I don’t know what had me in such a reflective mood last week when I was gathering things for a sojourn to coastal North Carolina. Maybe it was the fact that my own dog had become the survivor of a second mini-stroke two weeks ago that compelled me to pack — for airline reading — a just-released 128-page book that came to me here at work, All I Know About Management I Learned from my Dog.
Or maybe it was the reason for my trip — my mother’s current stay in a hospital (also with stroke-like symptoms) — that had me in the mood for some no-fringe, no-fluff philosophy.
All I can say is I was in the right mind-set for this little gem by Martin P. Levin, a longtime top executive in the publishing world who, after attending law school at night, was admitted to the New York Bar at age 65. He’s currently 92. I believe this is his first book.
His treatise on management — as learned through the trials and tribulations of becoming the owner of Angel, a 14-year-old, now-slightly-overweight golden retriever adopted after the death of his wife — is a droll, yet poignant look at what he considers the four bare-bones (pun intended) “golden rules of management”: trust and leadership, communication, problem solving and decision making, and perseverance and success.
It’s sprinkled with hilarious anecdotes that dog lovers will appreciate, tied to real-world experiences of business and political leaders that help drive home his points. For example, his description of Angel’s step-by-step perseverance in tackling “bones with meat clinging to them” is followed by this definition of perseverance in terms of human leadership:
“– There was a man who, from age 31 until age 60, had
— Failed business twice,
— Was defeated in legislative races twice,
— Suffered the death of his sweetheart,
— Suffered a nervous breakdown,
— Lost two senatorial races,
— Lost one vice-presidential race,
— And finally was elected president of the United States at age 60.
That man was Abraham Lincoln. Most challenges are not as great as those faced by Lincoln. Nevertheless, there are those who feel that, once rebuffed, trying again is not an option. To Lincoln, failure was not an option. The nation and its values have survived, thanks to his service and perseverance.”
The book meanders a bit from vignette to vignette, but each one reflects Levin’s wealth of knowledge and experience as a successful business leader and his great sense of humor in the lessons learned with Angel. It’s hard to put into words just what works in his (some might say “strange”) literary approach, but it does — work.
See for yourself. The best I can offer is the publisher’s website description.