Thursday, October 28, 2010

Different Perspectives, Same Ideas

I recently had an opportunity to speak to a group of university alumni about the essential elements of a succesful career. Rather than provide personal commentary and wisdom on the matter I chose to speak from the perspective of what science, including much of the research conducted by Lominger and Korn/Ferry over the years, has to say on the topic. I highlighted some key characteristics such as intelligence and motivation that are more price-of-admission, and others such as learning agility and self-awareness that are more differentiating.

After speaking, I took my seat and was followed by the next speaker, a distinguished alumni of the university who has had a successful entreprenuerial career. What was remarkable was that for the next 15 minutes he proceeded to make many of the exact same points that I had made during my presentation but in a completely different style and from a very different angle. I used graphs and statistics, he used snapshots that had been taken over his career. I cited published research, whereas he cited his own personal experience. I spoke with focus and precision and he spoke with unbridled passion. But still, the end result was the same.

This left two very strong impressions:

1) Two very different perspectives can still yield the same ideas and conclusions, and
2) It is always best to speak first, so you don't have to keep making references to "what the previous speaker just said" (although that was much appreciated).