Robert L. Dilenschneider is the author of the new book Decisions: Practical Advice from 23 Men and Women Who Shaped the World. His other books include The Critical First Years of Your Professional Life and Power and Influence. He is founder of The Dilenschneider Group, a corporate counseling and PR firm, and the former president and CEO of Hill & Knowlton.
Q: How did you come up with the idea for Decisions?
A: It simply occurred to me that decisions are being made every day that affect every man, woman and child in America and around the globe. Decisions, certainly for the next 12 months, are going to affect our lives dramatically.
So I thought about how people made decisions, decided to look back at history and take prominent people who had shaped the course of society and the world and took lessons from what they did that would help readers.
Q: The book is divided into four parts, War and Peace, Commerce and Invention, Science, and Breaking Boundaries. How did you decide on the book's structure and the people you discuss?
A: I made a list of about 300 people who have made decisions that were really powerful and which helped shape society and the world. Then, I drilled down and got 50 that I felt really comfortable with.
I then looked for logical categories the 50 would fit under; and then I reduced the 50 to 23 and that's how we came up with the structure the book enjoys.
Q: Do you see any common themes running through the examples of decision-making you describe in the book?
A: Yes, indeed. People have to be strong, courageous and brave and they have to stick with what they decide. They have to put the common good ahead of their own success and, from time to time, they have to be daring.
When Hannibal made the decision he took major chances. Harry Truman clearly took a major chance. When Giannini opened the Bank of America he started from virtually nothing, so he took a big risk with his life and career.
It is the people who are willing to take those risks and take those chances that make the difference and shape the future.
Q: What do you hope readers take away from this book?
A: Some advice on how they can make their own decisions that will make their lives better and will make the lives of people around them even better, some guidelines on how to make decisions, a sense of courage to make the really tough decisions.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: I have three or four ideas for books that might appear in 2021/ 2022. One is an update on Decisions -- the next 23 people. Beyond that I am very active in my business trying to help clients and looking for every opportunity to improve my community and its many facets.
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: Decisions are going to have to be taken by our president, by the leaders of the rest of the free world, by businesses that come together in countries and by so many more which are going to shape the next couple of years.
We are truly at a turning point in society where we can forge seriously ahead and make a huge difference for every man, woman and child out there. The key is making the proper decisions to make this happen.
--Interview with Deborah Kalb