Four Reflective Commentaries on Leadership – Part 2

The first entry of this two-parter was posted this past Monday. Now it is time to talk about the remaining two commentaries.

The Uses of Adversity: Can Underprivileged outsiders have an advantage? by Malcolm Galdwell in the New Yorker (11/10/08)

This writing focuses on Sidney Weinberg. He is credited as making Goldman Sachs an investment powerhouse. But Weinberg wasn’t your typical Wall Street type. He’s the self made type that started in as a janitor and climbed the ladder. The angle of the story is how he climbed the ladder. It wasn’t because of his pedigree. It was because he flaunted his differences, his outsider persona. This allowed him to be less cordial and cut to the chase. And, according to the story, he knew it was an advantage. Weinberg was socially talented. He knew what to tell people and when to say it. He was able to see himself as others did and manipulate that perspective. Here is an excerpt as an example:

A friend told of Weinberg’s
being the guest of honor at J. P. Morgan’s luncheon table, where the
following exchange occurred: “Mr. Weinberg, I presume you served in the
last war?”

“Yes, sir, I was in the war—in the navy.”
“What were you in the navy?”
“Cook, Second Class.”
Morgan was delighted.

course, J. P. Morgan wasn’t actually delighted. He died in 1913, before
the First World War started. So he wasn’t the mogul at the table. But
you can understand why Weinberg would want to pretend that he was. And
although Weinberg did a stint as a cook (on account of poor eyesight),
he quickly got himself transferred to the Office of Naval Intelligence,
and then spent most of the war heading up the inspection of all vessels
using the port of Norfolk. But you can understand why that little bit
of additional history doesn’t fit, either.

Andrew Carnegie said “It is not from sons of the millionaire or the noble that the world receives its teachers, its martyrs, its inventors, its statesmen, its poets, or even its men of affairs. It is from the cottage of the poor that all these spring.”

10 New Gurus You Should Know by Jennifer Reingold and Christopher Tkaczyk in (11/13/08)

This isn’t really an article but mainly a recap of 10 individuals with new ideas. During economic troubles people with new ideas take on more significance because anything is worth a shot. Here is the list:

Patrick Lencioni – Founder, the Table Group, Lafayette, Calif.

Big Idea: Most executives don’t realize that the internal health of a company is key to its success.

Rakesh Khurana – Professor of business administration, Harvard Business School, Cambridge, Mass.

Big Idea: Charismatic CEOs don’t work; management needs to become a profession, like law.

Valerie Casey – Leader, Digital Experiences Practice, IDEO; founder, the Designers Accord, Palo Alto

Big Idea: A Kyoto Protocol for designers

Don Sull – Professor of management practice in strategic and international management, London Business School

Big Idea: Welcome uncertainty in turbulent times.

Joel Podolny – Former dean, Yale School of Management; incoming vice president and dean, Apple University, Cupertino, Calif.

Big Idea: Business schools must teach real-life problem solving.

Nouriel Roubini – Professor of economics, NYU Stern School of Business, New York City

Big Idea: Create a new global regulatory framework.

Janine Benyus – Co-founder, Biomimicry Guild and Institute, Helena, Mont.

Big Idea: Innovate by imitating, or “mimicking” nature.

Dan Ariely – Professor of behavioral economics, Duke University; member of MIT’s Media Lab Center for Future Banking

Big Idea: People are predictably irrational

Niko Canner – Co-founder, managing partner, Katzenbach Partners

Big Idea: Companies tend to avoid change, or change at the expense of their core strengths.

BJ Fogg –  Founder and director, Persuasive Technology Lab, Stanford Univ., Palo Alto

Big Idea: Mobile technology will be the most powerful way to influence consumers in the next 15 years.


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