published on Monday, January 6, 2004
in The Miami Herald
Author narrows focus with second 'Warfare'
D'Alessandro, CEO of John Hancock Financial Services, demonstrates
the importance of protecting your image, reputation and perception
BY RICHARD PACHTER
Warfare: 10 Rules for Building a Successful Personal Brand and Fighting
to Keep It. David F. D'Alessandro, Michele Owens. McGraw-Hill. 216
When you read a book, you are, at least in the virtual sense, spending
time with another human being. Sometimes it's a colorless, ''objective''
lecturer, other times a witty, gregarious, eager-to-please character.
In every case, it's an objectification, exaggeration or distillation
of the intelligence that produced the book.
reading Career Warfare, I realized that I ''knew'' its author, David
D'Alessandro, having reviewed his previous primer, Brand Warfare,
in 2002. D'Alessandro, CEO of John Hancock Financial Services, didn't
have a background in finance or economics, having risen instead
through the ranks of marketing and public relations, which is atypical,
if not unheard of, in this field. In his earlier book, it was clear
that D'Alessandro's communications experience played a defining
role in his success.
time, he narrows the focus, honing in on executives and interpersonal
dynamics. With advice and examples of how to differentiate one's
personal brand -- clearly his area of expertise -- D'Alessandro
warmly and wittily conveys practical experience, along with his
self-effacing skepticism of touchy-feely corporate platitudes.
that most people are motivated by their own interests, rather than
altruism or ''what's good for the company,'' he uses anecdotes and
examples to demonstrate the importance of protecting the personal
brand in the form of image, reputation and perception. He also offers
dry, wise observations on senior managers' needs and perquisites.
writes: "The fact of the matter is all bosses will use you.
In their eyes, you are primarily an instrument to help them further
their own careers. The real question is whether or not you are smart
enough to use them. The elders of the tribe eat first. And if you
cannot accept that, there is only one thing to do: Start your own
organization, so you'll be at the top of the food chain. Where ambitious
people get a case of the stupids is by staying in a comfortable
place long after they have already gained whatever knowledge and
power they were going to gain.''
In fact, his other claims to fame (beyond his tenure at Hancock
and being an author) are his confrontations with the U.S. Olympics
Committee and executives of NBC, the network that televises the
Games. With his company a leading sponsor of Olympic broadcasts,
D'Alessandro has been a thorn in their sides by demanding higher
standards of behavior by USOC members. NBC, threatened by a controversy
that could jeopardize its multibillion-dollar investment, has railed
against the John Hancock CEO's temerity to criticize their sub-Olympian
ethics, but D'Alessandro has stood his ground. When you walk it
like you talk it, you're building your brand and ''Make the
right enemies'' is D'Alessandro's seventh rule.