Gary Gagliardi started studying the classical strategy of Sun Tzu's The Art of War over thirty years ago. Using these strategic principles, he built a multimillion-dollar high-tech software company into one of the Inc. 500 fastest growing companies in America. After selling his company, Gary focused his energies on training organizations in the science of strategy and writing books explaining the science's principles. Every year, Gary's books on strategy are honored by book award committees. In the last four years, he has had more different books honored in more different categories by more book award groups than any other author in America. His teaching on strategy are so popular that trainers all over the world are using his presentations in a wide variety of fields.
The science of strategy teaches you how to constantly advance your position. Gary's career demonstrates this principles clearly. After he began applying military strategy to business in the corporate world, Gary was promoted an average of every eight months with larger and larger companies. When he started his own software business, he was able to double it in size every year for years until it became one of the fastest growing companies in America. When he sold his software business, he began building up a his strategic training and publishing business so that is now doubling in its size every year. In training, he continues to build up an ever more impressive list of clients and customers. As an author, every year more of his books are recognized for more awards and honors. As an entrepreneur, he continues to expand his organization to include a worldwide network of trainers using his products. Today, the Science of Strategy Institute offers standard training programs on every continents and on-line at their popular StrategySchool.com.
Gary was born on a military base and both of his parents were in the military. His father was a survivor of the Death March of Bataan. Though he did not qualify for military service himself, he began studying military strategy at an early age, especially Sun Tzu's The Art of War. While in his early twenties, working in sales and marketing, he saw a clear connection between classical military strategy of Sun Tzu and modern business competition. Applying the rules of strategy to selling, he doubled his sales within a year. Still in his early twenties, he soon started his first company, a spiced tea manufacturer, which grew so quickly that he was able to sell it within a year to a large coffee manufacturer.
Gary's experience in running a company motivated him to acquire more management experience with larger companies. In these companies, he was promoted on the average of every eight months. He worked first in consumer products with BIC Pen, during the “Flick Your Bic” period. He started as a sales assistant and was quickly moved into sales management. He won BIC Pen’s salesperson of the year award in his first year. By the time he left BIC three years later, he managed the Pacific Northwest region. He was still in his twenties.
With the introduction of microcomputers, he saw an opportunity. He went to work for Tandy/Radio Shack, one of the first manufacturers of personal computers. His aim was to learn about the new technology with the goal of starting his own business. Within three years he had moved from a salesperson in a retail computer center to a computer center manager, and finally to a national accounts sales representative.
Entrepreneur and Author
When Gary left Radio Shack Computers, he wrote his first series of computer books for Bantam Books, a series of “Fast & Friendly” computer guides. At the same time, he started his own computer consulting company. Over fourteen years, this company grew into FourGen Software, a client/server order-processing software company that developed internal systems for AT&T, Motorola, GE, and hundreds of other companies. His extraordinary success was recognized over and over again by the business community. He made the Inc. 500 list of America’s fastest-growing companies twice, won the Blue Chip Quality Award, and was an Entrepreneur of the Year finalist. By working closely with America's largest companies, he saw how their success and failure was easily explained by Sun Tzu's theory of competitive systems. In working with some of the nation's largest companies on their mission critical systems, he saw how Sun Tzu's system applied exactly to the kind of issues that they were experiencing.
Gary began to see Sun Tzu's system as a theory of information management in competitive situations. During this period, he had a number of other books published by several different publishing companies. These books addressed current topics in the computer industry, such as value-added reselling, computer downsizing, and client/server computing but from the unique point of view of staying competitive in a dynamic market. His book on client/server computing was translated into Spanish and Japanese. His first book on Sun Tzu was an adaptation for his salespeople and distributors, called The Art of Sales. It became extremely popular. Gary’s notoriety as a businessperson and writer led to a busy speaking schedule at computer conferences and business training events around the world. During this time, he began speaking specifically about his use of Sun Tzu’s competitive system and how it simplified decision-making in the modern competitive world of business.
The Path of Sun Tzu
Gary's company grew into a substantial multimillion-dollar company, with more than 170 employees and offices throughout the U.S. and in Europe. It had been profitable every year that Gary ran the company. PCWeek recognized his company as the clear leader in its segment of the market. As he entered his middle forties, however, Gary no longer found the world of high tech satisfying. Everything in it was too transient. Every three years he had to reinvent his company. Even his books, except The Art of Sales, were outdated almost as soon as they were finished. Gary left his company, FourGen, selling it to a larger high-tech corporation in 1997. He wanted to leave a more lasting contribution. The sale of his company made him a multimillionaire, able to pursue his own private interests.
Organizations all over the world continued to invite Gary to speak about Sun Tzu's strategic system. As he traveled the world speaking about The Art of War, he had the opportunity to discuss strategic problems with some of the more powerful organizations in the world. Since he first discovered Sun Tzu twenty years before, he had learned to love Sun Tzu’s system but felt that the existing English translations of The Art of War were inadequate to the questions he was getting. Full of contradictions and uselessly vague, those translations seemed to be written by academics who never understood real competition. He went back to the original Chinese text, and working with the leading authorities on Sun Tzu in Taipei, he retranslate the ancient Chinese, and created a version of Sun Tzu that was completely consistent both the with original text, Chinese philosophy, and his deep understanding of Sun Tzu’s methods in real competition. The resulting work, called The Art of War in Sun Tzu's Own Words, was the first award-winning translation of Sun Tzu and it has become the new standard for translating Sun Tzu, not only in English, but in languages all over the world.
His work on this revolutionary new translation provided the accuracy and depth of analysis that allowed him to discover the many hidden secrets of the text. and discoveries regarding the secrets hidden in the original text. He discovered that much of the text described a series of diagrams that similar to those used in traditional Chinese science to describe relationships between key elements. This breakthrough allowed him to unlock the many secrets of the text that had been hidden for millennia.
This new insight on Sun Tzu led to a series of books adapting Sun Tzu's methods to specific areas of modern competition. The first was a new version of his book on selling, The Art of War Plus The Art of Sales. Versions on marketing, The Art of War Plus The Art of Marketing, and organizational management, The Art of War Plus The Art of Management, quickly followed. Each of these books contained his new translation plus his business adaptation, which drew on his experience using Sun Tzu’s system in all these areas.
A Broader Perspective
During this period Gary was speaking and writing on Sun Tzu, but working primarily with large corporations around the world. Though he saw Sun Tzu's system as a comprehensive strategic discipline, his main focus was applying that system to the increasingly competitive world of business.
When Gary was diagnosed with a deadly, fast-growing form of head and neck cancer, his perspective changed. As he went through a series of surgeries and then radiation therapy, he saw how the principles of Sun Tzu helped him make the life and death decisions that he face. Though he knew nothing could guarantee his survival, he saw how the ancient principles of Sun Tzu's Bing-fa applied to plotting his survival strategy. At the same time, he saw how most cancer patients literally ran away from the challenge of the disease, surrendering their fate to their doctors, never even realizing that different doctors had very different approaches.
As he recovered from his illness, Gary resolved to reach out to a broader audience beyond large corporations. He resolved to bring the benefits of strategic strategy to as many people as he could with the goal of teaching every day strategy to everyone. This lead to a new series of books, including the Golden Key to Strategy, which won the Ben Franklin Award for the best self-help book in 2006. Gary's new book series was recognized by a flood of award recognition. In last four years three different award committees have given ten of his books awards in seven different categories. No other non-fiction author has won as much award recognition for his or her work in such a short period of time. There are hundreds of thousands of books published every year, tens of thousands are submitted for awards. Gary's work is unique in being so frequently and generally recognized as valuable.
As part of his mission to spread the knowledge of strategy, Gary started appearing on television and radio shows, talking about Sun Tzu's system. He started a blog using the news of the day to illustrate the lessons of classical strategy.
To spread the knowledge of classical strategy, Gary started the Science of Strategy Institute. This organization began licensing Gary's training materials to strategic trainers around the world. It also set an on-line training system called StrategySchool.com so that anyone, anywhere in the world, can get hands on strategic training any time of the day or night. Today, the Science of Strategy Institute has trainers all over the world and StrategySchool.com has hundreds of people earning their certification in classical strategy.
As his training system has spread all over the world, so have his books on strategy. Every year, they are translated into more and more languages. Gary has been recognized as the leading authority in the world, not only on the original text of Sun Tzu, but on the application of Sun Tzu's strategic system to every form of practical application. Even countries in Asia, such as Thailand and Korea, are translating his books for the Asian market.
Today, Gary Gagliardi lives in Seattle with his wife and business partner, Rebecca. They both continue to build the Science of Strategy Institute.