Summary of Confessions of an Accidental Businessman

It Takes a Lifetime to Find Wisdom

Berrett-Koehler, more...

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Confessions of an Accidental Businessman book summary
Take James A. Autry, a newsboy from humble beginnings, add ambition, stir in knowledge and let season in the high ranks of journalism management: result, heaps of managerial wisdom and some pretty good storytelling.


7 Overall

6 Applicability

7 Innovation

9 Style


Rarely does a book live up to the glowing blurbs on its front and back covers. This one does. James A. Autry, former president of Meredith Corp.’s Magazine Group (home of Better Homes & Gardens, among others) has written a searingly honest, heartfelt, often amusing autobiography with plenty of insights into the business of journalism, business in general, corporate culture and what it takes to be a manager and a leader. Between chapters, Autry includes many of his poems (he’s had two poetry books published). Many chapters include management advice from the wisdom that he’s accumulated. His counsel rises above most of what you read in popular management and how-to books, and his writing style is lively, as one would expect from a former journalist and editor. getAbstract recommends this book to readers in all business areas and to anyone who wants an inside glimpse of the magazine industry, or of the real workings of high-level management.

In this summary, you will learn

  • What magazine mogul James A. Autry learned about leadership;
  • Why argyle socks are the least of your management problems; and
  • Why human connections are vital.


From Newspaper Boy to Corporate Executive
James A. Autry was not born to privilege - his father left the family when Autry was only six and his mother struggled through a series of low-paying clerical jobs, among the few opportunities for women at the time. As a result of this background...
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About the Author

James A. Autry is an author, poet and consultant. Before taking early retirement in 1991 to pursue his present career, Autry was president of Meredith Corp.’s Magazine Group, a $500 million operation with more than 900 employees. During his 32-year career, Autry served as a daily newspaper reporter, editor and publisher of a city magazine, editor of one of the country’s largest magazines, and vice president and editor-in-chief of all books and magazines at Meredith Corp. He is the author of Love and Profit and Life and Work , as well as two collections of poetry.

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