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Ashley Madison and the leader's soul

Hackers 'Impact Team' have stolen and leaked personal information from online adultery site Ashley Madison. Ashley Madison website hacked by group Impact Team, Jul 21, 2015 (Rex Features via AP Images)"Life is short.  Have an affair." This is the tagline of Ashley Madison, a Canada-based online dating and social networking service marketed to married people. At its height, the service's membership included 39 million people in 53 countries.
On July 15, 2015, the site was breached by a group calling themselves "The Impact Team." The hackers threatened to release the data unless the site was immediately shut down. After the site's owners refused, the group released part of the data on August 18, with another section following on August 21.

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A leader's foresight

Gerry Balding via FlickrThe Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority is working feverishly to make preparations for the coming winter. As the school year begins and summer comes to a close, it's hard to believe, but we're not far from winter's cold air. Last year, the MBTA was brought to its knees by the harsh winter storms that blanketed much of the country under heavy snow, and state officials have vowed to update old trains, replace faulty tracking, and improve de-icing abilities. It's hard to imagine now, but it won't be long before the snow comes.

We are seasonal, rhythm-based creatures. Our heart beats at a steady rhythm. Our gait follows a certain cadence. We eat at the same general times each day. All of this shows how much we are impacted by rhythms.

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Amazon's wealth and poverty

An Amazon warehouse worker at the Peterborough fulfillment center in Cambridgeshire, England picks an order during Black Friday week, November 25, 2014 (Credit: AP Photo/Rex/Geoff Robinson)Perhaps you have read the New York Times' recent article describing the cutthroat environment at Amazon. If not, maybe you saw it on your Twitter or Facebook feed. It has gained more attention than the normal investigative journalism pieces that the Times and other newspapers regularly produce.

The article is well worth your time to read, especially since it brings up so many leadership implications. The basic theme throughout the piece is that Amazon's practices are bizarre and relentless at best, and soul-killing and de-humanizing at worst. A variety of employees, both current and former, as well as consultants and others who worked with the organization were quoted, but the line that stands out the most is from Bo Olson, a former employee, who described his time at Amazon by saying: "Nearly every person I worked with, I saw cry at their desk."

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Google, Alphabet, and your leadership sphere

Sundar Pichai, senior vice president of Android, Chrome and Apps, talks during a conference during the Mobile World Congress, the world's largest mobile phone trade show in Barcelona, Spain, March 2, 2015 (Credit: AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)Google made waves this week by announcing a major reorganization of their company under the new name Alphabet. In a blog post explaining the changes, founder Larry Page said "Alphabet is mostly a collection of companies." These companies include established businesses such as Google and YouTube, as well as long-term research and development outfits such as X Lab, most popularly known for its foray into driverless cars. It also includes an organization you may not be familiar with, called Calico.

Calico is self-described as a "research and development company whose mission is to harness advanced technologies to increase our understanding of the biology that controls lifespan." In simpler terms, they're "tackling aging, one of life's greatest mysteries." Time ran a feature on the company in 2013, breaking down the company's mission even further, titling their piece "Can Google Solve Death?"

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Game of Thrones and the power of stories

Game of Thrones HBO show featuring Sean Bean, seen here with sword, sitting on throne (Credit: Game of Thrones via HBO) Game of Thrones is one of the most wildly popular television shows running. The HBO hit is included in what many have dubbed the (new) golden age of television. Standing alongside other popular shows like The Sopranos, Mad Men, Breaking Bad, The Wire, and True Detective, Game of Thrones continues to hold audiences attention with its mix of complex storytelling, graphic violence, and visual beauty. David Benioff summed up Game of Thrones well by describing it as "The Sopranos in Middle-Earth".

Pundits have said that the reason these TV shows are so popular is that they offer a tantalizing form of escapism. They portray intricate plots, set in mysterious and stunning locations, with nuanced, multi-faceted characters. I think these pundits are right, but escapism has always been a reason why people turn to stories, so what makes these new TV shows such a powerful draw to our contemporary world?

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