For Impact


Message to Garcia

For Impact Ideas | | Tom Suddes

I was reading an article from New York Times about Jeb Bush.  Politics aside, it was a very interesting article about his “bookishness and pragmatism”.   A voracious reader, the article talked about all the different, almost Gates-like, diversity in what he reads.

The article mentioned that while he was Florida’s Governor (1999 to 2007), new employees would find a copy of a treasured Bush book on the desk:  A MESSAGE TO GARCIA.

I love this story!  I actually have a small pamphlet printed in 1918 that highlights this 1899 essay.


I am paraphrasing Hubbard’s story… but I think you will get the point.

THE STORY: When war broke out between Spain and the United States, it was necessary to communicate quickly with the leader of the insurgents… a General Garcia. He was somewhere in the mountain vastness of Cuba – no one knew where. Mail or telegraph could not reach him… and the President had to secure his cooperation quickly.

Somebody told the President, “There’s a fellow by the name of ROWAN who will find Garcia for you, if anybody can.”

Andrew S. Rowan, West Point Class of 1881 was a First Lieutenant in the 19th Infantry, U.S.A. (Yes!) Because he knew the topography of Cuba, was familiar with Spanish, and had shown himself to be a brave and prudent solider, Lieutenant Rowan was selected for this mission.

In short, he took the letter, sealed it in an oilskin pouch, strapped it over his heart and crossed from Jamaica to the southern coast of Cuba in a sailboat. He disappeared into the jungle, made his way inland to Garcia’s camp… and DELIVERED THE MESSAGE!!!

In Hubbard’s words: “The point I wish to make is this: McKinley gave Rowan a letter to be delivered to Garcia. Rowan took the letter and did not ask, ‘Where is he at?’ By the eternal! There is a man whose form should be cast in deathless bronze and his statue placed in every college in the land. It is not book learning young men need nor instruction about this and that but a stiffening of the vertebrae which will cause them to be loyal to a trust, to act promptly, concentrate their energies; and do that thing – ‘CARRY A MESSAGE TO GARCIA!’”

Hubbard closes with the following comments: “My heart goes out to the man who does his work when the ‘boss is away’ as well as when he is at home. And the man who, when given a letter for Garcia, quietly takes the message, without asking any idiotic questions, and with no lurking intention of checking into the nearest sewer or of doing aught but deliver it … (for that person) never gets ‘laid off, nor has to go on a strike for higher wages’.”

“Civilization is one man’s endless search for just such individuals. Anything such a man asks should be granted, his kind are so rare that no one player can afford to let him go. He’s wanted in every city, town and village — in every office, shop, store and factory. The world cries for such: he is needed and needed badly — the man who can carry a message to Garcia.”

THE TEST: If you were testing your development/sales team, how would they handle this simple request on a referral you gave them?  Like Rowan … or would they ask:

  • Who is ‘Garcia’?
  • Where does he live?
  • What’s his phone number?
  • Where did you get the name?
  • Can’t someone else do this?
  • If I find a phone number … would you call him yourself?
  • What do you want to know for, etc.?

We should be in an endless search for the men and women who can CARRY A MESSAGE TO GARCIA.