Business Book Review

Friday, October 27, 2006

Book Review: Put the Moose on the Table - Lessons in Leadership from a CEO’s Journey Through Business and Life - by Randall Tobias with Todd Tobias


Some problems are like having a moose in the room; the more one tries to ignore it, the more of an issue it becomes. Thus, the best thing to do is to confront it—to put the moose on the table—and look for a solution in dealing with it effectively. This is just one of the lessons on leadership Tobias learned during his tenure at AT&T, at Eli Lilly and Company, and as a member of various corporate boards. In Put the Moose on the Table, he recounts his journey through life and the vicissitudes of corporate leadership in late 20th century America and explores the compelling lessons he learned along the way about the challenge and hope of unprecedented and continuous change.

“Leadership is a mysterious quality, hard to define, but maybe we always know it when we see it … even as kids. … I credit my mother’s early influence for any particular skills I might have for listening to, learning from, and encouraging and respecting others.”
“My involvement in extracurricular activities had at least as much to do with the development of the skills that helped me become a corporate leader as the lessons I learned in the classroom. And I don’t think the importance of having those skills will diminish anytime soon.”
Tobias was born in the small town of Remington, Indiana during the 1940s. In this “Marcus Welby” time and place, he learned the lessons that have stood him in good stead throughout his life. He learned that a commitment made is a commitment kept; that nothing is more important than integrity; and that family and community are responsibilities to be taken seriously. Growing up, he had some extraordinary mentors who also taught him how to relate to people and get the best out of them by treating them with dignity and respect. However, the person who had the most lasting influence on his personal and professional development was his mother.

Mrs. Tobias, who taught sixth grade at Remington’s elementary school, exchanged classes with the fifth-grade teacher in order to avoid any appearances of nepotism when her son was ready to enter that grade. Thus, one of the earliest lessons he learned was the importance of avoiding the slightest appearance of any conflict of interest—even if it means undergoing a great deal of personal inconvenience. Tobias also gained his first respect and appreciation for working women from seeing the sacrifices his mother made in order to balance her work and home life. However, it was her attitude toward learning that made the greatest impression. Mrs. Tobias stressed the importance of being sensitive to, and respectful of, everyone—neighbors, friends, coworkers, and even strangers. Her belief that “Everyone has something to teach, so keep your ears open” showed Tobias that leadership is as much about listening, building relationships, and providing encouragement, as it is about communicating one’s own ideas.

From his father, he learned to “take the job seriously, but never yourself. And, at the end of the day, always make time to separate the two.” Moreover, as the son of a farmer, the elder Tobias understood that many of the bank’s customers could not leave their farms during banking hours to conduct their business. So, whenever anyone needed his professional help, he made himself available in the evenings, setting up “shop” on his back porch and giving his son a key lesson about the value of trying to do whatever the customer needs.

Tobias’s first money-making venture came at the age of 10, when he began mowing lawns and learning the importance of taking responsibility for completing any assignment he agreed to take on. As he got older, he occasionally took on other odd jobs, one of which was as a corn detasseler for a farm that produced hybrid seed. It was a back-breaking occupation that taught him to appreciate some of the challenges people face when working in repetitious manufacturing operations.

Nonetheless, his first “real” job came at age 14, when he began working as a grocery clerk and learning some of the essential aspects of running a business, such as inventory control and marketing. It was also his first experience in customer relations—in dealing directly with customers and learning how to handle the disgruntled ones with finesse. The management style Tobias acquired here was, to a large extent, the one he carried to AT&T and Eli Lilly and Company.

Beginning with the summer before his freshman year in high school, and continuing through the summer following his junior year in college, Tobias worked at a summer camp, performing every task imaginable—potato peeler, swimming instructor, plumber, bedspring repairman, campfire ukulele player/singer, and pancake chef. Thus, he got his first experience in having to deal with broad, ambiguous responsibilities. Job descriptions did not matter; everyone was required to do what was necessary—sometimes at a moment’s notice, despite having no prior experience.

In 1960, Tobias entered college at Indiana University, having no firm notion of what career he wanted to pursue. Almost immediately, however, he became involved in the school’s many extracurricular activities, including: pledging a fraternity, becoming subcommittee chairman of the IU Fall Carnival (a major campus event), winning a seat in the Student Senate, being elected president of the senior class of 1964, and cohosting a student-run program that aired on two local radio stations. These activities allowed him to gain his first taste of what it would be like to be a business executive. (Although both law and broadcasting had been intriguing possibilities, he was ultimately attracted to the School of Business, where he majored in marketing and advertising.) In every instance, he was required to accept new challenges, manage multiple activities at the same time, lead people with competing and often conflicting ideas, and cope with responsibilities in areas where he had little prior knowledge or expertise to guide his actions and decisions.

Because Tobias participated in the university’s ROTC program, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the field artillery branch of the U.S. Army when he graduated from IU in June 1964. However, before reporting for duty at Fort Sill, Oklahoma in October, he joined the Initial Management Development Program (IMDP), a unique initiative instituted by AT&T’s Indiana Bell subsidiary. Those chosen for this program were seniors who had demonstrated “significant peer-supported leadership outside the classroom and had done so while performing well in the classroom.” The idea was that if an individual had emerged as a leader as team captain, class president, dorm leader, fraternity president, etc., he would likely emerge as a leader in AT&T.

In October, Tobias reported to Fort Sill, along with a hundred or so other young officers. They had all attended ROTC classes for four years, where they studied military history, law, and courtesy; leadership; and many other subjects. And, they had spent six week on active duty (i.e., boot camp) during the summer preceding their senior year. After basic training, some were sent to other military installations in the U.S.; some were sent to units in Europe and other places around the world; and some were sent to Vietnam. Tobias was assigned to duty as an instructor in Fort Sill’s Communications and Electronics Department.

Again, it was an experience that later served him well in his business career. For almost two years, he taught officers who often outranked him and had more practical experience than he. But, it was this trial by fire that allowed him, when he became a corporate executive, to be comfortable testifying before Congress, addressing security analysts, presiding over annual stockholder meetings, and generally communicating with audiences, whether friendly, hostile, large, small, formal, or informal. In September 1966, Tobias accepted a job as the Indiana Bell Telephone Company manager in Lebanon, Indiana.

“The more I think about leadership, the more I realize that leaders are not necessarily born—they are made. I think experiences are extremely important in shaping a leader.”
“When one is in the midst of enormous change and all of the ground rules are being thrown out the door, it’s absolutely essential to ask—and to answer: What businesses are we really in?”
“As I define it, communications is ... the sum of all the activities that demonstrate, through words and actions, what a leader—indeed, what a business—really is about.”

“In my experience, the thin line separating the winners from the losers is often determined by how well an organization chooses and structures jobs for its people in a way that is consistent with its plans for tomorrow, not yesterday.”

By 1977, Tobias’s career had taken him to the public relations department at Indiana Bell’s headquarters in Indianapolis. But, in the spring of that year, he received an opportunity that he could not have anticipated in his wildest dreams—he was being transferred to Illinois Bell in Chicago, as general manager for the North Suburban area. A transfer of someone at Tobias’s level within the Bell System, from one operating subsidiary to another, meant he was on the fast track for career advancement and that his performance was being watched by those at the very top of the parent company. With this new assignment, Tobias was to be given responsibility for all aspects of telephone service in a geographic area and would run an integrated business in which managers, engineers, salespeople, operators, service reps, and maintenance and repair crews all reported to him.

This job far exceeded the best-case career plans he could have laid out for himself when he graduated college. In fact, he had not arrived at this point as the result of any detailed career-planning strategy, but by doing the best he could every day and letting his performance speak for itself. He believes that individuals must have the ability to consistently deliver results and the opportunities to demonstrate that ability, especially at those rare, unexpected, and often unrecognized moments when career-altering opportunities present themselves. When people find themselves in the spotlight at center stage, they must be prepared to perform. And, they must also be prepared to perform at every opportunity, because they never know when a performance will determine the trajectory of their careers.

Tobias also believes that in addition to seizing opportunities, all aspiring managers can enhance their leadership skills if they focus on developing the capabilities and characteristics that are most likely to help them succeed. He says, of course, there is no magic formula, only predictors that are important and reasonably dependable indicators of leadership capacity, no matter the business or industry. And, though he does not believe that identifying leadership talent is as simple and straightforward as creating a list of attributes, he has, nonetheless, developed an ever-evolving list of indicators of future leadership potential. Tobias notes that far too many leaders refuse to communicate the attributes they believe are necessary for rising to the top and, in doing so, essentially turn these attributes into a “hierarchy of secrets.” From his perspective, this approach makes no sense in that no strategic purpose is served by preserving an air of mystery around the very characteristics needed to fill the most important positions in a company.

Thus, he delineates the following attributes as prerequisites for leadership: (1) inspires confidence, trust, and consistently displays the highest ethical standards; (2) communicates effectively, internally and externally; (3) consistently achieves superior results and produces results through others; (4) pursues continuous learning and fosters a learning environment; (5) produces other leaders; (6) develops cross-functional knowledge and versatility; (7) embraces change and seeks to use it advantageously; (8) constantly seeks innovative ideas—particularly in unlikely places; (9) builds internal and external alliances to further corporate goals; (10) balances the short term with the long term by focusing on both; (11) embraces ambiguity; (12) practices and encourages thoughtful risk taking; (13) champions cultural diversity; and (14) leaves indelible “footprints.”

Although it is important to communicate the specific qualities needed to assume positions of leadership, it is also necessary to be a role model who leads by example. One such role model for Tobias was Charles L. Brown, the AT&T chairman and CEO, who oversaw the breakup of the Bell System. Tobias believes that when Brown asked AT&T’s board to accept the terms of the divestiture settlement worked out with the Justice Department, it represented the most significant single decision in the company’s history. Thus, with this move, Brown demonstrated the key qualities of an effective change agent: He built a consensus to support a decision he realized had to be made. He effectively communicated that vision to the company, the media, and the shareholders. And, he acted quickly and decisively.

Although much has been written about that decision and its far-reaching legal, political, and economic implications, something else occurred on that day that provided a lesson in leadership that Tobias still carries with him. Tobias, who had recently been promoted to the position of corporate vice president, was sitting outside the boardroom, nervously waiting to make his first appearance before AT&T’s board with a presentation on marketing. In the midst of the intense drama unfolding behind closed doors, Brown took the time to pause and write Tobias a note, apologizing for keeping him waiting and asking him to postpone his presentation until such time as he (Brown) could give it his full attention.

Tobias framed this note, which has hung it in a place of prominence in every office he has occupied since that date. An assistant could have been sent to usher Tobias away or, given the circumstances, Tobias’s presentation could have easily been forgotten. Thus, Brown’s “instinctive unconscious gesture of leadership” made an indelible impression about the importance of treating subordinates with the same respect one shows board members. Subsequently, as the level of stress began to grow concerning the divestiture, it was not lost on Tobias that fewer and fewer notes found their way down through the ranks. “And a company whose success was once driven by the loyalty of its people began to pay a very dear price.”

When Theodore Vail became AT&T’s legendary leader, he encapsulated his vision for the enterprise in six words: “One system. One policy. Universal service.” Over the ensuing decades, these six words allowed generations of AT&T employees, at all levels, to know where the company was headed and how it would get there. This vision shaped a philosophy, which shaped a culture and defined the terms of the company’s relationship with its employees and customers. However, the decision to accept the Justice Department’s divestiture proposal “did not reflect a change in philosophy, but a change in circumstances.” And, because no new, coherent, clearly defined companywide vision emerged for the future of the business, decisions at the new AT&T were often implemented for an industry that no longer existed.

Reflecting back on this period, Tobias says the key lesson is that “Without a shared vision that is compelling and truly embraced with passion, it’s nearly impossible for any organization to succeed.” Moreover, acceptance of this vision depends on the leader’s ability to build a consensus, gain buy-in, and articulate the vision with a passion that translates into credibility. Most importantly, the people must be able to see and believe that their leader is the ultimate “father,” who truly owns the vision (IBM’s Lou Gerstner, GE’s Jack Welch, and Microsoft’s Bill Gates are perfect examples of this kind of father-owner). Thanks to this lesson, when Tobias accepted the challenge of leading Eli Lilly and Company through its period of massive change, he had something important to offer.

On June 25 1993, Eli Lilly and Company shocked Wall Street and its rank and file by announcing that President and CEO Vaughn Bryson was resigning and that AT&T Vice Chairman Randall Tobias (who was also an outside director on Lilly’s board) was to become the company’s new chairman, president, and CEO. Speculation was that the “telephone guy” was being hired to lay off large numbers of employees in the same manner as AT&T had done, and given the absence of information to the contrary, this theory seemed to be quite logical. The board’s terse press release, announcing Bryson’s retirement due to differences with the board over management philosophy, was carefully worded to say nothing. But, this “nothing” spoke volumes to Lilly’s employees, who appreciated Bryson for his attempts to overhaul the corporate culture, remove outdated bureaucratic processes, and encourage more open communication between management and the rank and file.

As far as the employees were concerned, differences over “management philosophy” simply meant that the board did not like Bryson’s attempts to make the company more open, and that Tobias was an AT&T “hatchet man,” hired to reinstall a command-and-control approach and to institute cost-cutting in the form of layoffs. From the board’s perspective, however, culture was not at issue; their concern stemmed from the absence of a clearly articulated and compelling vision for Lilly’s future, and the absence of a sound plan to stem the slide in the company’s stock price.

Nonetheless, the day after the big announcement, a major crisis struck. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) notified Lilly that one of the patients involved in the company’s clinical trials of the potential product, FIAU, needed to be hospitalized because of profound kidney failure. Immediately, Lilly and NIH agreed to stop the trials, and the other 14 patients were told to stop their medication and report to NIH as soon as possible. By Monday morning, however, several of these patients showed early signs of serious liver toxicity. Although Tobias had planned to make an orderly transition from his AT&T responsibilities, he realized that as Lilly’s new leader he had to address this issue immediately and in person.

He understood from experience that he did not have all the right answers, so it was incumbent upon him to ask the right questions and to set the right tone. At the Monday morning meeting of Lilly executives and department heads, Tobias stated that, though he wanted to understand the potential legal and financial ramifications of the situation, the patients and their well-being were first and foremost the top priority and the driver of all subsequent decisions. He explained further the need for Lilly to communicate its desire to help in any way possible, not only because it was the company’s responsibility but also because it was the right thing to do. This theme—success in a changing environment begins and ends with a company’s commitment to treating everyone it touches with respect—was one Tobias continued to emphasize until he retired in 1998.

Seen in retrospect, the stance Tobias took that day engendered the trust of all involved, for in that instant, he moved the company past the trap of taking the easy way out by establishing boundaries based on values and proper priorities. Everyone also saw that he was not going to micromanage them, but was going to give them the lead in doing what needed to be done, within the boundaries established.

This initial meeting with the company’s senior leadership also served as a strong foundation on which to being a new policy of open and honest dialogue. For some time, Lilly’s communications policy had been one of “No comment,” concerning products, employees, and many other issues of interest to the media and public. Tobias realized, however, that analysts, local citizens, journalists, and thousands of employees and shareholders wanted to know what was going on behind the closed doors of the executive conference room. Thus, he quickly determined that his second major responsibility as CEO (after the FIAU crisis) was communication.

Nonetheless, he realized that the real challenge was not only communicating, but also integrating what he said and wrote with the way he behaved. He believes that communications must be defined as including all forms of a corporation’s behaviors toward all of its stakeholders so that it becomes another form of silo-busting, fiefdom-destroying cross-functional teamwork. Moreover, effective communication (i.e., communication that changes behavior) is more than simply delivering well-thought out statements; where, how and, above all, when, these statements are delivered, is also crucial. If bad news does not improve with age, then lack of news to those who need it is even worse. Essentially it is about meeting expectations, doing the right things right, leading by example, and making oneself credible.

Although a strong values-based foundation was already in place when Tobias arrived at Lilly, he knew that keeping these values so that they would be vibrant drivers of the way business was conducted required ongoing attention. Because the world was changing dramatically, and the pressure was on to produce (and to perhaps cut corners), he believed nothing would be more important to Lilly’s future success than nurturing well-defined, strongly emphasized values. From his perspective, Enron, WorldCom, Arthur Andersen, et al., happened because values and culture were seen as “soft” issues separate from the “business.” Moreover, he thinks that new laws and regulations will not effectively address this issue—the solution can only be found in “clearly articulated expectations of behavior, and accountability when those expectations are not met.”

Thus, during his first few weeks, Tobias became focused on the need for a new standard beyond an ethically grounded sense of right and wrong. The values of “people, integrity, and excellence” were already so much a part of the company’s culture that instead of changing them, Tobias helped Lilly to redefine them and specify what these words were to mean in the current context. In that way, the company was able to express how its past values would continue to guide the way business was done.

Tobias also spent a great deal of time talking about the relationship of Lilly’s core values to the company’s financial success, for he believed that truly living those values would have a major impact on the successful implementation of the company’s business strategy. A new understanding of Lilly’s commitment to its people and, just as importantly, their reciprocal commitment to the company, had to be established. Although it was important to foster a culture in which employees would continue to be valued for all they had contributed and achieved in the past, the expectation also needed to be established that everyone would be measured and rewarded for what they were contributing in the present.

In its history, the company had never had a massive layoff in the U.S., and though Tobias did not see any need for involuntary job cuts in the near future, he emphasized that market success would be the real determination of the company’s stability and growth or lack thereof. Thus, he noted that any bond of reciprocity begins with the premise that in times of continuous change, there can be no guarantee of job security. Accordingly, Lilly employees have since become more responsible for their work lives, for managing their own performance, upgrading their skills, and planning their careers. Management’s part of the bargain is the provision of mentoring, career resources, and training opportunities. It is also management’s responsibility to update the personnel policies and programs that were created in an era when all families resembled the Ozzie and Harriet Nelson prototype. Thus, Lilly has initiated a wide array of work-life programs (initiatives that represent a decided competitive advantage), in order to address the reality that 82 percent of its employees now live under a different model: single people with no children, single parents, unmarried couples, dual wage earners with children and without, multigenerational families, same-sex couples, etc.

Tobias’s experience had taught him that “no matter how many important issues demand attention, everyone on the management team, without guidance to the contrary, will invariably gravitate toward the highest-profile issues. And the rest of the field will be vacant.” Because this “law” was very much at work at Lilly when he arrived, he identified six priorities: (1) getting the company under control operationally; (2) beginning with employees and the financial community, restoring stakeholder confidence in the company, its leadership, and its future; (3) moving quickly to increase shareholder value; (4) making important strategic choices; (5) rekindling and refocusing core values; and (6) strengthening and deepening the company’s leadership capabilities, throughout the business, for the present and future.

Number four, which addressed the important question of what business the company was really in, was seen as the key priority. Thus, by focusing on that issue, the company was able to make a number of decisions about Lilly’s future course. For example, the company would focus primarily on human pharmaceuticals. It would exit the medical devices business in a way that would unlock the potential shareholder value not being realized and also garner some cash to invest in the pharmaceutical business. And, the R&D efforts driving the pharmaceutical business, would focus on selected therapeutic areas that possess three essential characteristics: (1) disease categories with significant unmet medical needs; (2) categories where Lilly’s research capabilities were already capable of effectively addressing unmet medical needs; and (3) categories where the likely profit margins were attractive. In addition to these initiatives, the company also decided to develop or enhance capabilities what would be critical to its future success and to focus more strongly on building its businesses in global markets.

At AT&T, Tobias participated in a culture in which everyone was expected to conform to practices that had been “written for nearly every aspect of the business and codified in rows and rows of black binders which lined office walls.” Tobias found this same aversion to risk taking at Lilly, for over the years, the company had developed a culture in which reward was given for not failing rather than for successfully achieving. However, he understood that if he encouraged risk taking (in those parts of the business that do not have an impact on the safety and well-being of patients), Lilly would make mistakes, but the ultimate measure would be the net impact on the creation of shareholder value from everything implemented. He believes that when companies make decisions and things go wrong, not only must they evaluate the end result, but must also evaluate what they knew, when they knew it, and if they made the decision at the optimum time. They must also assess if the risk of deciding and being wrong was outweighed by the likelihood and benefits of being right. Part of being a leader is making intuitive judgments, taking informed risks, and understanding that sometimes those are the best tools available.

Tobias notes that often in the corporate world, succession planning seems not to get the attention it deserves. He found that this was clearly the reality at AT&T and Lilly. In fact, the reason he was in the role of chairman, president, and CEO at Lilly was the direct result of the company’s failed leadership selection, development, and transition process. Determined not to let this happen again, he immediately set out to develop and implement a comprehensive succession-planning process for the senior leadership and, particularly, for managing CEO succession. He believes that succession planning and implementation comprise one of the most important responsibilities of any CEO. And, to do it well sometimes require putting the ongoing well-being of the corporation above personal considerations.

Thus, on December 15, 1997, after being at Lilly’s helm for four years, Tobias announced his intention to retire, effective December 31, 1998. Of course, the question was asked as to why he would want to step down while things were going so well and the company’s future looked so promising. Equally as puzzling was the fact that he was relinquishing power and prestige at the relatively young age of 56. His answer was that the goals he had outlined when he assumed leadership of the company had been accomplished: Lilly had reached the point of being viewed as a leader in the industry on a number of fronts. Its financial performance reflected that leadership. The company had made substantial progress in the quality of its senior leadership, its core capabilities, the ability to plan and shape its future, in its progress in identifying and developing future leaders, in revitalizing its values, in recognizing diversity throughout the organization, and in recognizing the need to balance work and family. The time of departure not only suited his own objectives, but also fit well into the company’s rhythm of continued progress. And last, but not least, Tobias was mindful of Peter Lynch’s sentiment, “Nobody on his deathbed ever said, ‘I wish I’d spent more time at the office!’ ”

* * *
A bibliography and a subject index are provided.


Put the Moose on the Table is a “journal” of the leadership lessons and experiences Tobias has garnered during a time of unprecedented change and challenge in American business. It explains how his responses to the reality of continuous change (“The fascinating thing about the current business environment is not simply that everything is constantly new but that everything is constantly renewing.”) have played a major role in determining his future and the future of the companies with which he’s been involved. But, most importantly, the book details how the character and values Tobias developed in his youth, have not only withstood the unrelenting pressure of change, but have also been strengthened in the process.

Indeed, the book’s subtitle, “Lessons in Leadership from a CEO’s Journey Through Business and Life,” essentially captures the core of Tobias’s message—that leadership is a journey of challenge and promise, is heart work, is about learning and leaving a legacy and, most importantly, it’s about (to borrow a concept from Stephen R. Covey) being “principle-centered.” Thus, this exegesis on leadership exposes no new groundbreaking idea. If you are looking for some lesson that has never been revealed, but that promises to change the heart and soul of corporate America, send the economy into stratospheric abundance, and bring milk, honey, and peace to the land, you won’t find it here. No! You will find much better than that, for Tobias reminds executives, managers, and all other stakeholders of the fundamentals of doing good business—fundamentals that obviously need to be revisited from time to time.

Like Robert Fulghum’s All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, Put the Moose on the Table reiterates those simple, but requisite “Golden Rules” for living and working that professionals have known all along, but have perhaps forgotten to practice. However, the added value is that these timeless truths are seen through the prism of Tobias’s personal experiences, uniquely formed by the influences of his parents, education, early job assignments, extracurricular college activities, mentors, and early successes and failures. The paths Tobias takes to reach destination leadership provide as much insight, or more, than the destination itself. (Of course, as the author’s journey aptly demonstrates, leadership is not so much a destination as it is an ever-evolving state of being.” As the author’s son, Todd, notes “It’s not so much what my dad accomplished in the business world that impresses … but the way he did it.” Leadership is not readily defined, but through Tobias’s serendipitous perspective, you will know it when you see it.

As for the book’s eccentric title, Tobias has borrowed the term from David A. Nadler (Champions of Change), who borrowed it from Dennis Perkins (Leading at the Edge). Essentially, the term is an exhortation to stop ignoring the beastly issue stinking up the boardroom and address it openly and honestly before it runs completely amok. Tobias has put his moose on the table by openly examining his journey through life and corporate change. It is a journey in which he continuously strove to transform change into a competitive advantage, while always trying to do the right thing.

Reading Suggestions

Reading Time: 14-16 Hours, 295 Pages in Book

Put the Moose on the Table is essentially three books. The first 259 pages combine vignettes of Tobias’s autobiography with vignettes of the business histories of AT&T and Eli Lilly and Company. Tobias shows a great deal of compassion toward his readers by not subjecting them to full-blown, detailed accounts of every minute aspect of events and personalities of his corporate and personal lives. He keeps his focus the essential lessons (i.e., the moose) that he intends for his audience to embrace. Thus, the book is a painless, quick, and riveting read.

The last 14 pages of the main text provides a leadership “manual” that lists all Tobias’s edification on leading, vision, change, risk taking, communication, career development, organizational structure, succession planning, and other important instruction. In this section, the author has culled all the lessons discussed in the biographies, categorized them, and listed them in one convenient reference.

Because the book is so structured, you have several options in how you read it. You can skip to the “Tobias’s Lessons in Leadership” section for a summary of what the author has learned and practiced during his business career. You can pick and choose among the 10 chapters that comprise the autobiography/business history. Each chapter provides a snapshot of a particular time or event, and more or less stands alones. However, the title does not always give you any useful idea as to the specific contents of that chapter.

The last approach, and the one we highly recommend, is to read the book in its entirety and in the order presented. To do otherwise will prevent you from understanding the leadership lessons in the context of Tobias’s unique experiences and mind-set. For example: You will miss the personal and business significance of his first wife’s suicide; his unique perspective on employee loyalty, the “soft” issues of leadership, and the promise of life-long employment; and what a high-school marching band and dressing like Vanna White have to do with good business. It is these small details that make Tobias’s journey through business and life so full of engaging ideas that you may might take away and apply to your own professional circumstances.


Chapter 1: Prescription for Disaster
Chapter 2: The Ghost Ship
Chapter 3: The Opposite of Wine
Chapter 4: Small Town, Big Lessons
Chapter 5: A Complete Education
Chapter 6: The Hierarchy of Secrets
Chapter 7: Bond Traders
Chapter 8: Focusing the Boxes
Chapter 9: Risky Business
Chapter 10: When It’s Time to Go
Tobias’s Lessons in Leadership

About the Authors

Randall Tobias was chairman and CEO of Eli Lilly and Company from 1993 until his retirement at the end of 1998, when he was named chairman emeritus. Before joining Lilly, he was vice chairman at AT&T during the years following the company’s government-ordered breakup in 1984. Presently, Tobias serves on the boards of a number of major corporations and foundations.
Todd Tobias is president and editorial director of Table Moose Media and founder of Indy Men’s Magazine.
For more information, please


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