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Career Warfare: 10 Rules for Building a Successful Personal Brand and Fighting to Keep It Hardcover – November 24, 2003

4.4 out of 5 stars 38 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

D'Alessandro, chairman and CEO of John Hancock Financial Services and author of Brand Warfare, offers winning strategies based on the notion that everyone needs to develop a "personal brand" that distinguishes them from other employees. This lively book has advice that is entertaining and bluntly honest. D'Alessandro outlines 10 rules for career success including "Try to Look Beyond Your Own Navel," "Put Your Boss on the Couch" and "Everybody Coulda Been a Contender; Make Sure You Stay One." All employees need to realize that success won't come only from hard work and dressing appropriately-"by themselves, they will not set you apart from your peers, and they will not propel you into the executive suite. In fact, the biggest mistake you can make is to assume that organizations are rational, and that success will proceed in a rational manner from your good performance reviews, nice manners, and sharp suits." Instead, D'Alessandro shows how people can get themselves noticed within a corporation, find ways to make their bosses excel, develop reputations for honesty and effectiveness and learn how to work with the enemies that will inevitably jeopardize their positions. He also offers very specific advice on the three types of meetings-staff, get-something done, combat. Occasionally, his comments-not having an affair with a colleague or not getting drunk at off-site meetings-are obvious, but, overall, this volume is a solid and inventive guide to success that should inspire many readers to alter at least some of their on-the-job behavior..
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From the Back Cover

"A refreshing message ... from someone who has fought many corporate wars." -- The New York Times

In Career Warfare, David F. D’Alessandro, the bestselling author of Brand Warfare, has written a business classic: an insightful and delightfully frank book about achieving professional success at a high level.

What really defines those who get ahead? Hard work and accomplishments will only get you so far. If you intend to compete at the levels where the competition gets really ferocious—where everybody is hard-working and accomplished—you need a much more subtle weapon. According to D’Alessandro, the CEO of John Hancock Financial Services, you cannot win without the kind of reputation or “personal brand” that convinces powerful people to trust you.

D’Alessandro, a keen observer of the unwritten rules of organizational life, shows how personal brands are built out of people’s day-to-day behavior in even the most insignificant moments. He also demonstrates what a battle it is to build a good one. It is a battle even to be noticed early in your career; it is a battle not to become dangerously arrogant later on. You constantly have to defend your brand from the sniping of your enemies, the indifference of your bosses, and your own worst impulses.

Career Warfare will help you to win these fights at every stage of your career by showing you how to

  • Look beyond your own navel
  • Make people want to take a chance on you
  • Get your boss to promote your “personal brand”
  • Decide when to stay in a bad job and when to leave a good one
  • Recognize the types of organizations that will keep you from rising
  • Pull away from the pack in mid-career
  • And much more

Using vivid stories from his own rise through the organizational ranks, D’Alessandro offers shrewd advice for disarming the people who hold your career in their hands and introduces a remarkable cast of characters along the way. You’ll meet the corporate chairman who gave himself a speech impediment, the account executive who sang opera for a president, and the job candidate who washed her face with a pancake. You will also meet some of the smartest managers of their own public images on the planet and learn from the things they have done right.

Success, says D’Alessandro, is not going to come from your accomplishments alone. But you can separate yourself from the crowd and rise to the level of your ambitions—if you create the kind of personal impression that commands respect. Career Warfare offers the smartest advice you’ll ever get about how to do it.

A breakthrough new book that shows you how to stand out from the crowd

“A witty and insightful book about personal and career strategy. It is impossible to read this book and not come away with new insights about how to further one’s career——and be a more effective person.”

—Michael E. Porter, Harvard Business School

“D’Alessandro dares to speak the truth. If you don’t manage your own reputation, those around you will. This is no theoretical exercise. In corporate America, people talk about you every day. You can affect what they say.

“With a cut-the-crap sharp eye for the passions, yearnings, and follies that drive every organization, D’Alessandro draws apart the drapes and reveals what it really takes to get ahead in business.”

—James Carville, Author and Democratic Strategist

“With good jobs becoming harder to find, D’Alessandro’s sage advice is more timely and important than ever, especially for those who are trying to build their personal brands and enhance their careers at the same time.” —Tom Neff, Chairman, U.S., Spencer Stuart

“Smart, strategic, and useful career advice from someone who has actually achieved success in the real world. D’Alessandro shares the lessons he’s learned, and the mistakes he’s made, on his way to being one of the most talented and respected CEOs in America.”

—Harvey Mackay, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller

Swim With The Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive

“Lessons from the master. D’Alessandro is living proof that there’s no more important brand than the brand called you.”

—Donny Deutsch, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, Deutsch Inc.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 216 pages
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill; 1 edition (November 24, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0132912201
  • ISBN-13: 978-0071417587
  • ASIN: 0071417583
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #922,643 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I guess I came across mention of this title in an issue of Fast Company, but I can't be sure. It seems like something they would feature in the magazine, though.

I wasn't that interested in this book initially, but it quickly grew on me. D'Alessandro (in partnership with Michele Owens) speaks from with an assured voice and what is, obviously, real-world experience. Even more, the book is filled with clear and illustrative examples of what can go wrong, and right, as you build your career.

I am happy to see a CEO focus on something of use to everyone instead of the usual accounts of how they crushed the competition and turned themselves and their shareholders into ultra-millionaires. Everyone works. Everyone has a boss and nearly everyone can benefit from this book.

D'Alessandro speaks about the need to "analyze" your boss into one of the 7 archetypes he has developed from his experiences. Are they a "Little League Parent" or a "Mentor"? A "Wastrel"? A "Pariah"? How can you identify the and how do you develop your career with, or in spite, of them. While you certainly want to judge people solely on the management skills, understanding the basic types can help to make you life easier.

The author's experiences and insights dovetail nicely with my own career experiences. I have seen almost all of the boss varieties he describes, both bad and good. It is always a reassuring to hear that you aren't the only person to have struggled with career issues.

Career Warfare is one of those books that should be given to every college student sometime around their junior year. I know I certainly would have been spared a lot of "hard knocks" learning had this book been available back in the early 80's.
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Format: Hardcover
When I entered the business world, I was amazed to learn that the world is not governed by reason, but by energy, ego, sheer force of will, politics, and pure happenstance. 5 pages into the introduction, D'alessandro writes, "...the biggest mistake you can make is to assume that organizations are rational."
All young people about to enter the working world need to understand that. The fact that this simple message is written in a respectable book written by a respectable author (he is the CEO of Hancock Financial) should drive home the point. I certainly wish that I had understood this insight 10 years ago when I graduated from law school. I am an investment banker at one of the big firms and, believe me, every one one of his 10 points is on the mark.
As a smart, academically successful graduate, you might think that it is your intelligence, hard work, and integrity that will get you to the top. As D'alessandro points out, all these are necessary but not sufficient. You have to understand how the real world works - with all the crazy, unpredictable personalities and organizational politics that can lead to sub-optimal and sometimes bizarre results. This applies to your moving up the corporate ladder. This book is priceless because it makes you see what sort of practical things you need to be doing/thinking in order to deal with the politics.
The introduction and the first 5 chapters are a must read for professionals (or soon to be professionals) in their 20s or even early 30s. Now in my late 30s, the book was fun to read because I would find myself nodding or laughing in agreement with so many things D'alessandro was saying. Though the book is written in an easy-to-read humorous conversational style, he definitely knows what he is talking about. The last 5 chapters are not as entertaining or informative, but probably still useful for many. And given that it is a very fast read, you can read the whole book in a couple days.
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Format: Hardcover
I have over 100 books sitting around I've bought in the last few years. Only a few seem to be really great books.
This book is up there, depending on your career goals. I would say this is a must for anybody working in a large organization or corporate atmosphere. D'Alessandro provides a lot of foresight into things you might not recognize at the time they are taking place, because he's been there already.
If you don't like this book and you're not already an executive, then it's probably because this book doesn't apply to your career. If you don't deal with corporate politics, then this doesn't apply to your career "as much" either.
Now, if you want to understand why you might have a file cabinet of good feedback and accomplishments but keep getting passed up for promotions by people with little or no feedback then read this book.
Your career is more than how good you do, it's more than making your team or group look good too. Your career improvements come down to snap decisions and judgements in places you may never expect, and this book does a great job of explaining that.
Now, what I don't like is the political under tones of the book. I think those should have been left out. There are some obvious personal undertones in the book that I didn't like. I liked the book when it talked about career, but I could do without David's personal democratic agenda. One thing really sticks out with me; In one area of the book he witnessed an elderly lady asking somebody else if they thought she could afford some shoes for her Grandaughter. Instead of feeling compasionate, he says it made him realize that he's used to being around people with an IQ over 140. Give me a break.
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