Moments of reflection are essential. When I look back on my life there emerge patterns, themes, and an underlying logic, and it becomes apparent that much of what i have done is rooted in my desire to embrace risk, listen to a wide diversity of opinion, make important decisions, and align personal and institutional values.
This long process of discovery began when I graduated from college near the end of the Vietnam War. It was the early 70s: the economy was in the midst of a recession, jobs were scarce, and there was anxiety in the air—all very reminiscent of where we are today. Yet, guided by ambition and curiosity, I decided that my ongoing venture into the future was going to be the beginning of an extraordinary journey.
Initially, I became a teacher, a profession I greatly admire. Yet, after 11 rewarding years, I decided to change careers and enter the publishing industry. This was not an easy decision. I took enormous pride and pleasure in contributing to many young people’s lives, but I knew I wanted a new chapter in my life that included a career in business. Therefore, it was important for me to become more risk-oriented and move forward to pursue a new career experience.
I applied for jobs in New York City and became an advertising sales executive for one of The new York Times Company’s magazines. While facing innumerable new experiences, I quickly learned that business challenges make us smarter and stronger and that they have substantial bearing on the leaders we eventually become.
These life lessons are particularly applicable to the current environment. As marketplace competition becomes more intense, technology goes through numerous cycles of reinvention, and consumers demand more innovation, effective leadership needs to seek an even broader diversity of analysis and opinions. With so much uncertainty these days, listening to the opinions of the best minds available is absolutely necessary. having a varied and deep pool of talent enables an executive to better manage risk and anticipate the countless scenarios that the business may confront in the future.
Over the years, my career has come full circle. I now frequently talk with newly minted college graduates about taking risks and appreciating a wide range of opinion. My best advice is that values matter and that they should work for organizations with a clearly stated philosophy that aligns with their own principles. I love working for The New York Times Company because I deeply respect its commitment to treating its staff with dignity, its high standards of excellence, and its relentless pursuit of world-class journalism. I regularly encourage young professionals to find places of work that will provide similar meaning and satisfaction.