Among the only living things left standing: some Mexican hot pepper plants—almost little trees at about four feet high—that had reseeded themselves in the family’s kitchen garden. Living hand to mouth, McIlhenny started experimenting with the peppers to punch up his sparse diet. First, he ground up the peppers; then, he fermented them, creating a dry-hot potion: the muchloved and still poorly imitated Tabasco sauce that today flavors dishes and drinks from scrambled eggs to Bloody Marys.
Lesson: Leaders see opportunity in every adversity. The cure may well outlast the disease. More than a century after McIlhenny’s invention, his family continues traveling to chili cook-offs around the country and selling their ancestor’s product around the world.
—Adapted from “The ABCs of Great ,” Victor M Parachin, AdvantEdge.