Autobiography = Personal and Professional Development

David Pottruck, the former CEO of Charles Schwab, was celebrated for his leadership and powerful effect on the company’s culture (despite being tumped out on his rear end after the dot-com crash). But he wasn’t a successful leader right out of the gates. An early company review found him, according to, “tone deaf to the nuances of building trust, modeling sensitivity, and constructing interdependence,” according  His leadership education came from management coach Terry Pearce, and it started with the writing of his own autobiography.

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Pottruck decided he needed to rethink his assumptions about leadership—a management makeover, if you will. He hired Terry Pearce, a former IBM executive turned management coach and communications consultant to executives. Pearce offered to guide Pottruck through a complete reexamination of what Pot-truck knew about leadership, competition, and every other aspect of dealing with people. Pearce started by asking Pottruck to write an autobiography. Pottruck delivered more than 300 pages. “Terry said he wanted to learn the ‘defining moments’ of my life, to help him discover my values,” Pottruck recalls. What Pearce wanted, of course, were the stories that we all tell about ourselves and use as an excuse to limit our possibilities.

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