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Monday, December 24, 2012

It Worked for Me: In Life and Leadership by Colin Powell with Tony Koltz



Published in 2012 by Harper

Colin Powell updates his 2003 memoir My American Journey with It Worked For Me: In Life and Leadership. The book is really two books. The first part is an expansion on an article that was written about him for Parade magazine in 1989. In that article he listed 13 rules he had for life:

  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.
Colin Powell speaking at the United Nations
Powell then expands on each of these rules, often throwing in interesting real life anecdotes that illustrate the points, including details about his life as a child of immigrants in New York City, his educational career and plenty of stories about his military career at all levels.

The second half of the book is an expansion of his memoir, as noted above. He talks about his life as a professional speaker and other things he has learned over the years (the importance of delegating so you can stay focused on your job, for example, he learned from Ronald Reagan). 

The most interesting part was his descriptions of his time as Secretary of State and his (in)famous speech at the United Nations in which he laid out the details of Iraq's presumed program of building weapons of mass destruction. He uses it to illustrate a larger point that goes with the delegating responsibility lesson I mentioned in the previous paragraph. Clearly he is not happy with the information he was given but he comes short of blaming the Bush Administration of setting him up or of pulling a "bait and switch" operation, which will disappoint some.

I rate this book 5 stars out 5.
Reviewed on December 24, 2012.

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