Title: Happiness: Elizabeth I CEO

Date Completed: 3/3/2010

Author(s): Alan Axelrod

Copyright: 2000, Prentence Hall Company

# pages: 261

Genre: Self Improvement/Leadership

ISBN: 0-7352-0357-1

I’ll start by saying that I am both a business geek and a history geek so I’m coming at this with a bias.  I really enjoyed this book.  So much so that I think it should be required reading for any high school or college business course.  But, you don’t have to be in business to get something from this book.

First of all, it is possibly the best summary of the English history during Elizabeth’s reign that I’ve come across.  The first 21 pages are a quick recap of the events leading up to Elizabeth’s coronation, and the major milestones during her long reign.  I’ve always had trouble keeping track of the Henry’s, Mary’s, and Catherine’s.  Get the book just for this summary.  I’m pretty sure you will read the rest, but if you don’t you won’t have wasted your time or money.

Second, I think there is a lesson to be learned from someone who’s father had her mother beheaded, half-sister had her thrown in jail, and still led the country without a grudge, or a feeling that she was owed something.  How many of us could leave that baggage behind and accomplish the amazing things she did?

Finally, you don’t have to be in business to be a leader.  The leadership lessons in this book are applicable to all areas of life.  Axelrod uses examples from events in Elizabeth’s life to demonstrate the lesson to be learned.  One of my favorites is regarding the English defeat of the Spanish Armada.  This is possibly the most famous clash with the Spanish – because it makes for good movies.  However, there were lots of other ways that Elizabeth got at the Spanish.  She knew she couldn’t take them on in an all-out war because England didn’t have a full army.  But, she did have the ability to hit them in small ways.  For example, she funded Sir Francis Drake to raid Spanish ships and takes resources that hurt them strategically.  He raided as a privateer, basically a pirate, not as an official representative of England.  The leadership lesson is that it isn’t always necessary to go all-in when you need to accomplish something.  If you don’t have the resources, you might be able to hit strategically and still accomplish your goal.  Well, I don’t say it as eloquently as Axelrod, but that’s why he is a published author and I’m not.

One more thing…did you know that Virginia is named for Queen Elizabeth?  Me neither.  Virginia – for the Virgin Queen.  Ok, maybe she felt she was owed a little something.