What has been your most notable rebel accomplishment or experience?
A few key episodes that were transformative:
• Senior year in high school: I didn’t have class on Wednesday and Friday until 2:30 for Physics II so I’d sleep in or, in the fall and spring, go down to the beach and sit in the sun. The teachers wanted me at school but couldn’t give me a good reason to be there. They said it would affect my grades (with an A+ average how much higher could it go?), but it was because the school lost the per diem if a kid wasn’t in by noon. It wasn’t a ‘good example.’ This started a bunch of kids going to the beach with me.
• At Brown, a few of us wanted to declare the same independent major. With faculty and administration support, we started the Cognitive Science concentration. While it didn’t seem rebellious at the time because that’s the “Brown way,” it was my first entrepreneurial experience. Only later I did I realize that it was viewed as rebellious for those not raised/educated in that environment
• As a 20 year-old kid at Bell Labs, my first boss yelled at his people. The first time he did it to me in a meeting I got up, told him when he wanted to talk to me nicely to give me a call. Meanwhile I’d be in my office. I got up and walked out by myself, with everyone in shock. (What’s the worst thing he could do? Fire me). Later he came to my office and apologized. I accepted and thanked him for apologizing – he never yelled at me again. However, he still yelled at others who just took it. We had a fabulous relationship from that point on and he was an incredible mentor to me.
When did you first realize that you were a rebel?
Not sure I ever really realized it because it was encouraged at home, not so much at school — but we only went to school a few days a week – and was expected in college. When I was three years old and being disciplined, my father told me to stand in the corner and think about what I’d done. Apparently I told him he could tell me where to stand but he couldn’t tell me what to think.
What advice do you wish someone had given you earlier in your career?
To pay more attention to what made my mentors so great and how they did it so I would know more now that I mentor.
What is your favorite rebel characteristic?
That glint in the eye we get; taking ‘no’ as a ‘yes’; constantly questioning and probing the status quo.
What’s your favorite question?
What tells you you’re effecting positive change?
People get a bit agitated, feel disrupted, and uncomfortable while other people feel I’m on the right track and support me. I can see reluctant positive changes in attitude, and of course hindsight is the best!
What do you think is most important for people to understand about rebels?
They aren’t going away – listen to them, give them a voice and respect.
What’s your one sentence piece of advice for rebels?
Don’t give up and add a dash of compassion into your sense of urgency as you proceed.
What’s your one sentence piece of advice for non-rebels?
Spend more time with rebels – it may rub off – and help them make a difference.
Where do you think rebels are most needed today?
Where are they NOT needed?
Who is your favorite rebel from the past 100 years?
Golda Meir and Moshe Dayan.
What’s the one thing you should never say to a rebel?