Thursday night I got to meet John Maeda, the new president of RISD, at a RISD alumni event. (Yes, I graduated from Pratt, but as my parents are alumns and Mr G is going to start teaching there this Tuesday(!), they let me in.)
Maeda's talk was really wonderful, and I have to say, unexpected. The president of Pratt Institute is many things, but a dynamic public speaker he, alas, is not. Maeda was witty, well spoken, and seemed to genuinely listen to those around him and then adjust, or not, according to their input. He seems to be extremely accessable, which seems like a rare and good thing: He has various blogs, is on twitter, facebook, etc, apparently he can be found walking around campus most days, and if you're an early riser you're welcome to go running with him at 6am. At the Q & A someone asked a question he could have easily hedged, but how wonderful was it to hear him say, "I don't know. But I'll find out and get back to you on that."
What struck me the most was when he spoke about Creative v. Traditional Leadership. This really hit home for me as it pin-pointed so many of the problems today with "leadership" in our country, the corporate world, and various relationships in general. Plus, he laid it all out in a handy chart:
Take a look at it. It seems to be the direction our culture is moving in. Which I find to be both heartening and really exciting.