Theo Wells


Theo WellsAs a child, my parents committed me to one-half hour piano practice before breakfast every school morning. My two brothers and I did a weekly cycle to see who had to get up first. Choice was limited but discipline was not. Having choice within boundaries shaped my personal discipline through most of my life.

Education was highly valued, even though providing it wasn’t easy during the 1940s. But we worked it out—I was expected to earn part of my way. I went to Beloit College, the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and received a BS degree in business from University of California, Berkeley. Eventually, University of Southern California awarded me an MBA in 1948. I was one of only two women who received that degree that year. I went on to teach Management Development for Women at UCLA Extension, and co-authored my first book with Rosalind Loring, Breakthrough: Women Into Management. This led to invitations for articles in several management books and journals, and speaking engagements. Giving speeches was not my style—I stimulated talk-discussions instead. This helped address anger released in previously all-male departments, whether in business organizations, professional groups or universities. Glass ceilings still exist but expectations have shifted, though uneasily.

Of course, none of this hard-won wisdom sells unless we sprinkle in humor to ease transitions in corporate life, a goal of my last book Keeping Your Cool Under Fire: Communicating Non-Defensively, 1980. Now that I’m 90, I started thinking about how to die well, so I got to work on Take Care of Dying—Get On with Living: End-of-Life Planning that Works, 2016. I trust it works as well for you as it has for me.