This week like every week we had a guest lecturer, an “esteemed alumnus,” present in our technology and e-commerce class. I’m not sure how exciting it is for some of us to have a businessperson enter the room and talk company strategy. But this top-level manager from AT&T did have something very interesting and important to say that I thought I’d broadcast.
He graduated UCLA in the ’80s; one of his easy-A GE courses was a class in children’s lit (no longer offered?). The professor was short and had a beard down to his belly; during the first class he brought several 5- and 6-year-olds to the stage of Rolfe 1200 and read them childrens’ stories (Grimm’s, etc.) for two hours. After twenty minutes, bored econ major was listening econ major.
At the end of those two hours, the professor explained why he did all this: the importance of telling stories. It was this that stuck the most with this guy who now is an experienced leader at a huge tech company. The importance of crafting a narrative of who you are and what you can do was essential in his business career.
Let’s not forget we value a practical art.