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What we’re reading: Remembering the greats edition

We read a lot of articles to winnow down each business day’s SmartBrief on Leadership newsletter. That means hard choices, and sometimes intriguing, excellent content is left out.

Here is some of what I’ve been reading lately that might not seem directly applicable to most business leaders but may offer outside-the-box lessons. At the least, they’re good reads. Also, don’t forget to sign up for SmartBrief on Leadership.

“Inside America’s Great Romance With Norman Rockwell,” Smithsonian magazine, 10/2013: Looking at the personal life of Norman Rockwell and how unlikely it once seemed that he would be one of America’s most beloved artists. A great read for anyone tempted to make premature historical conclusions.

“Inside the fall of BlackBerry: How the smartphone inventor failed to adapt,” The (Toronto) Globe and Mail, 9/28: A lot to absorb in this long, long article, but here’s the thesis: “An investigation by The Globe and Mail, which included interviews with two dozen past and present company insiders, exposes a series of deep rifts at the executive and boardroom levels.”

“When and how to say goodbye to some of the original team,” Founder’s Mentality blog, 9/12:  You’ve founded a company and it’s growing by leaps and bounds. You wouldn’t have gotten there without early colleagues who did whatever you needed. But sometimes, that growth makes those people the wrong ones for moving forward. “Figuring out the fate of the ‘mission accomplished’ team is often one of the most difficult issues a founder must face,” James Allen writes.

“Mariano Rivera’s Epic, Legacy-Building Failure,” The Atlantic, 9/29: OK, two weeks in a row with Mariano Rivera links. But this is the last one, and a lesson on rebounding from failure. There’s no greater failure than blowing Game 7 of the World Series, and yet 12 years later, it’s but a footnote instead of a career-destroyer.

“Ackman strikes deal with Air Products to replace CEO,” New York Post, 9/26: Unlike Mariano Rivera, most of us don’t get to decide when it’s time to retire. And in a few cases, like if you’re the CEO of Procter & Gamble and now Air Products, activist investor Bill Ackman decides for you.