Issue No. 96 of Your Weekly Staff Meeting reviews a 662-page memoir—perfect for your summer reading. Robert D. Novak’s book will amaze and alarm you. And this reminder, check out my Management Buckets website with dozens of resources and downloadable worksheets for your staff meetings.
It’s 662 Pages, But Don’t Miss the Morsels!
My measure of a fascinating book is how often I’m interrupting my wife to read her a paragraph or a page. Based on dozens of irritating interruptions this past month, Joanne would agree that this week’s book met and exceeded my standards.
Bob Novak, who writes Inside Report, one of the longest-running syndicated newspaper columns in the U.S., has penned a remarkable memoir spanning 50 years of political reporting in Washington, D.C. If you’re over 50, you’ll be amazed and alarmed at the political background info and revelations. (He names names and doesn’t hold back on his strong, conservative opinions.) If you’re under 50, I’d humbly suggest this be required reading—because it’s possible you’ve missed the all-important context that only a 50-year in-the-trenches reporter/commentator can deliver. Though written a year ago, the book immediately sheds light—and context—on the current U.S. presidential campaign.
Novak comments on Reagan, “I came to understand that the presidency is a leadership position that has very little to do with management.” On Bob Dole: “Dole was a hopeless micromanager, inappropriate for a presidential candidate and indeed for a president.” Ross Perot and Jimmy Carter fared no better on the management-o-meter.
Novak reveals his extraordinary access to “senior administration officials” at the highest levels—and what motivates Democrats and Republicans alike to leak such info. It will surprise you—and discourage you. You may also want to re-think the expectations you have regarding the loyalty of your own team members.
There’s minimal gray area in Novak’s historical travelogue. When Vice President Al Gore reneges on a verbal commitment to Novak, it’s not forgotten. Lack of integrity always causes relational damage, as was the case with MSNBC Hardball host Chris Matthews. (Note: I reviewed Matthew’s book, Life’s a Campaign, this past January.)
Ten years ago, following a four-year investigative journey from his Jewish roots to the Christian faith, a college student challenged him, “Mr. Novak, life is short, but eternity is forever.” He writes, “I became convinced that the Holy Spirit was speaking through this Syracuse student.” He embraced Christ and was baptized and confirmed at St. Patrick’s in Washington, D.C. in 1998.
To order this book from Amazon, click on the title: The Prince of Darkness: 50 Years Reporting in Washington, by Robert D. Novak. (He explains the title—a friendly moniker from his colleagues.) Warning: it’s 662 pages long. Guarantee: you’ll wish it was 1,000 pages. And yes, I read every page. While the chapter titles make it easy to scan, don’t—you’ll miss the morsels. It gets my highest recommendation.
Your Weekly Staff Meeting Questions:
1. What discipline do you rely on to get the context—the bigger picture—of what is often regarded as conventional wisdom? If you’ve been on our team less than three years, do you have the context of our founder and our history? Why might that be important?
2. What are you reading this summer to understand how the platforms of our political parties might affect our work and mission here?
You Can Never Expand a Little Plan - Insights from Mastering the Management Buckets: 20 Critical Competencies for Leading Your Business or Nonprofit
Have you given copies of Mastering the Management Buckets to your strategic planning team yet? Inspire them to thing big and think strategic by reading chapter three: The Strategy Bucket.
Ball No. 1 in the Strategy Bucket reads, “Ignite the awesome power of a Big Holy Audacious Goal (BHAG)!”
President Harry Truman said, “You can always amend a big plan, but you can never expand a little one. I don’t believe in little plans. I believe in plans big enough to meet a situation which we can’t possibly foresee now.”
As you think, strategize and pray, ask yourself, “Is our plan and our BHAG big enough?”
FALL 2008 WORKSHOP DATES ANNOUNCED. Join your colleagues at one of our Buckets or Board workshops this fall:
Mastering the Management Buckets Workshop Experience
September 16-17, 2008 (Colorado Springs)
October 14-15, 2008 (Chicago)
November 18-19, 2008 (Orange County, Calif.)
Nonprofit Board Governance Workshop
September 18, 2008 (Colorado Springs)
October 13, 2008 (Chicago)
November 21, 2008 (Orange County, Calif.)
For more details and to download the workshop brochures, visit The Workshop page on the Management Buckets website.