Photo: Harvard Business Review
In every issue, Harvard Business Review interviews a wildly successful person about his or her life’s work – whether that’s inventing a better vacuum cleaner, launching a restaurant empire, or managing the New York Yankees.In this slideshow, we bring you the 10 people we interviewed in 2010, and while they’re as different as Condoleezza Rice and Manolo Blahnik, they all have one thing in common: they absolutely love what they do.
Condoleezza Rice was national security adviser and secretary of state during the George W. Bush administration. HBR asked her how her management style has changed over the years.
'Early on I didn't know how to delegate. I was always trying to do other people's jobs. I learned you'll drive yourself crazy doing that, and you won't have good people working for you very long.'
Richard Serra, famous for his massive metal sculptures, put himself through Yale by working in a steel mill.
He talked to HBR about how he takes criticism: 'If the criticism is structural or intellectual in nature, and it makes sense in terms of your procedures and what you're trying to communicate, then you listen to it. If it's personal--or if it's a mixture of both--then you become very, very sceptical.'
Mario Batali is one of America's most successful chef-entrepreneurs. We asked how he balances work and family.
'No matter what, the kids and family things go in the calendar first, then the restaurant things, then everything else...Some people prioritise differently and there's no moral fibre quotient in that. You do what you've got to do, and if you like your work more than your family then you should spend more time with your work.'
Joe Girardi is the manager of the New York Yankees. We asked him how he reacts when his team is in a slump:
'Number one, you can't panic. You can't have a bad week and start throwing things. Your character has to be the same whether you are winning or losing. If it's not, then you care about the winning and losing more than you do about the people.'
James Dyson created 5,127 prototypes of his Dual Cyclone vacuum cleaner before settling on the model that made him a billionaire.
He explained how stubbornness has helped him as a designer: 'I can become fanatical about things. I hope in my old age I'm slightly more measured but in order to make something work you often have to often exclude anything else. There may be more intelligent people who don't have to do that, but I have to. It's a single-mindedness.'
Ben Bradlee was the Washington Post's executive editor from 1968 to 1991, a period in which the paper won 23 Pulitzer Prizes and exposed the Watergate scandal.
He told HBR why he let two cub reporters run with the big story: 'They were right…We reexamined the reporting day after day and felt more and more confident. Maybe some senior reporters wondered why the Bobbsey twins had the story. But I told them to screw off. I said, 'It's their story. The time to change that will be when they're wrong.''
Annie Lennox has sold more than 80 million albums, logged numerous hit singles, and won four Grammys.
She told HBR how she gets ready to perform: 'Preparation is everything. You need to rehearse so you're confident in the set, you know the songs very, very well and what's going to happen very, very well. It has to be flawless… On stage you almost have to convince yourself this is the last time. You perform as if you've never played it before and you're never going to play it again.'
Oliver Sacks is a professor of neurology and psychiatry at Columbia University, whose books of clinical tales have become bestsellers.
He told HBR how writing helps him be a better scientist: 'I'm not a physician and a storyteller. I regard the two things as linked… Writing gives one a way of reflecting and re-experiencing.'
Manolo Blahnik is perhaps the world's most famous shoe designer, and his name has become synonymous with luxury. He told HBR why he's kept his company small: 'I don't like large companies, where they have these endless meetings to do one little detail. I can't deal with these things; I'm too old for it now. We're a family-owned company--my sister, my niece, a few people more. I design all the shoes myself, and I wouldn't have it otherwise. I don't want to be influenced.'
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