50 Second Q&A: Lee Newman

Lee Newman

Lee Newman is an educational entrepreneur who is the founding Dean of the IE School of Human Sciences & Technology at IE University in Madrid. His mission is educating radically anti-disciplinary young professionals who are trained for high impact in the new world of work.  He holds a Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology and Computer Science (University of Michigan), an MBA and Master in Technology Policy (MIT),and a Bachelor in Electrical Engineering (Brown University).  He has founded and served as a senior manager in two technology ventures in New York City and was an Engagement Manager at McKinsey& Company in Chicago.   

What book are you currently reading?

Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst by Robert Sopolsky.

How do you describe what you do?

I study and try to predict the knowledge, skills and tools needed in the most exciting jobs of the near future, and I lead a school that launches innovative degree programs to give these to our students.

What is your big idea?

“Behavioral Fitness”.  Daily “bad behaviors” in the workplace (poor listening, micromanaging, unstructured communication, …) make work less fun, less positive, less engaging, less productive.  But people hate working on their “weaknesses”.  Like physical fitness, behavioral fitness is about tuning-up a few of the behavioral muscles that need it –  it puts a fun and positive frame around self-development and provides assessments and methods to drive it.

Why does it matter now?

Professionals are increasingly working digitally, across functions, across geographies, across cultures and they’re working under intense pressure and volatility.  Difficult environments engender difficult to deal with behaviors, so people and their teams need tools to help them work better. 

Who or what is your biggest inspiration?

Possibility.  Thinking of big ideas, making big promises, and then trying to deliver on them.  The more naysayers, the better!

What does success look like?

A lifetime of “great” days.

What is your competitive advantage?

Pattern recognition.  I’ve always been captivated by trying to find connections and insights – be it in data, behavior, or the milieu of daily life.  It’s the skill that comes most naturally to me, and it helps me to generate innovative and creative ways of doing things, and to interpret and make sense of things when they are complex or ambiguous.

How much time do you spend travelling?

Professionally about once a quarter.  I travel with my family frequently for the many holidays and long weekends we enjoy here in Spain. 

What is the secret of a great

Nailing down “The Why” – why is your audience there, and why have you come to present to them?   When you have “The Why” crystal clear you naturally link “What” you say to this “Why”, and you gain the freedom to build your narrative on the fly, because you know why you’re there!   

What is your next goal?

To start playing piano again regularly after decades away… with an emphasis on jazz.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to follow in your footsteps?

Explore as much as you can, as quickly as you can ­– and then go where YOUR feet seem to want to take you.

What is the biggest issue for business in the next decade?

Division seems to be a growing aspect of our social order, and it is bringing an array of political and economic instabilities that will create a very difficult business environment for all but the most opportunistic companies. 

Describe yourself in three words.

Energetic, impelling, evolving.

Lee Newman can be found here:
Twitter: @NewmanLee 
LinkedIn: LeeNewman  
Web: leenewman.org

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