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Justin Bookey
Ping Pong Leadership
Leadership Through a Unique Lens: Ping Pong Tens of millions of people worldwide enjoy ping pong on some level. In the 1970s, the leaders of the US and China famously used friendly table tennis matches as a first step in thawing decades of icy relations—an effort dubbed Ping Pong Diplomacy. Ping Pong Leadership takes the next step. It shows leaders of all types how to envision and create meaningful change, from small business to the Fortune 500 and broader communities. Coupled with exclusive insights from leading thinkers in commerce, culture, and technology, you will learn lessons from the world’s most-played sport distilled into 18 actionable and unforgettable “Pong Principles.” For leaders, entrepreneurs, and competitors of all kinds, Ping Pong Leadership is a powerful guide to success at any table.
In this spirited self-help debut, Bookey uses his passion for ping pong to draw life tips from the sport. “There are many lessons to be learned in this uniquely universal game” he writes, sharing 18 “Pong Principles” to cultivate success personally and professionally. Each chapter takes a fundamental truth from the game—ranging from defining a coach’s role to prepping for a match—and correlates it with business skills, followed by an in-depth portrait of accomplished leaders from a mix of industries and reflective prompts to help readers apply the covered skills.

Bookey’s advice is every bit as sharp and precise as table tennis itself, and he includes a variety of helpful pointers, such as how to establish a solid starting position, why a one-size-fits-all approach to business can fall short of the mark, and the importance of keeping things simple: “sometimes… a surprisingly mundane and easy move will yield the best results” he counsels. Observing that “leadership is easy to learn but hard to master,” Bookey offers several enterprising examples, covering business tycoons and sports all-stars alike, including GoDaddy’s Aman Bhutani, American mountain climber Alison Levine, and world-famous poker player Annie Duke.

Decrying those “laundry list[s] of tactics” that often fall flat in the real world, Bookey vows instead to wow readers with his carefully constructed principles, offering a good measure of fun to make the guidance stick, as in his “quick hit” sections that detail entertaining snippets of sports and business-related history lessons to drive the points home. Though not required, a love of the game will come in handy here as Bookey builds on the basic concepts that make table tennis so popular. He includes resources for further study, closing with a rundown of “key table tennis rules,” and urges readers to recognize that, “whatever table you’re playing at,” success is just a point or two away.

Takeaway: Lively guide to leadership skills through the surprising perspective of ping pong.

Comparable Titles: Nancy Lieberman's Playbook for Success, Tom Young's The Making of a Leader.

Production grades
Cover: B+
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A