Great New Reads: Work Like a Spy

UPDATED: May 14, 2024
PUBLISHED: February 27, 2013

Release Date: February

Penguin/Portfolio; $25.95

A woman walks into a hotel bar. She casually takes a seat next to a man sitting by himself. Like him, she’s wearing a name tag and the logo on her canvas bag identifies her as fellow trade-show goer. She strikes up a conversation.

This seems like a classic pickup scene, right? Not exactly. The woman was then-CIA agent JC Carleson; her target was a man with information the CIA wanted. But the real surprise is how easily the cues and other subtleties Carleson used to gain her target’s trust can be applied to civilian life.

Carleson deftly translates the skills of spy craft learned through her eight years in the field—intelligence gathering, recruitment and crisis management—into know-how that can be used “by anyone—at any level—in the workplace,” she writes.

The advice, techniques and exercises for networking, improving sales and generally getting ahead of the competition won’t morph you into a master spy, but it will definitely expand your approach to everyday interactions and make you more versatile, shrewd and savvy, whether you’re a job seeker, salesperson, manager or CEO. Carleson spices up the book with anecdotes—real and hypothetical—that illustrate how to effectively use these operational skills.

Read an excerpt from Carleson's book on "Spies Like Us: How to Use CIA Tactics in Sales."