Education

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Highlight your ‘positive deviants’

September 9, 2014
In 1991, Jerry Sternin headed to Vietnam. His goal: to fight child malnutrition in poor villages. Sternin isolated the few people who were modeling problem-solving behavior when most were following negative patterns. He thus dis­­covered what the “positive deviants” did to produce such superior results.

NIH chief built trust by defining success

July 30, 2014
Employees need to trust you as their leader if they’re going to outperform as a team. They must believe you’ll put their interests ahead of your own. But how do you communicate you’ll do just that? The director of the National Institutes of Health, Francis Collins, provides an example.

Carl Sagan to the cosmos: Connect

September 6, 2012

Carl Sagan’s passion for the universe was so huge that the moment Johnny Carson saw him on a Dick Cavett special, he wanted the scientist booked on The Tonight Show. Sagan delivered “a cosmological crash course,” explaining the connection between the history of the universe and the development of life on earth.

Mayo Clinic’s success secret: teamwork

August 16, 2012

After a diagnosis, patients at the Mayo Clinic meet with a team of specialists who help them understand what’s happening so they can decide about treatment together, says president and CEO Denis Cortese. This kind of teamwork is the stock-in-trade of Cortese, who won last year’s top leadership award from the National Center for Healthcare Leadership.

How we think about strategy

May 29, 2012
To make the topic of strategy more personal, Cynthia Montgomery, Timken Professor of Business Administration and immediate past head of the Strategy Unit at Harvard Business School, asks leaders to answer this question: Does your company matter? And also, what is your company adding to what already exists in the market?

How a geneticist won a Nobel Prize

August 18, 2011

“The only thing that’s worse than ‘bad’ is ‘boring,’” critiques Sydney Brenner, a founder of molecular biology who shared a Nobel Prize for his achievements in 2002. At age 84, he keeps traveling the world, opening up new fields of research and stimulating ideas. Here’s how.

No need to toot your own horn

August 17, 2011

In one way, Ezra Newman is the opposite of Stephen Hawking, another genius physicist. Unlike Hawking, who is great at attracting attention, Newman is great at deflecting it. Newman is unassuming, but boy is he influential. Like the black holes he studies, he gets noticed through his effects on his surroundings.

Give people their moment in the sun

September 13, 2010

Astrophysicist Jesse Greenstein was the first to correctly describe the nature of quasars, co-discovered cosmic radio noise emanating from our galaxy and proved that stars in globular clusters have fewer heavy elements and thus predate the sun. As a boss, though, Greenstein was perhaps even more stellar.

Is the age of profanity over?

September 13, 2010
Goldman Sachs now prohibits employees from swearing in e-mails, and uses screening software to spot and remove profanity. The impetus for change was the company’s embarrassment over profanity-littered e-mails that were repeatedly trotted out during congressional hearings. But is there ever a good cause for profanity in the workplace?

Milton Friedman: Think independently

July 9, 2010

Until his death in 2006, economist Milton Friedman kept up with opposing points of view, a practice being lost today as people find it increasingly easier to retreat into communities of interest reflecting only their own entrenched opinions. By contrast, Friedman read a range of material from conservative to liberal. “It seems to me more important to read stuff you disagree with than to read stuff you agree with,” he said.

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