By and About Leaders: 12/22/15

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I think that one of the best ways to learn leadership isn’t studying “leadership” at all. Instead, study individual leaders in their natural habitat and decide what they do that you want to try. Articles by and about leaders and interviews with them are mini-case studies that show you an actual leader in a real situation.

That’s why, every week, I bring you a selection of post about individual leaders. This week I’m pointing you to pieces by and about Lillian Vernon, Sheryl Connelly, Nathan Blecharczyk, Tom Walsh, and Melanie Whelan.

From the New York Times: Lillian Vernon, Creator of a Bustling Catalog Business, Dies at 88

“Ms. Vernon’s company, started in 1951, once had revenues near $300 million and was the first owned by a woman to be listed on the American Stock Exchange.”

From Melissa Wylie: Ford’s ‘futurist’ Sheryl Connelly on keeping up with trends and asking the right questions

“Despite what her job title implies, Sheryl Connelly cannot predict the future. But what she can tell you is how people’s thoughts and actions shape all aspects of Ford Motor Co.’s business.”

From Shane Dingman: A billionaire on paper, Airbnb co-founder feels ‘great responsibility’ to do good

“Being a founding member of one of the mega-startups of Silicon Valley doesn’t seem to have changed the lifestyle of Nathan Blecharczyk, the chief technical officer and co-founder of Airbnb.”

From Tom Walsh: My 33 years of highs, lows on Detroit beat

“Last week, after 33 years as a reporter, editor and columnist at the Free Press, I called it quits, leaving what was arguably the best job in one of America’s newsiest news towns. An attractive corporate buyout – the H.R. folks call them ‘separation incentives’ nowadays – paves the way for an agreeable transition to my next chapter. So, what’s a guy to say after all that time, writing and editing thousands of stories – mostly in the space where business, economics, politics and policy meet – about the good, bad and ugly times that Detroit and Michigan have experienced?”

From Adam Bryant: Melanie Whelan of SoulCycle: Find the Questions in Every Answer

“After working at Starwood Hotels and helping launch Virgin America, I was introduced to Harvey Spevak, the C.E.O. of Equinox, and he gave me the opportunity to start a business development function at the company. I was responsible for managing three department heads. They were all far more experienced than I was. I came in with one view of how to manage people, and after a year or so I had a completely different perspective.”


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