Leadership Moment - Doug Lennick

You are successful. You wouldn’t be interested in the content of this blog if you weren’t. Congratulations!

Now, who helped you achieve your success? All four of my parents have played a big role for me. My older sister Marie has given me encouragement and professional opportunities. There have been teachers and coaches who get credit. A professor from college hired me, mentored me, and remains a friend to this day.

However, if I was to pinpoint the most important person to my professional success, it would certainly be Doug Lennick. Doug was a legendary leader at American Express when I was starting my professional career there.

He has helped me as a coach, mentor, and friend. When a big business or personal decision needed to be made, Doug always made himself available to listen and provide sage advice.

Before we met formally, we had a chance encounter on an elevator. I don’t know what he had been doing or where he was going, but I do know that he became completely present with the rest of us on the elevator. In the 30 seconds we shared…

Hear his story here.

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Leadership Moment - Elizabeth Eckford

Somebody has to go first. It’s an unwritten rule of progress. Somebody has to be a pioneer who blazes the trail for others to follow. It’s rare that the responsibility of being a pioneer for great social change falls on the shoulders of an innocent, unassuming 15-year-old. Regardless, that’s the situation in which Elizabeth Eckford found herself.

Elizabeth was one of the Little Rock Nine. These were the nine African American students who would be the first non-white students to attend prestigious Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. As fate would have it, Elizabeth was separated from the other eight African American students on the first day of school. She was left alone to face a gauntlet of scorn, vitriol, and hatred…

Hear her story here.

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Leadership Moment - Maximilian Kolbe

There are times in life when many of us will question faith, hope, and humanity. The trigger can be a devastating natural disaster, a terror attack, a vicious act of war, a senseless crime of hate. Situations like these require a special leader.

Maximilian Kolbe was one of those leaders.

Kolbe was a Franciscan Friar who lived in Poland during the first half of the 20th century. Because his father was German, Kolbe was given the opportunity to receive preferential treatment by the Nazi occupiers. He refused, not wanting to categorize himself as superior to his neighbors.

Kolbe was eventually arrested by the Gestapo…

Hear his story here.

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Leadership Moment - Shakeel Nelson

Leadership Moment - Shakeel Nelson - Wisdom

“If you could trade lives with any other person in the world, who would it be?” I was curious to hear his response. I suspected it would fall in line with the average response from any other 12-year-old.

I had been Shakeel’s Big Brother for about three years at this point. We would get together two or three times a month spending our time playing basketball or cooking meals. Early on, I made a deal with him that he could ask me anything he wanted. He didn’t hesitate to explore all kinds of topics which led to a very candid relationship.

On this particular Sunday morning, Shakeel and I were driving to a gym to play basketball. Our conversation had varied throughout the drive and as we approached our destination I asked him the question I’d wanted to ask for a long time.

I could see the wheels in his head turning. He really processed the question. I was impressed. I thought he would choose to trade lives with an athlete or entertainer. Those were the people he and his friends talked about frequently.

After a minute, Shakeel looked at me. His head was slightly tilted to one side, one eye was closed and the other squinted at me with a slight bit of skepticism. He slowly and rather sheepishly gave his answer…

Hear his story here.

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Season One Review - Ryan Estis Interviews 12 Geniuses CEO Don MacPherson

That’s a wrap! 12 Geniuses Season One is now complete. Looking back at the growth of the podcast over the first season, it’s clear we learned quite a bit! In this special episode of 12 Geniuses, Ryan Estis and Don MacPherson sit down together to talk about what went well, what challenges arose, and some highlights from the first season. The two friends also chat about what is coming up next for 12 Geniuses in Season Two! Don shares some episode topics, exciting guests to look forward to, and ways you can get more 12 Geniuses content in the meantime.

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Leadership Moment - Fannie Lou Hamer

Leadership Moment - Fannie Lou Hamer - Resilience

You can’t imagine a more unlikely leader to take the national spotlight. The youngest of 20 children born to sharecropper parents, she defied the odds and terrified a sitting president. This was during a time when women didn’t have a voice and African Americans were second-class citizens. Fannie Lou Hamer was both. What she lacked in formal education, privilege, and experience, she more than made up for in effort, courage, and a healthy dose of resilience.

Fannie Lou was born in 1917 in the segregated south. She was picking cotton by the age of six. By the time she was 13, she could pick hundreds of pounds a day despite having a leg ravaged by polio. Fannie Lou would have been an excellent student in high school and college, but those doors were not open to African American girls from rural Mississippi.

Her hard labor as a child prepared her to be a fighter as an adult. The catalyst that propelled her to national prominence was…

Hear her story here.

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Leadership Moment - Didi

Leadership Moment - Didi - The Unauthorized Leader

The streets were filling with people enjoying the warm Parisian air. Cafés and restaurants bustled. Didi finished his prayers and stepped into the night. Even for The City of Light, the atmosphere was electric and the revelers were taking full advantage of it.

Didi arrived at work and began to inspect the crowd as they filed into the theater. Smiles greeted him as the headline act took the stage. The audience roared their approval.

No one needs to bestow the role of leadership upon someone. Sometimes it is simply snatched in time of need. That is exactly what happened next.

On November 13th, 2015, a series of attacks hit Paris. One happened to be at the Bataclan. Hundreds of people who were there that night owe their lives to Didi and his willingness to shepherd them to safety. The first shots fired that night interrupted the music. Chaos ensued...

Hear his story here.

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Second Quarter Review - Laurie Ruettimann Interviews 12 Geniuses CEO Don MacPherson

How did your second quarter of 2019 end? Did you accomplish all that you wanted to get done? Did you meet the people you’d hoped you would? Did you go where you wanted to go? It’s helpful to do an inventory of what we have been paying attention to, where we went, what we learned, who we met, and what’s up next. That’s exactly what two friends do in this special episode of 12 Geniuses. Laurie Ruettimann, the host of the Let’s Fix Work podcast, spends some time talking with Don MacPherson about how Q2 of 2019 went for 12 Geniuses. They cover a wide range of topics from technology trends, travel, parenthood, and what the 12 Geniuses audience can expect on the podcast over the rest of 2019.

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Leadership Moment - General Lucian Truscott

This week’s Leadership Moment - General Lucian Truscott - Recognition

What is the most memorable recognition you’ve ever received? The chances are it came from someone you respect greatly, there was probably little or maybe no monetary value associated with it, and it felt exceptionally validating.

Many great leaders know that recognition is one of the most powerful motivators. Army General Lucian Truscott was one of those leaders.

On May 30th, 1945, the United States solemnly celebrated Memorial Day. World War II had just ended in Europe and the war raged on in the Pacific. Sacrifice and loss had been dreadful but victory was becoming reality. A small gathering of dignitaries arrived to officially dedicate an American cemetery in Italy. General Truscott was slated to speak…

Hear his story here.

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Back from the Dead - Purple Heart Recipient John Kriesel

John Kriesel has been a passionate patriot since he first decided to join the military at the age of 17. John served in the Minnesota Army National Guard for ten years; completing a tour in Kosovo as part of a NATO peacekeeping force and later in Iraq. While serving in Iraq, John’s vehicle came into contact with an improvised explosive device. He lost both his legs and was on the verge of death. Doctors needed to revive him three times on operating tables. Miraculously, John recovered after an eight-day medically induced coma.

Thirteen years and 35 surgeries later, John now lives a fulfilling and beautiful life. He has served as an elected official in the Minnesota House of Representatives and works as Veteran Services Director for Anoka County in the Twin Cities metro area while continuing to speak, educate, and spread positivity. In this interview, John shares why he decided to join the military, his experience while in service including the events of December 2nd, 2006, and the transition back to civilian life after life-altering injuries.

John discusses:

Part One: Growing up in Minnesota, joining the Army at 17, attending basic training, his first tour in Kosovo as a peacekeeper, volunteering for a tour in Iraq, hitting an improvised explosive device on December 2nd 2006, the importance of a positive mindset in crisis situations, and fighting for his life.

Part Two: Adjusting to civilian life, finding a new “normal”, running for office in Minnesota, coping with massive change, growing as a person, the power of community, discovering the power of optimism, campaigning for office, the Post-It note routine, the power of choosing to have a good day, advice for going through a scary change, being a politician, voting against making same-sex marriage illegal, meeting President George W. Bush, working as an advocate for veterans, and appreciating the new life he created.

People, Organizations, and Resources Mentioned:

The Gulf War, the US Air Force, the US Army, Minnesota Army National Guard, NATO, Saint Paul Fire Department, Kosovo, Iraq, Camp Fallujah, Walter Reed Medical Center, Minnesota House of Representatives, Tom & Eleanor Porter, the Post-It Note routine, Senator Lindsey Graham, Senator Tom Coburn, Bill SF 1308 (to allow voters to decide on the legality of same-sex marriage), President George W. Bush, The White House.

 

 “My mind was sharp and I was trying to stay positive about the whole situation. Because I knew that I really had very little control over it, but what control I did have was my mindset. And I needed to stay positive as much as possible.”

-John Kriesel on the importance of optimism even when you are in a situation you cannot control.

 

Find John on social media @JohnKriesel and at https://www.johnmkriesel.com/

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Leadership Moment - Leaders at Home

This week’s Leadership Moment - Leaders at Home

Dark, dusty, and dangerous. Those are the words that could have described the Soudan Iron Mine in Northern Minnesota during its operation. Each day workers would take elevators thousands of feet below the surface of the earth to roam the 54 miles of tunnels and mine its rich veins. My grandfather was one of those workers.

When she was an adult, and after my grandfather had retired, my mom toured the mine. At one point, the tour guide extinguished his light putting Mom and the other tour members in complete darkness. She wept. It was at that moment that she realized the full extent of what her father was willing to do to make her life possible.

Listen to the episode to hear how great leaders continue to inspire us outside the workplace.

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Leadership Moment - Stanislav Petrov

This week’s Leadership Moment - Stanislav Petrov - Decision Making

This is the story of the man who saved the world. The year was 1983. The cold war between the Soviet Union and United States was heightened. Nuclear missiles were aimed at Moscow and other high value targets, while Soviet nuclear subs prowled the American east coast around the clock.

On the morning of September 26th in a Soviet bunker, alarms were triggered, sirens howled, while electronic screens indicated the Americans had just launched five missiles toward the USSR.

Estimated time to detonation: just 25 minutes…

Listen to this episode to hear how Stanislav Petrov, through leadership and the right decisions, saved the world.

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Leadership Moment - Clara Lemlich

This week’s Leadership Moment - Clara Lemlich - Courage

What are you willing to sacrifice for a cause you believe in? There are millions of people around the world who give their time and energy. Some are even willing to risk their lives. This is the story of one of those people.

A century before the Me Too Movement, there was another movement that made life for women safer and better in countless ways. One leader of this movement, was Clara Lemlich.

Listen to the episode to hear how the sacrifices and leadership of Clara Lemlich inspired women to fight for their rights.

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Leadership Moment - General Theodore Roosevelt Jr.

This week’s Leadership Moment - General Theodore Roosevelt Jr. - Calm Under Pressure.

Overlord is perhaps the greatest military operation ever attempted. You know it as D-Day. Even though it happened 75 years ago, you can still imagine the gravity of a failure. The fate of the world literally depended on its success. Listen to this three minute episode to hear how the efforts and leadership of General Theodore Roosevelt Jr. contributed to victory that day.

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The Transgender Champion - An Interview with Team USA's Chris Mosier

Chris Mosier has been a life-long athlete, becoming an All-American Duathlete, and earning a spot on Team USA in 2015. Globally recognized as “The Man Who Changed the Olympics,” Chris became the first known transgender man to make a United States Men’s National Team and challenged the International Olympic Committee’s policies on transgender participation at the international level. In this interview, Chris shares his personal journey of transition, his quest to remain a competitive athlete, and his advocacy work educating and campaigning for LGBTQ+ equality. Chris also provides advice for individuals who are questioning their identities, or interested in becoming an ally. In this interview, Chris discusses:  

A growing passion in athletics, becoming a duathlete and triathlete, competing at the national and international levels, discovering transgender identity, college athletics, coming out to his athletic and personal community, experiencing male privilege, representing his country, social justice achievements, making the decision to transition, understanding your identity, phases of transitioning, transitioning in the professional workplace, changing the Olympics, hormone therapy, trans athletics, advocating for trans rights both in athletics and in life, how to be open to people who are transgender, and children exploring gender identity.

People, Organizations, and resources mentioned:

Renée Richards, Northern Michigan University, Team USA, Martina Navratilova, All-American Athletes, National Center for Civil and Human Rights, GoAthletes, LGBTQ+ Community, Olympics, BBC, New York Magazine, International Olympic Committee (IOC), transathlete.com, Laverne Cox, Michael Jordan, Nike (Unlimited Courage Ad)

If any person of any age has the courage to tell you who they are, wether they’re a family member or a friend, know that the life that they were living in secrecy, or not being able to be honest about who they were, is probably harder than the life that they’re going to face. So while there are very real challenges, discrimination, violence and harassment against the trans community and the queer community, not being able to be who you know you really are is incredibly painful.”

Chris Mosier on being an ally to members of the LGBTQ+ community.

Find Chris on social media @TheChrisMosier and at www.thechrismosier.com. For more information on Transgender athletics, go to www.transathlete.com.

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Cashing in on Climate Change - An Interview with Andrew Winston

Andrew Winston has worked in the clean business industry for over a decade. Globally recognized as an expert on how companies can navigate climate change for profit, Andrew has thoroughly researched the importance of adaptability for companies in this time of change. In this interview, Andrew discusses the implications of changing climate from what our new world will look like to how we can all participate in saving the environment. Andrew also provides insight on how businesses can harness the environmental movement for better employee engagement, increased profits, and company longevity. In this interview, Andrew discusses:  

Part One: The current state of the climate, creating value through sustainability, the pace of warming, defining global warming and climate change, the 1.5 Degree Report, changes to Earth’s geography, The Paris Agreement, We’re Still In movement in the United States, how countries are working to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement, how to slow down climate change.

Part Two: The Big Pivot, consumer access to sustainability information, how large sized companies are making environmentally conscious changes, attracting employees with an eco-friendly company culture, the clean economy, how to make your company eco-friendly, investment opportunities in the clean economy, innovations to help save our planet.

Andrew’s publications are available on amazon at: https://www.amazon.com/Andrew-S.-Winston/e/B001H6O3R2/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1  

More information about Andrew is available at www.andrewwinston.com.

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Changing Cultures and a Quest to Cure Cancer - Genentech’s Sara Kenkare-Mitra

A generation ago, a cancer diagnosis meant the patient had a 50% chance of living beyond five years. Today, cancer is still an awful disease, but thanks to incredible medical advances, survival is far more likely than ever before. That’s not the only good news. In fact, there is hope that as soon as a decade from now, cancer could possibly be a managed disease instead of a killer.

In this episode, pharmaceutical expert and cancer researcher, Sara Kenkare-Mitra, shares her how she got into the pharmaceutical field, the long road to creating an effective drug, and the importance of celebrating failure.

Sara discusses:

Part One: The Road to Making a Drug

Growing up in India, moving from India to the United States, culture shock, building resilience, joining Genentech, becoming a leader, how her leadership skills as a manager needed to evolve to lead a team of 550 people, the importance of technical competence in a large organization, the drug development process.

Part Two: Curing Cancer

Why it’s good to celebrate failure, how pharmaceutical companies are curing cancer, advice for young women entering STEM fields, encouraging your teams to learn from failures, meditation and leadership, overcoming the minority effect, advocating for yourself, how being a mother made her a more effective leader, the future of cancer, the role of empathy in leadership and drug development.

Organizations, People, Resources, Places Mentioned.

Mumbai, India, Genentech, Austin, Texas, University of Texas - Austin, UCSF (University of California, San Francisco), San Francisco, Kadcyla (Her2+ Breast cancer drug), the FDA (U.S. Food & Drug Administration)

To learn more about Sara and Genentech, please visit www.Gene.com.

 

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Demystifying the Cannabis Industry - Giadha Aguirre de Carcer CEO of New Frontier Data

Thirty years ago, just 16% of Americans favored the legalization of marijuana. Now, 90% support legalization for medical purposes. For people who experience chronic pain, medical cannabis can be a highly effective, affordable treatment. Ten states have legalized recreational use in the United States and 33 have legalized it for medical use. This had sparked incredible opportunity both in the job market and as an investment.

As cannabis rapidly expands in the global market, we all stand to gain advancements in medical treatment, cheaper energy storage, energy efficient crops, and an explosive new job market. In this episode, serial entrepreneur and cannabis expert Giadha Aguirre de Carcer shares her knowledge of cannabis uses, the global market, and the future of cannabis.

Giadha discusses:

Part One: Changing the Dialogue on Cannabis

Being a serial entrepreneur, starting New Frontier Data, working in the field of United States intelligence, being a female tech entrepreneur, the differences in cannabis terms (CBD vs THC vs Hemp), The Farm Bill, the shift in public opinion on cannabis, medical purposes of cannabis, cannabis user profiles (discrete, weekend, medical, etc.), top ten reasons for cannabis consumption, alternative medical applications for cannabis, federal legalization of cannabis.

Part Two: The Market & Future of Cannabis

Global hemp market, cannabis as an alternative to opioids, Big Agriculture’s position in the hemp market, cannabis consumption rates, cannabis investments, creating company policies where cannabis is legal, police testing for cannabis impaired driving, the best locations for cannabis production.

Organizations, People, Resources, Places Mentioned:

New Frontier Data, University of Pennsylvania, Georgetown University, Progressive, Verizon, China, The Farm Bill, Colorado, California, Martha Stewart, A.G. William Barr, Obama and Trump administrations, Australia, Florida, Mercedes-Benz and BMW

 Contact info for New Frontier Data:

 https://newfrontierdata.com/

“I did finally convince her to take some CBD pills. It changed her life. She woke up one morning crying saying to me she had forgotten what it was like to not feel pain.”

Giadha Aguirre de Carcer talking about her mother using CBD instead of the opioids she was originally recommended


 

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First Quarter Review - Joey Torkildson Interviews 12 Geniuses CEO Don MacPherson

How did your first quarter of 2019 end? Did you accomplish all that you wanted to get done? Did you meet the people you’d hoped you would? Did you go where you wanted to go? It’s helpful to do an inventory of what we have been paying attention to, where we went, what we learned, who we met, and what’s up next. That’s exactly what two friends do in this special episode of 12 Geniuses. Joey Torkildson, the host of The Grind Podcast, spends some time talking with Don MacPherson about how Q1 of 2019 went for 12 Geniuses. They cover a wide range of topics from rapidly advancing technology to traveling in Europe, to what the lineup of genius podcast guests looks like for the rest of the year.

Topics Covered

Technology: Artificial Intelligence, robotics, wearables, virtual reality, the Internet of Things

Travel: Las Vegas, Lone Pine, CA, Death Valley, Washington DC, New Haven, CT, Yale University, New York City, Phoenix, Honfleur, France, D-Day Beaches

Speaking Engagement: Fuel Work HR Technology Expo on April 10th, 2019

12 Geniuses Guests: Rebecca Ryan, Lauren Azar, Chris Farrell, Patrick Riley, Daniel Pink, Andrew Winston, Giadha Aguirre de Carcer

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A Story of Self-Disruption and Reinvention - Catherine Carr of Doctors Without Borders

Every day, 40,000 people around the world work in extremely stressful situations to help provide assistance to people in need. People working for Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières) leave behind their comfortable lives for the opportunity to make the world a better place. On assignment they expand their self-knowledge and limitations, experience, and adapt to entirely new ways of living while helping those in need. When it’s time to return home, they experience the challenges of re-assimilating to their native culture. In this episode, humanitarian Catherine Carr shares her decade-long experience working for Doctors Without Borders and how the lessons of working as a humanitarian translate to other areas of work once you return home. Catherine discusses:

Part I: The Humanitarian Experience

Applying to Doctors Without Borders, culture shock and adaptation, finding meaning at work, learning from locals, the various roles within Doctors Without Borders, Tea in the Morning, relationship building during “morning tea,” overcoming the fear that prevents personal growth, finding happiness.

Part II: Lessons to Learn from a Humanitarian

Advice for overcoming fear and facing future changes, resistance to change, agility, discovering yourself, getting out of your comfort zone (without leaving the country), the power of teamwork, building trust with employees and community members, the unique skills of a humanitarian, coping in high-stress situations, burnout vs. stress, belief vs. truth, disruption avoidance.

Organizations, People, Resources, Places Mentioned:

Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières), PB&J Family Services, Kenya, Iraq, the Philippines, Haiti, Central African Republic, Jordan, South Sudan

www.catherinecarr.global

“I was scared of making the change, but I think what scared me even more was not making the change.”

Catherine Carr describing her decision to disrupt her career as a Human Resources leader to join Doctors Without Borders

 

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