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Connecting the Dots: Lessons for Leadership in a Startup World

October 08, 2018


The leadership philosophy of John Chambers helped transform Cisco from an industry player into an international technology juggernaut, and he has become one of the world's most influential business leaders along the way.

“Great leaders are distinguished by the ability to move their society or company from where it is to where it has never been. They act on the basis of a set of core principles, both intangible and inspirational. John Chambers, an accomplished executive in his own right, distills those principles in Connecting the Dots with elegance and common sense.”
—Henry Kissinger, Former U.S. Secretary of State

“I watched John Chambers lead Cisco through massive tech disruptions, countless economic cycles, and scores of acquisitions that killed many of his competitors. This is a compelling story of effective leadership through good times and bad, filled with smart lessons about innovation, team building, and managing creativity. An important and relevant read—I highly recommend it.”
— Jack Welch, founder of the Jack Welch Management Institute and former CEO of General Electric

“If you want to learn from a master of Silicon Valley, then look no further than John Chambers. What he teaches the world's best tech startups today is captured in Connecting the Dots.”
—Marc Andreessen, General Partner, Andreessen Horowitz

“I've always known John Chambers to be wise, and credit him for the business ideas that helped Oracle be successful. With the brilliant insights found in Connecting the Dots, I learned even more that I plan to use. Whether it's how to learn from difficult setbacks, find your courage as a leader, focus on the customer, and so much else, this is a must-read for any business person. A very personal and incredibly engaging book!”
—Safran Catz, CEO, Oracle

“Over the years, I've seen John Chambers achieve the virtually impossible, and all by following his blueprint, which he finally reveals in Connecting the Dots. He has done us all a service by making it available, and the smartest thing you could do for yourself and your company is to make it your bible.”
—Meg Whitman, former President and Chief Executive Officer, Hewlett Packard Enterprise

Former Cisco CEO and Legendary Silicon Valley visionary John Chambers shares his playbook and philosophy that transformed Cisco into a global tech titan and is now poised to inspire a new generation of leaders. Considered a tech visionary and one of the world’s greatest business leaders, John Chambers turned Cisco into a massive global company. In Connecting the Dots: Lessons for Leadership in a Startup World (released September 25, 2018 by Hachette Books) Chambers shares his simple yet profound approach to leadership—one that made him a trusted advisor to everyone from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Duke University's Mike "Coach K" Krzyzewski to tech pioneers like Box CEO Aaron Levie and venture capitalist John Doerr.

When Chambers joined Cisco in 1991, it was a company with 400 employees and one toaster-sized product (a router)—and $1.2 billion in revenue. When he left 20 years later, he’d turned it into a multinational tech conglomerate with revenues of $47 billion, and a leader in areas from cybersecurity to self-driving cars—and a backbone of the Internet. Along the way, he outlasted and outmaneuvered practically every rival that ever tried to take Cisco on—Nortel, Lucent, Alcatel, IBM, Dell, and Hewlett-Packard, to name a few—and turned more than 10,000 employees into millionaires, more than any company in history. His stellar track record is studied at business schools worldwide.

Connecting the Dots distills Chambers' philosophy for reinventing himself and his company into a book that will inspire leaders of any size enterprise, in any industry, for years to come. Using stories from his childhood in West Virginia and insights from his career, Chambers will share his playbook for how to build a business that dominates. Today Chambers, who has been listed among the “World’s Best CEOs” by Barron’s and named one of Time magazine’s “100 Most Influential People,” has adapted his lessons to help transform government, becoming a trusted advisor to global leaders like French President Emmanuel Macron and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to create new models for growth. He’s also coaching and investing in the leaders of a number of game-changing startups through JC2 Ventures, a purpose-driven venture firm committed to developing startup companies, startup nations, and a startup world. In the digital era, companies can go from zero, to a billion, to bankruptcy in a matter of years. The winners won’t be the biggest or richest players, but the ones who can connect the dots—in any size enterprise and in any industry.



John Chambers, former Executive Chairman and CEO at Cisco, served as the company's global leader for more than two decades. He has worked closely with government leaders from around the world, serving on committees for two U.S. presidents and earning the first-ever Clinton Global Citizen Award as well as the Woodrow Wilson Award for Corporate Citizenship. He is also the founder and CEO of JC2 Ventures, where he helps disruptive startups to scale and lead market transitions. A visionary in technology, he has received numerous awards and accolades for his leadership. In 2016, he received the Edison Achievement Award, the world's leading innovation award. A year earlier, Harvard Business Review named Chambers one of the best-performing CEOs in the world. He was also named "Best Boss in America" by 20/20, and has received several awards for his leadership in philanthropy and social responsibility. He remains a high-profile leader and coveted speaker on the global stage. 

Diane Brady is an award-winning journalist and consultant who has covered the global business landscape for Bloomberg Businessweek, The Wall Street Journal, and other media outlets. Her previous book, Fraternity, was named one of Amazon's best books of 2012.

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