It Worked for Me: In Life and Leadership

( 55 )

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: 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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  • It Worked for Me
    It Worked for Me  

Editorial Reviews

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)
The Washington Times
“An entertaining read from a charming, accomplished man. . . . A delightful book.”
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: 9780062217240
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 5/22/2012
  • Edition description: Signed
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 6.32 (w) x 9.08 (h) x 1.03 (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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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 55 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(31)

4 Star

(11)

3 Star

(4)

2 Star

(3)

1 Star

(6)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 55 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 24, 2012

    A true inspiration

    Colin Powell is, has been and probably always will be a "good soldier". That means he does what he's told to do by a superior and doesn't question the reasoning or sources behind the assignment. Unfortunatetly that's what almost stained his remarkable career when he presented a cooked up reason to invade Iraq at the U.N. Enough said about that. He is not trying to rewrite history in this book, just passing along well learned lessons and insights gained through many years of public and personal experience. The man is a true patriot and sets a stand out example of what it takes to be a humanitarian who cares about other people and the country he so honorably served. Yes, I have a great amount of respect for General Colin Powell. If you like the man you'll buy the book. If you don't like him buy it and read it. You may find out you were mistaken about him.

    29 out of 34 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2012

    Great book

    Not a typical politician's rationalizing and attempting to write history. Straightforward leadership advice. Refreshing

    19 out of 26 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 2, 2012

    A Great Read!

    Just finished Gen. Powell's book. Great read for everyone - corporate CEO's, military people, government officials, mid-career, those already retired and young people just starting their careers. Wonderful anecdotes and stories that teach lessons about how to live one's life and treat people. No wonderful the General is beloved by so many. Loved the touching stories about Princess Di and Ronald Reagan. You will too!

    8 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 2, 2012

    Five stars for this General !

    Five stars for this four star general .. Spot on advice and wisdom from a true american hero . The perfect graduation / fathers day gift

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 13, 2012

    You had to be there

    As a retired miltary officer, I quickly became enamored with this book. It's a humble reminder that wisdom is gained through the experience of failing. It captures the wit and wisdom of some of the finest, least cynical minds of our time. Those minds belonging to those who serve in the ranks of the military and state deparments the world over. In a world of instant communication and gratification, it's good to be reminded of the unsung heros who stand to be counted and who can be counted on. The world will always be a troubled place. A place where it's far to easy to criticize those that toil in the service of others, who go in harms way, who make the tough decisions. It's good to be reminded that thanks to them, the world will also always be a better place.

    5 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 2, 2012

    This is such a wonderful book for everyone! I highly recommend i

    This is such a wonderful book for everyone! I highly recommend it as a Father's Day or graduation gift. I expected a serious, but maybe a little boring political tome, but this is just the opposite. While Gen. Powell writes about some serious issues from his positions as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and Secretary of State, he does so in a narrative style that makes the stories relatable. I always thought of him as this serious, stiff soldier and political figure, but he's actually very warm, funny and self-deprecating. I found myself grinning at the book at points while reading because of Powell's take on things like the modern hotel rooms and the portraits of himself given by world leaders, now hanging in his exercise room. There are important lessons in each short chapter that really made me think and evaluate, but it's not done in a lecture style , more as an observation and wisdom earned from a life well led. Gen. Powell is one of the heroes of American life, and his new book is a treasure.

    5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 23, 2012

    For a life that was tainted by lies told at the UN, the book doe

    For a life that was tainted by lies told at the UN, the book does nothing to redeem such a wasted life. Harry Belafonte provided the best assessment of Colin Powell. No amount of self-serving, distortion of history can undo the damage Powell brought upon himself. That sad thing is that Powell still thinks It Worked for Him. Save time, money and trees. Just skip it!

    5 out of 83 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 2, 2012

    Perfect Father's Day gift!

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Anyone who works in a team setting, group, or organization should read General Powell's book.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 2, 2012

    A great story of dedication to the country and living the Americ

    A great story of dedication to the country and living the American dream.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 2, 2012

    This is an exceptional read and will be a terrific gift for grad

    This is an exceptional read and will be a terrific gift for graduations and Father's Day and frankly 'just because' occasions. There is something in here for everyone -- there are chapters that are thought provoking, heartwarming, inspiring and even funny. General Powell is a remarkable story teller. Interesting side note is that each chapter is a 'stand alone' so it is not necessary to read the book in order to enjoy. Particulary meaningful chapters may have unusual titles such as "Hot dogs", "Squirrels", "Pizza & Milk", and "Cousin Di". It is truly an enjoyable read and one that can be read again and again. I can't recommend this book highly enough.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2012

    Interesting

    Simple yetfascinating

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 23, 2012

    For a life that was tainted by lies told at the UN, the book doe

    For a life that was tainted by lies told at the UN, the book does nothing to redeem such a wasted life. Harry Belafonte provided the best assessment of Colin Powell. No amount of self-serving, distortion of history can undo the damage Powell brought upon himself. The sad thing is that Powell still thinks It Worked for Him. Save time, money and trees. Just skip it!

    4 out of 55 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 5, 2012

    In his own words

    Insightful read from a man who broke many barriers.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 2, 2012

    Absolutely delightful!

    This is a great book for old and young alike. Wonderful parables that will make you think about how we treat our fellow human beings. I'm going to make more of an effort to think about how my words and actions affect the people I deal with in the work place and my loved ones. You definitely enjoy this one!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 2, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    Terrific, highly recommend this inspiring and insightful book.

    Terrific, highly recommend this inspiring and insightful book. If you haven't read his autobiography, check it out.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 2, 2012

    excellent

    Brilliant, surprising, and always interesting.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 15, 2012

    Should have been PRre Should have been President

    Anonymous

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 10, 2012

    Highly Recommend

    I have run a small business for over 30 years and have served in leadership positions in non-profits. I find Genl Powell's comments about and descriptions of leadership qualities and techniques clear and on point. He provides reminders of things that I have learned but have let get stale. I have also gained some ideas that will help me deal in new ways with issues that arise. This book is well worth everyone's read (I am a peacenik, social justice, liberal Christian).

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 4, 2012

    Leadership 101

    Having worked for General Powell and enjoyed his autobiography, I was concerned this book might be an update of that. However, it was a treasured collection of stories and anecdotes with quite a bit of practical lessons for navigating the challenges of life and work.

    I particularly appreciated his dialogue on controversial calls while Secretary of State, to include first hand perspective of his UN address on Iraq.

    No matter what your political views might be, General/Secretary Powell is an American patriot that is the epitome of good citizenship and giving back by service to our Nation. This book reminds us of the fundamentals key to that.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 21, 2012

    Best leadership book I have ever read.

    The General is an exellent story teller. I enjoyedm every chapter.I wish I would have been able to read it 40 years ago.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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