Even though the CIA has been prominent in the not-so-great-news department of late, there are some intriguing takeaways from its operatives. Offering no tell-all story, former operative Carleson applies her learning from eight years at the CIA—during the aftermath of 9/11—to corporate America and business success. Many of her easy-to-read lessons concern information—how to get it and how to use it legitimately when applied to internal and external competition and to the improvement of performance and outcomes. For the first third of the book, she concentrates on boot-camp tactics and follow-up exercises, such as targeting, corroboration, and strategic elicitation. The rest of the book is concerned with how to use those tactics in a host of situations, from recruitment, ethics problems, and crisis management, to sales, compliance, and using competitive intelligence. It’s certainly not a dry read, since Carleson inserts some harrowing (and declassified) accounts of her CIA adventures. Although a hard-to-categorize book, it nevertheless is a useful guide. “There is information for the taking that can change the entire playing field for you and your organization. Getting this information is a matter of asking the right people the right questions in the right way.” Learn it, use it. --Barbara Jacobs
"In this clever twist on the career self-help genre, former CIA agent Carleson takes the principles that she learned in clandestine service and applies them to today's business world… This quick and enjoyable read offers plentiful nuggets of information, which can be put to good use by any career-minded reader."
"Carleson deftly translates the skills of spy craft learned through her eight years in the field—intelligence gathering, recruitment and crisis management—into know-how that can be used 'by anyone—at any level—in the workplace,' she writes. The advice, techniques and exercises for networking, improving sales and generally getting ahead of the competition won’t morph you into a master spy, but it will definitely expand your approach to everyday interactions and make you more versatile, shrewd and savvy, whether you’re a job seeker, salesperson, manager or CEO."
“I found Work Like a Spy to be much more than a compelling read penned by an ex-CIA officer. J. C. Carleson importantly offers a fresh slate of easily understood risk mitigation practices and exercises.”
—FRANCIS D’ADDARIO, CPP CFE, Emeritus Faculty Leader, Strategic Influence and Innovation, Security Executive Council
“This is a blast! J. C. Carleson has written the cure for the common business book. Part business advice book, part memoir, part window into the world of covert intelligence, it will both inform and intrigue the reader. Going beyond the typical business anecdotes, Carleson gives us a glimpse of the world of covert officers, international intrigue, and true high stakes encounters. More than just telling stories, though, Work Like a Spy uses examples from the CIA to provide a set of principles that can be used to succeed in any organization.”
—ALEXANDER J. S. COLVIN, Professor of Labor Relations and Conflict Resolution, ILR School, Cornell University
“Carleson provides a compelling argument for the importance of intelligence and counterintelligence in day-to-day business. Her straightforward suggestions encourage the reader to always be on guard for information—either to keep it or to gather it.”
—DEB COHEN, Ph.D., SPHR, SVP, Knowledge Development, Society for Human Resource Management