We have conducted several 50-second interviews with our thinkers. Here are their collected answers to one specific question: What advice would you give to anyone who wants to follow in your footsteps?
Find your own path. Be prepared to be alone for stretches, if you must. If you can, don’t go it alone. Remember and imagine in equal measure. Your voice is a distant aim, not a means.
Only follow other people’s footsteps as far as to the precipice, but not over it…
Find your own footsteps … “Don’t spend you time living somebody else’s life”!
Write – and publish what you write. Share what you publish on social media. You are doing this because you want to find your voice, and have something to say. When you write, you find your voice. When you publish, you figure out if you have something people want to hear.”
Don’t go where you don’t want to go. Ponder and find your answer to the questions: What do I want? Whom do I serve? How do I build?
Find a lens on the world that is uniquely yours. Through that lens, join together different dots to create a fresh idea. Most importantly create a vehicle or artefact to carry the idea. It can be a TV show, a book, a business etc. One article is not enough. Then marry the idea. Love it, hate it but most importantly understand the idea better than anyone else in the world. Know when to push the idea harder, know when to let it go. Once you have the idea, figure out your business model that gives you the freedom to keep thinking versus locked into to have to sell services.
To be a good management thinker, the first point is you need to actually know what you are talking about! This means starting from either a strong foundation in practice (running a business) or in theory (getting a PhD). There are really good management thinkers coming from both camps. But the people who jump into book-writing or conference-speaker without any sort of foundation are usually very superficial.
The second point is that the neat new ideas usually emerge at the intersection between theory and practice. So if you start out in academia, you should spend a lot of time working with executives to understand their world view, and if you start out as an executive, you need to read widely, to place your practical experience in the right context.
Find your purpose, pursue it passionately and persistently with dedication; always look at the big picture and do your best every day; be genuinely nice and compassionate to connect with your stakeholders and make a positive difference.