New Releases

What Made Me Who I Am

September 08, 2016


In his new book, Bernie Swain captures the transformational stories of a generation of leaders he's come to know while representing them at the Washington Speakers Bureau.

Starting a business is a wonderfully naïve venture.  Only a fortunate few will survive—and very few of those will have something special to say about failure, success, and leadership.

Bernie Swain is one of those very fortunate people.  With no experience or plan, he quit his job in 1980 to join his wife Paula and friend Harry Rhoads to start a lecture agency. Today, the Washington Speakers Bureau (WSB) is the largest and most respected speakers bureau in the world.

In Swain’s new book, Who Made Me What I Am, Swain captures the transformations of an eclectic and productive group—34 leaders he became friends with thanks to representing them as speakers over the years.

From Doris Kearns Goodwin to Colin Powell, Terry Bradshaw to Tom Brokaw, and Tony Blair to Dave Barry, this assembly of people defines a generation. The book provides rarely-heard personal stories about what’s motivated them to become the leaders they are today.  You’ll learn about their: 

  • Powerful influences
  • Defining moments
  • Decisions that contributed the most to their character, their success, and their accomplishments

While most of those profiled are over the age of 50, many of their turning points occurred in their 20s or even younger. All generations—from those starting out in life today to those looking back on a life well spent—will be inspired and empowered by the people Swain profiles because these exceptional leaders have volumes to teach us all.

The Leaders of Who Made Me What I Am:

Madeleine Albright – Secretary of State
Dave Barry – Pulitzer Prize winning author
Tony Blair - Prime Minister of United Kingdom.
Terry Bradshaw - Four-time Super Bowl Champion
Tom Brokaw – Journalist and best-selling author
Ben Carson – Renown American neurosurgeon
James Carville – Political strategist and commentator
Debbie Fields – Founder of Mrs. Fields Bakeries
Bob Gates – Secretary of Defence, Director of CIA
Barry Gibbons – Chairman/CEO of Burger King
Rudy Giuliani – Mayor of New York
Sal Giunta – Recipient of Medal of Honor
Doris Kearns Goodwin – American historian
Alan Greenspan – Chairman of the Federal Reserve
Lou Holtz – Legendary college football coach
Mort Kondracke – American journalist and author
Ted Koppel – American broadcast journalist
Mike Krzyzewski – Duke and Olympic basketball coach
Stew Leonard – President/CEO of Stew Leonards
Mary Matalin – American political consultant
Chris Matthews – American political talk show host
George Mitchell – U.S. Senator and businessman
Liz Murray – Homeless teenager in New York
Scott O’Grady – Air Force fighter pilot
Colin Powell – Secretary of State
Robert Reich – Secretary of Labor and author
Mary Lou Retton – Olympic Champion
Condeleezza Rice – Secretary of State
Willard Scott – NBC Today weatherman
Tom Sullivan – Blind entertainer, actor and author
Peter Ueberroth – Commissioner of Baseball
Judy Woodruff – American television news anchor
Lee Woodward – New York Times best-selling author
Bob Woodward – Investigative journalist and author


Washington DC-based BERNIE SWAIN is co-founder of Washington Speakers Bureau and today’s foremost authority on the lecture industry. Over the past 35 years, Swain has represented former US Presidents, cabinet members, business executives, public figures, media leaders, and sports legends. For more, visit

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