BLG Leadership Insights

Does Leadership Matter? It Does When I’m Selecting a High School for My Son In NYC


It’s high stress time in NYC. The exams for the specialized high schools occurred on Saturday morning and rotational visits to schools are in full force. Getting your child into the right high school in NYC is running the gauntlet of evaluations, ambiguous criteria, and often unspecified standards. However, my friends at college admission offices tell me that my son’s performance matters more than finding the perfect high school.

That said, fearing a high school’s reputation can be used as a short-cut (heuristic device) to assess college applicants, I won’t stop worrying about finding the perfect high school for my son anytime soon. Cultural stereotypes about the ‘academic father’ set aside, I think most of you can be empathetic with my search for the one ingredient that differentiates one high school school from another.

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Peeling the Onion: 3 (More) Leadership Lessons From Richard Feynman

Yesterday, we talked about Richard Feynman, the straight-talking Queens physicist, and his strategies for thinking out of the box.

Feynman, as well as being a left-field thinker, was able to approach problems with a probing light. In the video below he discusses his approach to solving both huge and small problems. His approach consists of three basic rules:

1. Don’t Make Assumptions: No matter what your problem is–don’t assume a possible answer because it will limit your perspective. Let the nature of the problem present itself naturally.

2. Don’t Ever Expect a Fulfilling Answer: Some problems are huge but their answers are sometimes simple. It’s not about finding a nice answer–it’s about learning and understanding.

3. Always, Always, Doubt: Doubting everything is a slippery slope but it will force you ask harder and harder questions and demand more and more answers. As Feynman says, it’s better to doubt everything and ask constant questions than to be content with wrong information.

Feynman wrestles with both large and big questions but his approach is always the same. Leaders who are forced to deal with tough problems should look at them in a similar light. Always doubting, never assuming, and never hoping will help exercise the mind and allow new ideas to surface.

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Witches & Dental Care: 3 Leadership Lessons From Richard Feynman


Richard Feynman, the Nobel Prize winning physicist who is a straight-talker from Queens, New York, has spent his whole life trying to see things from a different point of view.

In the interview below (part 1 of 4) Feynman outlines three strategies to think outside the box. They are:

1. Challenge conventional wisdom: Never be happy with an answer or one explanation. Instead, explore it’s meaning and always search for new, more exciting, questions.

2. What’s in a name? Nothing: Never trick yourself into thinking that simply knowing a title or a name of a theory or piece of information is the same thing as understanding a theory or a piece of information. If you do, as Feynman says, “you are going to confuse yourself.”

3. New methods are always needed: New problems are first attacked using old methods and standard scientific theories with little use. New problems, more often than not, require new, exciting, methods.

Feynman can not only teach us about the physical world but he can illustrate the importance of thinking in new directions. It’s important for leaders to find motivation and influence from multiple realms–it will help keep us searching for new methods to conquer new problems.