Profiles in Leadership
Ever wonder who was the first woman to appear on the Wheaties cereal box? It was Elinor Smith, the “Flying Flapper.” She made her first solo flight at age 15 and was one of the youngest Americans to earn a pilot’s license. By age 17, Smith was taking passengers on short hops and by age 18 she was running her own sightseeing business. Among the many risks she took was a wild dare from some boys in her high school that has never been repeated.
You’d be forgiven for expecting Shaun White to become a shill after winning a gold medal in snowboarding at the Olympics and more gold in skateboarding at the Summer X Games. Instead, the “Flying Tomato,” with his wild red hair and southern California style, took control of his image.
Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey may have found the solution to the interruption-heavy life of a C-suite executive: He themes his days. If he didn’t, he might find it impossible to do his job. Or, rather, jobs.
Donald Keough, former president of Coca-Cola, has 10 commandments to follow if you want to be a “highly successful loser”: 1. Play it safe. It doesn’t take long for things to grind to a halt if you simply reduce risk to zero. 2. Don't budge. Inflexibility is one of the fastest ways to lose both customers and employees. That’s what happened at Coke for years as company leaders came to think of the drink and the green bottle as a single unit.
The world was simpler when Shelly Lazarus went to work for ad agency Ogilvy & Mather in 1971. Decades later, as CEO and chairwoman of the behemoth Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide that employs over 15,000 people in 125 countries, Lazarus continued to keep in mind one simple advertising truth. Even when others told her it did not apply to China.
Joe Englert, a developer of nightspots in Washington, D.C., became bored with what the city had to offer in the 1980s, so he leased an old pub and created a weekend joint called The Random Club ... that started the drive to revitalize a run-down corridor of the city. Englert’s experience goes to show that leaders must be willing to explore unusual opportunities.