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Martin Barrett
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Doris Kearns Goodwin MasterClass Review (2023)

Leadership qualities are some of the most crucially important attributes in the workplace and while they can be hard to learn and apply in practicality, famed historian Doris Kearns Goodwin makes this a lot easier by analyzing to develop of ordinary qualities through American presidents in her brand-new leadership MasterClass series. 

Whether it’s the daring foreign policy of Lyndon B Johnson or the strong and reliable relationships held by George Washington, Doris guides her viewers through a series of 15 lengthy lessons where she translates all that she has learned about self-confidence and inclusive leadership through her experience as a historian in a fun, immersive and creative way. 

Let’s read this detailed Doris Kearns Goodwin MasterClass Review to learn more about great presidents and life lessons on political genius!

Who Is Doris Kearns Goodwin?

Biographer Doris Kearns Goodwin is one of the most well-renowned and popular American historians out there, specifically because of her numerous biographies covering the lives of exceptional American Presidents including the likes of Franklin Roosevelt and his wife Eleanor Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson.

Her extensive knowledge of American presidential history and presidencies has also seen her work on numerous historical movies and mini-series including Steven Spielberg’s ‘Lincoln’ and the incredibly popular tv series ‘Washington’.

Alongside being a best-selling historical author, she has also won many awards for her work including the American History Book Prize in 2005, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in 2013.

Even the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction just a year later, making her one of the most decorated historical authors of all time. 

What Is Included In Doris Kearns Goodwin’s MasterClass

In each of the 11 episodes included in this MasterClass, Doris Kearns Goodwin teaches the lessons of writing history that she has observed during her research to teaching people about how emotional intelligence can be applied in daily life. 

The course specifically focuses on four presidents that Goodwin is most knowledgeable about Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt aka Teddy Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, and Lyndon Johnson, however, she does also touch on other inspiring leaders who made an impact in American history such as Martin Luther King Jr. 

The lessons each seek to analyze the mistakes and failures of these leaders and how they acknowledged and adapted to them, along with their many successes in order to teach viewers about how to apply lessons of building civic leadership, confidence, and passion into their everyday lives. 

Positives Of The Doris Kearns Goodwin MasterClass

Excellent Length And Pacing

The entire class is just under 3 hours long in total length, meaning it never resorts to vaguely skimming over topics but instead, Goodwin ensures to take her time clearly laying out and Kearns Goodwin shares the central topic of the lesson whether it be how to lead a team with confidence and charisma, how to forge key partnerships or how to find your natural voice when it’s time to give a speech or presentation. 

With each episode being between 10 to 20 minutes long, not only are they the perfect length to arrange around your daily schedule, but the pacing of the lessons is also perfect with the first few lessons centering on the more contextual side of things such as how certain presidents became great leaders, before then leading into practical leadership skills and the course then finishing with an overview. 

Fantastic Examples

Rather than each lesson being purely a history lesson focused on each of the presidents, Goodwin instead manages to perfectly weave their stories and developing leadership qualities into a general discussion on how they can then be applied to our own lives.

In lesson 10 for example which is all about finding your natural voice, Goodwin actually uses a draft of one of president LBJ’s speeches on the civil rights movement as an example of how he would structure sentences and use particular phrases to brood a sense of confidence and charisma, and how we can do the same when it’s time for some public speaking. 

This is just one of the many examples that Goodwin expertly uses to keep the course engaging and educational at the same time. 

Inspirational Teaching

Doris Kearns Goodwin MasterClass

After Goodwin left her position as an advisor to president LBJ in 1969, she is also a former Harvard professor for 10 years, and you can tell how much experience she gained in communication skills through this period as she fill each of her lessons with passion and enthusiasm which helps to make the entire course extremely engaging. 

While she may know far more about each of the figures she is talking about than the viewers, Doris still makes sure to clearly lay out the context in which they were living and how they have been received through the historiography throughout the years, providing the perfect blend between teaching, and a general casual discussion. 

Engaging Videos And Pictures

It can be very easy for a course such as this to feel like more of a lecture, however, along with the passionate and detailed delivery provided through Goodwin’s discussions, she also uses an array of rare videos and still photos of each of the historical figures she talks about to make each lesson even more engaging. 

Extra Features And Tools

As a bonus, alongside the lessons included in this MasterClass, you also gain access to a few additional features and tools that can help build on the great leadership skills you have learned in the lessons.

One of these is the workbook which, while a little on the shorter side, provides an array of hints, tips, and information on how you can practice and hone your leadership skills, along with a ‘Lessons in Leadership’ section which provides a full analysis of the successes and failure of each of the four presidents. 

There is also the very active Doris Kearns Goodwin Community where students can freely discuss and share any ideas or remarks they may have about the course which is far more active than many similar communities on MasterClass. 

Negatives Of The Doris Kearns Goodwin MasterClass

Some Filler Classes

While the majority of lessons in the course are extremely relevant and full of detail on how to enhance your leadership skills, there is a handful that can often stray away from this focus such as the final lessons which speak directly to anyone looking to become a future president or the penultimate lesson which focuses more on storytelling and legacies of history rather than bringing this back to the topic of the entire course. 

This only affects 1 or 2 lessons near the beginning and end of the course, however, it does mean that these lessons could feel a little irrelevant to some people.

Final Thoughts

Doris Kearns Goodwin’s MasterClass manages to perfectly combine lessons of history with an in-depth discussion about leadership qualities and confidence inside the workplace through 15 detailed lessons and while some of the lessons can admittedly stray away from the core focus of the course in general, it is a minor issue because of just how many examples, references, comparisons and in-depth discussions are packed into the majority of the sessions. 

This isn’t even mentioning the extra tools including a PDF booklet and community tab that students can use, along with the fact that just about anyone can take this course and get something out of it, making it well worth the money if you’re looking to boost your confidence and skills as a leader.

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