Categorized | Business Authors

Sun Tzu for Women: The Art of War for Winning in Business

Becky Sheetz-Runkle

Becky Sheetz-Runkle

A short bio about the business book author:

Becky Sheetz-Runkle applies The Art of War to her career as a strategic marketer, writer and martial artist. She is co-founder of Q2 Marketing, a technology marketing firm in the Washington, D.C., metro area. Becky has 20 years of experience in forward-thinking communications and marketing strategy. A former Washington Business Journal columnist, she’s written extensively for PRNews, TechMediaNetwork, MarketingProfs, TechnologyMarketingBlog and other influential business media. She’s been an expert marketing source for DM News, Advertising Age, Arrive Magazine and others.

Becky has spent her career measurably driving revenue for companies in the high tech, professional services and government contracting sectors. Her areas of expertise are developing rock-solid corporate communications and marketing plans, exhilarating strategic messaging, targeted and meaningful PR, and writing compelling copy.

She holds the rank of Grand Master in Sho Bushido Ryu Jujitsu and runs the Woodbridge, Virginia Dojo. She is also ranked in Tang Soo Do karate, Shotokan karate and Nakamura Ryu Batto-Do. She teaches at seminars and performs demonstrations. Her experiences versus larger and stronger opponents has revealed much to her about innovation, understanding of self and others, and perseverance to overcome adversity—fundamental tenants of The Art of War.

A book synopsis:

For 25 centuries, men have used Sun Tzu’s classic The Art of War as a guide to conflict, and more recently on the paths to corporate success. But there is much more to Sun Tzu than outright battle. Sun Tzu for Women shows how to apply uniquely feminine principles to the business world—and win every time.

Whether it’s networking to build alliances, maneuvering to gain a decisive advantage, or shaping perception, case studies from prominent women like Carly Fiorina, Meg Whitman, Geraldine Laybourne, Indra Nooyi and more illustrate how to overcome great odds, manipulate circumstances, and forge amazing success.

Why did you write this book?

There are so many business books and books on leadership on the market. There are also a (growing) number of business interpretations of Sun Tzu’s The Art of War. But what there is not as an authoritative guide to The Art of War for women. Male executives all over the world are using Sun Tzu’s treatise on military strategy, but women aren’t.

The question I asked is: Why are these strategies and lessons applied by men who want to get the most out of their careers but not by women? More importantly, what are women missing by turning to more “appropriate” business sources?

I think women need to study The Art of War because their male counterparts are. Many smart men are using its strategies to be more effective leaders and implementers. If women make the mistake of seeing this classic as simply about brute force, they’ll lose out on the benefits their colleagues are realizing.

The deeper I got into writing it, the more deeply I believed that an interpretation of The Art of War for women would transform how they see their businesses, their colleagues, their adversaries and themselves.

How is Sun Tzu for Women different from other business books based on Sun Tzu?

Sun Tzu for Women doesn’t explore how military campaigns translate into customer acquisition or how Sun Tzu would create a SWOT analysis if he were in our boardrooms today. It’s about how women can first understand, and then effectively internalize and put into practice Sun Tzu’s strategies to advance their careers and businesses. The pace of our lives and workdays are often so frenetic that understanding is often elusive. Sun Tzu for Women is about the journey from who readers are to who they can become.

The book is also distinct in bridging the spirit of Eastern philosophy with the linear thinking of the West. It reconciles ancient simple truths with our modern desire to consume copious quantities of information. It blends the experiences of amazingly successful and inspirational women with Sun Tzu’s teachings, and uses illustrations from two decades of the author’s arduous martial arts training.

Was it difficult to find The Art of War applications for Women?

Absolutely not. Sun Tzu speaks to us too. Collectively, women in business experience many of the same obstacles, such as seeking to avoid conflict, uncertainty about which battles to fight and when to fight them, a desire to keep the peace, confusion about being true to themselves or adopting traits characteristic of male leadership, inability to ask for what they want, allowing timidity to prevent them from achieving big, fear of how boldness will be perceived by others, and the many distractions in their life outside of the office.

Sun Tzu for Women explores these challenges with examples of how women have triumphed over them. Their stories and the latest research show how to break through barriers to win each battle and create opportunities.

Women also share similar success attributes, but the challenge is in fully utilizing these. The woman who hasn’t cultivated within herself the spirit of self belief will be unable to carry out any of the tactics of The Art of War. Sun Tzu for Women explores in great detail common strengths, such as intuition, sensitivity, collaboration, passion, independence, team building, and much more. Readers will learn to use their strengths and minimize or overcome their weaknesses. This is all part of knowing ourselves, which must happen before we can understand the enemies and obstacles we face. This is fundamental Sun Tzu.

Do you have a blog, what is the link, what do you talk about in your blog?

The Sun Tzu for Women blog is at With the book launching in January 2011 (pre-order is available), look for content focused on women in business topics, news and research closer to that date

Do you do your own marketing or PR? What is a good marketing / PR strategy for a budding author?

Being a professional marketer by trade, yes I do my own. I am a big believer in content, especially as a writer. There are so many PR opportunities for authors today, from bylined articles to guest blogging opportunities to soliciting for print, radio, online and television reviews. I think these are good uses of authors’ time, though I realize many authors in the business books world simply don’t have the time. I share Sun Tzu’s advice that inability to follow through is worse than a miscalculation:

“Now, to win battles and capture lands and cities but to fail to consolidate these achievements is ominous and may be described as a waste of resources and time.”

Do you tweet, facebook fan page, myspace friend or use any other social media to get the word out?

I’ve created a Sun Tzu for Women facebook fan page, and am working to promote it.

In my experience, Twitter ( is a great place to promote blog entries and new media traction, and I’ll be aggressive with that. Linkedin has value for me too.

What is the best advice you never got?

If you work hard and smart and really want something, you’ll be able to make it happen. That’s the advice I always took to heart. The advice I never got was that that’s not exactly true. We don’t always get what we work hard for. There is a lot more involved, and serendipity and timing are as significant factors in our success as how hard we work. Not every one of our dreams will come. When you factor in hard work, smart work and serendipity, hard work—while important—comes in third.

What is the one thing that you did right?

Perseverance. Whether it’s writing, marketing, business, martial arts or other aspects of my life, having a never-say-day attitude has been one of my biggest success factors. Sun Tzu for Women, for example, was many years in the making and if it hadn’t been for my perseverance, along with flexibility and external factors, it wouldn’t have happened.

What book(s) have you read that you would recommend to others?

My interests are diverse, but history is what I gravitate to when I’m reading purely for pleasure. I am always fascinated by people, the decisions we make, and how this has impacted our world in ways small and revolutionary. Recently I’ve really enjoyed Jeff Shaara’s No Less than Victory about World War II and Daniel Borstin’s The Discoverers.

In 50 words or less, write a paragraph stating why readers should buy your book and what they will get out of it after reading it.

Understand, internalize and practice Sun Tzu’s strategies so you’re always at your best. This is the journey to who you can become. Learn how: Carly Fiorina embodies Sun Tzu’s standard of excellence; Marsha Serlin shapes perception; Condoleezza Rice’s self confidence overcomes daunting obstacles; Geraldine Laybourne understands others for amazing success.

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