Do First Impressions Last?
I heard John Maeda speak on Capital Hill one time. Frankly, he didn’t impress me. Yes, he held the President’s position at Rhode Island School of Design (or RISD) and had everything to do with moving the STEM environment to STEAM. But the whole initiative left me feeling that it was for politicians to pose before the camera rather than to move the initiative forward.
I was wrong.
Open Ears, Open Mind
As I opened up my iPhone to go for a walk last week, I scrolled through a long list of books. I needed something that wasn’t six or seven hours long. For some reason, Redesigning Leadership, caught my eye. Two hours, two minutes. That sounded good. John Maeda wrote it. Hmm. I opened the audiobook with some reservations since I really didn’t like him.
I am grateful that I did.
The book was a reflection on what it was like to become the leader of a hierarchical organization when he had no experience in what being a leader looked like. Well, that is what he tells you. I suspect that he had leadership qualities that he carried out as a professor at MIT. That modesty partly explains why RISD wanted him for the job.
The Key Is Trying… Regardless of The Outcome
The interesting thing that Maeda did? He catalogued what the leadership process is like… for all of us. When you get the first job leading people, do you really know what it will be like? Probably not. The people who grow into those roles go through the same steps John did. Trying and failing by error. Trying again and getting in right. Learning things about his environment that he could have left to others… which would made him a manager rather than a leader. John took interest in everything and figuring out how to make it better.
Do First Impressions Stack Up?
Which takes me back to wondering why his speaking didn’t have any allure for me. Maybe I was in an environment I didn’t understand. That is why I am going to listen to what he says as the Design Partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. I am also revisiting what I learned that day on Capital Hill.
The first time my first impressions were wrong. Does that happen to you?