Seven Arrows Elementary School, this year celebrating its 20th anniversary, featured influential professor, organizational psychologist, author and podcast host Adam Grant at its 20th annual Speaker Series presentation on May 8.
“Welcome to our small school doing very big things,” Seven Arrows Director of Admissions and Marketing Fiona Farrahi said to the crowd before introducing Grant, whose presentation focused on how to raise original thinkers, highlighting the principles that have influenced his research and even his own parenting.
Some of Grant’s tips included broadening, rather than limiting, kids’ experiences, allowing them the space to explore their own creativity.
“We know that practice makes perfect, but it doesn’t make new,” Grant said. “We teach kids to follow the rules, never create their own rules, to play other people’s great music rather than write their own.”
Grant also discussed how children should be allowed to look to their role models for guidance.
“You find there’s a bunch of evidence that if [kids] think about how their role model would approach a problem, they’re more likely to engage in creative problem solving and think for themselves because that role model gives them permission to deviate from what they think is appropriate for them—they ask ‘what would Batman do’?”
A Harvard College alumnus, Grant became the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania’s youngest tenured professor at the age of 28.
“It’s the worst kind of honor because you lose it over time,” Grant told the Palisadian-Post with a laugh ahead of the presentation.
Recognized asone of the school’s top-rated professors, Grant is the author of three New York Times bestsellers and host of the immensely popular TED original podcast “WorkLife with Adam Grant.” His books have sold over a million copies and been translated into 35 languages. Named one of the world’s most influential management thinkers and one of Fortune’s 40 under 40, Grant’s TED talks on the habits of original thinkers and the success of givers and takers were named the best TED Talks of 2016 and 2017, garnering over 10 million views.
“WorkLife with Adam Grant,” one of the most downloaded Apple podcasts in 2018, premiered its second season in March.
“There’s even going to be some bonus episodes,” Grant teased.
The podcast hosts some of the world’s most unusual professionals, examining how people can lead better work lives and make work more fun, from befriending workplace rivals to harnessing and channeling frustration.
“One thing that really helps is just to separate yourself from your work,” Grant told the Post. “I think one of the challenges of being a creative person or having original ideas is that you do work that’s very self-defining. So if I write a story, that is me. Anybody who doesn’t like it is rejecting me as a person. And I think it’s worth remembering that there’s more to all of us than the work that we produce.”
After his presentation, Grant led the audience in a Q&A which sparked a lively discussion, covering topics like procrastination, entitlement, and diversity.
“I think we have to work extra hard to let minority groups speak up and let them know their voices are valued,” Grant said before closing out the discussion with a nod to the unique and rigorous academic style of Seven Arrows.
“It’s been a great honor to share ideas with you and I’m such a fan. Keep doing all this amazing work.”