The Lead: Legacy of a Pocket Calculator, Amazon Closes Pop-Ups, FDA Commissioner Steps Down

The Lead, AchieveForum’s weekly brief of leadership news and insights, provides quick clarity into relevant headlines and straight-forward analysis for applying effective leadership tools and techniques.

Legacy of a Pocket Calculator Inventor

Jerry Merryman, a co-inventor of the pocket calculator, recently died at the age of 86. He was a self-taught electrical engineer, and his fundamental circuitry design for the pocket calculator transformationally changed how Americans handled everyday mathematics. “Silly me, I thought we were just making a calculator, but we were creating an electronic revolution,” said Mr. Merryman on the NPR program All Things Considered in 2013. Over the four decades after the pocket calculator’s birth, it continued to get smaller and less expensive and basically became a ubiquitous household item until it was replaced with smartphones just a decade ago.

Our View: Leaving a leadership legacy isn’t only about one groundbreaking invention or even what one leader accomplishes in their career or lifetime. Instead, a true leadership legacy is about what a leader inspires others to do. Finding ways to leave something enduring is not only for top management and can be achieved at all levels of the organization. Capture employees’ experiences and insights through learning forums, mentoring activities, and action learning assignments. Legacies do not need to be perfect, as there is significant value in lessons learned from failure. Further Reading

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Amazon to Close all of its Pop-up Stores

Amazon’s 87 pop-up stores are locations where customers can try and buy Amazon’s products and services, but Amazon plans to close all of its pop-up stores in the U.S. in April. An Amazon spokesperson shared, “across our Amazon network, we regularly evaluate our businesses to ensure we’re making thoughtful decisions around how we can best serve our customers. After much review, we came to the decision to discontinue our pop-up kiosk program, and are instead expanding Amazon Books and Amazon 4-star, where we provide a more comprehensive customer experience and broader selection.”

Our View: Strategic leaders know when to cut their losses, but it can certainly be a difficult decision. Excellent questions to explore with your team are:

  • Where can we shift our efforts and/or priorities to create different results?
  • What are our current continued efforts costing us?
  • How long can we continue to incur those costs?
  • What else could happen to make the situation more costly?
  • What is the worst case scenario we could experience if we cut our losses, and are we willing to incur those costs?

Further Reading

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FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb Steps Down

Scott Gottlieb is leaving his role as Food and Drug Administration Commissioner, citing “the challenge of being apart from my family.” Gottlieb has worked on a variety of public health issues, including the opioid crisis, rising drug prices, and underage vaping. He’s been recognized for cutting unnecessary regulations, speeding product approvals, and continuing food inspections during the government shutdown.

Our View: Leadership transitions can be a point of weakness for organizations, or they could also be a launching pad for pivotal transformation. When possible, work closely with your successors, hand over assignments before you leave a role, and finally, trust your team to take charge without your interference. Further Reading

Related AchieveForum content: Leading Through Transitions, Adapting to Constant Change

Award-Winning Start-Up

Almost two million infants and toddlers in Brazil are prevented from enrolling in public daycare due to long waiting lists and scarcity of centers outside city hubs. Women have started daycares in their homes, but the lack of resources and regulations poses great challenges. Entrepreneur Elisa Mansur started Mopi, the winning start-up of the 2018 World Bank Youth Summit project competition, to standardize the informal daycare system and in the process, build a new Brazilian job market.

Our View: Building a revolutionary start-up isn’t the only way to grow your innovative leadership skills. Whether you work with ideas, systems, processes, product management, or any combination of those, there are powerful ways to successfully lead innovation. Act in ways that build trust, demonstrate your role as an equal partner in the effort, and maintain focus on the overarching purpose. Further Reading

Related AchieveForum content: Leading Innovation

Michael Jordan Congratulates LeBron James

Basketball player LeBron James surpassed Michael Jordan on the all-time scoring list. Michael Jordan issued a statement congratulating Lebron on the achievement, and LeBron thanked MJ for being an inspiration for him and his friends growing up.

Our View: Appreciate your mentors, advisers, and leaders. Appreciate the guides that inspire you regardless of whether you know them personally. Has an author’s writing moved you? Did a speaker’s lecture change your thinking? Write them a thank you letter, recognize their impact in a tweet, or pay it forward by sharing the story with your team. Further Reading

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