It Worked for Me: In Life and Leadership

It Worked for Me: In Life and Leadership

by Colin Powell

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Colin Powell, one of America’s most admired public figures, reveals the principles that have shaped his life and career in this inspiring and engrossing memoir.

A beautiful companion to his previous memoir, the #1 New York Times bestseller My American Journey, Powell’s It Worked for Me: In Life and Leadership is a trove of wisdom for anyone hoping to achieve their goals and turn their dreams into reality.

A message of strength and endurance from a man who has dedicated his life to public service, It Worked for Me is a book with the power to show readers everywhere how to achieve a more fulfilling life and career.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062184061
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 05/22/2012
Edition description: Large Print
Pages: 400
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Colin Powell was born in New York City in 1937. He is a retired four-star general in the United States Army and has earned numerous military, civilian, and foreign honors. He has served four presidential administrations in a variety of roles, most recently as Secretary of State from 2001 to 2005. He lives in Virginia.

Table of Contents

Author's Note xi

Part I The Rules

1 My Thirteen Rules 3

Part II Know Yourself, Be Yourself

2 Always Do Your Best, Someone Is Watching 31

3 The Street Sweeper 37

4 Busy Bastards 39

5 Kindness Works 45

6 I'm All Caught Up 49

7 Where on the Battlefield? 53

8 Spheres and Pyramids 61

9 Potential, Not Just Performance 67

Part III Take Care of The Troops

10 Trust Your People 73

11 Mutual Respect 77

12 We're Mammals 83

13 Never Walk Past a Mistake 91

14 The Guys in the Field Are Right and the Staff Is Wrong 93

15 It Takes All Kinds 95

Part IV Fast Times in the Digital World

16 Brainware 105

17 Tell Me What You Know 113

18 Tell Me Early 121

19 Beware First Reports 125

20 Five Audiences 129

Part V Getting to 150 Percent

21 What I Tell My New Aides 137

22 One Team, One Fight 149

23 Compete to Win 153

24 Swagger Sticks 159

25 They'll Bitch About the Brand 161

26 After Thirty Days, You Own the Sheets 165

27 Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall 167

28 Squirrels 175

29 Meetings 181

30 The Indispensable Person 187

31 Time to Get off the Train 191

32 Be Gone 195

Part VI Reflections

33 The Powell Doctrine 201

34 The Pottery Barn Rule 209

35 February 5, 2003: The United Nations 217

36 Parsley Island 225

37 Pizza and Milk 231

38 Cousin Di 237

39 Speaking Is My Business 243

40 On the Road 253

41 Gifts 257

42 Best and Worst 263

43 Hot Dogs 267

44 The Gift of a Good Start 271

Afterword: It's All About People 277

Acknowledgments 281


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.

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It Worked for Me: Lessons in Leadership and Life 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 60 reviews.
RetiredGrandpa More than 1 year ago
Colin Powell is, has been and probably always will be a "good soldier". That means he does what he's told to do by a superior and doesn't question the reasoning or sources behind the assignment. Unfortunatetly that's what almost stained his remarkable career when he presented a cooked up reason to invade Iraq at the U.N. Enough said about that. He is not trying to rewrite history in this book, just passing along well learned lessons and insights gained through many years of public and personal experience. The man is a true patriot and sets a stand out example of what it takes to be a humanitarian who cares about other people and the country he so honorably served. Yes, I have a great amount of respect for General Colin Powell. If you like the man you'll buy the book. If you don't like him buy it and read it. You may find out you were mistaken about him.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not a typical politician's rationalizing and attempting to write history. Straightforward leadership advice. Refreshing
Haber More than 1 year ago
Just finished Gen. Powell's book. Great read for everyone - corporate CEO's, military people, government officials, mid-career, those already retired and young people just starting their careers. Wonderful anecdotes and stories that teach lessons about how to live one's life and treat people. No wonderful the General is beloved by so many. Loved the touching stories about Princess Di and Ronald Reagan. You will too!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Five stars for this four star general .. Spot on advice and wisdom from a true american hero . The perfect graduation / fathers day gift
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is an exceptional read and will be a terrific gift for graduations and Father's Day and frankly 'just because' occasions. There is something in here for everyone -- there are chapters that are thought provoking, heartwarming, inspiring and even funny. General Powell is a remarkable story teller. Interesting side note is that each chapter is a 'stand alone' so it is not necessary to read the book in order to enjoy. Particulary meaningful chapters may have unusual titles such as "Hot dogs", "Squirrels", "Pizza & Milk", and "Cousin Di". It is truly an enjoyable read and one that can be read again and again. I can't recommend this book highly enough.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Insightful read from a man who broke many barriers.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Terrific, highly recommend this inspiring and insightful book. If you haven't read his autobiography, check it out.
TeddyBearPC More than 1 year ago
This is a great book for old and young alike. Wonderful parables that will make you think about how we treat our fellow human beings. I'm going to make more of an effort to think about how my words and actions affect the people I deal with in the work place and my loved ones. You definitely enjoy this one!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is such a wonderful book for everyone! I highly recommend it as a Father's Day or graduation gift. I expected a serious, but maybe a little boring political tome, but this is just the opposite. While Gen. Powell writes about some serious issues from his positions as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and Secretary of State, he does so in a narrative style that makes the stories relatable. I always thought of him as this serious, stiff soldier and political figure, but he's actually very warm, funny and self-deprecating. I found myself grinning at the book at points while reading because of Powell's take on things like the modern hotel rooms and the portraits of himself given by world leaders, now hanging in his exercise room. There are important lessons in each short chapter that really made me think and evaluate, but it's not done in a lecture style , more as an observation and wisdom earned from a life well led. Gen. Powell is one of the heroes of American life, and his new book is a treasure.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Brilliant, surprising, and always interesting.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Anyone who works in a team setting, group, or organization should read General Powell's book.
Conk More than 1 year ago
A great story of dedication to the country and living the American dream.
TurboLink More than 1 year ago
Having worked for General Powell and enjoyed his autobiography, I was concerned this book might be an update of that. However, it was a treasured collection of stories and anecdotes with quite a bit of practical lessons for navigating the challenges of life and work. I particularly appreciated his dialogue on controversial calls while Secretary of State, to include first hand perspective of his UN address on Iraq. No matter what your political views might be, General/Secretary Powell is an American patriot that is the epitome of good citizenship and giving back by service to our Nation. This book reminds us of the fundamentals key to that.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As a retired miltary officer, I quickly became enamored with this book. It's a humble reminder that wisdom is gained through the experience of failing. It captures the wit and wisdom of some of the finest, least cynical minds of our time. Those minds belonging to those who serve in the ranks of the military and state deparments the world over. In a world of instant communication and gratification, it's good to be reminded of the unsung heros who stand to be counted and who can be counted on. The world will always be a troubled place. A place where it's far to easy to criticize those that toil in the service of others, who go in harms way, who make the tough decisions. It's good to be reminded that thanks to them, the world will also always be a better place.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Simple yetfascinating
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AnnInSeattle More than 1 year ago
I have run a small business for over 30 years and have served in leadership positions in non-profits. I find Genl Powell's comments about and descriptions of leadership qualities and techniques clear and on point. He provides reminders of things that I have learned but have let get stale. I have also gained some ideas that will help me deal in new ways with issues that arise. This book is well worth everyone's read (I am a peacenik, social justice, liberal Christian).
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Excellent and straight line theology to leadership.
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wow this book change my life
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