Media Coverage

C-SPAN Book TV, June, 2014:  Interview and Book Discussion (half hour)

Politico, June 5, 2014: Getting There:  Martha Johnson

FedNewsRadio, June 4, 2014: Making and Remaking Your Career WIth Resilience  

(Invited to contribute): CNNOpinion May 31, 2014: I lost my big federal job, too. It sucked.

Inside ODU, May 1, 2014: Graduate Certificate in Public Procurement and Contract Management Gains Accredidation

The Washington Post, April 25, 2014:  Resigned. Martha Johnson's Fast Fall From Power at GSA

The Washington Post, On Leadership Series, April, 2014, Martha Johnson on Resigning from GSA

People Science -  The Journal of Human Capital Management & Leadership, Spring 2014 Leading in the Dark 

Washington Business Journal, April 24, 2014:  The Day that Broke Former GSA Chief Martha Johnson's Heart

Business Week, October 5, 2012: From GSA To Gay Lit - Martha Johnson's Next Act

Roll Call, October 4, 2012: Life After GSA - Heard on the Hill


Reviews of "On My Watch"

On My Watch is an important book for those in both government and business who want to make a real difference. Martha Johnson brought innovation to government in her role at the General Services Administration and our country needs more leaders with her strategic insights, endlessly creative ideas, and honesty.
John Chambers, Cisco Chairman and CEO

This is a terrific book. Martha Johnson gives page after page of advice for new and old leaders. And that advice is useful for every leader: government, corporate, non-profit. When you come down it, leaders need to see situations clearly, imagine where to go and make the organization excited to get there. This book is a terrific manual for that.

I know Martha well. She's a good leader; she's also a good advisor, a good listener and a good follower. As you read On My Watch, think about the good leadership you have seen. I think you'll change some of your ideas and gain plenty of new insight.

Dave Barram, Former Administrator, US General Services Administration 1996-2000, Former Silicon Valley Executive (HP, SGI, Apple


Vintage Martha Johnson!  A clear, direct and compelling expression of her extraordinary, and all too brief, leadership journey at GSA.  Packed with leadership lessons for the 21st century, it is a very worthy read.

Douglas R. Conant, Former President and CEO of Campbell Soup Company, Founder and Chairman of Kellogg Executive Leadership Institute


I congratulate Martha Johnson on her book and its obvious importance to readers who are confronting some of the same challenges of leadership that she faced. 

William Donaldson, Founding Dean, Yale University's School of Management, Former Chairman of the SEC


On My Watch offers us ways to think about how the too-often hidden stories of innovation in our government deserve applause, support, and further study. We will never get the government we want if all we find are the problems with it.

Max Stier, President and CEO, Partnership for Public Service


On My Watch is almost unique among business books in telling the story of leading a huge, complex institution in human terms.  Martha Johnson understands that business and government are about people, and she describes the lessons she has learned in a language too seldom seen in management texts, full of words like passion, enthusiasm, loyalty, trust, accountability and justice.  Her management story is a human story, full of tragedy, hope and nobility

David Newkirk, Former CEO-Executive Education, The University of Virginia's Darden School of Business, Former Senior Partner, Booz & Co.


In On My Watch, Johnson weaves together two big ideas: the extraordinary challenges and rewards of leading large government organizations and the personal risks of assuming those responsibilities.  The result is sharp, open and a pleasure to read.

Nelson Ford

President and CEO, LMI   


What a wonderful teaching tool. Johnson leads the students right into the core of what leadership in the public sector is really all about. This material will make a substantial contribution to the literature and education of future civil servants.

Walter Broadnax

Distinguished Professor of Public and International Affairs at the Maxwell School of Syracuse University

Former Deputy Secretary of Health and Human Services


On My Watch should be a must-read book for all those in, or preparing for, public service.  It provides breakthrough examples of what can be done in government agencies, even huge ones, to inspire enthusiasm, focus actions, increase efficiency, and reduce waste.  If that were not enough, it also provides a powerful strategy for reaching timely decisions that involve input from all the key stakeholders—a strategy that could transform how things are done in Washington.  In addition, it provides an powerful example of grace under pressure of a leader who demonstrates high integrity in times of success as well as when, through no fault of her own, she takes a big one for the team.  Martha Johnson and this book are class acts of the first order.

Carol Pearson, Ph. D.

Author of The Hero and the Outlaw: Extraordinary Branding Through the Power of Archetypes

Former Professor of Leadership Studies in the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland and Director of the James MacGregor Burns Academy of Leadership


Change in all organizations is an entrepreneurial endeavor requiring more than sound management.  Successfully changing an organization’s culture to allow for creativity, innovation, collaboration and teamwork requires strong leadership.  My personal thanks to Martha Johnson for sharing her thoughts and experiences in a rare book of ideas that can help leaders of all organizations effect change.

Gerald G. Kokos

President and CEO, VFA, Inc.


Whether you lead a team of 10 or 10,000 this book will inspire you to do it better. It's not only a treasure trove of insights into what it takes to be a great leader, it's a beautifully written story of passion, innovation, determination, wisdom and humility.  

Kate Lister

President of Global Workplace Analytics


You are unlikely to become the largest landlord in the universe (in this case, managing more than $500 billion in federal property), operate a fleet with hundreds of thousands of cars, and have as your clients the U.S. President and his cabinet—all as merely part of your mission to efficiently build and operate the U.S. Government’s physical infrastructure.  But that was Martha Johnson’s job description as head of the U.S. General Services Administration.  In On My Watch, she reveals, in a remarkably unpretentious style, both the leadership techniques that facilitated her to rise to the top and the missteps that led to her fall.

Jim Snider

2012-2013 Fellow, Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, Harvard University 


Martha Johnson is a leader's leader.  Having told her story with grace and wit about how "life happened" to her in an excruciatingly public way, she then makes sense of it in pursuit of the holy grail of leadership: self-awareness.  If you aspire to the halls of power (or the next rung on your organizational ladder) please read this book and take to heart its central theme--the facts of your life are just the facts, and much of what happens to you is out of your control; what matters most on your leadership journey, however, is always at your command... your personal narrative and how you use it to face what's next. 

Harry Hutson

Leadership Coach

Co-Author Putting Hope to Work and Leadership in Non-Profit Organizations


Leading an organization of any size requires seeing around corners -- being able to predict the next event that might bring disaster or untold opportunity. On My Watch is a must-read for anyone who plans to lead a high-profile organization and needs to know how to lead when the unexpected inevitably happens.

Richard J. Crespin

Co-Founder Corporate Responsibility Magazine

CEO, Crespin Enterprises


Martha Johnson's out-of-the-box brilliance will inspire anyone who reads this book. I love her vulnerability and accessibility—she's the kind of person most people would love to have as their leader. She also gives us a glimpse of the best of government—making me wish I had continued in government service after my two years with the Peace Corps.

Jennifer Read Hawthorne

Co-author, #1 New York Times best seller Chicken Soup for the Woman's Soul and The Soul of Success


On My Watch is REMARKABLE...truly remarkable.  It is an honest book that is both deeply engaging while thought provoking.

Kathy Wiseman

CEO, Working Systems, Inc.


Bloggers Have Noticed

Click on title of blog


  • Survival Leadership:  Steve Gladis, Jan 10, 2014


  • Women Connect 4 Good Blog:  Dr. Nancy O'Reilly Jan. 9, 2014

‚ÄčStrategies for Personal and Professional Resilience

  • Survival Leadership Blog:  Steve Gladis, Jan 9, 2014

Leading In The Dark

  • Survival Leadership Blog:  Steve Gladis, Jan 8, 2014

On My Watch - Overview

  • The Low-Down: Jon Low, October 23, 2013

On My Watch - Dealing WIth Leadership Crisis 

  • The Huffington Post:  Stephenie Foster,  October 22, 2013

On My Watch: Leadership, Innovation, and Personal Resilience Book Review



What Really Good Friends Are Saying

Really Good Friend #1:   Bought the book and read it cover to cover. Loved it. Captures the craziness of the culture and what is needed for true leadership!

Really Good Friend #2:     I am loving your book. Damn, you write so well, I'm jealous ;). Your elegant, clear, and puckish style make this an easy and powerful read-- and the fact that you actually know stuff...whoo-ahh!

Really Good Friend #3:  The parts on resiliency have been really helpful as I negotiate a terribly difficult situation at work and as I try to decide whether to stay or go and whether to fight for the thing that I know is the right thing to do. 

Really Good Friend #4:  A deep bow for a job very well done. I must say, though, the recounting of the fallout over the Las Vegas scandal left me pessimistic about government service. Despite your idealism and optimism, the fact remains you were cut down by a political cynicism that seems to get worse daily.  People get the government they deserve, and there are days when I don’t think Americans don’t deserve a very good one. In the book, you exhibit a faith perhaps better suited to religion than government. But good for you. I hope you’re right.

Really Good Friend #5:  Read in context, Martha's memoir is a real indictment of the Obama administration. Martha's watch at GSA exemplifies what should be happening to rebuild all federal agencies - something Obama should trumpet as part of a national policy to rebuild the govt after 30 years of trashing from Reagan on. What should have been a terrific after-action memoir on results achieved instead is an abbreviated trip report about a tragically truncated mission.  It made my ex-fed blood boil. 

Really Good Friend #6:  I just received your book and poured through it.  A wonderful strategic move to have quickly put out into the world a "more useful" counterbalance to the "scandal" references.  Hopefully it will always be referred to, without blame or acrimony, as the "fuller story" which, by the way, includes plenty of transferable lessons from a supremely visionary and committed leader of a uniquely large organization.