Leadership Lessons from World’s Youngest Human Cannonball

Elliana Grace Hentoff-Killian was the world's youngest female human cannonball. At twenty-one years old, she performed with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey show "Built to Amaze." She shot out of a canon at 65 miles an hour, that's a g-force of 7, similar to what astronauts experience reentering earth's atmosphere. Back in 2013, NPR's Talk of the Nation profiled Elliana who described what being part of a circus is like. I fell a little in love with her and listened as other circus performers, past and present, called to weigh in. They explained that to thrive in circus culture you must: Trust others with your life.  Embrace global diversity - human and animal.  Keep yourself mentally and physically well.  Remember, you're in the greatest show on earth. Imagine if all work cultures were all like that! Imagine what we'd accomplish and the problems we'd solve! Cannonball Insights We Can (& Should) All Use Elliana shared three amazing insights about her unusual work that I believe we can apply to leadership.  Take the leap with me. Let's emulate the world's youngest female human cannonball. 1. When Done Right...Fun & Fabulous "(NPR … [Read more...]

Stand Up for Yourself: Katarina Andersson

Imagine you live in Florence, Italy. You spend much of your time involved with three things you love: sport, food, and wine. People back home think your life is like being on constant holiday: they wonder when you'll get a 'real' job. That's a snapshot of Dr. Katarina Andersson's life. Sounds amazing, right? Rewind a dozen years, here's how Katarina was feeling: After finishing my Ph.D. in history, I was really at a low point. For a year or two I had no job and didn't really know what to do. My family tried to get me to go back home to live and with our mother. Everybody, including some of my professors, seemed to draw the conclusion that the only solution for me would be to become a middle school or high school teacher. It all felt like failure after 6 years of being in one of the most well-known research institutes in Europe." From that low point, Katarina began thinking about how she might use her master's degree in Italian language. She looked for translation jobs and discovered she was good at it, "So slowly I started gaining confidence and feeling I was on the right track and moving forward." Today, Katarina is a successful freelance translator and interpreter who … [Read more...]

Leaders Look Back for Inspiration to Go Forward

We read a lot about how leaders--especially women leaders--need to look forward, to hustle, to keep our feet constantly moving to gain greater equality, more success in the future. Today I'm in-couraging you to stop and look back, and to make it a habit to look back frequently. The reason? There are literally hundreds, likely tens of thousands, of extraordinary women leaders in U.S. (and all nations) past. Unfortunately, women weren't included in our textbooks. The National Women's History Museum  can help. Borrowing from the tagline for the U.S. National Women's History Project, the NWHM Facebook page is "Writing Women Back into History" every single day by highlighting women you've probably never heard of, women leaders who are certain to inspire you to be bolder, more courageous, as you take your next steps forward and support other women to advance too. Did you know that... On August 14, 1922, Lizzie Murphy played first base for the American All-Star game in Boston, becoming the first woman to play in a major-league game. Aviator and nuclear physicist Maggie Gee, born in 1923, was one of only two Chinese-American women in the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) and … [Read more...]

Life is Not a Dress Rehearsal: C.L. Murphy

A 2014 Mom's Choice Gold Award winning author and illustrator, C.L. Murphy (Cathy) has been doodling her way through life since she won a school wide poster contest in the third grade. Working as an artist in residence, creating cartoons and painting murals with the children at local elementary schools, C.L. filed away her picture book ideas away for years. Fortunately for us and the children we love, the reality of "empty nest syndrome" sunk in: C.L. brought her dreams to fruition in the character, Lovable Lobo. THE ADVENTURES OF LOVABLE LOBO series revolves around the character Lovable Lobo, based on something very dear to Cathy's heart. She raised a real wolf for over 14 years and says, "the wolf was a magnificent beast that seemed unaware of how the world perceived him, much like the character in the series." While this pawsitively awesome author and illustrator makes creating children's literature seem easy, notice how she calls herself "a big scaredy cat" in her 5Cs (below). Seems that along with her family, C.L.'s characters give her a healthy dose of courage; in Lobo Goes to the Galapagos her little wolf faces some fears and witnesses the joy that comes from … [Read more...]

The Power to Build: Elena Balasa

At age 10, Elena Balasa’s father asked her what she’d do if their home in Romania burned down and she had nothing left. “I will be desperate and I will cry so hard,” Elena replied. “No,” her father said, “You will think of what you need to do so you can build a better house than before.” Starting over, metaphorically building a better house, is how Elena lives her life. Engineers, Elena and her "college sweetheart" husband began trying to immigrate legally to the U.S. in 1990—with no success. After becoming Canadian residents, in 2003 her husband was offered a job as an engineer manager in Salt Lake City, Utah. Together, they had to decide whether to start over in a new country. “When we decided to emigrate we knew our challenges: different culture, no close family around us, starting our life again when we were 38 years old and most families are settling down at this age. However, we didn’t realize then how challenging the transition would be!” Elena says. Today, Elena says she’s reached her “biggest dream.” She and her husband are U.S. citizens. They have a cherished daughter, good careers, and opportunities to learn and grow. Elena is working on her MBA, volunteers … [Read more...]

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