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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"—notes he gathered over the years and that now form the basis of his leadership presentations given throughout the world. Powell's short but 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"—notes he gathered over the years and that now form the basis of his leadership presentations given throughout the world. Powell's short but sweet rules—among them, "Get mad, then get over it" and "Share credit"—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. In work and in life, Powell writes, "it's about how we touch and are touched by the people we meet. It's all about the people." A natural storyteller, Powell offers warm and engaging parables with wise advice on succeeding in the workplace and beyond. "Trust your people," he counsels as he delegates presidential briefing responsibilities to two junior State Department desk officers. "Do your best—someone is watching," he advises those just starting out, recalling his own teenage summer job mopping floors in a soda-bottling factory. 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. Colin Powell's It Worked for Me is bound to inspire, move, and surprise readers. Thoughtful and revealing, it is a brilliant and original blueprint for leadership.


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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"—notes he gathered over the years and that now form the basis of his leadership presentations given throughout the world. Powell's short but 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"—notes he gathered over the years and that now form the basis of his leadership presentations given throughout the world. Powell's short but sweet rules—among them, "Get mad, then get over it" and "Share credit"—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. In work and in life, Powell writes, "it's about how we touch and are touched by the people we meet. It's all about the people." A natural storyteller, Powell offers warm and engaging parables with wise advice on succeeding in the workplace and beyond. "Trust your people," he counsels as he delegates presidential briefing responsibilities to two junior State Department desk officers. "Do your best—someone is watching," he advises those just starting out, recalling his own teenage summer job mopping floors in a soda-bottling factory. 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. Colin Powell's It Worked for Me is bound to inspire, move, and surprise readers. Thoughtful and revealing, it is a brilliant and original blueprint for leadership.

30 review for It Worked for Me: In Life and Leadership

  1. 5 out of 5

    Laura Gembolis

    Colin Powell is one of those people that I once admired and currently want to admire. He went into the army, rose up the ranks to become a four-star general, and served as Secretary of State. He’s an icon. A moderate Republican. Then the Bush administration happened and Powell was given an impossible mission – to get other countries to not just accept, but support an American invasion of Iraq. A moderate in the Bush administration – his credibility was sacrificed in order to make the case for wa Colin Powell is one of those people that I once admired and currently want to admire. He went into the army, rose up the ranks to become a four-star general, and served as Secretary of State. He’s an icon. A moderate Republican. Then the Bush administration happened and Powell was given an impossible mission – to get other countries to not just accept, but support an American invasion of Iraq. A moderate in the Bush administration – his credibility was sacrificed in order to make the case for war with Iraq. For me – there is no hindsight. His presentation was wrong. It is wrong now and it was wrong then. Here is where my feelings get complicated. First in what frame of mind did Powell accept this job of presenting to the United Nations? Did he know in his guts that something wasn’t right? Or did he go in believing the story? I don't think either scenario reflects well on him. Second it gives me pause that the voice that was against invading Iraq became the face for invading Iraq. How many people in major institutions eventually give up their own thinking and accept the groupthink because there is little space for disagreement? Thirdly – I want him to redeem himself. I want him to write his second act. And this book is no second act. Herein lies my disappointment. While Powell has good advice – his transgression is so serious – I expect more than folksy homespun advice that he kept as aphorisms on his desk. I expect him to have really processed this “blot” on his record. And I don’t expect his story to diminish those he served. But I do expect the insights of a man who has walked through the storm and came out the other side. This is not that book.

  2. 5 out of 5

    JM

    This is an amazing book! It tells the stories of GEN. Powell from his youth to his stint as Secretary of State. Many of these stories place him in a light that makes him more "down to earth." He shared his wisdom from both a military and life experience lens. Many people on Goodreads expected an exposé of the nature of the UN speech he gave in February 2003. He addressed it as he saw fit. Many of these same people decided to rate this book one or two stars. That's quite unfair. I suggest that this This is an amazing book! It tells the stories of GEN. Powell from his youth to his stint as Secretary of State. Many of these stories place him in a light that makes him more "down to earth." He shared his wisdom from both a military and life experience lens. Many people on Goodreads expected an exposé of the nature of the UN speech he gave in February 2003. He addressed it as he saw fit. Many of these same people decided to rate this book one or two stars. That's quite unfair. I suggest that this book be required reading for all military officers, NCOs and anyone in positions of leadership. It is very enlightening to read biographies that are honest and heartfelt.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jeanne

    As successes come your way, remember that you didn’t do it alone. It is always we. (p. 354) Colin Powell's second memoir, It Worked for Me: In Life and Leadership is a series of short essays that sound like they were influenced by his time on the public speaking circuit. In these essays – Share the Credit, The Pottery Barn Rule, Never Walk Past a Mistake, for example – he tells a series of anecdotes, often punctuated with an aphorism. I first wanted to dislike Worked for Me. It's pat. It's simple. As successes come your way, remember that you didn’t do it alone. It is always we. (p. 354) Colin Powell's second memoir, It Worked for Me: In Life and Leadership is a series of short essays that sound like they were influenced by his time on the public speaking circuit. In these essays – Share the Credit, The Pottery Barn Rule, Never Walk Past a Mistake, for example – he tells a series of anecdotes, often punctuated with an aphorism. I first wanted to dislike Worked for Me. It's pat. It's simple. But I kept reading and am considering sending it to people I know in leadership positions. This is a good winter book. It is heart-warming and focuses on values without feeling preachy. I believe he lives his values. Worked for Me is good reading for this winter of my discontent, when it's easy to believe that everyone in the White House is cynical and self-serving. He admitted mistakes and took responsibility. There are people in government – or have been – who try to do the right thing. Always approach congressional questions with a “Glad you asked!” attitude. They are the people’s representatives and we are the people’s servants. And if you get in trouble, we’ll work together to get you out of trouble. (p. 105) I suspect that the content of Powell's politics and mine are very different (he doesn't talk about political beliefs here). Still, his style is more similar to mine than different. I would still be angry about the damage that DJT is doing to the environment, the country, and world peace if his communication style and behavior were more thoughtful, less combative – more like Powell's – but I would be less embarrassed by his outbursts. If DJT's politics were more like mine, but he was still misbehaving, I hope I would still be appalled. I don't believe I have ever voted Republican for president. I would consider voting for this Republican.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jay Connor

    Chapter 35: February 5, 2003 This is the chapter wherein Colin Powell recaptures my respect. The date – February 5, 2003 – which for Powell is so seared into his consciousness that it is the equivalent of other folks’ memories of the day Kennedy was shot or when they first heard of the planes flying into the Trade Center. For Powell, 2/5/03 marked his appearance before the UN to make the Bush Administration’s case that a pre-emptive strike against Iraq was warranted by Saddam’s possession of Weapo Chapter 35: February 5, 2003 This is the chapter wherein Colin Powell recaptures my respect. The date – February 5, 2003 – which for Powell is so seared into his consciousness that it is the equivalent of other folks’ memories of the day Kennedy was shot or when they first heard of the planes flying into the Trade Center. For Powell, 2/5/03 marked his appearance before the UN to make the Bush Administration’s case that a pre-emptive strike against Iraq was warranted by Saddam’s possession of Weapons of Mass Destruction. Though his apology is somewhat hedged, Powell gives vivid insight into the constrains and forces that led to, in his term, the “most major failure” in a military and public life that spanned five decades. No surprise that Cheney’s hands were all over the manipulation that enmeshed Powell! While Powell is too much a soldier and class act to “name names.” It is clear that the neo-conservative junta -- Rumsfeld, Cheney and Wolfowitz – are probably not on Alma and Colin’s Christmas Card list. Like in the excellent “Art of Intelligence” (reviewed here in late August ’12), George W. Bush is presented as a better man than those supposedly serving him from this gang. The rest of the book is fairly straightforward leadership 101. Having worked with a number of retired Army Generals, I am again reminded of what an excellent leadership crucible today’s military is. Here, again, we are reminded that the failures of leadership, execution and even simple common sense are nearly all at the feet of our political leaders and rarely in this most recent generation of military. Our troops deserve so much better than a repeat of Republican bellicosity.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Book Riot Community

    This memoir is a peek into the fascinating world of General Powell. I listen to the audiobook read by the general himself, and it is a very satisfying listen. — Christina Vortia from The Best Books We Read In December 2016: http://bookriot.com/2017/01/03/riot-r... This memoir is a peek into the fascinating world of General Powell. I listen to the audiobook read by the general himself, and it is a very satisfying listen. — Christina Vortia from The Best Books We Read In December 2016: http://bookriot.com/2017/01/03/riot-r...

  6. 5 out of 5

    Richard

    What can you say about a book with a title like this? “It Worked for Me?” That the writer is a self-aggrandizing braggart which is what was running through my head. However, to my surprise Powell comes across as a fairly humane guy albeit with a military stiff presence that somehow has retained a deep humanity that bespeaks his upbringing as the son of immigrant parents. He was in town as part of the City Club and did a Q & A with a local TV celebrity that mostly involved softball questions he co What can you say about a book with a title like this? “It Worked for Me?” That the writer is a self-aggrandizing braggart which is what was running through my head. However, to my surprise Powell comes across as a fairly humane guy albeit with a military stiff presence that somehow has retained a deep humanity that bespeaks his upbringing as the son of immigrant parents. He was in town as part of the City Club and did a Q & A with a local TV celebrity that mostly involved softball questions he could use as a springboard/lead-in to relate stories from this memoir which he was touring behind. Following the first question “So, General how many interviews have you done today”? He paused and replied “Seven” at which point I was prepared to be bored to tears for the rest of the evening. To my surprise he was present and extremely engaging with his thoughts on life, leadership and even his candid responses to audience questions including “What do you think of (Syrian) President Bashar al-Assad”? To which he responded w/o hesitation “I know him and he’s a liar”. Powell’s book, ostensibly a series of stories based on the lessons he learned during his time in the military and later with the State Department was an eye opener to me because the refrain that runs through the narrative is his belief in and insistence on being present in your communications with and exchanges to others. This is clearly a practice he learned as he would his way through the military ranks but a practice that even informs his style working with underprivileged children many of whom come from the ranks of immigrant families as he did. Clearly, “it” worked for him and there is ample evidence that we can all learn some lessons from his life story.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Stephen

    I listened to the Audible.com verison of this book, read by General Powell. First, General Powell writes in a very straight-forward, simplistic, way. You can tell he isn't a "trained" writer. Nor is he a brilliant performer reading it. You can frequently hear edit breaks, and voice tone changes. Honestly, none of this bothered me. There were a number of things in this book that I really enjoyed. His rules are well-known now, and quite good. It was interesting to hear his take on them. I really ap I listened to the Audible.com verison of this book, read by General Powell. First, General Powell writes in a very straight-forward, simplistic, way. You can tell he isn't a "trained" writer. Nor is he a brilliant performer reading it. You can frequently hear edit breaks, and voice tone changes. Honestly, none of this bothered me. There were a number of things in this book that I really enjoyed. His rules are well-known now, and quite good. It was interesting to hear his take on them. I really appreciated his view that you need to actually walk around and get a feeling for what is going on when leading; that you cannot rely on presentations and prepared talks. A few things seemed entirely trite though. I really don't give a damn what kind of hotel room he likes, or what sort of limo and driver he requests when speaking professionally. But those bits passed quickly. This was definitely worth a read/listen.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Joseph

    I loved it. Clear. Concise. Plenty of humility. A lifetime of lessons and principles, all placed in a easily understood, frequently humorous and revealing read that I wish I had 30 years ago. Highly recommend it for anyone, not just those in the military.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Greg

    I thoroughly enjoyed this memoir from General Colin Powell, former U.S. Secretary of State. It basically consists of him telling stories from his life and career experiences, and then reflecting on the lessons learned (and counsel to be derived) from those experiences. They run a wide gamut, but there wasn't a single one that didn't engage me and make me think about how I could apply the lessons learned in my own life. I could wish that I had read it in my teens or twenties, rather than in my si I thoroughly enjoyed this memoir from General Colin Powell, former U.S. Secretary of State. It basically consists of him telling stories from his life and career experiences, and then reflecting on the lessons learned (and counsel to be derived) from those experiences. They run a wide gamut, but there wasn't a single one that didn't engage me and make me think about how I could apply the lessons learned in my own life. I could wish that I had read it in my teens or twenties, rather than in my sixties, but I still found it valuable. As a college professor (of leadership), I will certainly bring much of it into my classes for the benefit of my students. My only wish is that I could find a way to bring the man himself to visit with my students. I plan to find a copy of his first book, My American Journey and read (or listen to) that one as well. In his epilogue, he mentioned thinking about writing a third book, because he still has stories to tell. I would read that book, but I would also like to see him expand on the lessons learned from these stories, and give his readers deeper insight into the "how to" of some of them. His life story is inspiring, and I think of him as one of the most honorable and devoted public servants of recent years. I wish he were still serving in that way. We need as many of those great souls as we can get in public service. Worth reading!

  10. 4 out of 5

    April

    Updated: This is a book I will buy, read again and make notes in. I have found the things I've read by Colin Powell to be very insightful and thought provoking. Powell, is on my short list of "people, alive or dead, that I would like to have a conversation with" About 10 years ago I received a PowerPoint of Colin Powell's leadership points. I found that presentation to be very insightful and since that time have had an interest in Colin Powell. Although I have yet to finish this book, it's well Updated: This is a book I will buy, read again and make notes in. I have found the things I've read by Colin Powell to be very insightful and thought provoking. Powell, is on my short list of "people, alive or dead, that I would like to have a conversation with" About 10 years ago I received a PowerPoint of Colin Powell's leadership points. I found that presentation to be very insightful and since that time have had an interest in Colin Powell. Although I have yet to finish this book, it's well on its way to 5 stars and a book that I intend to purchase, read again and highlight and underline. I have never commented on a book before finishing, but this is a point I want to remember. In this day in age I find it very insightful... From Chapter 20 - Five Audiences "I learned the "you're not the only one at risk" rule in 1987, when I was Deputy National Security Advisor, moments after my very first Sunday morning TV interview, on This Week with David Brinkley. I was doing fine; and we were near the end of the show. The great reporter Sam Donaldson, one of the regular panelists, grabbed the mike and in his aggressive manner asked, "Why should we trust you? You are a military officer, and after the recent NSC Iran-Contra scandal, with military officers in charge, why should we trust you?" During the half minute that was left, I thought I gave a rather good account of myself and why I could be trusted. After the show, I remarked to Sam that I thought I had gotten the best of that exchange. I won! Sam smiled at my naivete. "General," he said, "when you are with the press, you are the only one at risk. I can never lose." I never forgot that. And he added, "Never smirk at us when you think you're ahead."" That interaction from almost 30-years ago is so telling about our media. The media is not there to objectively report the news, they are there to push their agenda. If they don't like you, watch out! ________________________________________________________ Chapter 25- They'll Bitch About the Brand "as you examine solutions, make sure you think them through down several levels into secondary effects, and when you arrive at what you believe will be a solution, you have to then ask yourself if you have just let wishful thinking set you up for more problems." "surround yourself with sergeants - that is, people with ground truth experience whose thinking is not contaminated with grand theories."

  11. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    I love Colin Powell, I think he is such an excellent example of what America should be. I have been wanting to read this book for awhile and downloaded it to listen to on my commute. First, it was read by Colin Powell himself, which I appriciated. Second, I really enjoyed his approach to leadership through an army perspective. One of the things he discussed was that "not everybody gets promoted". In the army, there are potentially a lot of soliders who have the skills and capacity to be generals I love Colin Powell, I think he is such an excellent example of what America should be. I have been wanting to read this book for awhile and downloaded it to listen to on my commute. First, it was read by Colin Powell himself, which I appriciated. Second, I really enjoyed his approach to leadership through an army perspective. One of the things he discussed was that "not everybody gets promoted". In the army, there are potentially a lot of soliders who have the skills and capacity to be generals, but there are simply not enough spots. The army is okay with that, but other areas of government and the private sector are not. Creating jobs just so that people can get promoted is inefficent. I have never heard it put like that before, but I think it describes government bureaucracy very well, Another part of this book I enjoyed was "don't be a busy bastard", meaning, don't be the person at work who is constantly working late into the night and on weekends. Powell stressed a work life balance, and said that people (especially bosses) who work around the clock create an environment where everybody feels they have to work around the clock. When everbody feels like they have to work around the clock, they start making up work for them to do to fill the time. What is created is an office full of overworked people, doing work they don't really need to be doing. By limiting your hours at work, you are forced to prioritize tasks and be effecient during the time you are there. I loved this.

  12. 4 out of 5

    AnnieM

    July 18-July20, 2015 Yep another reread. I finally bought my own audio copy of the book. I figure once I've read a book more than three times, I need to own it. Colin grounds me. His 13 rules helps me get through the days. One of the best management books I've read, and I've read a lot. Sept 17-Sep19, 2014 Two years after I listened to it the first time and it resonates with me even more. I experienced much less dull bits and could identify with parts more now that I did before. I will definitely July 18-July20, 2015 Yep another reread. I finally bought my own audio copy of the book. I figure once I've read a book more than three times, I need to own it. Colin grounds me. His 13 rules helps me get through the days. One of the best management books I've read, and I've read a lot. Sept 17-Sep19, 2014 Two years after I listened to it the first time and it resonates with me even more. I experienced much less dull bits and could identify with parts more now that I did before. I will definitely have to buy it. Oct 2012-November 2012 I won't lie, there are some seriously dull bits in this. However, I love finding out that Colin Powell is a street kid. He's a regular guy that feels he could change the world through his Hot Dog Diplomacy. He talks of family, life, military and how he got here. I really enjoyed the book. I look forward to buying a copy and reading and marking it up. Now I think this book will only truly strike a cord with a very specific person possibly at a specific point in one's life. Leadership, common sense, and history mesh together for a well narrated book.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Steven

    Colin Powell is 1 of the few Republicans whom I respect. This book of stories about his life and people in his life illustrate the principles he lived by including his regret at being misled over the WMD intelligence before his UN speech. Organizations don't get things done. Programs and plans don't get things done. People get things done. Colin Powell is 1 of the few Republicans whom I respect. This book of stories about his life and people in his life illustrate the principles he lived by including his regret at being misled over the WMD intelligence before his UN speech. Organizations don't get things done. Programs and plans don't get things done. People get things done.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Deacon Tom F

    Absolutely outstanding. As a former Air Force Commander, I completely concur with his comments on leadership.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Joanna

    If I were to look back at my life in ten years and try to pinpoint a moment that had the most influence on my college career and my future it would most likely be the day that I finished reading this gem of a book. From a career in the military to serving our government and everything else in between Colin Powell can be considered nothing less than a role model and one of the great men of American history, but this book revealed to me the real reason why every young person in America and all ar If I were to look back at my life in ten years and try to pinpoint a moment that had the most influence on my college career and my future it would most likely be the day that I finished reading this gem of a book. From a career in the military to serving our government and everything else in between Colin Powell can be considered nothing less than a role model and one of the great men of American history, but this book revealed to me the real reason why every young person in America and all around the world should look to this man for inspiration. Colin Powell serves as an exemplary example of a man who overcame obstacles, did not let his situation get in the way of his destination and who lived his life in the service of others. Without getting too personal, before reading this book I was going through a terrible stage in my young life where I did not want to succeed, I could not be bothered to push myself and I was convinced that humanity was intrinsically evil and not deserving of my help. I was convinced that I did not need people and could live a fulfilling life for myself and by myself. I have never been more wrong in my life. This book made me aware of the two things I must have forgotten in all of my self pity; 1. It is our experiences, the people around us and how we interact and learn from them that help shape us into the people we become and 2. A good life, a fulfilling life and a life that is worth living is one in which we use our God given abilities in the service of others. Colin Powell made me remember that when we pass into the next life, while having a good reputation is nice it is not something that will actually leave a mark on humanity. The only way we are able to leave our mark on humanity is by the way we influence and serve others. This book reminded me of why I wanted to commit my life to serving people as a doctor in the first place. Another one of the plethora of reasons I absolutely adore this book is because of the poignant point General Powell makes about the importance of education. As he said education was, is and always will be the "Golden Door." As a young Nigerian woman, I grew up in a household that valued education very greatly, just like General Powell. I have always seen access to education for all people as a global issue that needs to be addressed. All people, man and woman, girl and boy, regardless of color, language, socioeconomic status or caste not only deserve an education but are entitled to one. Understanding the true value of an education will help push the world in the direction we need to be going. A people, a group, a country is only as good as the least of its members; so as long as there are still middle school and high school dropouts in America, this nation will always be a nation of dropouts. This though, is a topic of discussion for a different time and a different venue. Moving on. This book is one of those gems that I believe should be revisited at different stages of one's life. As a young college student at the ripe age of 18 I feel like I have gained from this book a heightened sense of purpose and renewed drive. After a rough first year of college where I consistently got grades lower than my norm from elementary and secondary school I needed to read this book to allow myself to get past those difficult classes and look towards the bigger picture. As Colin Powell said in his book, it is not about "where you start in life but where you end up." I know for a fact that if and when I do revisit this book later on in my adult life I will gain a new meaning from the inspirational anecdotes and words of wisdom from General Powell. This is a book that I definitely suggest everyone read at least once in their life. Although all of his achievements and accolades make General Powell seem larger than life,this book is an amazing reminder that he is as much of a human being as any one of us, no better no worst. I have never met him personally (although I am a student at his Alma Mater) but through this book I feel a personal connection with Mr. Powell and I feel like he has truly helped and motivated me. So I feel obligated to say thank you Mr. Powell for sharing this amazing book with the world. I hope everyone takes the time to read it, it will be time well spent.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Billy

    Alternate title: the power of emotional intelligence in leadership and other tidbits. Much like listening to a grandparent, Powell heaps his experience onto the reader with poignant anecdotes and very actionable suggestions. If you believe that the happiness and well-being of your subordinates are tied to their productivity, this is the book for you. (He also makes the case against bullying, fear-mongering, and isolation as motivational tactics.) This is also great read for US political history Alternate title: the power of emotional intelligence in leadership and other tidbits. Much like listening to a grandparent, Powell heaps his experience onto the reader with poignant anecdotes and very actionable suggestions. If you believe that the happiness and well-being of your subordinates are tied to their productivity, this is the book for you. (He also makes the case against bullying, fear-mongering, and isolation as motivational tactics.) This is also great read for US political history wonks. Powell discusses the missteps that led to his infamous 2003 speech to the UN and the subsequent invasion of Iraq, In a couple of places, he accepts blame for these and outlines the circumstances surrounding those events. **Disclaimer for what follows**: I'm not a huge fan of Ronal Reagan. Several of his policies and stances, IMHO, are demonstrable failures, clearly ignore lessons learned in history, or border on lunacy; to name a few: the war on drugs, the Star Wars missile shield, "trust but verify," the cold war, trickle-down economics and the subsequent tripling of the national debt. Colin Powell clearly reveres Ronald Reagan. There are several interactions described in this book that give me pause. For example, when Powell was Reagan's national security advisor, he brought a pressing issue into the oval office. During Powell's monologue, Reagan supposedly continued starring into the rose garden, not saying a word. When Powell stopped speaking, Reagan made a comment about the fauna and the recently placed birdseed. Colin Powell interprets this as a lesson from the President that national security matters are Powell's job and that, with this particular issue, there were no actionable choices for the President to make. An alternate interpretation is that Reagan was losing his mind. Did I mention the missile shield? As I've said, there are several such interactions described. Overall, a pretty good read. For what it's worth, I have the utmost respect Colin Powell and I'd happily follow him into hell if he asked.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Albert

    I listened to the audiobook read by Colin Powell. I had just recently read It's Your Ship: Management Techniques from the Best Damn Ship in the Navy, so I could not help but compare the two. Both were written by men of the U.S. military. Both books intended, at least partially, to provide leadership guidance. Both men have become public speakers and authors in their post-military careers. My primary goal in reading each was not enjoyment but rather to learn something that I could use in my own l I listened to the audiobook read by Colin Powell. I had just recently read It's Your Ship: Management Techniques from the Best Damn Ship in the Navy, so I could not help but compare the two. Both were written by men of the U.S. military. Both books intended, at least partially, to provide leadership guidance. Both men have become public speakers and authors in their post-military careers. My primary goal in reading each was not enjoyment but rather to learn something that I could use in my own life. I enjoyed both and got value from both, but felt I received more usable insight from It's Your Ship. Colin Powell has had an incredible career, and his wisdom and experience are evident throughout this book. You do feel that you actually get to know Colin Powell through the stories he relates about his life, his values, his successes and his failures. He seems like a unique combination of approachable and commanding respect. However, some of his methods are hard for me to translate into something I could use. Part of the problem was that his lessons are so embedded in the ways of the military and part of it was that he operated at a very different level that I do. It wasn't that he emphasized this characteristic of his relationships and interactions. In fact, if anything he downplayed them, but ultimately he and I live on different planets and while it was interesting to hear about his life, I didn't feel I could that much from it.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Carol

    This is a difficult book to rate. I actually read it because I saw him interviewed on book tour for this book; but while waiting on its arrival from the library, I read his first book "My American Journey". Reading both was too much. The first book is way too much detail; the second is way too parallel to the first book. Powell has had an iconic life. His rise from Harlem to 4 stars is awesome. His mistakes will reside with him right beside his glory and he knows it. It is believable that he pre This is a difficult book to rate. I actually read it because I saw him interviewed on book tour for this book; but while waiting on its arrival from the library, I read his first book "My American Journey". Reading both was too much. The first book is way too much detail; the second is way too parallel to the first book. Powell has had an iconic life. His rise from Harlem to 4 stars is awesome. His mistakes will reside with him right beside his glory and he knows it. It is believable that he presents truth - but how does one tell if it is truth or if he is rationalizing like everyone else does. Its hard for me to rationalize war even though I know mankind is made up of a lot of 'bad guys'.

  19. 5 out of 5

    wade

    I love Colin Powell and would have voted for him for president, so I really feel guilty for the three stars. He is a true patriot with tremendous character but the problem is this is generally a self help and I have heard most of his tips in other books or in interviews on television. The other problem is that I am 60 plus and the tips he gives I really don't need at this point in my life. This is a book for the young. I read the book because of how much I admire the man and still do. Some of h I love Colin Powell and would have voted for him for president, so I really feel guilty for the three stars. He is a true patriot with tremendous character but the problem is this is generally a self help and I have heard most of his tips in other books or in interviews on television. The other problem is that I am 60 plus and the tips he gives I really don't need at this point in my life. This is a book for the young. I read the book because of how much I admire the man and still do. Some of his stories are interesting but I get the feeling he just wrote down a lot of what he says when he is out on the speaking circuit.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Stevie

    This book is great! It doesn't matter where you fall politically, Colin Powell is an excellent leader. I got this out of the library, but I'm going to purchase this book so I can make notes. I'm also the president of an organization and I feel like this is going to help me during my tenure. I'm definitely going to give it to my successor at the beginning of her presidency. This book is great! It doesn't matter where you fall politically, Colin Powell is an excellent leader. I got this out of the library, but I'm going to purchase this book so I can make notes. I'm also the president of an organization and I feel like this is going to help me during my tenure. I'm definitely going to give it to my successor at the beginning of her presidency.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Bruce

    Excellent book, I don't think i've ever highlighted so much that i wanted to go back and re-review again. Excellent book, I don't think i've ever highlighted so much that i wanted to go back and re-review again.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Sheri Viggiano

    Lots of great leadership tidbits.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Eric

    an easy read with simple concepts on management and leadership. I probably would have gotten more out of this book had I not read his autobiography years ago.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Saza

    Great reading with some interesting points on leadership highly recommend it....

  25. 5 out of 5

    Justin Tapp

    It Worked for Me: In Life and Leadership by Colin Powell. This book is another off the list of books by Secretaries of State. Colin Powell's leadership books have been recommended by many others. The first person I read who mentioned him frequently was Bill Hybels in his leadership book Axiom. He's remarkable in that he attained the highest rank in the U.S. Army despite not having attended West Point or other school that turns out military greats-- mainly due to racial discrimination. He is not bi It Worked for Me: In Life and Leadership by Colin Powell. This book is another off the list of books by Secretaries of State. Colin Powell's leadership books have been recommended by many others. The first person I read who mentioned him frequently was Bill Hybels in his leadership book Axiom. He's remarkable in that he attained the highest rank in the U.S. Army despite not having attended West Point or other school that turns out military greats-- mainly due to racial discrimination. He is not bitter, this experience just fuels his passion for funding education initiatives and his stalwart support of public education. He has both commanded and served, and one weakness of the book is that he does not write as much on how to be a subordinate as he does on leading. But he has anecdotes no one else could possibly have. One refreshing aspect of the book is Powell's self-deprecating humor. He takes his work and his role very seriously, but never takes himself too seriously. He really does come across as down-to-earth; he claims to fly coach and such. He begins with the "13 Rules," which actually came out of a 1989 interview with him. When the interviewer went back for some more colorful insights, Powell shared some quotes and anecdotes that he collected under his glass-top desk, and then they went viral. It ain't as bad as you think. Get mad, then get over it. (don't burn bridges) Avoid having your ego so close to your position that when your position falls, your ego goes with it. It can be done. Be careful what you choose. You may get it. Don't let adverse facts stand in the way of a good decision. You can't make someone else's choices. Check small things. Share credit. (but always take the blame) Remain calm. Be kind. Have a vision. Don't take counsel of your fears or naysayers. Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier. Powell explains and gives stories for many of these rules, and the rest of the book shares other insights. Here is what I gleaned, personally: President Bush '43 really did read all the books he claims to have read. Powell writes that staffers were always sneaking weird books into Bush's personal bag on the weekends and everyone would be amused when Bush would be carrying on about some obscure study found in them on Monday. Powell regrets some aspects of his time in the Bush Cabinet but does mention AIDS in Africa and better relations with China, Russia, and others as unsung victories. On serving under others, Powell says "If you work for the king, give the king his due...If you take the King's shilling, you do the King's work...Always give the King his due first." In other words, be loyal, do your best, and after you've satisfied your boss then you can do what you want. Do what he wants first and quickly so that you have more time for what you want to do. Put others ahead of yourself, and always treat others with dignity. Kindness matters and pays dividends. Don't be a "busy bastard" it's crucial to have a life, create a balance. Bosses that work around the clock create an environment that everyone else needs to as well. Then people start making up things to do even if they are not necessary. Don't do busywork. Powell always wants as much information as possible and let him sift through it. He has developed a talent for spotting real and fake and filtering information quickly, akin to Malcolm Gladwell's Blink. I'm not sure I trust that in every leader. Powell himself writes that he questions himself repeatedly as to whether his instincts failed him when examining the CIA's National Intelligence Estimate, which he relied on in making the case for war with Iraq at the U.N. He questions whether he had blinders on. He maintains he did not intentionally mislead anyone, they just didn't have the facts, and he "wishes he had answers" to the myriad questions that critics have asked. While Powell takes full blame ("always share the credit and take the blame") he does make some references to Scooter Libby and the Vice President's office for delivering a draft of his U.N. speech intended to be like a legal brief, which Powell rejected because it lacked any substantiation or even connection to what was "known" in the NIE. Rejected the draft, his staff wrote their own in 4 days. "If a spy tells you exactly where a target is, he's out of a meal ticket" -- he points out about the failed attempt on Saddam Hussein at Dora Farms to open the Iraq War. Intelligence is helpful, but unreliable for this reason. However, Powell writes that perhaps the Administration relied too much on its own optimism and not on experts in the field on considering the consequences of invading Iraq. Powell is glad that Saddam was toppled but angry at how little attention was spent on post-war, the Bush Administration expected to stand up a fully-functioning democracy within 90 days of toppling the regime, he writes. The "Pottery Barn rule" of "you break it, you own it" was not his, and Pottery Barn has no such rule and was angry at him for it, but he likes it. "Good leaders make good managers and good managers make good leaders." I disgree with Powell here. Some people are automatically made a leader by their authority, and they may lead in terms of personal integrity, work ethic, and more but be terrible at managing others and terrible at communication. Powell pushed the military and the State Department on technology. He's a geek with several iPads and computers on his desk. He claims to have upgraded the State Department from 1945 to 2001, and I know that his Diplomatic Readiness Initiative (which barely gets mentioned in the book) greatly expanded the Foreign Service's capabilities. One good story on the Foreign Service: Powell once had low-level desk officers brief the President on Mexico instead of more senior officers. He knew the desk officers actually spoke Spanish, knew what was happening on the ground, and also knew they would work hard to get the info. He also knew the senior staff would be relying on junior officers reports anyway. Always rely on your "man in the field," he writes, but not necessarily your paid spy, see above. Interestinly, Powell keeps his family at a distance from hi work life. He doesn't share stories from work or office gossip with his wife. He learned this from a commanding general who had to replace men whose wives had started to interfere in the decision-making process. Leaders should face the facts and never shoot the messenger. Oddly, Powell doesn't mention anything about reading material. What books does he read? For speaking engagements he researches the company so thoroughly "I could apply for a job there," but there are no books mentioned other than Clausewitz and Sun Tzu. The famous "Powell Doctrine" of overwhelming force is not found in any military manual or course and Powell prefers "decisive force" to "overwhelming force." He does have a helpful segment on succeeding another leader and how to hand off command to another. Hand it off and let it go. Your best ideas will go down the tube and you'll hear complaints from former employees about how much they missed you. But encourage them to stick with the new man. Likewise, give the man before you credit for doing his job, assume he did his job, take the hand you're dealt and own it yourself. Don't complain like politicians do that the current predicament is someone else's fault. Troops only go up the hill for a leader they trust, one who has integrity and moral courage. Be that guy, and be the one who fosters trust both vertically and horizontally in your organization. Powell developed personal relationships with world leaders and is especially proud of his friendship with Princess Di. He closes book with autobiography of his education and his current passions and activities. Another weakness of the book is that there is not much on conflict resolution, dealing with difficult employees or bosses. Judging from Condoleeza Rice's memoir, Powell did not do a good job of resolving conflicts between himself and others in the White House, so perhaps that's a personal weakness. He also has very little marital advice outside the above. In all, I give this book 4.5 stars out of 5.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Fred

    I have an immense amount of respect for General Powell. His life's story is truly an affirmation of the American Dream. His is a tale about how hard work, self-sacrifice, and determination still serve to raise up people who otherwise might not succeed in life. Certainly his being a first generation American son of Jamaican immigrants eking out a living in Brooklyn is not a silver spoon foundation for a successful future. In fact, apologists everywhere might use these humble beginnings to reason I have an immense amount of respect for General Powell. His life's story is truly an affirmation of the American Dream. His is a tale about how hard work, self-sacrifice, and determination still serve to raise up people who otherwise might not succeed in life. Certainly his being a first generation American son of Jamaican immigrants eking out a living in Brooklyn is not a silver spoon foundation for a successful future. In fact, apologists everywhere might use these humble beginnings to reason away someone else's lack of accomplishment. But that's another story. This is the second book I've read by Powell. The first was his autobiography released, I think, in 1996. As one might expect, the autobiography dealt in more detail with his early life and his rise through the military ranks. I enjoyed that one. This work, however, seems to lack focus. There are smatterings of early life flash backs along with smatterings of leadership insights the General either learned or perfected in one of his many roles as a public servant. There are some implied leadership tips sprinkled among the explicit ones. I became confused whether this was a book on leadership or a memoir. For me, the lack of commitment to either form left me wondering why I was reading it at all. The writing is conversational and flows well. Thankfully, this is not an airing of the laundry that seems so popular today. For that, I am grateful. I think General Powell has more respect for himself and others than to attach his name to a rant. This is not the worse book I've read, by any means. In fact it was a pleasant read, but I expected to learn something more about character and leadership.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Miller

    While I only listened to this book--and not as intently as would do it justice--I would highly recommend to anyone seeking down-to-earth lessons and leadership methods. Most of General Powell's lessons are based on one or multiple of his own stories, all thoroughly entertaining. It is awesome to me that he recorded the audiobook himself, it makes the words much more personal. This is not a Bible for leadership, which is why the title is perfect. It's simply what worked for Colin at every level o While I only listened to this book--and not as intently as would do it justice--I would highly recommend to anyone seeking down-to-earth lessons and leadership methods. Most of General Powell's lessons are based on one or multiple of his own stories, all thoroughly entertaining. It is awesome to me that he recorded the audiobook himself, it makes the words much more personal. This is not a Bible for leadership, which is why the title is perfect. It's simply what worked for Colin at every level of his career.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jen

    Such a great leader and a wonderful story teller. Very interesting tidbits from his time as the National Security Advisor, Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of State. I was always disappointed that he never ran for president which he explained as well as the whole weapons of mass destruction saga. I also got to see him speak two weeks ago where he brought up a few stories in the book.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Heather Gibbs

    Much respect for Coin Powell. This book details how the people in his life shaped the man we all admire in life and leadership.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Michael Robinson

    Great book! Must read for any Military leader. The 13 Rules he lays out are great rules to live by.

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