You would think that a book sporting the subtitle How Successful People Do It—And What We Can Learn From Them is about being hideously successful and how to get there. But at the book party for What Makes You Tick? Wednesday Night at the Condé Nast Building, co-author Michael Berland made sure to note—repeatedly—that it is, in fact, not that sort of thing.
“This [book] is not a prescription,” Mr. Berland told The Observer at the intimate gathering in the magazine company’s futuristic Executive Dining Room. “It’s not a how-to-be-successful. That’s such a B.S. concept of how can you be successful; there is no formula.”
Instead, the book, written by Mr. Berland and fellow strategic adviser Douglas Schoen, gathers some of their most prestigious clientele, who shared their stories, and then looked for a common denominators and dividing them up in five archetypes. “We’re pollsters,” Mr. Berland explained.
“The theme through all of these stories is that early on in their career they were introspective of what they were good at and what they found satisfying and leverage their strength.”
Among those featured in the book are Forbes Magazine publisher Steve Forbes; NBC Universal’s president and CEO, Jeff Zucker; Richard Holbrooke, the U.S. Special Envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan; Playboy CEO Christie Heffner; and model–turned–reality TV hostess Heidi Klum. Also included, Condé Nast group president David Carey, who was played host of the party.
If there is one thing Mr. Carey had achieved, it was filling the room with these highly successful people—and getting them to wear name tags. So without any PR assistance, a reporter was able to spot Niche Media’s Jason Binn chatting to Mont Blanc’s Jan-Patrick Schmitz, Parade magazine editor Janice Kaplan being captivated by Yale University’s CFO Gwendolyn Sykes and Gary Bettman, the NHL’s commissioner, just by furtively glancing at their lapels.
“I’m in the do-gooder category,” Ms. Sykes told The Observer. “I think they categorized me quite well, what do you think?” The former NASA CFO, however, claims she was not introspective from an early age. “I can’t honestly say that I was,” she mused.
“As a wee lass, I wanted to be an attorney, a lawyer, I wrote my grandmother notes about it. I’m as far away from an attorney you can get!”
“I don’t introspect a lot,” said Mr. Bettman. “Michael’s view of the world, that it’s all about introspection—I think that was really his conclusion after doing the interview.”
The archetypes, however, proved to be spot-on in some cases.
“I think [the book] is actually not about the people in it,” said Mr. Schmitz. “I think the country’s looking for leadership, and that’s what the book talks about, ’cause leadership is not a single, one-fits-all formula, and leaders come with very different skills that they have, so there are examples that are needed to lead, and that’s what I think the book is all about.”
Mr. Schmitz was asked which archetype he saw himself in. “A natural-born leader,” he said with a smile.