It Worked for Me: In Life and Leadership

Overview

One of America's most admired public figures reveals the principles that have shaped his life and career, and sets forth a thoughtful, brilliant, and original blueprint for leadership.

It Worked for Me is filled with vivid experiences and lessons learned that have shaped the legendary public service career of the four-star general and former Secretary of State Colin Powell. At its heart are Powell's "Thirteen Rules"—such as "Get mad, then get over it" and "Share credit"—which ...

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It Worked for Me (Enhanced Edition): In Life and Leadership

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Overview

One of America's most admired public figures reveals the principles that have shaped his life and career, and sets forth a thoughtful, brilliant, and original blueprint for leadership.

It Worked for Me is filled with vivid experiences and lessons learned that have shaped the legendary public service career of the four-star general and former Secretary of State Colin Powell. At its heart are Powell's "Thirteen Rules"—such as "Get mad, then get over it" and "Share credit"—which are illustrated by revealing personal stories that introduce and expand upon his principles for effective leadership: conviction, hard work, and, above all, respect for others. He offers warm and engaging parables with wise advice on succeeding in the workplace and beyond.

Powell combines the insights he has gained serving in the top ranks of the military and in four presidential administrations with the lessons he's learned from his immigrant-family upbringing in the Bronx, his training in the ROTC, and his growth as an Army officer. The result is a powerful portrait of a leader who is reflective, self-effacing, and grateful for the contributions of everyone he works with.

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Editorial Reviews

The Washington Times
“An entertaining read from a charming, accomplished man. . . . A delightful book.”
Publishers Weekly
Hard work, straight talk, respect for others, and thoughtful analysis—except during the Iraq War—worked for the former secretary of state and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, according to this plainspoken memoir–cum–leadership manifesto. Powell (My American Journey) distills aphoristic principles—“Get mad, then get over it”—out of anecdotes from adolescent summer jobs, military commands, diplomatic furors, and celebrity encounters. Shamelessly targeting the business audiences he entertains in public-speaking gigs—“I can pitch my speech at whatever level of sophistication the client wants,” he assures readers—his executive’s-eye view of leadership includes tips on hiring and firing subordinates, and soldierly metaphors for corporate strategizing. Unfortunately, leadership insights desert Powell in his substantial but inadequate account of the Iraq War. Though he frankly admits the war was based on false intelligence of Iraqi WMDs that he unwittingly deployed in his infamous U.N. speech justifying the invasion (a “blot” on his career), he offers “no answers” to questions surrounding Bush administration policy making. There’s much inspirational sense drawn from Powell’s matchless range of managerial and political experiences—but also a frustrating reticence on the great leadership crisis of his time. Agent: Martin Josephson. (May 22)
Library Journal
When he was secretary of state, Colin Powell took a walk through the parking garage of his building and asked the garage attendants how they determined whose cars were parked farthest back (and which drivers therefore had to wait the longest for their cars to be retrieved). The answer: the rudest drivers who ignored the attendants. This kind of unexpected anecdote makes Powell's memoir-cum-leadership manual a pleasant departure from the usual gossip and fluff found in most celebrity-penned books. The majority of his advice is found in Part 1, where he explains his 13 Rules for personal conduct and leadership, gathered over his military career and experience in four presidential administrations. In the remaining five sections, Powell offers short chapters on the subjects of personal integrity, motivating others, keeping up with the digital times, as well as personal reflections. Even those who don't agree with all of the advice here will appreciate the humility and humor with which it is offered. VERDICT Powell remains popular with readers (this book made the New York Times best-sellers list), and there's plenty here to justify his appeal. [See Prepub Alert, 12/16/11.]—Sarah Cords, The Reader's Advisor Online, Middleton, WI
Kirkus Reviews
With the collaboration of Koltz (co-author: Leading the Charge: Leadership Lessons from the Battlefield to the Boardroom, 2009, etc.), Powell picks up the thread of his life story. The author rose in the military to become "the first black Army officer to have a four-star troop command." He was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the first Iraq war and served as secretary of state from 2001 to 2005. The release of his first book, My American Journey (2003), fueled a groundswell campaign to nominate him for president in the upcoming election. However, he recognized that he was not cut out for the job despite his proven leadership strengths. He describes how, as he advanced in rank, his military training also prepared him for his role in government. He learned the importance of always focusing on the mission, being resolute in the face of danger and setbacks, not being governed by ego and maintaining a can-do spirit (with the proviso, "I try to be optimistic, but I try not to be stupid"). A good leader, he writes, accepts responsibility for the failure of those in his command, but makes sure to reward them for their successful missions. Unlike the corporate world, the Army recruits from within its ranks, which makes recognizing potential and providing continuing education a primary concern. Powell reviews his profound disagreements with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney on the handling of the war in Iraq, while taking full responsibility for mistakes made on his watch--e.g., his "infamous speech at the U.N. in 2003" claiming that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. An inspiring and useful memoir from a significant figure in 21st-century American politics.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062135131
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 6/3/2014
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 405,380
  • Product dimensions: 5.31 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.68 (d)

Meet the Author

Colin Powell

Colin Powell was born in New York City in 1937. He is a retired four-star general in the United States Army and has earned numerous military, civilian, and foreign honors. He has served four presidential administrations in a variety of roles, most recently as Secretary of State from 2001 to 2005. He lives in Virginia.

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Table of Contents

Author's Note xi

Part I The Rules

1 My Thirteen Rules 3

Part II Know Yourself, Be Yourself

2 Always Do Your Best, Someone Is Watching 31

3 The Street Sweeper 37

4 Busy Bastards 39

5 Kindness Works 45

6 I'm All Caught Up 49

7 Where on the Battlefield? 53

8 Spheres and Pyramids 61

9 Potential, Not Just Performance 67

Part III Take Care of The Troops

10 Trust Your People 73

11 Mutual Respect 77

12 We're Mammals 83

13 Never Walk Past a Mistake 91

14 The Guys in the Field Are Right and the Staff Is Wrong 93

15 It Takes All Kinds 95

Part IV Fast Times in the Digital World

16 Brainware 105

17 Tell Me What You Know 113

18 Tell Me Early 121

19 Beware First Reports 125

20 Five Audiences 129

Part V Getting to 150 Percent

21 What I Tell My New Aides 137

22 One Team, One Fight 149

23 Compete to Win 153

24 Swagger Sticks 159

25 They'll Bitch About the Brand 161

26 After Thirty Days, You Own the Sheets 165

27 Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall 167

28 Squirrels 175

29 Meetings 181

30 The Indispensable Person 187

31 Time to Get off the Train 191

32 Be Gone 195

Part VI Reflections

33 The Powell Doctrine 201

34 The Pottery Barn Rule 209

35 February 5, 2003: The United Nations 217

36 Parsley Island 225

37 Pizza and Milk 231

38 Cousin Di 237

39 Speaking Is My Business 243

40 On the Road 253

41 Gifts 257

42 Best and Worst 263

43 Hot Dogs 267

44 The Gift of a Good Start 271

Afterword: It's All About People 277

Acknowledgments 281

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Interviews & Essays

I love stories. In the course of my career I gathered a number of them that mean a lot to me. Most come from my military life. I was in the military from age seventeen as an ROTC cadet until I was a retired GI at age fifty-six. Others came from my service as Secretary of State and as National Security Advisor. Yet others came to me as I wandered through life. In this book I want to share with you a selection of these stories as well as experiences that have stayed with me over the years. Each one of them taught me something important about life and leadership. Some of the stories deal with serious aspects of my life, including some of the controversial issues I was involved in during my tenure as Secretary of State. There are also humorous stories from my life as well. I offer them to you for whatever use you may wish to make of them.

The first part of It Worked for Me explains my Thirteen Rules, which have been bouncing around since they were first published in Magazine over twenty years ago. These are rules that I have gathered over the years and to which I've adhered in my career.

CLP's Thirteen Rules:

1) It ain't as bad as you think. It will look better in the morning.
2) Get mad, then get over it.
3) Avoid having your ego so close to your position that when your position falls, your ego goes with it.
4) It can be done!
5) Be careful what you choose. You may get it.
6) Don't let adverse facts stand in the way of a good decision.
7) You can't make someone else's choices. You shouldn't let someone else make yours.
8) Check small things.
9) Share credit.
10) Remain calm. Be kind.
11) Have a vision. Be demanding.
12) Don't take counsel of your fears or naysayers.
13) Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.

The rest of the book focuses on everything from the importance of really knowing who you are and how to always be yourself to why I put an emphasis on knowing and taking care of others, especially those who are your followers. I go into my experience in the exploding digital realm that has reshaped the world and our lives. I talk about how to be a great manager and a great leader. I give no conclusions or recommendations, just my observations. The chapters are free-standing. You can read them straight through or jump in anywhere. Everyone has life lessons and stories. These are mine. All I can say is that they worked for me.

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