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It Worked for Me: In Life and Leadership Paperback – June 3, 2014

4.5 out of 5 stars 379 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review


A Note from Colin Powell on It Worked for Me

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. --Colin Powell


--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

“An entertaining read from a charming, accomplished man. . . . A delightful book.” (The Washington Times)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (June 3, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062135139
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062135131
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (379 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,039 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Richard Rinn on June 4, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Some senior American military leaders have chosen not to write their personal story. Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz and General of the Army George C. Marshall come immediately to mind. General Colin Powell, in contrast, has published both a previous autobiography (of which I proudly have a signed copy), and now a more personal memoir. "It Worked for Me" is a hybrid. It combines anecdotes reminiscent of Dwight Eisenhower's "At Ease" with an inspirational life message and an analytical approach to leadership gleaned and honed over more than a half century of service to his country. As he says in his introduction, you can read it whole (sequentially chapter by chapter) or graze at random. I chose the former approach, and found it a tightly written and easily consumed. Like all good military men, he makes his exposition clear and concise: there is no confusion about meaning or intent. At one point he comments on the importance of precision in the use of the written word; what he includes (or doesn't) has significance. His few short and muted comments about colleagues in the Bush administration are all the more interesting for their understatement. His considerably more detailed (but nonetheless circumspect) discussion of his "notorious" United Nations speech in support of military action against Iraq is framed in the context of the most egregious intelligence failure in recent American history; he admits personal blame, but does not spare others from analytical criticism. At one point he wonders why his own personal statements in favour of war should have carried so much more weight (or be so much more remembered) than the same arguments made by others in the Bush administration; he does not provide an answer to this rhetorical question.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
If you're looking for the typical Washington, dry, political tome, this is not the book for you. This is a delightful, warm book from one of America's most beloved patriots and heroes. He shares his well-earned wisdom and advice with good-natured, self-deprecating humor and easy prose. I'm giving this book to everyone for birthdays, graduations and Father's day. It is just as much of a good lesson for a teenager as it is for those of us in the middle of our lives. Bravo to Gen. Powell for writing a book that unites Americans in this election year.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a book that I'm proud to be reading with my daughter. As I've always told her, everyone has a story and every story can teach a lesson. These stories perfectly illustrate the life lessons that I've always tried to impart to her; life is a celebration, leadership is the key to success, optimism is contagious, let go of what you can't control, and the way to find your place in the world is to believe in yourself and do something you love.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I am on CD #3 of this book and already can give a good review. I am really enjoying it.

When this book came out, I was reluctant to buy as I had already purchased "This my Life, Colin Powell"
I was actually suspicious that another book may just be a cash register ringer. However this book is great and very different.

It is more laid back and sort of like having a conversation with Powell. He tells stories and tips, yet he covers serious issues.

He talks about taking over the military computers head quarters only to find out that they are using Wang which went out of business 8 years earlier. Needless to say that the computers were to outdated to be of any use.And what he did to solve it.

When i get done listening to this book, I will turn around and listen to it again. I am enjoying it that much.
Also to take a few more notes on certain parts of the book.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is an interesting mix of leadership lessons and biographical tales from a life well lived. Even though it is marketed as a business/leadership book, it should appeal to a very wide audience and some of the best anecdotes have little to do with leadership but are nevertheless insightful and memorable.

There are a few strange moments such as a painfully forced, four page train metaphor on retirement and a few pages on his ideal hotel room that seem hastily inserted to meet a page requirement. The chapter on his 2003 UN-Iraq presentation has sparked a lot of nasty 1-star reviews even though Powell admits the mistakes and fairly discusses how they came about. This is not an Iraq war memoir, so basing an entire review on one episode detracts from the overwhelmingly positive nature of this book. 3-1/2 stars and a worthwhile read.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an incredible read and I am grateful the General has chosen to share his thoughts on lessons learned throughout an incredible life and career. For those of you who have not yet seen a copy, it's a book of 44 chapters and each one can be a 'stand alone'. Some of the chapters of course are serious describing experiences and events from when General Powell was in uniform and from his years at the State Department. Others are heartwarming, inspiring and even surprisingly funny. The General has an engaging way of allowing the reader a glimpse into his world. I agree with the Baltoborn reviewer, this is definitely not a dry, political tome but rather one that is warm, thoughtful and inspiring.

I was eager to read it for myself but now having found it even better than I'd hoped it would be have already purchased many additional copies to give as gifts. This is THE perfect gift for graduations, Father's Day, and even 'just because'.
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