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Lee Callaway
Chuck Harwood

Chuck Harwood, Portola Valley, CA

Chuck Harwood is a man on a mission. He wants to make everyone a success in his or her job. Granted, that sounds like a daunting challenge, but Chuck is so determined that he spends a good part of his retirement years not swinging in a hammock, but evangelizing how every person can achieve success — whether you are a waiter, a graphic artist, chairman of the board of a large corporation, a sales person, or chief technologist of a startup.

Over the years, Chuck has gone through several transitions. At one time he was a top business executive, then he started a company that teaches others how to make quality improvement an integral part of their business. Now he’s become an author, writing books on how to become -- and stay — successful.

After graduating from Harvard College and the Harvard Business School, Chuck worked his way up to general manager and corporate vice president of two product divisions of Corning, Inc. In 1970 he became Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Signetics, a Corning subsidiary and, at that time, one of the largest integrated-circuit manufacturers in the world.

Sales grew from $35 million to $720 million during his years at Signetics. In 1975 Philips Electronics acquired Signetics, and Chuck remained as president and CEO for another 10 years. He then co-founded the Quality Improvement Company, serving as both co-general manager and consultant to clients until his retirement in 1994.

Writing and helping non-profits

These days Chuck devotes his time to writing and pro bono consulting for several non-profit organizations. Chuck first wrote "Kick Down the Door of Complacency: Seize the Power of Continuous Improvement" as well as two instruction manuals for it. This year he published a compact little guide to on-the-job success called “It’s Your Job: Take Charge of It.”

So what makes Chuck excited to get out of bed every morning? Here’s his story in his own words:

“Years ago, Jack Hanigan, a Corning, Inc. vice-president, told a young group of us newly hired people, ‘It’s not your supervisor’s job to persuade you that you are capable and deserve more money or a promotion or both. It’s your job to persuade your boss you are capable.’ Those words really stuck with me. And, eventually, when I had the time, I wrote a book to teach people how to take charge of their jobs and become successful.

A simple way to success

“I discovered a simple, direct, very easy and effective way for any person, at any level, in any job, in any organization to become and stay successful.

“Here’s how it works:  There are five parts to every job: KNOWING, DECIDING, ASSIGNING, INFLUENCING and COPING. Every person, from time to time, needs to ask himself or herself these five questions:

  • How am I doing on Knowing everything concerning my job?
  • How am I doing on making good, timely Decisions?
  • How am I doing on Assigning tasks and being part of assigned tasks?
  • How am I doing on Influencing others and accepting influence?
  • How am I doing on Coping with people and situations I cannot change?

A never-ending process

“The answers to these five questions lead people to learn more about their jobs and to change what they are doing—to add to or improve what they are doing.

“This process can go on forever and ever because no job is static. We all have ever-changing jobs, in ever-changing organizations, in an ever-changing world.

“My book, ‘It’s Your Job: Take Charge of It’ includes 16 stories of famous and not-so-famous people doing one or more of the five parts of working well. Rosa Parks, a tailor's assistant, made one simple decision that sparked the Civil Rights Movement in America. Herb Brooks, a hockey coach, made hundreds of small, but very important decisions that gave us one of the greatest victories in sports history. And General Dwight Eisenhower was charged with one of the most important decisions ever made in the free world—the decision to proceed with the D-Day landing in the face of terrible weather. Each one of these people has something to teach us about making good decisions and doing a good day's work.”

‘My way of giving back’

“The work I’m doing now — pro bono consulting for non-profit organizations and writing – are my way of giving back for the help I received from others during my career. And my guidebook is a digest of what I have learned from everybody.”

These days Chuck uses his book as a précis for speeches to service organizations and colleges and for workshops for non-profit groups. His web site (www.itsyourjobthebook.com) includes such helpful tools as a personal competence rating guide and a leader’s guide for managers and trainers to use in their organizations.

Chuck and his wife, Barbara, have lived in Portola Valley for 38 years. Their six children have given them16 grandchildren. Chuck says his entire life has been a wonderful adventure and, he adds, “I still look forward to every day. I’m so glad I learned the joys of being a rebooter.”

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