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Attention Needs Somewhere Good to Go

Taylor Stockdale
I consider myself lucky to have known and been a student of the great thinker Peter Drucker—perhaps the most profound writer and educator on the subject of human organization of the twentieth century. Born in Austria in 1909, Peter Drucker later immigrated to England and then on to the United States where he became a naturalized citizen in 1943. In 1971 until his death at 95 in 2005, he lived in Claremont and held the Clarke Professor of Social Science and Management at Claremont Graduate University. He taught, published and consulted with educational institutions, non-profits, businesses and governments for over 70 years.

An unbounded thinker of the highest order, Peter Drucker was always interested in the intersection of theory and practice—starting one of the first management programs for working professionals in the United States. It was in this way, while I was a young administrator at Webb, that I first became his student.

Though Peter is gone, his work and his mission live on. It is more accurate to say his work is “carried on” by the faculty at the Drucker School of Management at CGU. In fact, each year the school hosts a “Drucker Day” for alumni, students and friends. I attended Drucker Day this year because I was supremely interested in the theme—Leadership Arc: Self to Society.

As everyone knows who is associated with Webb—current students and families, faculty and staff, alumni through the ages—Webb has always been focused on graduating leaders with moral courage devoted to serving something greater than themselves. This has been our mission since 1922 and still is today. While the Drucker Day program was packed full of engaging, even inspiring lessons, there were two in particular I thought I wanted to share.

The program began with a discussion of management as a liberal art (one encompassing history, philosophy, psychology, sociology, culture and religion), and how as a liberal art, leadership must begin with the management of self—something every Webb graduate and family would certainly understand. The keynote speaker, Howard Behar, former president of Starbucks, was then introduced by associate professor of practice, Jeremy Hunter. Hunter began his introduction by sharing a few of his own thoughts on self-management, which boiled down to this: “attention needs somewhere good to go.” A quote startling close to one attributed to our own founder, Thompson Webb. Indeed, Webb’s program and philosophy certainly work in tandem to give students and their attention “somewhere good to go.”

Behar began his talk by sharing his personal manifesto, or what he called “Howard in 50 Words or Less.” As Hunter pointed out to us all, Howard’s personal manifesto was simply a way of giving his “attention somewhere good to go.” And it certainly did. I was struck by Behar’s Six P’s: “I do everything with PURPOSE, with PASSION, with PERSISTENCE, with PATIENCE, with PERFORMANCE, for PEOPLE.” A simple guide, but something Behar said he looks at every day to ground himself.

Behar finished by answering a few questions from the audience. Someone asked him to describe the retail strategy behind Starbuck’s successful global expansion—what was the key to the company’s success? He said that was easy, “human values translate everywhere.” He said coffee is just a product, but at Starbucks they use the product “to connect human being to human being.” Starbucks is a coffee house where people meet and discuss everything, from the personal to the political and beyond. This idea is more important than the coffee, he said. Everywhere you go, people want that.

Again, there was so much to inspire and learn from at Drucker Day this year. It was my great pleasure and privilege to participate. Sitting there in the audience I was once again reminded of our extraordinary legacy and the importance of Webb’s mission. May our partnership in the work ahead give our “attention somewhere good to go.”
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