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Apples & Action

Apples Are Square: Thinking Differently About Leadership By Susan Smith Kuczmarski and Thomas D.

Apples Are Square: Thinking Differently About Leadership
By Susan Smith Kuczmarski and Thomas D. Kuczmarski
Kaplan Publishing; $25

The title of the book, Apples Are Square, has nothing to do with a company of that name nor the saw about pegs and holes. Rather, it comes from the childhood experience of former football player Christopher Zorich (who now operates a foundation to feed and help needy kids and their families): His mother sometimes had to go to a dumpster behind a grocery store to scavenge food; she had to cut the bad parts of apples off such that they became square; Zorich had always thought that that’s the way apples are. The authors take that as a metaphor and explain: “We, as a society, need to take bruised work environments and reshape them into dynamic, inclusive, and collaborative organizations.” And they set out to describe how these organizations—and the individuals who create and work within them—can be formed through the experience of Zorich and 24 other successful individuals, many of whom may not be familiar to you but who, nonetheless, are successful within the Kuczmarskis’ definition: “Success is not about power, wealth accumulation, and hierarchical control. Success should be about two things—how one feels about one’s self (self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-perception) and the impact that one has at home, at work, and in the community.” It’s about doing, and the authors provide six values that one must actively pursue. One of the key ideas comes from one of the 25, Mary Ellen Weber, a former NASA astronaut, who puts it in the book: “’People often talk about success as something that happens to you, but it is a decision,’ Weber says. ‘Doing well at something is just a decision. I think it has very little to do with capabilities. I firmly believe that. Certainly some people are better artists than others, other people can be smarter, but it really is just a decision about how much work you put in and, even more important, what standards you will accept.’” Had Zorich’s mother not decided to act for her family and create square apples, would she—and by extension her son—ever have realized success?—GSV