We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.
- Albert Einstein
There may be a few of you who are unfamiliar with Thomas Friedman, but probably not many. Author, reporter, columnist — the recipient of three Pulitzer Prizes and writer of six bestselling books, among them From Beirut to Jerusalem and The World Is Flat, Friedman recently spoke at A Collaborative Leadership Summit to launch (co) lab at the Woodruff Arts Center in Atlanta.
Friedman notes that when The World is Flat was released (2005), Facebook, Twitter and FourSquare did not exist. I think about how much I rely on TripAdvisor, Google Maps and Facebook to help me sort through food options, get there safely and then share the experience with my family and friends. How did I ever get along without them?
Much of the presentation is around global change and how Americans fit in (or not). Even if you’re not a Friedman groupie, you will be very impressed with his command of information, experience, stories and insight. The future will need innovators and collaborators to cross sectors, which makes Einstein, The Patterson Foundation’s values and the five tips below all the more meaningful.
During the Q&A, (near the end), Friedman shared what he tells his own kids about preparing for the future.
1. Behave like an immigrant. Eyes wide open, work harder than others and pursue opportunities with energy and vigor. And remember that the landscape changes quickly so be willing to adapt—your first job is likely the first of many.
2. Larry Katz, a Harvard Labor Economist tells students to think like an artisan. Be so proud of everything you create that you want to carve your initials on the back. Translated—this means bring extra passion, creativity, knowledge to your work.
3. Reed Hoffman, Founder of LinkedIn, has said that the Silicon Valley mindset is that you are in Beta in a permanent sort of way. A work in progress—like a startup. The work is never completed—always being tested and improved.
4. Friedman’s personal motto is: PQ + CQ is greater than IQ. PQ = passion, CQ = curiosity. Passion and Curiosity are much stronger attributes than IQ.
Last, but certainly not least--and my personal favorite….
5. Think like a Perkins waitress. I was glad he provided an example of a person who is working with what they have. At his neighborhood Perkins, his friend ordered extra fruit with his meal. The waitress gladly accommodated this request, resulting in a generous tip from the friend. Friedman saw the waitress’s action as adding value to the things she can control and acting like an entrepreneur!
Insights like these would apply to all future workers—whether you are in the private, community benefit or public sector.
What do you tell your kids about the future?
Learn about these and other concepts used in TPF's approach to philanthropy.
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