Recent Reads Is Living the American Dream, With Cheetos

After the tragic events in Manchester this week, we needed some good news – and some good storytelling. So our submissions this week include a true rags-to-riches story, some great leadership secrets and a shift within law firms toward the acceptance of therapy. And if you need a good cry, you should read this week’s final submission, about (in effect) slavery in a 20th-century American household.

Also, check out our blog posts this week on how public relations can adapt in a shifting media landscape and PR and social media lessons derived from the world champion Chicago Cubs.

With that, here’s Recent Reads.

How a Rancho Cucamonga janitor came to invent Flamin’ Hot Cheetos – I loved this profile of PepsiCo’s director of multicultural sales and marketing across North America. It’s one of those rare but amazing true “American dream” stories combining hard work, ingenuity, risk-taking, an accessible company CEO and a little luck. I may steal his description of “starting at the beginning” rather than “starting at the bottom” for when my daughter whines about her first less-than-glamorous summer job in a few years. – Laura Miller

The Seven Leadership Secrets of Great Team Captains – One of my favorite Harvard Business Review articles is entitled “The Making of the Corporate Athlete,” which compares the training and performance habits of professional athletes, namely golf and tennis players, to those of corporate executives. Spoiler: the former trains endlessly for short performance, while the latter does no training for extremely long performance. This Wall Street Journal article is another great read in this genre, covering the lessons we can take away from the greatest sports team captains. Some of the lessons are expected, but many are surprising. Great team captains pride themselves on their willingness to do the grunt work and many hate giving speeches. – Aaron Schoenherr

Law Firms Finally Say It’s OK to See a Therapist – It seems we’ve come a long way toward de-stigmatizing therapy, but we also have a ways to go. Lawyers work in a high-stress environment, so it’s no wonder that some suffer from anxiety or depression, or turn to pharmaceuticals. It’s uplifting to see that some of the big players are spearheading this movement and working to get rid of the stigma around mental health issues. – Tana Watanabe

My Family’s Slave – Odds are you’ve seen this article circulating on social media in the past couple weeks. Maybe you passed on it because you were busy – or exhausted by the nonstop news cycle that is 2017. But neglecting to read this article, to the end, is a mistake. It’s richly told, astonishing and simply pulls no punches. I often discount stories told by journalists about their own lives, as it seems that the reporting would be fairly easy and the perspectives almost certainly biased. I still have those reservations about this story, but it’s so good that it doesn’t matter. If it isn’t the inspiration for a movie by the end of the decade, I’ll be shocked. – Paul Wilson