Friday, May 12, 2006

Book Review: "Dino Rossi"

This book consists of a helpful concept where the author provides personal antidotes and lessons learned from past experiences followed by application of these experiences to practical advice. While many of this advice falls into generalities and does not presume to be offered with empirical evidence of scientific study, the conclusions are indeed good and useful. Overall, readers will benefit from the advice and will see examples of how the advice has been implemented in successful manners.

Dino Rossi calls for leaders who have consistent principles and values yet are flexible enough to adapt to changes while remaining strong enough to lead others. Not all followers will agree with their leader, but a good leader commands their respect and enables other to work together agreed upon goals. As the author noted, he explained the situation in a campaign speech by stating “we aren’t going to agree with 100% of the time. But, hey, I bet you don’t agree with your own spouse 100% of the time, and I’m not asking you to marry me.”

As a State Senator, the author worked on issues such as alleviate traffic congestion, a growing problem in Washington and passing the nation’s first mandatory ignition interlocking law for drivers convicted of DUIs. In preparing to tackle such issues, he advises that the fear of not finding a solution should never stop one from taking action and seeking answers. Paralysis can lead to failure. Fearing that advocacy on an issue will lead to defeat should not be the reason to give up, as success only comes if one tries and works towards one’s goals.

The author’s daughter learned not to give up when faced with seemingly impossible obstacles. Dino Rossi thought he could stop his daughter’s desire to get a dog by telling her the only way he would get a dog would be if President Bush told him to get her a dog. His daughter wrote President Bush, who then took time from his search for Bin Laden to write Senator Rossi to tell him his daughter should have a dog.

Politics means making opponents and often enemies. Still, the author advises to avoid disliking an opponent. It is better to forget about past conflicts and concentrate on moving forward on new, existing issues. Often, past enemies can become allies or adversaries with whom one may negotiate and find workable compromises. He tells of a sign on the wall in a Washington Caucus room that reads “We don’t attack people, we attack ideas. We attack ideas with better ideas.”

Dino Rossi chose to be an effective legislator upon his election to the State Senate by going to the committee chairs of the three committees to which he was appointed. He asked ask chair: “I want to help you be the best chairman you can possibly be. How can I help you accomplish that?” That turned out to be the correct way for a freshman Senator to win the admiration of the more senior Senators. Among Senator Rossi’s subsequent legislative victories included passing a “two strikes, you’re out” bill that provided for life imprisonment for twice convicted child molesters and rapists.

Dino Rossi rose to be Senate Ways and Means Committee Chairman. As others helped him before, Senator Rossi saw to it that he assisted newer Senators in their careers. As a leader, the author recommends setting the parameters and goals of your service and following and sticking to your intentions.

Much of the book contains partisan arguments for positions and actions taken by the author as a Republican politician in a state with Democratic Governors. Your prior view of these issues will determine if you like what he has to say on partisan issues. Still, as a general guide on leadership advice, this is a decent book with application to life, business, and politics.


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