When you think about leaders who value human connection, who comes to mind? Eager to add to and broaden the diversity of individuals and groups profiled in Connection Culture, one of the things Michael and I enjoyed most about researching and writing new content for the 2nd edition being released on September 22 was getting to know the stories of people who have tapped into the power of human connection and who employ elements of a connection culture in how they lead and influence others.
Lin-Manuel Miranda, Tom Kail, and the team that developed Hamilton, the phenomenally-successful Broadway musical, caught our eye and we bring you a behind-the-scenes look at how they collaborate. Learning about their lives before they became public figures gave us new insights into why German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors N.B.A. team, and former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy lead the way they do. There are profiles of CEO Tricia Griffith of Progressive Insurance, Oprah Winfrey, and Howard Behar, former President of Starbucks. We look at a number of leaders and organizations in healthcare. We introduce you to identical twins who discovered their calling was actually in the field of diversity and inclusion, and several connectors making a difference in their local communities. In their own ways and in very different environments, each person profiled in Connection Culture has modeled being a connected leader.
We learn from each other, don’t we? Reading about people who connect is bound to give us ideas of what we might try or spur our thinking about how to adapt their attitudes and actions to our own circumstances. The expanded and updated 2nd edition is full of real-life examples of connection heroes to inspire you to strengthen connection in your life.
Surprising Connection: Hamilton and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
Last week we discovered a connection between Hamilton and an organization that is also highlighted in Connection Culture: Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK). Yes, they both have their roots in New York City and, yes, they are both among the very best in their respective fields. This particular connection goes back more than 130 years to one of the granddaughters of Founding Father Alexander Hamilton.
If you have seen Hamilton, whether live or the excellent film version of the stage production now available on the Disney+ platform, you may recall in the final scene that Elizabeth (“Eliza”) Schuyler Hamilton, Alexander’s widow, sings of projects she took on to tell his story and further his legacy. The one she is most proud of is the private orphanage that she co-founded in New York City a few years after his death and served as director of for 27 years. (Alexander Hamilton had been orphaned as a child on the Caribbean island of Nevis, a British colony, before coming to New York to further his education.) Eliza’s efforts for the welfare of children carry on today as Graham Windham, a private nonprofit social services agency that now provides parenting support and mental and behavioral health treatment for 5,000 children and families each year.
Like Eliza, her paternal grandmother whom she would have spent time with through her childhood and into her 20s, Elizabeth Hamilton Cullum also has a “living legacy” that was born out of a family experience and a philanthropic desire to make a difference for people in need. Elizabeth’s only son passed away from cancer in 1882. She herself was diagnosed with cancer within a year. According to Memorial Sloan Kettering’s website, at the time,“hospitals often turned away cancer patients because they did not understand the disease” and it was feared by the public. Elizabeth brought together a group of friends, including financier and philanthropist John Jacob Astor III and his wife, Charlotte, and discussed the idea of a hospital whose dedicated purpose would be the treatment of cancer. In 1884, the group founded New York Cancer Hospital, which eventually became MSK. Upon her death, that same year, she bequeathed her estate to the new hospital. MSK’s website notes that Elizabeth “believed in using her influence for the greater good.” The same could be said for Eliza.
As a three-time cancer survivor who has been treated by highly skilled and compassionate physicians, nurses, and staff at Yale New Haven Health and at Memorial Sloan Kettering, I am grateful to Elizabeth Hamilton Cullum for her vision to address cancer head on. As someone who enjoys Broadway theater and is interested in American history, I am grateful to Lin-Manuel Miranda and the immensely talented team of collaborators and performers for their vision of bringing to the stage “the story of America then, told by America now.”
For a sneak peek at our profile of the connection culture Lin-Manuel Miranda, Tom Kail, and the rest of the Hamilton team developed that brought out the best performance of all involved, check out this sample chapter from the upcoming edition of Connection Culture.
We’re excited to share even more profiles in the 2nd edition, as well as noteworthy research from the past five years, topics applicable to the changing workplace, additional best practices, and new features that will help readers reflect on their experiences and apply connection culture principles.
More From Katharine Stallard
Katharine P. Stallard joined Connection Culture Group as a partner in 2018. She is a co-author of the book Connection Culture: The Competitive Advantage of Shared Identity, Empathy and Understanding at Work and is a gifted connector, speaker and teacher. Audiences and seminar participants enjoy her sense of humor and practical advice.