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...]

Why Examining Very Bad Bosses is So Very Good for Us

I seriously thought I was losing my mind. I’d write a lengthy report and magically it would disappear. Important documents would come in by mail, I’d put them on my desk for review and whoosh, gone. I’d ask colleagues, “Do you have…? Did you see…?” and they would shake their heads and wonder why I was asking. It must be me, I thought, I’m having some kind of breakdown at the age of 25. This was my first “big” job after undergraduate school. Heeding my parents’ advice about not going into education, their profession, (they wanted me to earn a decent living), I promptly became a social worker to really get rich. And, this gave me my first very bad boss story. Turns out, my direct boss was taking things from my desk and hiding them in her office. How did I find out? She went on vacation. During my boss’ absence, I temporarily reported up-the-chain to her boss. After expressing that I was somewhat concerned about clinical burnout, the symptoms being that I was constantly misplacing important things, my boss’ boss led me to my direct supervisor’s office and said, “Start looking.” What we discovered—under my boss’ desk mat, hidden in pages of books, at the bottom of her … [Read more...]

Got A Very Bad Boss Story? We Want YOU!

Imagine, you are 29-years old, you graduated top of your class from a prestigious university. Your family is super proud that you got that coveted job at a well-established company. Today, you're standing outside your office at a busy city crosswalk, head hanging down with a sign around your neck reading, "I screwed up at work." Your boss ordered you to stand there all day. Living in Tokyo for about 5 years, I often saw this kind of work punishment doled out. As a Westerner, this kind of shaming seemed so foreign, so, well, wrong. How humiliating. Talk about a very bad boss! That kind of behavior would never be allowed elsewhere... Or would it? 1 in 5 Americans Have a Bad Boss We may not be standing on a Tokyo street corner with a sign around our neck, but most of us have experienced or will experience a very bad boss at some point in our working lives. According to a 2013 Harris Interactive study, one in five Americans say they have a bad boss. That’s nearly 24 million people. Today, 1 in 9 Americans are self-employed and many report that they left corporations and other organizations specifically to escape bad bosses. Similarly in the United Kingdom, a study by the … [Read more...]

Very Bad Bosses (And What They Can Teach Us About Leading)

This week, Dr. Maria Church and I are launching our CALL FOR YOUR STORIES about Very Bad Bosses. Drumroll... After the article below was published in one of the U.K.'s top 100 socially shared online magazines, we've become inspired to play a larger role in shifting the tsunami of bad boss experiences to better, more fulfilling work experiences.  Like a Chicken Soup for the workplace soul, we're compiling stories, lessons and advice about how to survive workplace villains for a new book. Shh, that's all we'll share for now but today, I wanted to give you a heads up by reposting the article that catalyzed our action. Get ready to share your story at  Very Bad Bosses. Enjoy! Very Bad Bosses (And What They Can Teach Us About Leading) by Jone Bosworth, J.D. My best friend once out-bid colleagues for a chance to shave off her boss’ beard. She spent half a month’s wages. So possessed by the thought of getting to remove the beard her boss was super proud of, she was willing to eat peanut butter most of the month.  The money went to charity but the real thrill, she says over 20-years later, was getting to lay her hands on her very bad boss; “it was a revenge fantasy that came … [Read more...]

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