• Tony Richards

Book Thoughts: Theodore Roosevelt: CEO

Alan Axelrod is one of my favorite writers, probably because I’ve always been a history buff. His writings on historical events have been a deep indulgence of mine for years. Alan started doing an amazing thing a few years ago with a few of his books. He started combining historic figures, events, biographies along with leadership and business principles.

Eureka! That’s a grand slam for my reading time!

His CEO series has included people such as Elizabeth I, Winston Churchill, Gandhi and Napoleon. I am in great anticipation of his forthcoming work on Caesar: CEO. Ann Marie gave me the book for my birthday in March and I tore through it, of course, finishing it in about two weeks, but I’m just getting a chance to distill my thoughts on it.

In this edition of his CEO series, Axelrod profiles our 26th President with such depth, when reading this work, you feel as if you knew Mr. Roosevelt and you would love to sit and visit with him for a while. Roosevelt is a tremendously interesting human being. Writer, physical fitness enthusiast, explorer, military man, in addition to politician.

Writer: Roosevelt wrote books on almost every subject. He wrote textbooks for the Naval Academy, one in particular on the War of 1812. He wrote hunting and ranching books based on his time in the new undeveloped part of the American West as a North Dakota rancher. He wrote legislative acts for the governing bodies he was a part of. He wrote a history of New York City. Amazing.

Physical Fitness Enthusiast: Roosevelt believed in physical activity. He was very sickly as a child, so he built himself up physically over the years out of necessity. It’s amazing the tools he used for exercising.

Explorer: In addition to the American West, Roosevelt was part of exploration teams in Africa and in South America.

Military man: In addition to being Assistant Secretary of the Navy, remember his famous Rough Riders of the U.S. Calvary and San Juan Hill?

Politician: I didn’t know he was President of the New York Police Commission Board. The things he did as a member of the police in New York City would make you proud. He was elected Governor of New York and He was Vice President of the United States and became President, when President McKinley was assassinated. He learned the news while on a camping trip in the mountains. These events are amazing pieces of American History. He was such an outdoorsman, his passion drove him to establish the National Forest Service.

Couple of other items: He gave away Eleanor Roosevelt in her wedding to Franklin D. Roosevelt. One of his greatest accomplishments as President was settling the coal dispute between unions and coal companies before the winter of 1902 (it’s worth reading the book to learn how he did it, superb negotiation strategy!). He was the first President to be seen riding in a car.

Theodore Roosevelt had his share of tragedy in his life as well. His mother and his wife both die on the same day on February 14th, 1884. His mother of typhoid fever and his wife of Bright’s disease. Roosevelt, always the writer recorded the day in his journal in this way: “the light has gone out of my life.”

His mother and his wife’s death and his daughter’s birth all took place in his Manhattan home on 57th street.

He also was shot while giving a campaign speech in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1912. The bullet was partially stopped by his 50-page speech he had folded up in his front pocket. He believed since he was not coughing blood, he could continue and give his speech. He proceeded to give his speech, which lasted for 90 minutes. His opening remarks were, “Ladies and Gentlemen, I don’t know if you fully understand that I have just been shot, but it takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose.” (His political party at the time).

Alan Axelrod did a great job telling me the story of Theodore Roosevelt: CEO who occupied the most powerful position in our country at the beginning of the 20th Century, the most amazing time of growth our country as seen to date. The book is written in short lessons in seven sections. He outlines 7 principles to guide and inspire modern leaders.

I certainly appreciated the guidance and I was definitely inspired. I think you would be as well.

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