“Most of you in this room are afraid to fail. I am too,” TED founder Richard Saul Wurman told students in March. “But I don’t avoid it because I know I’m going to learn something.”
Wurman was one of six business leaders who shared their advice and experiences with students as part of the School’s 2013–14 David and Lyn Silfen Leadership Series. The series provides an unparalleled learning opportunity for the entire School community, bringing renowned figures to campus to share cutting-edge ideas, leadership styles, and personal philosophies with students and faculty members.
“Deep down, we all know how stupid we are,” Wurman said, encouraging students to seek and pursue lifelong learning. “My power lies in the fact that I embrace my ignorance.”
Wurman founded TED in 1984 as a conference where technology, entertainment, and design converged — an event where Steve Jobs brought the first Apple computers. Today, TED, which Wurman sold in 2001, is a nonprofit dedicated to spreading ideas in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less) covering almost all topics — from science and business to global issues and fashion.
Other Silfen speakers this year were Keith Banks ’81, president, US Trust, Bank of America Private Wealth; Clay Creasy, CFO of Toys “R” Us; Laurence Fink, chairman and CEO of BlackRock; and Alex Gorsky, chairman of the board of directors and CEO at Johnson & Johnson.
Students also heard from Richard Clark, senior managing partner of Brookfield Asset Management and the global head of its real estate business, which has $100 billion of assets under management. Clark stressed the importance of finding the right mentors early on. “Look for people who show an interest in your career,” he said, “then make yourself indispensible to them.”
Learn more about the Silfen series.