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Following my curiosity

John's reflections, leadership, Leadership training Leave a comment

Steve Jobs’ story about his Reed College calligraphy class and “connecting the dots” got me thinking about whether I had ever experienced anything similar. In other words, was there a time in my life when I explored something I was simply curious about, not knowing where it would lead, and only discovered years later how valuable the learning was? As Jobs states, it is impossible to connect the dots looking forward; we can only connect them looking backward.  When I was a masters degree student at Middlebury College, one of the most colorful characters I encountered was Bernard Uzan, a young professor of theatre. Bernard was a well-known actor in France … Continue reading

How to find your passion

John's reflections, Leadership in the news Leave a comment

This week, a friend sent me an article about why “follow your passion” is bad advice. The article cites the book So Good They Can’t Ignore You, whose author, Cal Newport, makes the case that the “follow passion” cliché is flawed. He explains that innate passion is rare and has little to do with why most people end up loving their work, or not. In addition, he says, following one’s passion can lead to anxiety and chronic job hopping.  Newport contends that preexisting passion is not only exceedingly rare, it also should not matter. According to the author, one should work on mastering skills of one’s current job, rather than trying to find … Continue reading

A college education should be about collecting and connecting

John's reflections Leave a comment

It seems fairly often these days that I come across an article or blog that asks the question “does a college education make sense?”. Particularly in the United States, where a university education is expensive, the discussion often centers on economic calculations. For example, the argument may focus on these types of questions: How much will my studies cost, how much more can I expect to earn with the diploma, and how long is the payback period on this investment?  Each time I see one of these pieces, I am dismayed by the reduction of such decisions to their financial aspects. I would argue that the time one spends in university … Continue reading

A tale of Steve Jobs’ two visits to Stanford, and of “connecting the dots”

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Though I do not recall the exact date in 1983, I remember distinctly a day when Steve Jobs came to talk to us at Stanford about his vision for the personal computer industry. It was before the release of the first Macintosh (which would come in January 1984); Jobs was already an icon of Silicon Valley, due to the success of the Apple II. That day at Stanford, he spoke to us passionately about how our world would change with what was coming next: the graphical user interface, an operating system based on windows and icons, the first computer that would truly be personal. I was in my second year … Continue reading

Steve Jobs was truly about connecting things

John's reflections, leadership, Leadership in the news Leave a comment

The past two posts, and perhaps the next few, take their inspiration from the (relatively) new movie “Jobs”, which I managed to see on one of my long airplane journeys. I say “inspiration” because this film made me curious again about some of its characters and stories; that curiosity led me to re-read Isaacson’s fascinating biography, and to do a bit of research on the Internet. It turns out that some of the people portrayed on the screen, the ones whose interviews I was able to find on YouTube, are not in complete agreement with Hollywood’s somewhat fictionalized version of the events, but that is not the issue I wish … Continue reading

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