HBR have a great series of “Life’s Work” interviews here with what they call “Wildly successful people.” They come from all walks of life, but have one thing in common: they all absolutely love what they do.You have to subscribe to get the complete interviews (it’s free), but here are some of the quotables that I thought pastors and other christian leaders could profitably reflect upon. “Early on I didn’t know how to delegate. I was always trying to do other people’s jobs. I learned you’ll drive yourself crazy doing that, and you won’t have good people working for you very long.”
Condoleeza Rice, Former National Security Adviser and Secretary of State. Q. How do you respond to criticism
“If the criticism is structural or intellectual in nature, and it makes sense in terms of your procedures and what you’re trying to communicate, then you listen to it. If it’s personal—or if it’s a mixture of both—then you become very, very skeptical.”
Richard Serra, Metal sculptor who put himself through Yale by working in a steel mill. “You usually can’t change people’s minds by the intellect. You’ve got to find something that reaches into their hearts… [But] if you can find a story, if you can make them think and not be defensive, sometimes the toughest person can change.”
Jane Goodall, World’s foremost expert on Chimpanzees. Q. What do you look for when you hire executive chefs?
“I don’t hire them. I bring them up from my team. The highest level we’ll hire from outside is a line cook.”
Mario Batali, Chef-Entrepreneur. Q. How do you react when your team is in a slump?
“Number one, you can’t panic. You can’t have a bad week and start throwing things. Your character has to be the same whether you are winning or losing. If it’s not, then you care about the winning and losing more than you do about the people.”
Joe Girardi, Manager of the New York Yankees. “I can become fanatical about things. I hope in my old age I’m slightly more measured but in order to make something work you often have to often exclude anything else. There may be more intelligent people who don’t have to do that, but I have to. It’s a single-mindedness.”
James Dyson, who created 5,127 prototypes of his Dual Cyclone vacuum cleaner before settling on the model that made him a billionaire. Q. What made Katharine Graham a great newspaper publisher?
“She loved the newsroom. She was down two, three, four times a day. She couldn’t go home at night without coming down and saying, “Whaddya got? Whaddya got?” That is a wonderful thing for reporters—to see the superboss down there.”
Ben Bradlee, The Washington Post’s executive editor from 1968 to 1991, a period in which the paper won 23 Pulitzer Prizes and exposed the Watergate scandal. “Preparation is everything. You need to rehearse so you’re confident in the set, you know the songs very, very well and what’s going to happen very, very well. It has to be flawless… On stage you almost have to convince yourself this is the last time. You perform as if you’ve never played it before and you’re never going to play it again.”
Annie Lennox, who sold more than 80 million albums, logged numerous hit singles, and won four Grammys. “I’m not a physician and a storyteller. I regard the two things as linked… Writing gives one a way of reflecting and re-experiencing.”
Oliver Sacks, professor of neurology and psychiatry at Columbia University, whose books of clinical tales have become bestsellers. Q. Were you immediately successful?
“I didn’t have a clue. It took me about 10 years to learn the craft—not in school, in the factories. But I was very lucky to have incredible women around me who were mad about what I was doing—Bianca Jagger, Paloma Picasso, Marisa Berenson, so many.”
Manolo Blahnik, perhaps the world’s most famous shoe designer, whose name has become synonymous with luxury.