Roger Casement, reflexive leader

April 12, 2010
Before you act, think through how your leadership in one sphere will translate into leadership in another. Consider the case of British diplomat Roger Casement, who documented the rubber industry’s cruelty to indigenous people in the Congo and Amazon and was knighted in 1911. But five years later, the British hanged him for conspiring with the Germans on behalf of Irish independence.

Overconfidence can cost you big time

April 12, 2010
After crushing Texan resistance at the Alamo and at Goliad, Mexican Gen. Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna was confident that Sam Houston’s ragtag army of 800 volunteers posed no threat to his superior force. But because of his overconfidence at San Jacinto, Santa Anna ended up, in 18 minutes, ceding some 260,000 square miles of territory, which Mexico never would regain.

How Franklin planted seeds of his message

December 11, 2009

Everyone knows that Ben Franklin was an inventor and a statesman. Not everyone knows that he was an innovative farmer. When Franklin tried to persuade his neighbors one spring to spread plaster among their seeds to yield a better crop, the neighbors scoffed. Then, he sent them a message …

Jane Addams: ‘truest American’

March 1, 2008
Jane Addams may not be a name you recognize, but she served as one of America’s most influential women and was the first American woman to win a Nobel Peace Prize. Ahead of her time during the “Gilded Age,” she established Chicago’s Hull House, an inner-city community center prototype. Much of her work became the basis for new laws on child labor, juvenile justice, unemployment insurance and elder care.