Around the Institute

Life Advice: 4 Leaders on What it Takes to Succeed

November 6, 2014  • Institute Contributor

The 2014 Washington Ideas Forum gathered creative thinkers to consider our national identity, politics, and culture. We sat down with four of these experts, who specialize in sports, education, energy, and government, and gave you a chance to ask them questions. Here’s what they said.

T. Boone Pickens, chairman, BP Capital Management

Facebook: What advice do you have for someone about to go off to college?

T. Boone Pickens: It’s a cinch! If you have a good work ethic, pick energy for a career, you’ll love the outcome.

FB: How do we get American oil companies to work towards actually achieving American energy independence [finally] rather than working to repeal the ban on exporting domestically produced oil?

TBP: I prefer the North American Energy Alliance, where we put Canada, America, and Mexico together, and then we are energy independent. 

FB: Are you tired of the constant comparisons between you, Ronald Reagan, and Abraham Lincoln?

TBP: I love it, the only part that disturbs me is they’re both dead. 

Read Pickens’ full Q&A here at the Pickens Plan to learn more about creating an energy independent future, and find out how much he can bench press.

Rita Benson LeBlanc, owner and vice chairman, New Orleans Saints and Pelicans

Facebook: What is the biggest piece of advice you would give someone wanting to follow your career path? #whodat

RBL: I was very fortunate to take internships throughout my college years, which proved invaluable to my breadth of sports knowledge from the business side and allowed me to make connections with people who may have changed jobs but stayed in sports. It’s great to see people through the Sports Business Journal 40 Under 40 Awards grow up in sports together, whether from sponsors, teams, leagues, or marketing agencies. We all care about growing the game and reaching fans in our prospective roles. Always observe and keep learning. Make sure you are doing what makes you happy, while doing your job, and [what] inspires you.

FB: Ever since you came into the picture, this city has been relevant. Thanks for the great work and life you have put into it.

RBL: I appreciate your comment. There are many hard-working New Orleanians who are involved in civic groups, particularly those who serve on economic development boards. I am very proud to participate with them and to use my role as an ambassador for Greater New Orleans and the State of Louisiana. We are a great state for business! And quality of life. #WhoDat

Read LeBlanc’s full Q&A here at New Orleans Saints to learn more about the inner workings of Saints management.

Anant Agarwal, chief executive officer, edX

Facebook: Do you see MOOCs [massive open online courses] as replacing traditional classroom education, as a supplement to that, or an avenue for less-privileged students to get access to quality education?

AA: I see MOOCs as a supplement to traditional classroom education. Our partner universities are taking the online content they create for edX and using it to blend or flip their classrooms. Early results indicate that the blended model can significantly improve the quality of learning. MOOCs are also a great avenue for people that do not have access to a good education. We have scores of examples of students from countries around the world that are learning on edX and many are getting jobs due to their certificates.

FB: What do you think the effect of online games will be on education — especially with regard to k-12?

AA: I love to say: if great lecture was theater, the future is in games! Online games and gamification has a huge role to play in online education. In many of our courses on edX we bring gaming technology into online virtual labs in subjects such as physics, circuits, chemistry, math, biology, and even jazz appreciation!

Read Agarwal’s full Q&A here at Atlantic LIVE to learn more about edX, and what brought him to love learning.

Jack Markell, governor of Delaware and Aspen Institute Henry Crown Fellow

Facebook: I am a public school teacher! If you could come talk to my students what would you tell them? (I will pass the message on. :))

JM: I would tell them that while they are so fortunate to be growing up in the world’s greatest country, their success is up to them. There is only so much that teachers and parents can do — ultimately they are responsible for their own success. I would try to inspire them with stories of young people who started out just like them and went on to do great things.

FB: My grandmother retired to lovely Lewes, DE. What steps are being taken to maintain quality of life in the state?

JM: Your grandmother chose a great spot! We are very proud of our state’s ranking by the Natural Resources Defense Council in terms of the quality of our beaches. Best in the country! And we have invested right at Cape Henlopen State Park in the new Gordon’s Pond Trail. We believe strongly that investments like these will continue to make Delaware a great place to live, work and visit.

Q: Do you think we should have congressional term limits?

Jack: Yes, except for Delaware’s delegation!

Read Markell’s full Q&A at the Aspen Institute Facebook page to hear the governor’s thoughts on investing in millennials and learning from other states’ governors.