Monday, April 22, 2024


Last fall, I featured an inspiring series here on my blog called, "Fall Back to Reading Series." Nearly 30 leadership, marketing, and customer experience experts participated and shared their favorite books and their thoughts about the importance of reading.

Joseph Lalonde, one participant, wrote a book entitled, REEL LEADERSHIP, which focuses on nontraditional ways to think about leadership. After I read the book, the seeds for this "Spring Leadership Series" were planted. Today, I’d like to introduce James Strock, and following a brief introduction, James shares some nontraditional ways to think about leadership!

James Strock is an independent writer, speaker, reformer and entrepreneur, based in California. He's the author of several books about leadership, politics, Ronald Reagan, and Theodore Roosevelt.

QUESTION: Which TV show or TV series showcases leadership in a memorable way? This could be due to a specific character and their actions, a series of events, the plot of one or several episodes, or a specific time reflected in history.
JAMES STROCK: I would propose two very different television series.

The first is MADMEN, the multi-year hit program that memorably recreated American life in the postwar era into the 1970s through the lens of the mass advertising industry. Various characters develop over time and interact in fascinating ways, yielding many insights, including in nontraditional roles.

The second is the HITLER CHRONICLES. This series, from German director Hermann Poelking, covers the entire life of the Nazi dictator. Not only does it feature newly-discovered archival footage, but it also provides many insights by moving chronologically with observations from Hitler’s contemporaries at the time. Seeing Hitler through their eyes, as they try to comprehend what emerged as inconceivable catastrophe, without the hindsight of history, yields a layered and deeply troubling perspective of how one of the most educated and advanced nations in the world was transformed into a force for evil.

QUESTION: Which film showcases leadership in a memorable way?
JAMES STROCK: DARKEST HOUR, the award-winning film focused on Winston Churchill’s assumption of authority in 1940 in the face of the Nazi onslaught of Western Europe, is memorable as a showcase of historic leadership. In 1940, Churchill stands as an exemplar of the highest level of leadership: But for his actions, history would have been demonstrably different. In a contesting, mirroring image, Hitler also stands as a consequential leader, causing destructive results that only he could envision and initiate. Their interaction and mutual comprehension (and incomprehension) of one another is an enduring, timeless source of study.

QUESTION: Which work of fiction showcases leadership in a memorable way?
JAMES STROCK: Gore Vidal’s LINCOLN is a masterpiece of historical fiction. Vidal, who possessed unusual knowledge and experience of politics, applies deep research and eye for detail to create an extraordinary portrait of the improbable President who emerged from humble beginnings to become a reluctant warlord, ultimately the driving force of our nation’s "second founding." From the foundation of facts and the vantage point of history, Vidal conjures credible insights into the thoughts and action of one of the greatest leaders that America - and the world - has ever produced.

QUESTION: Which product, or product line, stands out as a symbol of leadership?
JAMES STROCK: ROLEX watches stand out as symbols of leadership, from aspiration to achievement. They are associated with political leaders (from Presidents to Martin Luther King, Jr.) and people of accomplishment or celebrity in various fields, including both males and females. Rolex even shows up as a signal of status in fiction, such as, on the wrist of James Bond. An interesting question is whether such timepieces, combining excellence with intimacy, will maintain their cachet in the era of Apple and other purveyors of digital, connected, multi-functional, deeply personalized timepieces.

SHARE THIS: Can timepieces like Rolex maintain their cachet in the era of Apple and digital, multi-functional timepieces? ~@jamesstrock #SpringLeadershipSeries #DebbieLaskeysBlog

QUESTION: Lastly, since I’m a marketing professional, I would be remiss not to ask this question. Which brand do you consider the best embodiment of an industry leader, and why?
JAMES STROCK: There are a number of candidates for such recognition. At this moment, I would settle on TOYOTA, which has become a byword for excellence, reliability, and value, with products across the range of uses and users. One anticipates that as the motor vehicle market evolves amid electrification, Toyota will continue to earn leadership, as with its spectacularly successful hybrid offerings over the past thirty-plus years.

Did these questions open your eyes to thinking about leadership in nontraditional ways? That was the hope. My gratitude to James for appearing on my blog, and for sharing his leadership insights.

Image Credits: Debbie Laskey, iStockphoto, Amazon, and Classroom Clipart.

Connect with James at these links:

Check out James' previous appearances here on my blog:

FALL BACK TO READING SERIES – Featuring James Strock (October 2023)

What Happens When Leadership, Service and Encouragement Join Forces? (July 2020)

Sharing Timeless Leadership Lessons (November 2018)

Leadership Is All About Serving Others (March 2014)
Serve to Lead - What a Visionary Concept (March 2011)

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