August 13, 2010

Jack Covert Selects: Jack Covert Selects - The Man Who Sold America

By: Dylan Schleicher @ 2:00 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

The Man Who Sold America: The Amazing (But True!) Story of Albert D. Lasker and the Creation of the Advertising Century by Jeffrey L. Cruikshank & Arthur W. Schultz, Harvard Business School Press, 435 pages, $27.95, Hardcover, August 2010, ISBN 9781591393085

The provocative and fiercely competitive ad world portrayed in the Emmy-winning television series Mad Men has captivated critics and viewers alike. Mad Men offers viewers a nostalgic (but not idyllic) look back at a time when advertising and business was unchartered territory. Jeffrey L. Cruikshank and Arthur W. Schultz have written an equally engrossing book about a real-life Don Draper, The Man Who Sold America: The Amazing (But True!) Story of Albert D. Lasker and the Creation of the Advertising Century. Without hyperbole, it can be said Lasker near-single-handedly built the advertising industry.

From Lasker’s early days of working in newspapers and his nervous breakdowns to his outspoken personality, alcohol abuse, political work, and reimagination of advertising (and making millions in the process), The Man Who Sold America has everything you’d expect in a sexy, glamorous TV show, but offers even more.

Through the book, we learn, alongside Lasker, what advertising is. An early meeting with John E. Kennedy revealed to Lasker that advertising is “Salesmanship in print.” Lasker put this philosophy to use, creating “reason-why” advertising, pursuing untouched industries like women’s sanitary products and revolutionizing cigarette sales which put him at the very top of the advertising game for many years—but not without a price. Along the way, he faced many challenges and intense failures, but Lasker persevered in the face of all adversity.

The Man Who Sold America is an interesting look at business through the brutally honest and turmoil-filled story of a man who had no interest of getting involved in the very industry he made millions in. Part biography and part inspiration (maybe success does indeed exist in the places we least expect it), The Man Who Sold America is about a man who relied on the power of ideas. Regardless of what industry you’re in, reading this book makes you realize how ideas can change everything.

About Dylan Schleicher

Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.