Book Review: How to Lead

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How to Lead: Wisdom from The World’s Greatest CEOs, Founders, And Game-Changers by David M. Rubenstein is an excellent book, but the title may be misleading. It’s not about “how to lead.” It’s about “how I got to where I am.” David Rubenstein interviewed “leaders” from a variety of fields. There are 30 interviews.

When I say book, in this case, I’m referring to the audiobook. If you want to look for memorable quotes and underline them, the print versions or the e-book will do. I recommend the audio version here because it has recordings of the interviews. The audiobook lets you hear inflections and pick up things that you can’t get from the printed page.

Rubenstein is an excellent, friendly interviewer. He’s not an investigative reporter hunting down nasty secrets. The tone with everyone, regardless of their position or political beliefs, is friendly and professional.

Two interviews should come with a warning. If you are from the conservative side of the political spectrum, you probably shouldn’t listen to the interview with Nancy Pelosi. She’s a member of Congress and Speaker of The House who has strong progressive views. If you’re of a more conservative persuasion, this interview may just make you angry.

Let me warn you about the chapter Dr. Anthony Fauci. It’s one of the longest in the book. There is the text of an article that David Rubenstein wrote about Fauci. Then, there are two separate interviews.

Part one of Dr. Fauci’s interview is about infectious diseases. It is fascinating. Part two is mostly about the response to COVID. The date of the interview is April 28, 2020. That means it was right at the beginning of the COVID crisis. It may have made fascinating reading in April or May 2020, but more than a year later, most of it is old news.

I thought all the interviews were fascinating. Each one told a different kind of story from early in life to a present leadership position. Three interviews stand out for me.

The interviews with Colin Powell and James A. Baker, III are excellent. Both men tell their story with candor and good humor.

I thought the interview with Ruth Bader Ginsburg was the most fascinating in the book. Her story is fascinating. She tells that story, answers questions, and shares opinions with a precision that leaves me awestruck.

In A Nutshell

How to Lead shares the stories of 30 people and their journeys to where they are today. The audio version shares actual interview recordings. They give you a richer experience than reading. Rubenstein is an excellent interviewer, and his interviews are friendly and informative.


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