On Point: Life Lessons from the “Columnists” Interviews in WSJ. Magazine
Foreword by Kristina O’Neill
Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers; hardcover, 336 pages; $24.99
The Wall Street Journal Magazine‘s “Columnists” feature has provided plenty of life lessons from leaders in many fields, and they are all put together in the new book On Point.
Hundreds of luminaries across a diverse spectrum of professions and backgrounds, offer their knowledge on many compelling topics, including “On Success,” “On Fear,” “On Solitude,” “On Obsession, and “On Risk.”
Since debuting in 2013, The WSJ. Magazine‘s “Columnist” feature has had insights from celebrities including musicians Ozzy Osbourne and Questlove; actresses Sarah Jessica Parker, Goldie Hawn, and Mindy Kaling; athletes Kevin Durant, Andy Murray, and Dwyane Wade; television show hosts Alex Trebek and Ryan Seacrest; and writers Arianna Huffington, and Michael Musto.
Two luminaries that write “On Strategy” essays are restaurateur Danny Meyer and author Doris Kearns Goodwin. Here is what they wrote:
Danny Meyer: “There’s this fantastic quote from Peter Drucker: ‘Culture eats strategy for breakfast.’ I spend about 80 percent of my time thinking about the culture of our company – culture is our strategy. At our restaurants we teach the motto of ‘constant, gentle pressure’ to master a world in which there are unexpected and sometimes very challenging variables tossed your way. It’s a technique for not getting knocked off your surfboard by the waves that are inevitably going to sneak up behind you. You cannot become a champion surfer in a bathtub. Some competitors are enormously motivated by whom they can beat – they want that knockout punch – while others are motivated by hating to lose. But I don’t really like beating other people. What I like to focus on is living up to our potential as a company, beating our own personal best, constantly stretching a little bit further over time.”
Doris Kearns Goodwin: “With strategy, the key thing is the ability to diagnose the opportunity of the time. Both Herbert Hoover and FDR had the Depression, but it was FDR who diagnosed what to do with it: experimentation, get moving, get people into jobs. So it’s not only the opportunity that provides something for the man, it’s whether the man is able to adapt and diagnose what needs to be done, and then that becomes the strategy. Abraham Lincoln knew how to diagnose the self and figured out ways to learn from failure. He knew he was too soft on issuing pardons to soldiers who ran away from battle, so he made a pact with his war secretary, who was much more tough-minded, so they could veto each other a certain percentage of the time. By having that opposite kind of person around him, someone who was blunt and mean, he formed a team to shore up his weakness.”
Editor in Chief Kristina O’Neill writes, “WSJ. Magazine‘s Columnists feature, in which six people from different backgrounds and cultural pursuits – artists, scientists, fashion designers, CEOs, comedians, chefs and athletes, among others – weigh in on a single topic, has kicked off every issue since I became editor in chief in 2013. One part cocktail party chatter, one part philosophical debate, the page has, over its five years of existence, served as a monthly snapshot of the intellectual and emotional climate of the times.
“It’s also become, in a serendipitous way, a compendium of everyday wisdom. That’s because the subjects covered by the column – love, power, fear, intuition, luck, envy, memory, confidence and so much more – have a broad appeal. The life lessons bubbling up form these short manifestos are as important to our readers as the headlines of the day. (And, speaking of news, in a nod to The Wall Street Journal, which WSJ. Magazine is wrapped and distributed inside every month, each columnist’s portrait is rendered in the Journal’s classic, hand-illustrated stipple style, referred to as a ‘hedcut’ by the newsroom.)”
On Point is one of the most rewarding books you can own, and it is something that will teach you something every time you pick it up.