from the "Sophomore Class of Smith." When the RSVPs started coming in, we realized our boy–girl ratio was falling short.

In the second round of invitations, I remembered the name of a handsome Harvard pre-med student, Glen Nelson, who was from my hometown of Edina, Minnesota. A couple days later, Glen called me, insisting that I had submitted his name. I denied it. (What nerve!) Anyway, who cared? (Besides the two of us, that is.) Glen accepted the invitation. And to punctuate my indifference, I told him to bring a couple of other guys to fill in.

He showed up an hour and a half early with two cars full of star athletes and announced that they were all there for dinner. I still don't know if I was more furious that my hair was uncombed and I wasn't dressed for the event or that, as the hostess, I was responsible for paying per head.

I stormed upstairs and announced to my classmates that guests were starting to arrive, and by the way, I wouldn't be joining them for dinner. There was a stunned silence. When I got to the part in my rant about who would be at dinner, I lost every sympathetic ear. The requests came in a flurry about who wanted to sit next to which athlete.

I heard that the dinner was lovely. Some new relationships bloomed. How nice. Every place was taken. I know; I paid the bill. And in the end, I eventually did get even with Glen Nelson. I married him.

It's never too late to be what you might have been.

George Eliot (British Novelist)


Wanting It All

WHAT I KNOW NOW: Letters to My Younger Self is a unique book of advice letters from successful women such as Maya Angelou, Madeleine Albright, and Queen Noor written to their "younger selves." Here's an excerpt from mine:

Dear Marilyn:

You have ambitious dreams that seem to include every possibility under the sun. You want to be a mother. You want exactly four children. You also want to be a political leader or diplomat. You want to serve as a community leader and you want one day to have a meaningful role in your family's business at Carlson.

Those who know you wonder why you think you can do it all. How can you possibly reconcile all those dreams into one lifetime? Maybe you should let some go. What I know now is that women can actually come pretty close to having it
(Continues...)


Excerpted from How We Lead Matters by Marilyn Carlson Nelson. Copyright © 2008 by Marilyn Carlson Nelson. Excerpted by permission of The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Contents

Foreword by David Gergen...........          

Author's Acknowledgment............          

Introduction....................          

Star Gazing....................          

The Sunday School Lesson...........          

As a Matter of Fact................          

Payback....................          

Wanting It All....................          

The Signature....................          

The Times They Are A-Changin'......          

Laughter as Legacy.................          

Imagine....................          

When I Grow Up....................          

Flying Solo....................          

Security Alarm....................          

I Confess....................          

Gerbils for Sale...................          

Power of One....................          

Packing Light....................          

The Dance....................          

It's Time....................          

Open for Business..................          

A Super Sale....................          

Going for Gold....................          

Thanksgiving Dinner................          

Coming Together....................          

The Credo....................          

Love, Honor, & ?...................          

Pretending for Real................          

Reporting for Duty.................          

A Beer, a Brat, & the KGB..........          

Lika & Tutu....................          

The Long View....................          

Passing the Test...................          

Car Trouble....................          

Temptation....................          

Dear Shareholders..................          

The Pause....................          

Favorable Odds....................          

Top Prize....................          

Worth the Risk....................          

A Christmas Uprising...............          

Secret Ingredient..................          

Something to Prove.................          

Master Carver....................          

Special Delivery...................          

Doing My Part....................          

Looking Up....................          

One of a Kind....................          

On the Same Day....................          

Taking a Tumble....................          

Humility....................          

The Temples....................          

In Your Dreams....................          

Waiting Room Blues.................          

In the Afterlife...................          

Heavenly....................          

Tipping Point....................          

The Prediction....................          

So Honored....................          

Mom's Favorite....................          

Gratitude....................          

Coming Out of My Shell.............          

Postscript....................          

About the Author...................          


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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 18, 2008

    A Great Book for Everyone

    I highly recommend this book!! As a professional woman, I was drawn to Marilyn Carlson Nelson. Her business advice in this book is extraordinary and inspirational. It simply compels you to raise the level of your contribution to and satisfaction with life. I expected to get that from this book. What I did not expect, however, was the intimate, personal reflection of a powerful CEO who also happens to be a mother, a wife, a community leader, a mentor and a friend. I found nuggets of wisdom for every aspect of my life, as did my husband who also read it. From her personal stories of well-known historical people and events to her moving reflection on the loss of her college-bound daughter, this book made me think deeply, laugh often and cry on occasion. You will not find anything that touches you more deeply.

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