If you click here you can check out “The Top 100 Speeches” at the American Rhetoric website.
Better yet, you can click on any/all of the 100 speeches and read the text.
And even better yet, you can click on any/all of them and download a pdf for your own personal media library.
Here are the “Top 10″:
1, Martin Luther King, Jr., “I Have A Dream”
2. John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Inaugural Address
3. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, First Inaugural Address
4. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Pearl Harbor Address to the Nation
5. Barbara Charline Jordan, 1976 DNC Keynote Address
6. Richard Milhous Nixon, “Checkers”
7. Malcolm X, “The Ballot or the Bullet”
8. Ronald Wilson Reagan, Shuttle ”Challenger” Disaster Address
9. John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Houston Ministerial Association Speech
10. Lyndon Baines Johnson, “We Shall Overcome”
I haven’t as yet checked out all of them but already know that most of these ten and the other 90 can also be seen on film. Thank you Google!
While on the subject of great speeches, I also high recommend William Safire’s Lend Me Your Ears: Great Speeches in History, Updated and Expanded Edition. Amazon now sells a hardbound edition for only $29.70, a 34% discount. For anyone who has a keen interest in great speeches, this would be an outstanding holiday gift. Just a thought….
“There is surely nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency what should not be done at all.” Peter Drucker
This is one of the first volumes in a new series of anthologies of articles previously published in Harvard Business Review, in this instance 27 of them, in which their authors share their insights concerning a major business subject, in this instance getting the right work done.
As is also true of volumes in other such series, notably HBR Essentials, HBR Must Reads, and HBR Management Tips, HBR Guides offer great value in several ways. Here are two: Cutting-edge thinking from a variety of primary sources in a single volume at a price (about $12.50 from Amazon in the bound version) for a fraction of what article reprints would cost.
The material in this volume is organized within nine sections. All of it is of outstanding quality and value. Some of it is of special interest to me, as indicated:
o Section 1: GET STARTED
Of Special Interest: “Being More Productive, An Interview with David Allen and Tony Schwartz”
Do you need the right system or the right frame of mind?, conducted by David McGinn (Pages 23-31)
o Section 2: PRIORITIZE YOUR WORK
Of Special Interest: “Get a Raise by Getting the Right Work Done”
Focus on the work that will bring the greatest reward — for your organization and for you,
Peter Bregman (35-38)
o Section 3: ORGANIZE YOUR TIME
Of Special Interest: “Stop Procrastinating — Now”
Five tips for breaking this [some believe] bad habit, Amy Gallo (53-56)
o Section 4: DELEGATE EFFECTIVELY
Of Special Interest: “Management Time: Who’s Got the Monkey?”
Delegate, Delegate, Delegate, William Oncken, Jr. and Donald L. Wass, with a commentary by Stephen R. Covey (87-107)
o Section 5: CREATE RITUALS
Of Special Interest: “Use a Ten-Minute Diary to Stay on Track”
The best way to spend the last ten minutes of your day, Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer (125-131)
o Section 6: RENEW YOUR ENERGY
Of Special Interest: “How to Accomplish More by Doing Less”
Take breaks to get more done, Tony Schwartz (135-137)
o Section 7: TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR E-MAIL
Of Special Interest: “Simplify Your E-mail”
Three folders will do it, Gina Trapani (153-156)
o Section 8: MAINTAIN YOUR NEW APPROACH
Of Special Interest: “Sustaining Your Productivity System”
You’ve become productive! Now keep it up, Alexandra Samuel (165-168)
o Section 9: EXPLORE FURTHER
Of Special Interest: “More Productivity Books to Explore”
Summaries of three popular titles by Covey, Morgenstern, and Allen, Ilan Mochari (171-174)
The material was selected to help those who read this book improve in areas that include prioritizing, staying focused, working less but accomplishing more, ending bad habits and strengthening good ones, formulating to-do lists that really work, dismantling overwhelming projects into manageable parts, avoiding or eliminating e-mail overload, and refueling energy.
If you need assistance in any of these areas, this book will be of invaluable assistance, both now and in months and years to come.
William N. Thorndike, Jr. founded Housatonic Partners in Boston in 1994 and has been Managing Director since that time. Prior to that, he worked with T. Rowe Price Associates where he did investment research in the nascent field of business services and Walker & Company where he was named to the Board of Directors. Will is a graduate of Harvard College and the Stanford Graduate School of Business. He is a Director of Alta Colleges; Carillon Assisted Living, LLC; Liberty Towers, LLC; OASIS Group Ltd.; QMC International, LLC; White Flower Farm, Inc., a Trustee of Stanford Business School Trust, and College of the Atlantic (Chair) and a founding partner at FARM, a social impact investing fund/collaborative. His book, The Outsiders: Eight Unconventional CEOs and Their Radically Rational Blueprint for Success, was published by Harvard Business Review Press (October 2012).
Morris: Years ago, was there a turning point (if not an epiphany) that set you on the career course you continue to follow? Please explain.
Thorndike: At age 23, on a summer vacation in Maine, I read the first chapter [on Buffett] in John Train’s Money Masters and realized two things: (1) there were both good and bad businesses in the broader economy and it was much better to be invested in the former than the latter – a simple but powerful idea, and (2) one could make a living as an investor outside of a large firm.
Morris: To what extent has your formal education been invaluable to what you have accomplished in life thus far?
Thorndike: I’ve been fortunate to have an excellent mix of a liberal arts (English literature, history, etc.) background and a grounding in the analytical foundation of the MBA curriculum. I’d like to think this combination allows for a varied “latticework” of perspectives and models.
Morris: What do you know now about business world that you wish you knew when you when to work full-time for the first time? Why?
Thorndike: The importance of getting on the “right train” in your career. Finding an industry that’s intellectually interesting and has attractive growth and economic characteristics (my first job was in book publishing which had plenty of the former but none of the latter).
Morris: Of all the films that you have seen, which – in your opinion – best dramatizes important business principles? Please explain.
Thorndike: The Conversation starring Gene Hackman and directed by Francis Ford Coppola, in which a lone protagonist tries to make sense of a fuzzy recording of a clandestine conversation. Much like a CEO trying to focus and prioritize on what is important in a sea of data and media noise.
Morris: From which non-business book have you learned the most valuable lessons about business? Please explain.
Thorndike: Two non-business books served as loose models for The Outsiders - JFK’s Profiles in Courage and Richard Hofstadter’s The American Political Tradition, both interesting group biographies that highlighted a variety of non-conformist leaders and approaches.
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To read the complete interview, please click here.
One reason that we stop and think about the great causes on Martin Luther King Day is that no one has replaced him. It was his voice that was so strong, and his message could not be ignored. There is no other Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and so we return to his words so often – especially on this day.
In his clear voice, he reminded us of the dangers, the wrongs, the challenges that faced us. He did so with great passion, and with great depth and substance.
It is almost impossible to single out a quote or two. There are so many. And, yes, he repeated key phrases, in different places. But for this Martin Luther King Day, let me point out two of this themes. One, his attention to the great injustice of poverty. The other, the reminder that there is great dignity in honest, physical work.
#1 – Regarding poverty. These excerpts come from his Nobel Lecture, delivered on December 11, 1964, after receiving the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize. (You can read the full Lecture here).
In a sense the poverty of the poor in America is more frustrating than the poverty of Africa and Asia. The misery of the poor in Africa and Asia is shared misery, a fact of life for the vast majority; they are all poor together as a result of years of exploitation and underdevelopment. In sad contrast, the poor in America know that they live in the richest nation in the world, and that even though they are perishing on a lonely island of poverty they are surrounded by a vast ocean of material prosperity. Glistening towers of glass and steel easily seen from their slum dwellings spring up almost overnight. Jet liners speed over their ghettoes at 600 miles an hour; satellites streak through outer space and reveal details of the moon. President Johnson, in his State of the Union Message1, emphasized this contradiction when he heralded the United States’ “highest standard of living in the world”, and deplored that it was accompanied by “dislocation; loss of jobs, and the specter of poverty in the midst of plenty.”
In the final analysis, the rich must not ignore the poor because both rich and poor are tied in a single garment of destiny. All life is interrelated, and all men are interdependent. The agony of the poor diminishes the rich, and the salvation of the poor enlarges the rich. We are inevitably our brothers’ keeper because of the interrelated structure of reality. John Donne interpreted this truth in graphic terms when he affirmed:
No man is an Iland, intire of its selfe:
every man is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine:
if a Clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe is the lesse,
as well as if a Promontorie were,
as well as if a Mannor of thy friends or of thine owne were:
any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde:
and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls:
it tolls for thee.
Notice again these lines:
In the final analysis, the rich must not ignore the poor because both rich and poor are tied in a single garment of destiny. All life is interrelated, and all men are interdependent. The agony of the poor diminishes the rich, and the salvation of the poor enlarges the rich.
There is a lot of discussion these days about the top 1%, and then the rest of us. But those at the “bottom” literally suffer “the agony of the poor.” And, at the very least, there shoud be genuine compassion from all of us, regardless of where we fall in the “percentages,” for this agony – for these real people, who suffer genuine difficulty.
#2 – Regarding the dignity of genuine, hard work.
There are some who argue that our society is inviting laziness, “dependence” on programs of one kind or another. Personally, I think this is an incorrect and misplaced “reading” of the culture… But Dr. King would never have stood for “handouts” to replace hard work. Just last night, the Golden Globe for best supporting actress in a film went to Octavia Spencer who played a maid in the Civil Rights era movie “The Help.” Spencer quoted Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in her acceptance:
“All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance.”
(Read more about her acceptance speech here).
The line that best captures this was delivered by Dr. King in Jamaica in 1965:
“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.”
Care about, and help the poor. Do whatever work you have to do very well, for there is great dignity and importance in all labor that uplifts humanity.
In his speech in Jamaica, Dr. King said:
“The time is always right to do right.”
Yes, it is. It is always the time to do right…
These are reminders for us all on this Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
Here is an excerpt from an especially insightful article written by Nancy Koehn. It is part of The Washington Post‘s recent On Leadership roundtable exploring Tim Cook’s succession of Steve Jobs as CEO of Apple, and how to follow in the footsteps of an icon. At the conclusion of the excerpt, I provide links to several other outstanding articles. To read all of Koehn’s complete article, please click here.
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At this week’s iPhone 5 launch, we have our first official glimpse into Tim Cook’s leadership style as he takes the stage as Apple’s CEO. Many wonder how Cook will handle running a business handed over by one of greatest leaders and entrepreneurs of our time, Steve Jobs. Jobs is an icon who forever changed the way we connect. However, he was not the first American business leader to exercise tremendous influence over the way people live and think about what is possible. And this is not the first time such a leader has been replaced.
True, Jobs is on a short list of great American entrepreneurs. Along with Henry Ford, Andrew Carnegie, John Rockefeller and Estée Lauder, Jobs has had an exceptional ability to envision what could be: products and services we couldn’t have imagined that we now can’t live without. These leaders all share an intense passion, a driving persistence, a keen sense of strategy and a relentless focus on the details of executing their respective visions. In the 14 years since he returned to the company he helped found, Jobs has embodied all of these attributes (as Apple’s long streak of product homeruns, its $350 billion market capitalization and its powerful brand attest). Given this context, the elephant in the room at the iPhone 5 launch is this: With Jobs gone, can Tim Cook carry the legacy?
Jobs has said he spent a lot of time selecting and developing his executive team. But Apple is not generally known for nurturing talent and giving its smart people the authority and scope to grow on the job. With Jobs’s dogged focus on “what’s next,” as well as his reputation for holding the reins of power tightly, it is reasonable to ask whether he has had the bandwidth (and inclination) to develop a succession plan that could render him obsolete.
But, history offers up several examples of gifted, charismatic (and controlling) founders successfully passing the baton to their successors. Take Thomas J. Watson, Sr., at IBM. By the time his son, Thomas J. Watson, Jr., took over in the 1950s, many of his father’s contributions had been baked into the company culture. Not only did this keep the organization from faltering during transition, it enabled the son to focus on the next stage of important changes as its market and customers evolved. At McDonald’s, Ray Kroc, who did more to create the fast-food company than anyone else, built a team from inside the company that could carry his leadership torch after he was no longer as active in the business.
The most decisive factor in a successful leadership transition—and the reason IBM and McDonald’s stayed strong—is whether the founder or CEO has effectively institutionalized his or her own contributions. Certainly those within Apple well understand Jobs’s values and attributes: his painstaking attention to detail, his boldness of vision and his confidence in understanding what the consumer wants. And as a longtime member of the company’s executive team, Tim Cook (who came to the company in 1998) has seen Jobs’s work ethic, energy and hands-on management style up close.
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Nancy F. Koehn is a historian at the Harvard Business School and author, most recently, of The Story of American Business: From the Pages of the New York Times.
“Until your people are mocking you, you’ve not repeated your message enough.”
Verne Harnish, Mastering the Rockefeller Habits
Each semester, I handout copies of the full text of I Have a Dream, the great speech by Martin Luther King, Jr. I take a fresh copy myself, and I have us work through the speech, circling each phrase that he repeats. The list is overwhelming: “now is the time” “100 years later,” “let freedom ring,” “all of God’s children,” “I have a dream,” “one day.” Over and over and over again, he hammers home these key phrases. This is part of the reason why the speech is burned so deeply into our collective memory.
We all need to take a lesson from Dr. King – especially at work.
We are so very busy, in our lives, and in our brains. At work, we always have the incident/task/crisis of the moment demanding our attention. So, if we want to focus on what is important in the big picture/over the long haul, it has to be front of mind, and put back in front of mind, time and time and time and time again.
In other words, one major job of a leader is to repeat what is important over and over and over and over again. “until they mock you.” There is no alternative to this.
Here’s how Mark Aesch, CEO of the Rochester Genesee Regional Transportation Authority (RGRTA) put it, in his book Driving Excellence: Transform your Organization’s Culture – and Achieve Revolutionary Results:
With an issue this significant, putting it in front of any group of people once is not going to get it done.
You need to come back, time and again, to make people focus on the issue’s importance.
Everyone – bus operators, radio controllers, customer service personnel, up to and including the vice presidents – is nudged to tie our strategies to the most basic task they happen to be performing minute to minute.
How are you doing? Are you repeating the key elements of your mission and your strategy over and over again to your people?
Are they mocking you yet? If they are not, you’ve got some more repeating to do.
Every year about this time, probably because of Presidents Day, I re-read brief biographies. This year, I selected Ulysses S, Grant (1822-1885), 18th President of the United States. This is one of two, the other written by Josiah Bunting III that is part of Times Books’ “The American Presidents” series, with Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. serving as general editor. Although both Korda and Bunting cover much of the same material, there are significant differences between their respective approaches to the18th president of the United States.
For example, Bunting clearly disagrees with, indeed resents the fact that Grant is generally remembered “as a general, not a president, [which] explains in part the condescension – there is no better word for it — from which pundits and historians have tended to write of him.” Bunting asserts that if judged by the consequences of Grant’s common sense, judgment, and intuition, his presidency, “so far from being one of the nation’s worst, may yet be seen as one of the best.”
Korda indicates no inclination to view Grant’s presidency as “one of the best.” He duly acknowledges the problems which awaited Grant after he was elected to his first term in 1869. “What did Grant’s reputation as a president in, however, (and continues to do so today whenever journalists and historians are drawing up lists of the best presidents vs. the worst ones), was the depression of 1873, which ushered in a long period of unemployment and distress, made politically more damaging by accusations that the president’s wealthy friends were making money out of it.” Given that the United States was growing too fast, in too many different directions at once, and the inevitable consequence was corruption and an unstable economy, “it would have taken a more astute man than Grant to slow things down or clean them up.”
This last observation by Korda is consistent with a contemporary assessment of Grant by the Edinburgh Review, one which Brooks Simpson quotes in his own study (Let Us Have Peace: Ulysses S. Grant and the Politics of War and Reconstruction 1861-1868), and which Bunting also cites: “To bind up the wounds left by the war, to restore concord to the still distracted Union, to ensure real freedom to the Southern Negro, and full justice to the southern white; these are indeed tasks which might tax the powers of Washington himself or a greater than Washington, if such a man is to be found.”
In his Epilogue, Korda explains that he wrote this book because, from time to time, “it is necessary to remind Americans about Grant, first of all because his is a kind of real-life Horatio Alger story, exactly the one that foreigners have always wanted to believe about American life…and that Americans want to believe about themselves.” Yes, his presidency was severely flawed but as a general, Grant “defined for all time the American way of winning a war”: It must have an essentially moral base to earn and sustain the full support of the American people, it must take full advantage of its great industrial strength and depth of manpower, and it must apply aggressively – without hesitation — all of its resources to achieve the ultimate military objective, total victory.
However, Korda suggests that any politician contemplating the use of military force should first consider lessons which Grant learned from failed Reconstruction initiatives in the South: “armies of occupation are no substitute for political thought, and that generals are not be necessarily the right people to institute basic political reforms or to reconstruct society.”
It remains for others much better qualified than I am to comment on the relevance of that statement to America’s current military involvement in various parts of the world. However, I greatly appreciate Korda’s attempt to provide a balanced view of Grant in terms of his character, talents, and values…all of which served him so well on the battlefield but which proved insufficient to the political challenges that he encountered later as the 18th president of the United States.