A Review of ‘LeaderShift’ by Orrin Woodward and Oliver DeMille

Orrin Woodward, New York Times best-selling author of ‘Launching a Leadership Revolution’ and Oliver DeMille, best known for his book ‘A Thomas Jefferson Education’ and the movement by the same name, have an uncanny ability to construct simple solutions to seemingly complex problems. In ‘LeaderShift,’ they focus that ability on problems plaguing the United States. The result is a simple set of solutions woven into a thought-provoking parable designed to be reach beyond the sphere of those that study history and politics out of their own ambition and into the lives of everyday Americans that are concerned about the future of our country.

LeadershiftI know most book reviews give a summary of the basic plot of the book, but I’m going to skip this part. While the story is both funny and compelling, my purpose in reading the book was to discover Woodward and DeMille’s proposed solutions to America’s problems. The reason I was/am so interested in hearing their opinion is that I know that they are both devoted students of history, economics, and human nature. Before reading Leadershift, I was hoping that it would be different than the majority of the books discussing America’s problems in that it would focus on the root of our problems, not the symptoms while, at the same time, being completely non-partisan. They delivered.

The solutions they offered, 28 in all, are refreshingly simple. I’m not going to list them all here. You’ll have to get the book and read it if you want them. However, most of them rest on a few simple premises. First, Woodward and DeMille argue that unless we have limited government, we will have limited freedom. Second, that no government is limited if its taxing powers or money printing ability are unlimited. Third, taxes are only effectively limited when a hard limit to taxation is set and checks and balances are created between the local, state, and federal level.

As a student of history and economics myself, albeit a relatively new student, I was pleasantly surprised at the boldness of the proposed solutions. A few of them, however, didn’t settle well with me at first.  I would be surprised if you immediately agree with all of them. Agreeing is not the point though. The point is to get you thinking and hopefully inspire you to dig further into the topic of freedom.

If you’re anything like me, by the end of LeaderShift, you’ll be chomping at the bit for more. Those of us that already like reading into politics, history, and economics will probably want more depth. Take heart though, LeaderShift is the first of three books. Think of it as the primer for a much larger discussion on freedom in America. In the mean time, go the LeaderShift website and get some of the free downloads, follow Orrin’s blog and sign up for newsletters from The Center for Social Leadership for more discussion around the topics introduced in LeaderShift.

Overall, if you are truly concerned about the future of freedom in the United States (or anywhere else), pick up a copy of LeaderShift. Read it, digest it, argue with it, discuss it, and share it. Don’t stop with LeaderShift though. It is not the end-all, be-all of books on freedom. However, it is a significant addition to the Great Conversation and one that I strongly recommend everyone read.

Here is a fantastic interview with Orrin and Oliver discussing LeaderShift.

Update 4/26: It looks like LeaderShift hit the New York Times Best Seller list at #12.

Update 4/30: It looks like LeaderShift hit #2 on the Wall Street Journal Non-Fiction Hardcover best-seller list.

Update 5/2: Leadershift not only hit the New York Time Best Sellers list, but has climbed to #9.

God Bless,

Clint Fix

A Review of ‘LeaderShift’ by Orrin Woodward and Oliver DeMille

24 thoughts on “A Review of ‘LeaderShift’ by Orrin Woodward and Oliver DeMille

  1. Thought it was a great book myself. The thing that’s wonderful about it for me is, we seem so fr gone, as a country, it doesn’t feel accomplish able to save the country. DeMille and Woodward make it feel possible.

  2. Clint, if you do not “immediately agree” with those three premises you mentioned from the book, I would like to know why. If the efficacy of those principles is not evident to you, I am afraid your generation has not been properly educated as to why this “was” the greatest nation on earth. Sorry…

    1. Thanks for your comment. Let me clarify my statement a bit. I wholeheartedly agree with those premises. A couple of the 28 proposals presented caught me off guard and I didn’t immediately agree with them. After thinking about them more, I came to understand the rationale behind them and agree.

      My reason for pointing out my original disagreement was to let people know that it’s ok not to agree with everything, but that we should at least think critically and have meaningful discussions on the topic.

    1. Not censorship. I just get a fair amount of spam comments that I don’t want appearing on my blog. Unless everyone want links to Viagra and Claritin, I’m going to moderate comments. 🙂

  3. Karen says:

    I heard Oliver speak on it this week. He said, “Agree or disagree with the book, it doesn’t matter. If we all but do as the main characters do, this nation will begin to heal.” I can’t wait to read this book!!

  4. Steven Strayer says:

    Thanks for the review. I haven’t yet read it but was blessed to meet Orrin and have him sign it in Lansing, MI. There is no doubt that America is falling apart from the inside out. We certainly can’t make the same mistakes made by other cultures and nations and expect different results. What this book does though is spread some well needed hope in a country without much of it. I applaud them for putting action behind their beliefs. Regardless of where we stand politically, religiously, or socially, we as Americans need to look for solutions actively and not just criticize those who are doing just that. Not saying anyone here is, just writing generally. Thanks again for writing this review and I wish you and the rest of you reading this a prosperous future.

  5. sean says:

    The book was a great read. Your summary of the book was awesome!! I believe Leadershift was design to get peoples thinking turning. It gives hope that one day, group of men and women will step out of their comfort zone and stand for there freedom as they did back in the George Washington Era.

  6. Scott Buchanan says:

    I really loved the book, it was very well laid out and for so much info on freedom, founders, government, laws of decline etc. it was simple to understand, clear and direct. Oliver & Orrin are undoubtedly a much needed force for good in the times we live in. Great review. Keep the conversation alive.

  7. I finished the book today. As a business owner I am planning to do my part and learn to be in the 1% and spread the word. I know it is just a choice & I choose LeaderShift!

  8. Clint, thank you for the excellent review. I hope people think through the resolutions and in the process disagree and research more to see why Oliver and I wrote what we wrote. The Bible says “Iron sharpens iron” and only through thinking, discussing, and more reading do we arrive at truth! Keep up the great work. God Bless, Orrin

  9. Jay says:

    Being a former state government employee that has written legislation and that knows the legislative process deeply, this book doesn’t address how things like public safety, health care, education, public assistance, and other government programs are handled by the townships. For example, if each township had between 800 and 1,200 people, does each township then need to set up its own police department? Or fire department? Or can a township not have its own police or fire department and contract with neighboring townships? What about sales taxes, property taxes, traffic ticket fines, and all of the other taxes, fees, and fines established by government entities? Although I see the value in this book to create discussion and ideas, most people are more concerned with watching football, surfing the internet, or playing video games, so how are you going to make citizens take interest in their local governments when there are already so many distractions in their lives? Again, this book is good for opening up discussion but in my experience, 99% of the public doesn’t have the slightest interest in caring about any level of government.

    1. Hi Jay,

      Let me take a stab at addressing your concerns with the book. Orrin or Oliver may have a different view, but I think I understand how they would address the concerns you mention.

      First, it’s important to understand that a government that’s envisioned in the book wouldn’t be a government that provides for our needs, but rather only protects our rights. With that being said, things like health care, education, public assistance, et al would all be handled by the private sector (without burdensome regulation that diminishes the effectiveness.) However, I guess if the township votes for stuff like that, they can have it. The results will play out over time as to what works and what doesn’t. With the smaller size of townships it wouldn’t be too burdensome for someone to move to a neighboring one (likely within the same metro area) that offers different services/level of government involvement.

      Second, The book allows for the townships to get 4% of the citizens of the townships income. That should be more than enough to fund entities like the police and fire department. There would be no need for multiple taxes like property tax (a horrible tax to begin with as it effectively makes the government the owner of all property), sales tax, etc.

      Last, The point of how they set up the townships is to strongly encourage local participation. Since a large portion of power is shifted to the local and state arena and away from the federal arena, over time people will find that they actually do have a say and can change things. That will encourage them to participate. Many don’t participate now because they feel like it would be futile.

      Thanks for your comment! I hope this helps!

      1. Jay says:

        Clint – Here’s where the average citizen, and I’m including you, doesn’t understand the depth to which government operates in our lives. Why and how would the private sector provide health care, education, and public assistance when there is no profit for the private sector to do these things? The old fee for service system that health care providers used for years caused ballooning costs. I was in a class several years ago where a physician, a hospital administrator, and an insurance agent were all pointing their fingers at each other as the cause for the rising health care costs. The physician complained that the insurance companies keep burdening them with paperwork and added layers of bureaucracy, the insurance agent said that doctors waste money by running unnecessary tests and demanding that hospitals provide the most cutting edge equipment, and the hospital administrator said that most physicians refuse to practice in a hospital that doesn’t have the latest technological medical equipment. All three are individually and collectively responsible for the rising costs but rather than working together they are all blaming each other. Who is going to tell a physician what to do? Unfortunately, government has to step in somewhere to institute some type of controls on all three. In a perfect world, there would be no need for government intervention.

        The 4% income tax that you mentioned, would this be fair for someone that’s making $30,000 per year as opposed to someone that’s making $130,000 per year? And what if you live in a township where the highest income is say $40,000 per year, such as in rural areas? You have one township that is very wealthy because most of the residents have higher incomes and then you have another township that’s poor because the residents have lower incomes. So the rich township has much more power than the poor township. Even today, some wealthy townships have palaces for their government offices and poor townships have 100 year old buildings that are very primitive. You may mention that the business owners in the townships would have to become more involved, but doesn’t that happen already? The established businesses won’t let competitors into their area because it will hurt their businesses.

        I’m not disagreeing that more local involvement is necessary for things to change, but the majority of people want to go to work, come home, and be left alone. Even in rural areas, there are the old town stewards that have owned their gas station for three generations or their grocery store for many years and they are the decision makers for the township. A guy that pumps gas at that gas station believes he has no power or influence because he works for “the man.” Do you really think that would change? It would only change if the guy pumping gas went to the library and started reading books that educated him on how to become more successful.

        As I mentioned in my first post, I am a former state government employee and I saw the corruption that took place every day. But, that’s how things have evolved. Even if the changes spelled out in this book were fully implemented, eventually power would again become centralized and we would be back to where we are. The wealthy would form alliances and squeeze the poor out, laws would be “tweaked” a little here and a little there to create advantages for certain people and organizations, and corruption would creep in at every level of government. It’s not the system that’s flawed, it’s human beings that are flawed. We have these traits called jealousy, entitlement, envy, greed, and the lust for power that make the system break down. It’s inevitable.

        1. You say that, “We have these traits called jealousy, entitlement, envy, greed, and the lust for power that make the system break down. It’s inevitable.”

          How is operating healthcare or education through the government (that relies on force rather than cooperation through economic transactions) going to help healthcare or education if those traits are in us all? It seems like if we all have those traits to some degree that we shouldn’t concentrate power in an entity that doesn’t have to deal with the realities of profit, loss, and competition, but relies on force alone.

          What solutions do you have in mind to fix the current mess our country is in?

          1. Jay says:

            Would it have been better if a corporation like Enron, Bear Stearns, or GM operated our health care industry? The private sector can be just as forceful through other measures (monopolies, insider trading, payoffs, cooking the books, etc.).

            Let’s talk about the criticism of Walmart and other big corporations moving in and forcing mom and pop stores to close. Is it really Walmart’s fault? Maybe the independent stores could find other ways to beat Walmart. Some have. They can’t compete with Walmart on price but they can compete in other ways. But many just pointed at that evil Walmart and didn’t bother to educate themselves as to how they could compete. Sam Walton managed to find a way to make his business relevant. Walmart started as one store at one time. What made Walmart grow and so many other stores fold? I’m sure many of the stores that closed would say Walmart cheated or was involved in unethical business practices. It’s easy to blame someone else when you bury your head in the sand and don’t invest in yourself and your business.

            As I said, I’m not disagreeing that all people need to become more involved, but changing the system isn’t going to be the answer. Maybe we do need to start from scratch. Something catastrophic might have to happen to wake people up. But history also shows that once great civilizations eventually collapse. Are we any more intelligent than Rome, Greece, Egypt, the Mayans, or any other advanced civilization? Maybe we’re not as great as we think we are. The founding fathers put together a great system of governance but humans have a way of being their own worst enemy.

            In my opinion, there are no long lasting solutions to fix any problem. You can fix a problem but then either another problem appears or something unforeseen and uncontrollable happens that throws everything for a loop. GM, Ford, and Chrysler at one time had a 60% plus market share of the auto industry. A company called Toyota that was based in a country that can be described as a pile of rocks in the Pacific Ocean came along and kicked the big three in the teeth. How the once mighty fall.

  10. Jay says:

    I don’t know if this link will appear, but I thought this article about how a poll showing British people wanting their guns back is exactly what America needs to see. We don’t realize the freedoms we have until they are taken away, just like in England. I hope that Americans begin to see how much of their freedoms are being taken away, not just by government, but by many other economic and political forces working against us.


  11. WP says:

    […] LeaderShift, Oliver DeMille and I identified the two types of people as creators and credentialist. Creators can range from the […]

  12. This book is amazing! Many books I have read inspire me to better myself. But LeaderShift is one of the few books that I have read that truly aroused my desire to be part of accomplishing something great in life. It is not just a fun book to read. It is also intellectually stimulating as you follow the thought processes of the characters to figuring out a solution to the problems that are plaguing the United States politically and economically and how to reverse the Five Laws of Decline. And the solution they present would be a win for the American people. Forget whatever party you belong to. This book is not Republican and it is not Democrat. It is American! Whether you are passionate about freedom or not, I recommend this book! The cost for our kids will be too great if we do nothing.

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