Author Interviews

Decisions: Practical Advice From 23 Men And Women Who Shaped The World

Your Future Depends on Your Decisions
As seen on the public broadcasting program. Sorting out our lives amidst chaos, confusion, and innumerable options is a process we all have in common. The decisions we ultimately make can affect our lives and the lives of others. It’s not always easy. In this empowering guide, an expert in business strategies shares the choices of notable, visionary decision-makers—from Harry Truman and Henry Ford to Marie Curie and Malala Yousafzai—and explains how you can apply their principles to your own personal and professional real-life scenarios.
Resolve, patience, and practical thinking—take it from these politicians, scientists, economists, inventors, entrepreneurs, theologians, activists, and commanders of war and peace. Their inspiring counsel will give you the tools you need to help change your life. Both big and small, your choices can shape the minutes, days, weeks, and years ahead. This book is the first motivating step in the right direction

Tell me a little bit about your book Decisions.
Every day every one of us makes about 3,500 decisions. They range from what we are going to eat for breakfast and wear for the day to what we are going to do with our careers.

When I thought about the decisions we make, I reflected on some of the biggest decisions ever made and how each individual was able to come to that decision. Those decisions shaped the course of history. And the more research I did, the more I realized that the average person could really benefit from some of the greatest individuals in history.  

Was there and experience that caused you to see a need for your book Decisions?

The world and the U.S. are becoming more and more challenged and we are about to embark on a new chapter. Decisions that will lead us to what that experience will be like is the reason I wrote the book.

They say history always repeats itself. And looking back at how some of the biggest decisions in history were made can indeed guide the next generation.   

Is there one short story from your book you would like to share?

I was aware of each of the 23 men and women and the decision(s) they made. What really struck me were some of the quotes we found from A.P. Giannini because they can resonate with everyone. For example: “It doesn’t matter if you don’t always hit the exact bull’s eye. The other rings in the target score points too.”   

So many of us decide it is a failure because they didn’t reach the final goal.  But is what we should have learned on the way that truly matters. That is something that I express to a lot of people in their journey, no matter what the end goal is supposed to be. Giannini taught us how to focus, be brave, stick to our convictions, and continue to move on.

Who are the great leaders you look up to?

Ronald Reagan put the country in the right direction. That’s an easy one.  But it is the leaders that I have worked with in my life who have had a profound affect on me. Barney Clark, who used to run Columbia Gas, had managed tens of thousands people to support millions and did it an elegant way that gave lessons to us all. And of course I always refer to my mentor Dick Darrow. When I joined Hill & Knowlton, Dick took me under his wing.  He was tough but fair. Everyone should have mentor they consider a great leader.

What is the biggest takeaway that you hope a reader will take from your book?

You have to make decisions that will shape the rest of your life. We can use the wisdom from some of our great leaders to help us.  

Look at Henry Ford’s lesson: Make sure you listen to and take care of those who support you.

Abraham Lincoln’s decision to publish the Emancipation Proclamation:  Understand the value of patience.

Or advice from Howard Johnson: Do your research and always be aware of the external conditions in which you operate.

What books had the most impact on you and your development?

Ernest Hemingway’s books are all incredible and I have read many of them twice. I also really enjoy Willa Cather. Her writing on the great plains is really wonderful and heart-warming and leaves the reader with a true sense of being. 

How did your leadership and ethical philosophy develop? 

I was very fortunate to have several mentors along my way in life and their lessons have never left me. Some of the great leaders from Hill & Knowlton: Bill Darrow, Ed Doughty, Tom Kindre. Each of them was a leader and they showed me how to do it and how to do it well.

And then I had clients who were CEOs and I watched them lead organizations around the world. From each person I worked with I tried to leave with at least one lesson.. in most cases there was more than one.  

Once I made the decision in life to link with individuals who make a difference, my life changed for the good. Of course when you first meet someone you can’t be sure if they are going to help you or hurt you down the road. So you need to very cautious and ensure the individual has a solid foundation and is well respected.   

What is next for you?

My goal is to develop ideas that can shape the world. I have always tried to do this and now I am really going to put a solid effort behind getting these ideas out there in a way where they can be heard.  

Purchase Decisions here

Robert L. Dilenschneider has hired more than 3,000 successful professionals, and advised thousands more. He is founder of The Dilenschneider Group, a corporate strategic counseling and public relations firm based in New York City. Formerly president and CEO of Hill & Knowlton, he is the author of the bestselling books Power and Influence, A Briefing for Leaders, On Power and newly released Decisions: Practical Advice from 23 Men and Women Who Shaped the World. For more information, please visit

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