The week@work or on vacation-what leadership looks like, what leadership reads & ‘wasting time’ on the Internet

This week@work, desks and cubicles are vacant as colleagues are catching a few last days of escape away from work. Among those still @work: a journalist shared a relic of presidential transition to remind us what leadership looks like, the White House tweeted the President’s vacation reading choices, Olympians continue to compete in Rio, and we may not be wasting time on the internet.

There’s been a copy of a letter circulating recently on the Internet. It arrived in my Twitter account this week via journalist Joyce Karam. It’s a handwritten note written on Inauguration Day, 1993 by departing President George H.W. Bush to his successor, President Bill Clinton.

bush to clinton.jpg

Imagine arriving at your new job on Monday morning and finding a handwritten note from your predecessor, wishing you great happiness @work. “Your success is now our success”.

What if you wrote a letter to the person taking over your desk on Monday morning? Could you convey a “sense of wonder and respect” for your workplace and your work?

Think about it. This is what leadership looks like.

While we are on the topic of U.S. Presidents, current President Obama is on vacation with family, friends and five ‘summer reads’ including Oprah’s recent Book Club selection and one of Bill Gates’ favorites.


(A quick aside here on the Olympics. The photo at the top of the page captures the vacant volleyball nets this morning in Manhattan Beach, California. It’s the place where two U.S. Olympians, Kerry Walsh Jennings and April Ross went to work to get ready for Rio.)

Back to work, and reading, and surfing the Internet.

Kenneth Goldsmith, artist, professor and first poet laureate of the Museum of Modern Art, urged LA Times readers to ‘Go ahead: Waste time on the Internet’ with his OpEd this weekend.

“The notion that the Internet is bad for you seems premised on the idea that the Internet is one thing — a monolith. In reality it’s a befuddling mix of the stupid and the sublime, a shattered, contradictory, and fragmented medium. Internet detractors seem to miss this simple fact, which is why so many of their criticisms disintegrate under observation.”

He recently discussed his University of Pennsylvania course and new book ‘Wasting Time on the Internet’ with Quentin Hardy of The New York Times. Drawing on his personal observations of students and family, he imagined what an educated person will look like in the 21st century.

We still read great books, and there is a place for great universities. But an educated person in the future will be a curious person who collects better artifacts. The ability to call up and use facts is the new education. How to tap them, how to use them.

I’ve got a 10-year-old and 17-year-old. They’re thinking differently from me. They stay connected all the time, and they’re smart, they play baseball, they read, they spend time online. They’re not robots. Basic human qualities haven’t changed. I can find Plato in online life. When I read Samuel Pepys’s diary I see Facebook posts. We just find new ways to express things.

Go ahead, take a break this week@work. Stream the last week of the Olympics, read a great book, and follow the tangents of Internet exploration.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s