In this feature of the Washington Watch, WW will primarily recommend books you may find interesting but may also now and then mention a TV program or other things. I welcome your suggestions and your input. What have you been reading or watching that you think WW readers might like?
The Wisdom of the Bullfrog
Admiral William H McRaven
The title “Bullfrog” is given to the Navy SEAL who has served the longest on active duty. Admiral McRaven was honored to receive this honor in 2011 when he took charge of the United States Special Operations Command. When McRaven retired in 2014, he had 37 years as a Navy SEAL under his belt, leading men and women at every level of the special operations community. In the ensuing four years, he served as Chancellor to the entire University of Texas System, with its 230,000 students and 100,000 faculty and health care workers.
During those four decades, Admiral McRaven dealt with every conceivable leadership challenge, from commanding combat operations—including the capture of Saddam Hussein, the rescue of Captain Phillips, and the raid for Osama bin Laden.
THE WISDOM OF THE BULLFROG draws on these and countless other experiences from Admiral McRaven’s incredible life, including crisis situations, management debates, organizational transitions, and ethical dilemmas, to provide readers with the most important leadership lessons he has learned over the course of his forty years of service. Each chapter provides a Make Your Bed-like parable, rich with insights like those featured in his bestselling memoir, Sea Stories, about the specific leadership traits required to be at the top of your game, including:
- Who Dares, Wins
- Run to the Sound of the Guns
- No Plan Survives First Contact with the Enemy
THE WISDOM OF THE BULLFROG is Admiral McRaven’s clear-eyed treatise on the leadership qualities that separate the good from the truly great.
Boys and Men: Why the Modern Male Is Struggling, Why it Matters, And what to do about it
Richard V. Reeves
A positive vision for masculinity in a more equal world.
Boys and men are struggling. Profound economic and social changes of recent decades have many losing ground in the classroom, the workplace, and in the family. While the lives of women have changed, the lives of many men have remained the same or even worsened.
Our attitudes, our institutions, and our laws have failed to keep up. Conservative and progressive politicians, mired in their own ideological warfare, fail to provide thoughtful solutions.
The father of three sons, a journalist, and a Brookings Institution scholar, Richard V. Reeves has spent twenty-five years worrying about boys both at home and work. His new book, Of Boys and Men, tackles the complex and urgent crisis of boyhood and manhood.
Reeves looks at the structural challenges that face boys and men and offers fresh and innovative solutions that turn the page on the corrosive narrative that plagues this issue. Of Boys and Men argues that helping the other half of society does not mean giving up on the ideal of gender equality.
Breaking Through: Communicating to Open Minds, Move Hearts, and Change the World
Pfizer’s trailblazing communications leader, Sally Susman, reveals how we can break through the noise to get our message across and make positive change.
A global pandemic. A roller-coaster economy. Political tensions ready to ignite, and common civility at an all-time low. For leaders, the pressures and the stakes could not be higher. And in such a stormy, often dangerous world, communications can no longer be considered a soft skill. The ability to reach people and drive public conversation is a rock-hard competency.
In this wise and inspiring book, Sally Susman, the renowned head of corporate affairs at global biopharmaceutical giant Pfizer, tells the fascinating story of how the company managed the massive communications challenge that came with Covid-19 and the race to produce an effective vaccine.
Just as crucial as creating the vaccine itself was the task of winning people’s hearts and minds, and Susman highlights the principles that enabled her to break through, connect, and help move people forward, not only at Pfizer but over a long and stellar career. She shows how clarifying and channeling your intention is an essential first step: What are you trying to say? She illustrates how leaders need to muster the courage to be candid in order to be effective and how, in order to connect, they must both disarm with humility and delight with humor. As a gay, married woman, she talks forthrightly about the challenges and opportunities of embracing who you are, both at home and in the workplace.
Susman’s stories will draw you in with their warmth and humanity and enlighten and motivate you with their insight and passion. Breaking Through is essential reading for any leader who faces the daunting challenge of communicating in our noisy, turbulent world.