Light a Fire under Your Business

How to Build a Class 1 Corporate Culture through Inspirational Leadership

by Tom Pandola and James W. Bird
Foreword by G. H. Worth


How can strategies for success and survival in firefighting serve business managers and leaders?

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Cover image for Light a Fire under Your Business

April 2015


Pages 176
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics Business/Leadership
  Business/Business Communications

Two firefighters-turned-management-consultants provide organizations with an innovative way to transform executives into inspirational leaders.

Tom Pandola and Jim Bird discovered that the management and leadership principles they relied on for success and survival during their firefighting careers also lead to success in business—and in life. The book they wrote on the basis of that realization is for people who face challenges in their business or personal lives, for those who feel a sense of purpose is missing in their work, and, especially, for every senior management team in search of a winning corporate culture.

The book is organized in three sections that teach business leaders and others how to improve processes, empower employees, and transform a business culture. Principles are demonstrated using actual firefighting experiences—the authors' practical classroom—to bring lessons to life. Then, those same principles are applied to business situations to demonstrate their real-world application. Throughout, the book shares a success formula that will provide managers and other senior executives with effective planning skills, the vision to solve problems, and the ability to inspire the individuals within an organization to become the best at what they do.


  • Shows how to inspire passion in your workforce
  • Explores what ordinary people need to do to deliver extraordinary results
  • Raises the stakes of the business game by equating success with survival—something firefighters do every day
  • Employs numerous examples from the business world as well as from firefighting
  • Presents applications that have been proven through the authors' consulting business
Author Info

Tom Pandola is a director of communications in the air medical transportation industry. He is also a cofounder of Third Alarm, a leadership consulting company he started with coauthor Jim Bird. Pandola's work experience includes 25 years with the Los Angeles City Fire Department where, as a fire captain and battalion chief, he tested inspirational leadership principles while solving problems associated with responding to fires, floods, riots, and earthquakes. He holds a bachelor's degree in fire protection administration from California State University, Los Angeles.

James W. Bird served with the Los Angeles City Fire Department for 24 years, rising to the rank of captain and distinguishing himself as an innovative leader. His business career spanned 20 years in the high-pressure environment of the Fortune 500 where he developed new sales strategies and cross-functional processes while also providing leadership for diverse teams. Bird holds a master's degree in kinesiology from California State University, Northridge.



"Exceptionally well written, organized, and presented, Light a Fire under Your Business: How to Build a Class 1 Corporate Culture through Inspirational Leadership is as informed and informative as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking. An extraordinary read from beginning to end, Light a Fire under Your Business: How to Build a Class 1 Corporate Culture through Inspirational Leadership is very strongly recommended for corporate, community, and academic library Business Studies reference collections and supplemental reading lists. Ideal and invaluable reading for anyone seeking to establish or improve their entrepreneurial activities."Midwest Book Review


"Light a Fire Under Your Business draws fascinating comparisons between firefighting and business management that will change the way you lead. Pandola and Bird's powerful message is for all professionals who want not just to be leaders, but trusted, effective leaders!"—Marshall Goldsmith, author of the New York Times and global bestseller What Got You Here Won't Get You There

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