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John Beck - Tuesday, January 29, 2013

From Student to Professional

A couple of weeks ago, I did not remind my students that an assignment was due. Until then, that was never the kind of professor I wanted to be. But I have changed. After years of working with busy, stressed out MBAs, I know that many are likely to forget deadlines. Out of fairness to those who do observe them, I strictly enforce those deadlines. But rather than alienate half the class with a zero on an assignment, I have become accustomed to sending out reminders – often. The  .. More...

John Beck - Thursday, October 11, 2012

How I looked like Obama

A week ago I watched in amazement as President Obama appeared lost and confused—bottled-up—in his debate with Mitt Romney. I didn’t understand the look on his face or his reaction until I found myself in a similar situation. I was in a meeting with a group of corporate executives; I alone was opposing a particular proposal as really bad policy. My case was greeted with many nodding heads. The proponent of the new policy—a leader with whom I have locked horns in  .. More...

John Beck - Thursday, September 06, 2012

Can Wall Streeters be Self-Aware?

At Hult Labs we’ve been asking CEOs around the world what they would like more from in their MBAs. And a common—actually, constant—theme from top executives is that they would like to hire more MBAs who are more self-aware. What science is telling us, in a paper just published days ago (http://bit.ly/TnjzAp), is that those who are most involved in numbers are least able to reflect on their own pasts. The stereotypes of the nerdy computer geek or scientist or accountan .. More...

John Beck - Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Good leaders change things!

Maybe I always thought that change was an important component of leadership … I really can’t remember any more. But, I do remember the moment when my current appreciation for the link between the two became really clear to me. For four years as a graduate student, I was a research assistant to John Kotter at Harvard Business School. He was interested in what made leaders into leaders and wrote and researched a great deal on the topic — eventually he was named the Konosuke  .. More...

John Beck - Saturday, July 21, 2012

The loyalty trap

I have few regrets in my life. But years ago, I did something that made me a much smaller person. There are good reasons for it: I had a young family and I really needed the job. But I’ve wished for almost fifteen years that I could have made a better decision. I was working in a part of a company where the unit founder (I was his second in command) had been great in the early days of the group’s history, but the corporate leaders decided to hire someone “with more e .. More...

John Beck - Monday, July 09, 2012

Can business schools find a breath of fresh air?

David Teece’s latest FT article (http://on.ft.com/LZ8zFw ) makes the important point that B-schools cannot continue to get more and more and more specialized and narrow. But, there is one small problem with implementing his recommendation: everyone involved in academia likes to be narrow. Most faculty members want to teach and research in a well-practiced rut. Academic publishing requires deep specialization. And in the classroom, teaching the same materials for ten years means you can .. More...

John Beck - Thursday, July 05, 2012

The American dilemma of profitability vs. livelihood

In a recent survey of 1100 working age, employed Americans, 50.5% basically agree with the statement: “I would lay off an employee – even one with no prospect of finding another job – to keep my company profitable.” But the other half disagree.  .. More...

John Beck - Wednesday, July 04, 2012

America: All for one and all for one

In honor of the Fourth of July, here is my chapter about America from the forthcoming Good vs Good book. Of the Eight Great Goods (Life, Relationships, Equality, Growth, Stability, Belief, Joy, and Individuality), America is the country in the world that most clearly places Individuality as the top Good. In my speeches and conversations about this topic, someone in the audience almost always challenges the countries I’ve offered as the best examples of a particular Good. But the US is .. More...

John Beck - Thursday, June 28, 2012

Passion in Professing

The best professors are passionate. Well, getting too passionate could land you in jail, but great teachers get excited, involved, and agitated about almost every part of the educational process. I remember when I first started teaching—in a subject matter, Strategy, that was not my PhD field—my department chairman informed that I should use a particular textbook because that was the book that all the professors in the department used. Having no real alternative in mind, I o .. More...

John Beck - Monday, April 16, 2012

Why I’m a Teacher

Preparing for the final day of teaching a business strategy course to my MBA students this year, I stopped—for what may have been the first time in my career—to really consider if there was any value in my class. Not only for my students … but also for me. Over the last twenty years of teaching at all levels of higher education—undergraduate, graduate, and executive education—I have found that I prefer teaching master’s degree students. Executive .. More...