6 Stories of the Best Bosses | Growing Greatness in the Workplace

Julie Eggers Best Bosses

Gratitude is an important part of Gardenuity. It’s inherent in the act of growing — gardening is one of the easiest ways to grow gratitude in your life — and being grateful makes life happier, healthier, and more full. From encouraging you to appreciate the ‘now,’ to understanding the intricacies of nature’s processes, gardening is our favorite way to increase gratitude in our life.

We believe gratitude is a verb. That’s why we grow it. The truth is, gratitude is born by growing any good thing (not just plants), and we’ll take any opportunity to express gratitude for people who grow goodness. So in honor of national bosses’ day (October 16), we’re taking the chance to reflect on people who have helped us grow in the workplace: our bosses.

In our experience, the best bosses are made by their commitment to gratitude, their excitement for new experience, and their willingness to share their insights with those they lead. Leadership is about bringing people with you on your journey upwards and sowing seeds of gratitude along the way.

Today, we’ve gathered stories about some of our favorite bosses. They’re retailers, mentors, ice rink owners, community builders, and tech titans. They’re people who have encouraged the best in us and set us on career paths we never would have expected. They are all fueled by a single passion: to help those around them grow into the best leaders they can be.

Jeremiah Murphy, Neiman Marcus

by Donna Letier

Early in my career at Neiman Marcus (pre-laptops and cell phones), I had a boss who just got me: Jeremiah Murphy. He always trusted me to get the job done, while simultaneously pushing me to go beyond the job description. In fact, he made sure I played outside my lanes and constantly encouraged me to adopt an entrepreneurial mindset — a now cherished skill of mine.

From finance to logistics, taught to negotiate for more — from others and from myself. Jerry Murphy represented disruption, innovation, and out-of-the-box thinking. He brought fun to everyday and balanced it with a unique drive. He appreciated hard work, persistence, and ideas that would push the boundaries of how customers could experience the brand. Most of all, Jerry believed in the power of gratitude.

I remember going into his office one December morning after working 15 hours straight for 3 days in a row. We were going over the 4th quarter sales plan and I fainted. Totally passed out in his office. Jerry found someone to drive me home and, a few hours later, had soup from the Mermaid bar delivered. (This was way before Uber Eats or food delivery service!)

I will never forget this one act of kindness. It taught me that a great boss goes the extra mile to show gratitude. The notion that gratitude matters is something I still believe. I surround myself with leaders who care deeply about each other and who challenge the status quo in pursuit of a common goal: to nurture one’s dream and grow gratitude one garden at a time.

Best Bosses

Jerry Thompson, Mobil Oil

by Julie Eggers

One of my favorite bosses was Jerry Thompson. He was the department head of the Computer Applications & Systems at Mobil Oil. I remember one moment when Jerry became a very memorable boss for me.

I was still quite young in my career and was lead on a major project on which our team had been working long hours for many, many months. I had “had a day” as one might say. The pressure had piled up just past the tipping point. For a brief moment in the elevator, some tears started streaming and a manager in the department saw it. Within an hour, Jerry came and visited my desk: hands on my shoulders and asking how he could help. The assurance of “you got this” came through clearly in his words, demeanor, and actions. And as a result, I did!

Lincoln Millstein, The Hearst Corporation

by Doug Platts

Some of my most appreciated “boss” moments weren’t always from my direct managers. In fact, one of my best bosses was a senior executive at Hearst, Lincoln Millstein (SVP & Special Assistant to the CEO).

I got to know Lincoln really well when I worked out of Hearst Tower in NYC as we partnered with the newspaper, magazine, and TV divisions to share the latest trends and best practices in relation to search marketing and social media.

Even though he is very senior within Hearst, Lincoln made the extra effort to spend one-on-one time with me to discuss initiatives and trends that I could provide input on. He then included me in the executive meetings to discuss how to apply these initiatives to the broader organization. These conversations allowed me to develop a much greater appreciation of the publishing business, an understanding of scaling across large conglomerates, and Hearst as a whole.

Lincoln’s clear and inclusive leadership showed me of the power of discussion and encouragement. The things he taught me have played a powerful and meaningful role in my career development now.

Adam Lapps, MECLabs Institute

by Beka Rich

Beka Gardenuity Grow Pro

Back when I was still working in the consulting digital marketing field with big named clients and high stakes, I had one boss who showed me the extensive impact a good leader can have. Adam made time for what he saw as most important: his team.

Despite Adam’s incredible talent for optimizing a customer purchase path and interpreting test result data, he was still humble, personable, and open to new/constructive ideas. Adam became a constant source of levity in a tense working environment. Not only did he leverage my inherent talents and skills, but he helped me identify and hone news skills to take me where I wanted to go (which have since taken a surprising turn into the gardening world).

Adam knew that by prioritizing his team, he increased morale, performance, and motivation. Whenever I think about good company culture, I am reminded of how much value he added to the office and inspired to do the same.

Today, he writes about the 10 leadership principles he lives by. I’m so grateful to have experience them firsthand!

Steve Grant, Billingsley

by Ellie Lemak

My favorite boss was Steve Grant at Billingsley. And it’s for a simple reason: he always encouraged my personal growth within the company and treated me as equal — even though his title was well above mine. He consistently asked for my opinion and criticism with important matters or projects and encouraged me to speak my voice.

Steve also treated me like a friend. This made my job so much easier —removing any stress or need to ‘walk on eggshells.’ He reminds me of how much positive power a good leader has.

Andre, Local Ice Rink

by Thomas Corr

One of my best bosses was actually Andre, the owner of the Ice Rink I worked at in high school. He was funny and relaxed. Plus, as long as you got your work done well, he didn’t bother you — the perfect boss for a high schooler.

Mike, Milwaukee Joe’s

By Max Boswell

In high school, I worked at an icecream shop and my boss Mike, took me under his wing. Mike was very successful in his career and he taught me a lot about hard work and what it takes to become successful. I learned a proper philosophy on customer experience & business. Great for a first job in high school.