It was a really pragmatic gift, but maybe tough to appreciate at age 18.
In his welcoming comments to the Class of 2019, Duke University President Richard Brodhead dispensed some wise philosophy. He encouraged the new students to adopt a set of profound and powerful life and work ideas that are applicable to all of us.
Brodhead’s address, titled Building a Life at Duke, was themed off the massive construction and renovation underway on campus. It provided an apt metaphor for his message.
I’ve culled and organized Four Key Takeaways.
1. Expect Change & Embrace Where It Can Take You
If you want to make room for a new, improved version of yourself, you will have to tolerate some disruption— of your personal habits, of your preexisting networks, even of assumptions that once seemed certain. Disruption is not fun, but it is the opener of possibilities.
Good things can happen when you listen to customers.
Consider Hostess Brands, which “has nurtured retail sales of its products nearly back to their pre-liquidation level of more than $1.3 billion in 2012” as reported by Julie Jargon in The Wall Street Journal.
This summer, the company expanded the Hostess brand product range with white and wheat bread along with hamburger and hot dog buns.
Let’s say you’re a new business unit leader or CMO.
You want to get an unvarnished, 360-degree view of the situation and challenge at-hand. You have to get prepared to give your boss an action plan.
What do you do and how do you do it?
To demonstrate, let’s use a high-profile, global example that just happened. I’ll tell you who it is at the end of the post.
Here are some of the steps taken by the new leader:
* Invited a range of outside industry experts to a private dinner. They represented views both consistent with, and alternate to, the company’s strategic direction.
* The guests had to earn their meal by commenting on the most pressing problems facing the company. Specifically, they were asked: “Tell me something I don’t know;” and “Give me a new way of thinking about things.”