| October 8, 2018

Podcast

Podcast #447: On Grand Strategy

The ancient Greek poet Archilochus said, “A fox knows many things, but a hedgehog one important thing.”

The original meaning of the quote has been lost to the mists of time, but my guest today argues that it’s a great metaphor for classifying two types of leadership strategies.

His name is John Lewis Gaddis and he’s a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, an expert on the Cold War, and a professor of military history at Yale University. Today, Professor Gaddis and I talk about his book, On Grand Strategyin which he distills insights about strategy from political and military history going all the way back to antiquity.

We begin our conversation discussing what strategy is and what it means to have grand strategy. John then shares the analogy of the fox and the hedgehog, and the benefits and downsides to each approach to thinking and acting. We then discuss why the best strategists combine fox-like and hedgehog-like mindsets, examples from history of great leaders who had both, and how he helps his students see the relationship between principle and practice.

Show Highlights

  • What is strategy? How is it defined?
  • What makes a strategy “grand”?
  • Differentiating strategy from tactics
  • “The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.”
  • Examples of foxes and hedgehogs throughout history
  • Lincoln’s compass anecdote
  • Great strategic writings throughout history
  • Carl von Clausewitz’s idea of strategy
  • Why theories and strategies sometimes fall short
  • Principle vs. practice
  • Finding the TTPs in classic texts
  • How and why to be both a hedgehog and a fox, and knowing when to be which

Resources/People/Articles Mentioned in Podcast

Listen to the Podcast! (And don’t forget to leave us a review!)

available-on-itunes

available-on-stitcher

soundcloud-logo

pocketcasts

google-play-podcast

Listen to the episode on a separate page.

Download this episode.

Subscribe to the podcast in the media player of your choice.

Podcast Sponsors

The Strenuous Life. The Strenuous Life is a platform for those who wish to revolt against our age of ease, comfort, and existential weightlessness. It is a base of operations for those who are dissatisfied with the status quo and want to connect with the real world through the acquisition of skills that increase their sense of autonomy and mastery. Sign up for email updates, and be the first to know when the next enrollment opens up in January.

The Art of Manliness Store. Check out our newest items, our legendary mugs, and all our ebook offerings. Take an additional 10% off by using “AOMPODCAST” at checkout.

Blinkist. Got a lot of books on your “to-read list,” but not enough time to read them all? Check out Blinkist. The provide 15-minute summaries of thousands of non-fiction books. Get a FREE 7-day trial by signing up at blinkist.com/manliness.

Click here to see a full list of our podcast sponsors.

Read the Transcript

Coming soon!