As expected, the only highlight of the weekend was the Leadership class. Some choice quotes:
- Perfect is the enemy of the good and the timely.
- Great leaders blend extreme personal humility with intense professional will.
- In nature, only two phenomena go faster uphill than downhill: grizzly bears and fires.
- Panic - the level of anxiety when one reverts to last learned behavior.
Making Fast and Good Decisions (this is specifically for alehhandro ;-))
From the US Marine Corps:
Be comfortable with making decisions without having all the information
Rule of thumb - make decisions and take action when you are about 70% certain of its "correctness"
Mistakes are tolerated, even encouraged, if they point to stronger performance next time
We did an entertaining exercise in class to demonstrate - this is one for the "Wharton - the home game" edition. You have 60 seconds (self timed) to read and come up with an answer.
"A man buys a $78 necklace at a jewelry store, and he gives the jeweler a check for $100. Because the jeweler does not have the $22 change on hand, she goes to another merchant next door. There she exchanges the man's check for $100 in cash. She returns to her store and gives the man the necklace and the change. Later the check is returned by the bank due to insufficient funds in the buyer's account, and the jeweler must then give the other merchant $100. The jeweler originally paid $39 for the necklace. What is the jeweler's total loss?"
We were each instructed to come up with an answer in 60 seconds and then go to a corner of the room that had the correct answer range: 0-50, 51-75, 76-100, 101-150, 151-200. Initially, no corner had more than 2/5 of the class and no corner was empty. We were told that this was one of the rare cases when there actually is only one correct answer and were given 5 minutes to talk to our peers and possible switch corners. Initially, we all started talking to the members of our corner, preaching to the choir, so to speak, as we all, by definition, had the same answer - but it did give the warm and fuzzy feeling of others confirming your decision. After about a minute, we smartened up and started to mingle, try to find out what was the reasoning in the other groups. In a couple more minutes, curiosity was replaced by evangelism, as we started trying to convert everyone to our own point of view (note that the assignment was only to find the correct answer for yourself). At the sound of the final whistle pretty much all of us congregate in the correct location, having understood the reasoning. The social dynamic of the exercise was obviously more interesting than the problem itself.
We talked about quite a few interesting case studies: the Dodge fires (spot fires named for Wagner Dodge), an Antarctica expedition, the battle of Gettysburg.
Humility and Leadership
Jim Collin's (of "From Good to Great" fame) analysis of exceptional leadership posits that personal modesty (combined with professional will) is the key to great leadership. Some wonderful quotes from the top executives of great companies: "I hope I am not sounding like a big shot", "I don't think I can take much credit for what happened. We were blessed with marvelous people.", "There are a lot of people in this company who could do my job better than I do.", "We just got lucky - we were in a great industry at a great time [their competitors in the same industry were still struggling]" Given that these comments are truly honest and not a public relations stunt, they are quite exceptional. If nothing else, if Wharton could increase my own sense of personal humility, I am sure it would serve me very well. "I owe greatly to others and luck for my successes, but most of my failures are my own doing."