Late last month the Commandant of the United States Marine Corps sent a letter to all Marines laying out a philosophy of life-long learning as an essential part of being a Marine, and included the Commandant’s Professional Reading List.

I’m delighted to announce that The Power of Communication: Skills to Build Trust, Inspire Loyalty, and Lead Effectively is on that list.

General James F. Amos, the 35th Commandant of the Marine Corps, said,

“The idea of Marines diligently pursuing the profession of arms by reading on their own has resonated inside and outside the Corps… Marines take great pride in being part of a thinking and learning organization.  The emphasis on thoughtful reading has stood us in good stead over the last 11 years.  The adaptation and flexibility shown by Marines faced with a variety of different situations and challenges was anchored in many years of mental preparation for combat.”

About the Commandant’s Professional Reading List

The Commandant’s Professional Reading List was launched in 1989 by then-Commandant Gen. Alfred Gray.

In his letter to all Marines, the current Commandant says that General Gray

“clearly understood that the development and broadening of the mind is a critical aspect of the true warrior’s preparation for battle.  General Gray viewed reading as the means of preparing for the future, and combat in particular.  He ensured that his Marines knew he considered mental preparation as important as physical conditioning or even MOS [Military Occupation Specialty] training.”

The current list is organized by rank and level (recruit through general officer), and also by category (Strategic Thinking, Leadership, Regional and Cultural Studies).  The Power of Communication is one of eight books in the Leadership category.

General Amos emphasized that reading wasn’t just something for Marines to do in their spare time.  He said that the list of books “forms the core of an expanded professional military education program that I expect to be overseen by Commanding Officers and unit leaders at every level.”

He then directed the Marines on how to implement this expectation:

“Every Marine will read at least three books from the list each year.  All books listed at each level of rank are required, while the books listed under categories are recommended readings to expand understanding in specific areas.  The list represents only a starting point, and will ideally whet the appetite for further reading and study.  Commanders and senior enlisted will reinvigorate the critical emphasis on reading in their units and develop a unit reading program.  Books will be selected for reading and discussion, with time set aside in the schedule to that end.  The idea that true professionals study their profession all the time – not just in MPE [Professional Military Education] schools – will continue to be a strongly emphasized theme in all of our professional schools… officer and enlisted.”


A Philosophy of Life-Long Learning

General Amos laid out his vision of the Marines as a life-long learning organization and the role of critical thinking, reading, and reflection as an essential element of being a Marine.

“Faced with a period of fiscal austerity and an uncertain world, it’s more important now than ever before to dedicate time to read and to think.  As we prepare ourselves for whatever is to come, the study of military history offers the inexpensive chance to learn from the hard-won experience of others, finding a template for solving existing challenges, and avoid making the same mistakes twice.  As it was once wisely put, reading provides a ‘better way to do business… it doesn’t always provide all the answers… but it lights what is often a dark path ahead.’  Any book thoughtfully read sharpens the mind and improves on an individual’s professional potential.”

But General Amos expressed concern that the two wars and other commitments made it harder and harder for Marines to live those values:

“Over recent years I have become increasingly concerned that Marines are not reading enough anymore.   Many are not reading at all.  This has happened for a variety of reasons.  First and foremost, the last 11 years of continuous combat in Iraq and Afghanistan have been characterized by a high operational tempo that made extraordinary demands on time.  Under the pressure of competing requirements, reading was one of the first things to go.  For all practical purposes it has been gone for years.  Our senior leaders have not emphasized the importance of reading….

“Whatever has caused our emphasis on reading to atrophy, we as Marines and as leaders, need to restore its preeminence at every level.  The Marine Corps will return to its roots as an organization that studies and applies the lessons of history.”

The Commandant’s Professional Reading List

The Commandant’s Professional Reading List consists of more than 150 books divided into 19 groups; ten of the groups are rank-specific, nine are in categories such as Leadership, Strategic Thinking, Counterinsurgency, and Aviation.

One of four books in the Commandant’s Choice category is Warfighting: United States Marine Corps Doctrinal Publication Number 1,  which is adapted in The Power of Communication to create a conceptual framework for effective leadership communication.

Other books of note on the Commandant’s List include:

The Art of War by Sun Tzu, for First Lieutenants.
Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, for Sergeants, Staff Sergeants, and Captains.
Blink: the Power of Thinking without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell, for Majors and Lieutenant Colonels.
Hot, Flat and Crowded by Tom Friedman for Majors and Lieutenant Colonels.
Diplomacy by Henry Kissinger, for Colonels and Generals.

Besides The Power of Communication, other books in the Leadership category, encouraged for all Marines, are:

Developing the Leaders Around You: How to Help Others Reach Their Full Potential, by John Maxwell.
Heroic Leadership: Best Practices from a 450-Year Old Company That Changed the World by Chris Lowney.
Lincoln on Leadership: Executive Strategies for Tough Times by Donald Philips.
Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek.


I have had the honor of teaching Marines and of getting to know them for more than 20 years.  In that time I’ve been impressed with their commitment to training, teaching, and learning.  General Amos’ letter — and his personal commitment, framed as an order for all Marines to follow, for reading, thinking, and reflecting — just enhances my view of Marines.  I think that would be the case even if my book wasn’t on the list.  But it’s an added honor, privilege, and delight for me to know that I can continue to influence Marines and their way of thinking at a distance.


Semper Fi!

  • Managing information overload: In today’s media environment, it’s common for many of us to feel overloaded with information. But a new study from the University of Texas and reported on at Nieman Journalism Lab found that “the news platforms a person is using can play a bigger role in making them feel overwhelmed than the sheer number of news sources being consumed.”
  • Journalism today: Columbia Journalism School published a major new report by C.W. Anderson, Emily Bell and Clay Shirky called “Post-Industrial Journalism.”  The report is a thought-provoking look at the present and future state of journalism.
  • A hoax and fake news: A press release sent out last week announcing a fake acquisition by Google was picked up my multiple media organizations before the hoax was discovered. Jack Shafer at Reuters argues that “Fake press releases are a public service.
  • More on law and social media: A couple of worthwhile posts on law and social media: “The essential guide to minimizing legal risks in Social Media Marketing,” and “Can You Libel Someone on Twitter?
  • Local stories and engagement: NPR did an interesting test with local content on Facebook to answer the question, “What is it about certain local stories that make them more social than others? To answer this, we conducted a study to define what types of local content cause the most sharing and engagement.” The results may be helpful for other organizations as well.
  • Reputation and online criticism: Dr. Leslie Gaines-Ross highlighted a recent research report on her blog that looked at the subtleties of how brands should respond to online criticism. (Additional information about the study from the researchers at the University of Amsterdam appeared on strategy + business last month.) Dr. Gaines-Ross summarizes the findings by saying, “The short answer to the question of whether companies should repsond and manage damage control online is quite simple. They should, but carefully.” 
  • Nonprofits and data: The Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN) and Idealware released the “2012 State of Nonprofit Data Report” last week. Beth Kanter evaluated the results in her post, “Nonprofits Collect Lots of Data, But Most Don’t Use It Says NTEN/Idealware Report.”
  • Financial institutions and social media: The folks at Social@Ogilvy put together a helpful guide, “Financial Institutions and Social Media,” which provides information for financial institutions looking to engage in social media while being mindful of strict regulatory rules.
  • Law and social media policies: Based on recent National Labor Relations Board rulings, “if your company has not examined its social media policy in 2012, it is time for counsel and human resources to carefully reword the document’s language, in an effort to harmonize it with recent cases,” according to Professor Perry Binder on his blog Binder Law Training.
  • Women and executive presence: A new study published in Marie Clare this month and conducted by the Center for Talent Innovation looked at the factors that feed into perceptions of executive presence for women. There are a number of insights that may be helpful for women looking to advance their careers, and the survey found that there are “three areas that govern the perception of “leadership material”:
    • Gravitas, or the ability to project confidence, poise under pressure, and decisiveness
    • Communication, which comprises excellent speaking skills, assertiveness, and the ability to read an audience or situation
    • Appearance—looking polished and pulled together”
  • Media questions and “the pivot”: This NPR article on the science of “the pivot” in a political debate context provides good analysis on what does and doesn’t work in transitioning from any question to your message in other types of media formats and for other types of interview subjects.
  • Election 2012: There were many post-election wrap-ups on various communication subjects tied to the 2012 Presidential election, but a few in particular worth noting here. At the MediaShift Idea Lab blog, “Our Picks for the Most Innovative Election Coverage“; at Social@Ogilvy’s blog, “Election 2012: Why Twitter, The Visual Web and Big Data Are the Winners“; and the newest most popular tweet in history.
  • Decline of newspapers and affect on civic participation: The Christian Science Monitor has a thoughtful piece that’s worth reading, “Is the death of newspapers the end of good citizenship?.” From the article: “When daily newspapers die, communities become less connected and collaborative, new studies suggest. Economists and media researchers are seeing a drop-off in civic participation – the same kind of collective vigor readers showed in fighting for The Times-Picayune – after the presses stop rolling.”

Finally, we were lucky and thankful here at Logos to have escaped injury and major damage to our homes and office from Sandy, only suffering the relatively minor issues of loss of power, heat and/or water, trees down and transportation interruptions on various individual levels. Much of the areas of New York and New Jersey hardest hit are still struggling to recover, and help is still needed to assist the thousands of people for whom the effects of the storm will be felt for some time.



As we here in the NYC area wait for Hurricane Sandy to make landfall, a few items of note from the last two weeks (in case you need some extra reading material wherever you are). Stay safe, all.

  • Young adults’ reading habits: If the popular consensus seems to be that younger people don’t read books anymore, a recent Pew study found, “More than eight in ten Americans between the ages of 16 and 29 read a book in the past year, and six in ten used their local public library.”
  • Anonymity, free speech and the Internet: A Gawker article about a notorious anonymous user on Reddit, “Unmasking Reddit’s Violentacrez, The Biggest Troll on the Web,” set off a wave of discussions about the dynamics and ethics of anonymity and free speech online. Nieman Journalism Lab has a good summary of the discussions that ensued.
  • Political misperceptions: We read an interesting academic paper, “When Corrections Fail: The persistence of political misperceptions,” which looked at the persistence of falsely held political beliefs despite corrections to the contrary. This study “conducted four experiments in which subjects read mock news articles that included either a misleading claim from a politician, or a misleading claim and a correction. Results indicate that corrections frequently fail to reduce misperceptions among the targeted ideological group. We also document several instances of a “backfire effect” in which corrections actually increase misperceptions among the group in question.”
  • The New York Times goes global: The Times announced plans for a Brazilian website edition to launch next year, and other elements of its global expansion plan are already in the works, including the launch of its Chinese edition this past June.
  • And Newsweek goes digital: The venerable news magazine said that as of January 2013, the magazine will be going entirely digital, after “80 years in print.”
  • Reputation loss and crisis: Dr. Leslie Gaines-Ross provides a useful analysis of a recent report, Reputation Review 2012, in her post “The High Cost of Reputation Loss.” The report looks at the dynamic between crisis and a company’s financial performance, and as Dr. Gaines-Ross summarizes, found, “Among 10 crisis-ridden companies in 2011, only News Corp found itself in positive terrain afterwards. In fact, what they found was that 7 of the top 10 lost more than one third of their value. Two companies lost nearly 90% of their value.” The report also looked at the effects of having a reputation recovery process in place, the CEO’s response, and clear and transparent communication on the overall recovery process after a major crisis.
  • Customer beliefs and communication: Shel Holtz’ review of research from The Futures Company and its report, “Global MONITOR 12/13,” should give all corporate communicators something to think about in today’s environment. As Holtz says,  “An overwhelming 86 percent of consumers believe that companies put profits over the interests of their customers’ interests, according to a report on the study. That means any communication or marketing campaign faces a brick wall of skepticism.” Holtz outlines a few approaches for companies to work more effectively to align behavior and communication.
  • Employee law and social media policies: This helpful post, “How to Tell if Your Social Media Policy is Unlawful,” discusses some of the recent decisions by the National Labor Relations Board and how those decisions might affect other companies’ social media policies. “In nearly three-quarters of the cases brought to the National Labor Relations Board, the agency that protects worker’s rights, the Board found 17 out of 23 policies governing the use of social media by employees to be unlawful.”
  • An alternate history of the social web: At The Atlantic, Alexis Madrigal posted a thought-provoking piece about the power of what he calls “dark social” in “Dark Social: We Have the Whole History of the Web Wrong.” He describes “dark social” as platforms like email and instant messaging (which have been around much longer than the big social media platforms), and uses recent data to show that the majority of content sharing occurs through these more difficult to measure outlets versus big social media networks like Facebook and Twitter.
  • Politics, politics, politics: The first presidential debate last week provided lots of good reading fodder:
    • Presidential body language – The New York Times broke down the meaning behind each candidates’ gestures. “After the first televised presidential debate, held between John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon 52 years ago, campaigns have been acutely aware that voters may judge candidates in such encounters as much by their appearance and gestures as by their words.”
    • Fact-checking the debate – There were many fact-checking versions done around the debate, including this one from PolitiFact.
    • PBS and Big Bird – Even if you didn’t watch the debate, you couldn’t escape the discussion around the mention of PBS and Big Bird. PBS’ official response statement is a useful example of organizational communication in a heated national context.
    • Record-setting night for Twitter – With more than 10 million tweets, the debate last week was “the most tweeted-about event in U.S. politics.”
    • Errant KitchenAid tweet – By now we’ve seen a number of examples of errant tweets being sent from corporate accounts, but the latest was KitchenAid’s errant tweet during last week’s debate.
    • Campaigns and social media – This year’s presidential campaigns are going beyond the groundwork set in 2008 and trying a wide variety of social media strategies and tactics to reach and engage voters (particularly younger ones).
  • Civility and politics in America: Not specifically tied to the debate, but Weber Shandwick released its third annual survey, “Civility in America.” Among other things, the survey found that “83% [of people surveyed] say a candidate’s tone or level of civility will be an important factor in the 2012 presidential election,” and “63% believe we have a major civility problem in America.”
  • FTC Green Guides: The FTC issued the final version of its “Green Guides,” which aims to bring more accountability and clarity to environmental claims in advertising. The FTC’s summary is a helpful synopsis.
  • Facebook hits one billion: Facebook passed the one billion user mark last week and released its first television ad.
  • Social media and customer service: New research from the forthcoming “The Social Habit” report found that “42 Percent of Consumers Complaining in Social Media Expect 60 Minute Response Time.”  (Also, a majority expect the same response time on nights and weekends.) These kinds of customer expectations have concrete implications for companies managing customer service issues through social media.
  • Geography and news consumption: A new Pew study looked at how geography impacts people’s news consumption habits, and a good post on Nieman Journalism Lab breaks down the findings. The study looked at the differences between urban, suburban, small town and rural residents, and looked at what types of topics people were interested in and what sources they turn to for news.
  • CEOs and Twitter: The Wall Street Journal had a much-discussed piece last week on CEOs fear of Twitter and a few notable executives who have embraced it so far. While some CEOs have taken the plunge, “Seven in 10 Fortune 500 CEOs have no presence on major social media networks such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Google+, according to a recent report by and analytics company Domo.”
  • Company culture and social media: An excellent post from Shel Holtz on the challenges of not only implementing social media but truly adopting it across large businesses. As he says, “All the technologies in the world won’t make an organization social, nor will strategic plans for implementing those technologies, if the culture won’t support it.”
  • Apple apology: Apple issued a rare apology last week for problems with its new Maps function, unveiled recently in the new iPhone and operating system.
  • Media and quote approvals: There’s been an intriguing series of discussions in the New York Times (and Vanity Fair and elsewhere) about the practice of allowing interview subjects to review quotes due to be used in articles prior to print. The Times covered this aspect of political reporting back in July; David Carr explored it more recently in “The Puppetry of Quotation Approval” and in a follow-up article asking participants in the process to weigh in; and then finally on Sept. 20th, the Times issued a new policy that “forbids after-the-fact quote approval.” From our experience, this is a practice that has become somewhat common in the world of financial and business reporting as well (not just relegated to politics), and it will be interesting to see the effects of the Times’ new policy, if any.
  • Distrust in media: A new Gallup poll found that “Americans’ distrust in the media hit a new high this year, with 60% saying they have little or no trust in the mass media to report the news fully, accurately, and fairly. Distrust is up from the past few years, when Americans were already more negative about the media than they had been in years prior to 2004.” As Gallup points out, this lack of trust has particular implications during an election year. (via Romenesko)
  • Fortune 500 and social media: The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth’s Center for Marketing Research issued its latest report on the use of social media by the Fortune 500, which it’s done every year since 2008. Adoption and range of use continues to grow in this group, and the annual study provides a good comprehensive look at global business adoption of social media.
  • New Pew Internet research: The Pew Internet and American Life Project issued two recent reports of interest, one on smartphone ownership in the United States (they found that “45% of American adults own smartphones”), and one on “Photos and Videos as Social Currency Online.”
  • Cultural critique, Gangnam-style: It’s almost impossible to escape the Internet meme of the late summer/early fall – Gangnam Style, a music video by the South Korean artist Psy that’s overtaken the U.S. and much of the world. But The Atlantic provided one of the more interesting cultural insights into the video in the article “Gangnam Style, Dissected: The Subversive Message Within South Korea’s Music Video Sensation.”


One of the joys of launching a book is that you never know who will read it and where.

The Power of Communication launched in May. The publisher, the FT Press imprint of Pearson, is global and the book got broad distribution.  But because it was launched in the US in English, I focused most of my attention on the US and in countries where I’ve recently done teaching or have clients (China, Switzerland, Italy etc.).

So imagine my delight and surprise when in early August I received an e-mail from a graduate student in Chile who had been assigned to read the book.

Fernando Godoy is an industrial engineer in Santiago, studying in the Global MBA program of the Universidad de Chile.  In his Business Management course students are assigned a number of books, and each week a group of students presents a book to the rest of the class.  Fernando and his colleagues Natalia Ruz and Christian Aravena had been assigned The Power of Communication, and they took the initiative to reach out to the author for resources.  They had done their homework.  They had seen the companion video.  They had read the book.  And asked whether I had any visuals I could share.  They also asked if I could do a short video introduction.


So I did.  I sent slides and illustrations, and recorded a video greeting.  As it happens, and unbeknownst to Fernando and his team, I have a Chilean connection.  Although born in Brazil and a native speaker of Portuguese, my grandfather was raised in Chile – in fact, my last name is Chilean – and my Spanish is passable.

Fernando, Christian, and Natalia presented to their class, and told me that the students were surprised to hear the video greeting in Spanish.  They say they had a very good response and lots of interaction.

As part of their global MBA Fernando and his colleagues will be traveling the world this year, studying in the US, Britain, Australia.  It’s a very small world.  I look forward to connecting with them when they’re up north.



Tonight I’ll be heading to Lima, Peru, to speak next week at the International Public Relations Association (IPRA) annual meeting and concurrent Latin American Congress.

I’ll be speaking Wednesday, September 19 on The Power of Communication in a Crisis.  I’ll blog and tweet (@garciahf) about that from there.  I’m looking forward to spending time with a number of folks from the States whom I know directly or by reputation.  But mostly I’m looking forward to spending time with folks from elsewhere, expanding the community of the book to a broader audience, even as my publisher begins the process of securing translations into other languages.

Stand by for updates from Lima.



(In Latin America, I go by my first name, Helio…)