Book Review: Born2Lead

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What do the little engine that could, insurance executives, and a Boy Scout Scoutmaster have in common? They all play into the prose of the book, “Born2Lead”, by Michael Koscielny, Jr.

Mike is a “retired” insurance executive. That might be a stretch since he retired to start his own company, write two books, teach insurance classes, become the president of SITE (Society of Insurance Trainers and Educators), and represent the college where he earned his MBA. Whatever you would call this act of Mike’s life, you have to call him an author. I’ve had his book sitting on my desk for too long, but since I finished it, I thought I would share my thoughts about it.

In full transparency, Mike is also an instructor with the Academy of Insurance and he will be teaching a session based on his book on June 27. You can register for that class here. I also consider him a mentor and friend. I believe that I’m giving his book a fair review, but I also must be open about our connection.

There is no shortage of leadership books available. Just search your favorite bookstore (online or in-person) and you’ll find more leadership books than you can handle, but you won’t find any that are more personal and relatable than this one. Mike tells us his life story, from his immigrant grandfather to his own failures and mistakes to the people who helped him get where he is today.

13 stories, 13 principles

Through the book, you will meet several people from Mike’s life, including the aforementioned grandfather, his father, a grade school teacher, and more. Each person taught Mike a life lesson that helped guide him for years to come.

One story that resonated with me had to do with sneaking a radio into school so that he could hear a World Series game for his beloved Cubs (we don’t hold that against him, though). The lesson he learned there was about taking responsibility and being responsible for his actions.

Born to be a leader or not

His basic premise is that leadership is a combined effort of the personality traits that a person is born with and begins to exhibit early in life and the training and development of certain talents and skills along the way. No one is a natural-born leader and anyone who wants to can be a leader.

I agree. I’ve seen too many people who didn’t seem to be natural-born leaders rise to their calling and become leaders who inspire others to action. I’ve also seen those who appear to be natural-born leaders fall apart under the hard circumstances that leaders can deal with. Leadership is like any skill that can be learned.

It’s worth the read

In the end, I would recommend this book to anyone in and out of the insurance industry. It’s not just an insurance people book, although, if you’re an insurance professional, I would recommend that you support one of our own. It’s an easy read and anyone who can set aside 10-15 minutes a day can finish it in a couple of weeks. If you’re a dedicated reader, you can probably finish it in an afternoon.

It’s a relatable read about a person who made mistakes but learned from them. He worked hard and made sacrifices, sometimes the wrong ones. In the end, he learned that leadership is simple and it’s really hard work. You can find some more of my notes on LinkedIn.

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