Posts in Leadership Moment
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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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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