The Washington Post

Six great quotes from the 2011 World Business Forum

This week in New York City, the World Business Forum hosted several thousand execs, as well as the insights of nearly two-dozen speakers. From Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz to generational guru Tammy Erickson to President Bill Clinton and former GE CEO Jack Welch, the two-day event was a two-day MBA. Of everything that was discussed—economics, leadership, business, management and more—here are the six moments that really dropped jaws:

1. “For most people success is measured in wealth and fame and power. For me, success is measured by how many shining eyes are around me.” – Ben Zander, conductor of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra

Experiencing Ben Zander is transformational. His optimism and energy are infectious, inspiring us to consider how we can have a positive impact on our world.


2. “Risk taking is at the core of effective leadership.” – Malcolm Gladwell, author of Blink and Outliers

Malcolm Gladwell talked about the difference between operational and social risks.  The greatest leaders limit operational risk while taking enormous social risks—oftentimes losing colleagues and friends when dedicated to a cause. Those leaders, he said, “identify what they believe to be the right course of action, and they follow it regardless of the social consequence.”


3. “We are all so trapped in our normal patterns of thinking that we’re not even aware of it.” – Luke Williams, Frog Design

Williams drew a small audience into his compelling ideas about innovation, offering the additional resolve, “It’s not about being able to spot and react to disruptive change. It’s about how to be the disruptive change.”


4. “Great leaders are able to see that seed that, if watered and shed light on, will flourish.” – Tal Ben-Shahar, teacher at the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya, in Israel

Ben-Shahar’s passion for positive psychology is palpable and pointedly expressed with questions. How can we be more optimistic? What happens when we focus on what’s right rather than what’s wrong? How can we better lead by accentuating the positive?


5. “Your job is a platform to do art, it’s a platform to lead, it’s a platform to make mistakes, it’s a platform to do something that matters.” – Seth Godin, author of Purple Cow and Linchpin

Like Gladwell, Godin is an entertaining concept guy—and most compelling is his focus on conformity. He cautions against the herd mentality, and argues that our education system has taught us to follow and fade away. For Godin, we’re better than that and should fervently believe in the substance of our value.

6. “It is a fact that societies with fewer advantages will compensate in some way.” – Malcolm Gladwell, author of Blink and Outliers

Gladwell opens minds. In watching him talk to a small audience off the main stage, he dug into his upcoming book by highlighting the concept of ‘compensation learning’—that is, how we learn from compensating for our weaknesses (take dyslexia or asthma, for example). He looked at everything from parents’ paradoxical tendencies to shelter their children from the very forms of adversity that helped them grow, to how disadvantage can force profound development.


Check out @MenoConulting to see Dan Liedl’s entire live Twitter feed from the conference. And if you have an idea for what the Leadership Playlist should write about next, email Dan and Joe or find them on Facebook.


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