How to Work Like a Spy: Business Tips from a Former CIA Officer


New Book Explains How to Work Like a Spy to Get Ahead in Corporate America

Do you want to learn how to work like a spy? Well, now is your chance. When J. C. Carleson left the corporate world to join the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), she expected to find an adventure, and that’s exactly what she found.

Her assignments in the CIA included such work as work in Iraq as part of the search for weapons of mass destruction. She traveled through Afghanistan and had countless clandestine encounters with foreign agents from around the globe.

What she didn’t expect was that the skills she acquired with the CIA would be directly applicable to the private sector, especially in corporate America.

It turns out that corporate America can learn a lot from CIA spies in areas such as how to respond to crises and how to achieve operational excellence. The author found that her experience in the CIA gave her a greater understanding of human nature, which helped her understand why people take certain actions or behave in a certain manner.

She learned new techniques for obtaining information, both in person and on the phone, and gained a significantly improved awareness of potential security problems. All of these new skills added up to give her a powerful edge in the business world.

The Book: Work Like a Spy

How to Work Like a Spy book

The book uses real-life examples from her experience in the CIA. The author explains how working as a spy can teach you the principles of such techniques as:

  • Targeting—figuring out who you need to know and how to get access to them in the fast way possible
  • Elicitation—a subtle way to get the answers you need without asking a question
  • Counterintelligence—how to determine if your organization is unknowingly leaking information
  • Screening—CIA recruiters’ methods for finding and hiring the right people.

The methods developed by the CIA are focused on getting what you want from other peo­ple. In a business context, these techniques apply to seeking a new job, a promotion, a big sale, an advantageous regulatory ruling, and countless other situations.

As Carleson writes in the book, “In a world where information has a price, it pays to be vigilant.” Her book will show you how.

Reviews of “How to Work Like a Spy”

  • “In this clever twist on the career self-help genre, former CIA agent Carleson takes the principles that she learned in clandestine service and applies them to today’s business world. This quick and enjoyable read offers plentiful nuggets of information, which can be put to good use by any career-minded reader.” – Publishers Weekly
  • “The book you are holding will fundamentally change the way you look at the collection, compartmentalization, analysis, distribution, application, and protection of intelligence in your business. J. C. Carleson’s presentation of years of spy tradecraft will make you a more effective force within your organization.” – James Childers, CEO, ASG Global, Inc.
  • D’Addario, CPP CFE, Emeritus Faculty Leader, Strategic Influence and Innovation, Security Executive Council
  • “Carleson provides a compelling argument for the importance of intelligence and counterintelligence in business. Her straightforward suggestions encourage the reader to always be on guard for information—either to keep it or to gather it.”  – DEB COHEN, Ph.D., SPHR, SVP, Knowledge Development, Society for Human Resource Management

Physical Book Details

The book was produced in hardcover format by the publisher Portfolio Hardcover on February 7, 2013. It was written and printed in English and is a total of 208 pages. The ISBN numbers are ISBN-10: 1591843537 and ISBN-13: 978-1591843535. Physically, the book is 9.1 x 6 x 1 inch in size and weighs 13.6 ounces.

About the Author

J.C. Carleson is a former undercover CIA officer. Her experience in covert service took her around the planet, from bomb shelters in dangerous war zones to swanky cocktail parties in European capitals. She is a graduate of Cornell University, she lives in Washington, DC. Visit her website for more details.

Find more books for Private Investigators to view our list of Investigation Books.

Michael Kissiah is the owner of Brandy Lane Publishing, LLC, which owns and operates a small portfolio of websites, including Michael created more than 20 years ago after working as a private investigator in the state of Florida. Since that time, he has become an expert at how to find information online and has written over 1000 articles on topics related to the investigation industry. In addition, he is the author of the "Private Investigator Licensing Handbook", available at


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