Book Review: One Piece of Paper by Mike Figliuolo Part One



The Simple Approach To Powerful, Personal Leadership


By Mike Figliuolo

It is so exciting for leadership development junkies like me to pick up a new book and instantly know how you can apply it!  That is what happened to me when I bought this book on  I tend to be the type of reader that will jump to the back and see what treasures are in the appendix then when/if I find them, I will read more.  Well that is what happened to me.

Mike is an impressive guy that I connected with through networking in 2008 when I started The Ermi Group.  A West Point honors grad, former professor, consultant and executive, Mike founded thoughtLEADERS, LLC. He lives in Ohio and I was able to meet him face-to-face at that time during a visit to Cincinnati, and he really took me under his wing. He is a generous mentor and has helped me in countless ways.

Mike describes his book by saying,"Imagine explaining your leadership philosophy on one piece of paper – a simple 8.5” x 11” summation of all you are and all you want to be as a leader. How powerful would it be to have a discussion about that single page with the members of your team? But that’s impossible. Or is it? This book will help you do exactly that."

I am a pragmatic leader and I also have an affinity toward efficiency, so when I heard about this concept I just had to get it!

Here is a high level overview of what you will find in this gem, and a couple of my own examples as I reflect on my own leadership maxims.

The Leadership Maxims Approach

“One piece of paper will guide you through a simple approach for creating, articulating, and living your personal philosophy-one that can be shared on a single piece of paper.” Mike's maxims are simple catch phrases, stories, events that happened to him that keep him honest with himself in terms of what is important to him.  And Mike's maxim that moved me the most is "He drinks 7-up."

I tell it all the time to my coaching clients.  It was simple, and powerful.  In short, when Mike was an arms officer in the US Army, one of his junior soldiers was having some performance issues.  A 'problem child." Apathetic, no pride of ownership in his work, sort of disheveled and showed up late, no regard for authority.  One day on a break, they were playing cards and one of his troops went to get some sodas.  Mike gave him a list with the name of the person and the type of soda to get.  "Two Pepsi's, a Dr. Pepper, three Sprites and one 7UP."  When the sodas were distributed the problem child received a 7UP and said, "How do you know I like 7UP?"  Mike responded that he knew a lot of things about him and went about his day.  The next day the problem child showed up on time, completed his work and actually exceeded some duties.  Mike asked him what happened to change his behavior and he responded, "Well, sir, yesterday when you got me a 7UP, I realized I wasn't some random private in a platoon to you.  That's the first time in a long time someone showed me I matter.  Thanks for doing that for me. I figure if you care about me then I should probably care about the work I do for you."  I LOVE THIS STORY!  Just as simple as "He drinks 7UP."

Creating your Maxims

    • Maxims by definition is a principle or rule of conduct. (p. 7)


    • The best type of maxims is the short and direct ones that come from the heart and your own personal experiences.


    • “The maxims approach requires you to share your life experiences with others, which can be very difficult.” (p. 10)

The Benefits Of The Leadership Maxims Approach (p.12)

    1. First, your maxims will help you set aspirational goals to be a better leader and to continue your personal and professional growth.


    1. Second, your maxims will set expectations for your team members for how you want them to behave.


    1. Third, your maxims will help you and your team members make better decisions more rapidly, because you will have an established set of principles for how you want to behave as a leader and how you want them to behave as members of your team.

QUOTE:  “Your team does not follow you and respect you because of your title.  They follow and respect you because of the person you are.” (p.18)


    • Why do you get out of bed every day?  Find your motivation, because most people get out of bed each day for personal growth.


    • Simply write down words, phrases, or images that come to mind as you consider these questions. 
      What are MY leadership maxims:

        1.  Why do you get out of bed each day? To use the gifts God gave me to the best of my ability; provide for my family; be a catalyst for change; have some fun and enjoy waking up!

        1.  How will you shape your future? Get it done! Be curious. Everything happens for a reason.

        1.  What guidelines do you live by? Gotta have faith.

        1. When you fall down, how do you pick yourself up? Daddy. Resilience.

        1. How do you hold yourself accountable? If I tell everyone about it, then I HAVE to do it!

Stay tuned for the rest of the book review in a future post!

Recent comment in this post
Guest — Holly Williams
Cannot believe that I picked up this book from a pile on my desk and started reading it today! You gave me my copy about 3 months... Read More
Monday, 26 March 2012 23:36
  3642 Hits
  1 Comment


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