wild idea od the week june 18 2011

wild idea od the week june 18 2011 - Amy Gutmann president...

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Amy Gutmann, president of the University of Pennsylvania, says it's important to be open to “wild and crazy ideas” because universities are all about ideas — “and if we're not open to them, if I'm not open to them, who is going to be?” June 18, 2011 Welcoming the Wild Ideas of the Week By ADAM BRYANT   This interview with  Amy Gutmann,  president of the  University of Pennsylvania , was conducted and condensed by  Adam  Bryant.           Q.  What do you consider some of your most important leadership lessons?      A.  The biggest influences on me for leading preceded my ever even thinking of myself as a leader — particularly my  father’s experience leaving Nazi Germany.  Because I would not even exist if it weren’t for his combination of courage  and farsightedness.  He saw what was coming with Hitler and he took all of his family and left for India.  That took a  lot of courage.  That is always something in the back of my mind.  And my mother was a child of the Depression and  so she triumphed against all odds.    To me, those two things are really important about leadership, to have courage and to be farsighted in your vision,  not to be just reacting to the next small challenge.  It probably wouldn’t be as important as it now seems to me if that  hadn’t been something that gets repeated over and over in my experience.   Q.   Were you in leadership roles as a teenager?  
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A.  As a teenager, I loved math.  I loved solving puzzles and I was the captain of the math team and I did all the  leadership things that you would do in a public high school. But my challenge in high school was also fitting in — it  was a fairly homogenous community — because my father was an immigrant.  The challenge of leadership is precisely  the opposite.  It’s not to fit in.  It’s to have combined passion with purpose, and the most inspiring and successful  leaders, I think, don’t fit in.   Q.  So how did you square that over time?    A.  I was the first person in my high school to go to Radcliffe.  But, interestingly, when I got there I realized that fitting  in was no longer conforming.  It was having bold ideas and taking risks, smart risks and branching out beyond one’s  comfort zone. And when I got to college, all of a sudden I realized that I was much more social than I ever thought,  and that I really liked bringing people together to do things.     Q.  Besides your parents, who were big influences for you?   A.
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