057 – Kissinger repeatedly lords it over Secretary

Posted by  Anecdote International —May 12, 2020
Filed in Communication, Leadership Posts, Podcast

Can you bring out the best results of your team with one simple question? Listen to this podcast to feel the frustration between two US political heavy weights!

In this week’s podcast, Shawn and Mark explore how a simple miscommunication between Henry Kissinger and Winston Lord created an emotive and powerful story worth retelling.

Shawn wastes no time and gets straight into this week’s story, allowing for a thorough discussion on how to make it even better. He gives the story one of the highest ratings he has even given on Anecdotally Speaking, so this one needs to be added to your story bank!

Let us know on social media, using #anecdotallyspeaking, when you add one of the stories shared on Anecdotally Speaking to your story bank!

For your storybank

Tags: power, character, persistence, communication

This story starts at 00:58

In the 1970s, Henry Kissinger, an intellectual giant, was the Secretary of State for the US government.

Winston Lord was Kissinger’s Private Secretary. Lord was no slouch, as he ended up becoming the US Ambassador to China. He really knew his foreign policy.

Kissinger asked Lord to put together a foreign policy report. Lord worked hard, pulled it all together, and submitted it to Kissinger.

About a day later, Kissinger called him and asked, “So Winston, is that the best you can do?”

Lord said, “I am happy to take another look at it.” So, Lord reworked the report and resubmitted it to Kissinger.

A couple of days later, Kissinger asked again, “Look, I just want to double check, is that the best you can do?” Lord gave it another go and submitted another version. And this happened over and over again.

On the 9th submission, Lord was again asked by Kissinger, “Is this the best you can do?”

Lord, pulling his hair out, exclaimed, “There is not a single word I would change in this report. I have gone over it every which way. It is the absolute best work I have ever done on this particular topic.”

Kissinger said, “Oh great! Well, I will give it a read then!”

About  Anecdote International

Anecdote International is a global training and consulting company, specialising in utilising storytelling to bring humanity back to the workforce. Anecdote is now unique in having a global network of over 60 partners in 28 countries, with their learning programs translated into 11 languages, and customers who incorporate these programs into their leadership and sales enablement activities.


  1. Paul Stuart says:

    Hi Guys,

    Excellent – I added it to my bank as you were telling it! And then the bonus Steve Jobs story.

    Both are excellent and in addition to all the points you made they have the additional benefit of being very SHORT.

    Thanks for sharing, Paul

    1. Thank you Paul!

      Glad you liked both stories.

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