Historical

Her truth keeps marching on

February 21, 2012
With a legacy as author of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” and as a thought leader, Julia Ward Howe influenced the course of the Civil War. She stuck to her resolution of writing what she thought, no matter whom it offended (her own husband included). Yet, she was known as a builder. “Ambitious people climb,” she said, “but faithful people build.”

Gen. Marshall’s two words of advice

January 27, 2012
As World War II came to an end, Secretary of State George Marshall told the State Department’s director of policy planning, George Kennan, to get his team together and come up with an economic relief plan for Europe. Marshall didn’t become bogged down in telling Kennan how to do his job. But he did offer “two deeply serious and unforgettable words,” says Kennan. “Avoid trivia.”

A humble Nobel Peace Prize winner

January 19, 2012

Jean Henri Dunant arrived in Solferino, Italy, on a business trip in 1859 and found himself in the middle of hell. About 38,000 soldiers lay dead and dying, casualties of a battle to push Austria out of Italy. That moment inspired him to launch the International Red Cross. Another big idea that came from his work: the Geneva Conventions. How did he make it happen?

‘Flying Flapper,’ aviation pioneer

December 22, 2011

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.

Vermont’s rebellious folk hero: Ethan Allen

October 26, 2011
Little is known of founding father Ethan Allen beyond his bold predawn attack on Fort Ticonderoga during the American Revolution. But the roots of this fire­­brand’s leadership extend deep below his exploits with the Green Mountain Boys, his band of Vermont volunteers.

Jefferson’s failure to verify

September 14, 2011

Even though it’s a cliché, it’s still true that our greatest strengths can also be our greatest weaknesses. For Thomas Jefferson, his strength lay in trusting people. But when it came to financial matters—he trusted too much. To use the signature phrase of a much later president, Jefferson needed to “trust but verify.”

Churchill: Above all, courage

August 5, 2011
Courage is the first of human qualities because it is the quality that guarantees all the others, said Winston Churchill, who epitomizes what leadership is all about.

Perfecting the art of invention

May 3, 2011
Executive Leadership is pleased to present this time-machine interview with Thomas Alva Edison, who perfected the art of invention in 19th century America and touched off a technological revolution in the 20th century.

A king and a priest who seized the day

February 7, 2011

In 1914, Swedish priest Nathan Söderblom was third on a list of three candidates for archbishop of Uppsala: in effect, head of the Church of Sweden. Ahead of Söder­blom stood two distinguished bishops. Customarily, the king of Sweden chose the first name on the ballot. But in 1914, he chose Söderblom, the first time since 1670 that a bishop was not chosen.

Ben Franklin: The ultimate Renaissance man

January 26, 2011
Ben Franklin was a real promoter of unity, hard work, scientific progress and a pluralism way ahead of its time. Here’s a time-machine interview with Franklin, adapted from The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin.