Anita Roddick
Anita Roddick, founder of The Body Shop was born in 1942 and raised in he southeast of England, near Brighton. Her Italian immigrant mother and American father ran a cafe where, early on she was instilled with an intense work ethic. Although I went to a catholic school, my mother hated the local priest. When my father died, I remember sitting on…

Jon Stegner and the Glove Story
In The Heart of Change, John P. Kotter and Dan S. Cohen reproduce a story (‘Gloves on the Boardroom Table’) told by Jon Stegner, most probably the CEO of his company. He was concerned about the wasteful purchase practices he had observed in his company with several plants in multiple locations in the US. He was convinced that reforming the purchase procedures…

Indra Nooyi
When Nooyi first became CEO of the now $150 billion company back in 2006, she visited India, where she had grown up, to see her mother. “When I got home and I sat in the living room, a stream of visitors and random people started to show up,” Nooyi tells Rubenstein. “They’d go to my mom and say, ‘You did such a…

Rhiannon Broschat
On the night of January 27, the Chicago forecast called for subzero temperatures the next day, with such high winds that it could feel like 30 below at the time when most students would be coming home from school. In light of that, Chicago Public Schools decided to close, saying “subzero temperatures and high winds will make it dangerous for children…

Cliff Young
61-year-old Cliff Young showed up to the 1983 Westfield Sydney to Melbourne Ultra Marathon in his first-ever pair of running shoes and windbreaker pants with hand-cut holes for ventilation. He picked up his number, popped out his false teeth (they rattled when he ran) and stepped into line with a group of young, nylon-clad super athletes waiting to start the 544-mile race.…

Scott Guthrie
In 2011, Scott Guthrie was tasked with leading Microsoft’s fast-growing cloud computing service, called Azure. He went out into the field to get customer’s feedback, and one thing became very clear. The Azure technology was good, but it was hard to use. Guthrie knew Azure wouldn’t be able to meet its growth targets until it was much more customer-friendly. So what did…

Amy Edmondson
In 1991, a first-year PhD student named Amy Edmondson began visiting hospital wards, intending to show that good teamwork and good medicine went hand in hand. But the data kept saying she was wrong. Edmondson was studying organizational behavior at Harvard. A professor had asked her to help with a study of medical mistakes, and so Edmondson, on the prowl for a…

Jerry Sternin
In 1990, Jerry Sternin was sent by Save the Children to fight severe malnutrition in rural communities of Vietnam. The Vietnamese foreign minister, having seen many such “do-gooder” missions in the past, gave him just six months to make a difference. Sternin was well-versed in the academic literature on the complex systemic causes of malnutrition – poor sanitation, poverty, lack of education,…

The London Blitz
During World War II the Germans sought to overtake London. The British military, panicked by their conclusion that there was nothing they could do to stop it, predicted that the attack would leave hundreds of thousands of people dead, millions injured, and mass chaos that would result in an economic downfall. This is exactly what the Germans were hoping for. Just a…

Sarah Silverman
When a troll called comedian Sarah Silverman the C-word on Twitter, she responded with level-headed kindness, finding out he was in a lot of pain and eventually helping him pay for his medical bills. On Dec. 28, Twitter user Jeremy Jamrozy responded rudely to one of Silverman’s tweets. Instead of ignoring him or responding angrily, she went in a completely different direction,…