Lessons From New Stanford University CEO

I had the pleasure of hearing Stanford University’s new CEO, Marc Tessier-Lavigne, this past week here in Silicon Valley with my father, a 1948 Stanford grad. Here are three things he said that caught my attention:

    • It’s important to think about and take action consistently to propel Stanford University to where it needs to be in ten years if the university is to maintain its stature and relevance in the world. Stanford’s competition won’t be sitting still so Stanford can ill afford to become lackadaisical about its future.
    • While there is a building boom on campus, Marc believes that there needs to be more places in nature where students can get away from their busy, noisy academic world to think and contemplate.
    • The Brock Turner sexual assault case has been a huge wake-up call. Marc is looking for ways to rid the campus of this blight.

Here’s my take on these points:

    • Companies must have not only short-range planning but also long range strategic planning. Stanford University understands this. This advice is applicable to all companies.
    • Do you find it as amazing as I do that Marc is stressing the importance of nature in supporting thinking and contemplation? There is too much noise in our “always on” world. This impacts everyone, not just students.
    • That the implications of the Brock Turner case have put an item on Marc’s top ten list is very significant. I would think this also includes sexual harassment which was recently big news at Uber resulting in the termination of their Chief Technical Officer for offenses at Uber and also at Google. Sexual assault and harassment have no place in our world. Companies need to address these issues proactively, not wait until it hits the media.

Thought for the week:

“Change almost never fails because it’s too early. It almost always fails because it’s too late.” — Seth Godin

What do you think? I welcome your comments! Dave Gardner

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