The Learning Leader Show With Ryan Hawk

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Episode #347: Steven Strogatz – How Calculus Reveals The Secrets Of The Universe

  • Leaders who sustain excellence:
    • Have a willingness to be a beginner
      • “When you’re naive, you ask new questions”
    • “They have the courage to be someone who’s just starting”
    • How do you fight the urge to live up to a prior reputation of being an expert at something?
      • Be known as an adventurer.  Cannot have an ego.
  • Six degrees of separation is a math problem
  • The strength in weak ties
    • It’s important to connect with people outside of your typical orbit
    • Action: Go to a strange party, play a new sport, go to a new gym, meet oddballs
      • Collect “casual acquaintances”
  • The value of being a helper:
    • Be the assist person, help others, do little acts of kindness, promote someone else’s work
  • How Steven and I got to know each other:
    • David Epstein’s wife made an intro for David and Steven… And then from David to me.
      • “Be the kind of person who remembers others names”
  • Why should a normal person learn calculus?
    • “The world has been turned upside down by calculus”
    • “Calculus is the mathematical study of change”
    • “It’s a great intellectual adventure story”
    • “Calculus is the language that God talks” –> The laws of nature are built in calculus
  • How to be more creative?
    • Be broadly interested in many different topics.  Take something from one area and apply it somewhere else.
  • Advice Steven would give to a mid-level manager:
    • “Getting high grades is jumping through hoops someone else sets”
    • “As a PhD, you have to make your own hoops”
    • “People need to be more adventurous, and then figure it out”
  • Why you should study Improv as a leader:
    • Use “Yes and…”  This helps with brainstorming and coming up with new ideas.  Put out a lot of wacky ideas to get to the good stuff.
    • “I want people to be gripped irrationally by the imagination”
  • The power of mentors:
    • “Learn from both the great coaches and the bad ones”
  • The value of friendships:
    • The story of Mr. Joffray — Physically impressive and wonderfully intelligent.  He took pleasure in Steven passing him.
  • The value of teaching:
    • It helps create empathy… It forces you to put yourself in the mind of someone else. “Bad teachers don’t have empathy.”
  • How does Steven prepare for big moments?
    • “I try to be myself.  And talk myself out of being intimidated.” —>  The audience wants you to do well.
  • Life advice:
    • “Do what you care about most, what drives you the most, do the hard work to become skillful.”
    • Why joining The Learning Leader Circle is a good idea

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