Sunday, May 20, 2012

$100,000 Scholarships to "Stop" College

Entrepreneur Peter Thiel (Stanford Law '92) is financing twenty $100,000 scholarships for young people who agree to "stop" their formal education for two years to pursue or join a real world project broadly related to some aspect of business, innovation or technology. See Thiel Foundation's "The 20 Under 20 Fellowships."

Thiel is a former federal judicial clerk turned  securities trader turned entrepreneur (founded PayPal) turned hedge fund manager/venture capitalist (he bet big on Facebook and won).  Thiel believes  that the key skills for innovation are not taught very well in universities.  Further, because Thiel believes we are in the midst of a serious higher education bubble, he argues that the debt incurred by students only hobbles their ability to pursue activities that would redound to the benefit of the U.S. economy.  Thus, as a nation, we are stuck in a very unhealthy spot.

Thiel shares his unorthodox views with Morley Safer on tonight's 60 minutes.  In the meantime, below is a preview of Thiel's views on higher education courtesy of the The Big Think.

May 20, 2012 in Cross industry comparisons, Current events, New and Noteworthy, Structural change, Video interviews | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 26, 2012

What Does Leadership Look Like?

IDEO is the world's leading design and innovation company.   Diego Rodriguez, one of the partners at IDEO, has made a point of sharing the video below with a number of his colleagues.  Why?  Because he wanted to show them "what leadership should look like at IDEO."  It will surprise you.  (Hat-tip to Bob Sutton at Work Matters.)

Maurice Cheeks, then the head coach of the Portland Trail Blazers, sets a high bar for courage, confidence, decisiveness, humanity, kindness, unselfishness and world class poise.  If that is leadership, I am ready to follow. 

[Posted by Bill Henderson.]

March 26, 2012 in Blog posts worth reading, Cross industry comparisons, Video interviews | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Eye Contact Revolution

Several years ago, a student wrote in my teaching evaluations that I had a hard time with eye contact; the context was office hours.  I had not really thought about it,  but upon reflection, I realized that he/she was right.  More recently, in organizing peer evaluations of student presentations in my Legal Professions class, the topic of eye contact kept coming up.  And I agreed.  Students who maintained audience eye contact seemed more confident, competent and memorable.

This morning, via the Big Think, I read that we are -- or could be, if we got our act together -- in the midst of a eye contact revolution.  Here is an excerpt:

Michael Ellsberg, author of  The Power of Eye Contact: Your Secret For Success in Business, Love and Life, and The Education of Millionaires: It’s Not What You Think, and It’s Not Too Late thinks most of us are getting it wrong, eye-contact wise. Good eye contact, he argues, is as important to connecting meaningfully with others (at play or at work) as is, say, bathing. What’s needed, says Ellsberg, is a soft, open gaze – one that neither intimidates nor communicates anxiety on the part of the gazer.

[Why does this matter?]
Ellsberg’s “eye contact revolution” is aimed not only at careerists, but at the social and spiritual heart of our glowing screen-obsessed world. Looking up from our smartphones and into each other’s eyes, he believes, will increase the quality of every aspect of our lives.

Ellsberg suggests trying out his techniques in low stakes interactions, such as sales clerks and waiters and waitresses. 

This reminds me of Warren Buffett's experimentation with Dale Carnegie's techniques for making friends and influencing people.  In his teens, Buffett practiced the Carnegie methods for several weeks and tracked the results.  Then he reverted to his former self and agained tracked the data.  At the end of the process, he compared the statistical output and realized that the variation could not be explained [reasonably] by chance.  So thereafter, he committed himself changed.  See Alice Schroeder, The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life (2008).

Below is a Big Think video of Ellsberg discussing his ideas.

[Posted by Bill Henderson]

March 13, 2012 in Blog posts worth reading, New and Noteworthy, Video interviews | Permalink | Comments (1)