Daniel Quinn Mills is the Albert J. Weatherhead, Jr. Professor of Business Administration, Emeritus. His tenure at Harvard lasted from 1976 to 2007. He consults with major corporations and governments and lectures about management, leadership, strategy, economics and geopolitics. He is an expert on the differences between Asian and Western leadership styles. An American, Mills is also a member of the Innovation Council of Malaysia, a ministry level council chaired by the Prime Minister.
Mills has been interested in early stage businesses and as a director and investor has helped develop several firms. He has been a director of a publicly listed company, chairing its audit committee for several years. A thought leader, Mills has written books on leadership, geo-politics, investments, capital markets, business strategy, network organizations, demographics, marketing, empowerment, and union relations. His most recent book is Master of Illusions: Presidential Leadership, Strategic Independence and America’s Public Culture, published in 2007 by Cambridge University Press. The book explores America’s role in the world in the aftermath of the second Iraqi War.
Widely and often quoted as well as seen in the national media, Mills has appeared on NBC’s Today Show, and been quoted in articles in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, and Business Week. He is a fellow of the National Academy of Human Resources.
Question: How can we improve early education?
D. Quinn Mills: I think the biggest problem that we have is the parents. I don’t think the problem lies in the teachers and in the school. Now, they can be better and there are problems, but if people really want to learn and we have islands of that the United States and I can talk about some of those examples. If people really want to learn you don’t need much, but books or a television screen in the internet and some adults to work with you. It isn’t the quality of the buildings or the amount of money spent or any of that kind of thing. Learning has to be self-motivated. I think, by and large, the American adult population does not care much about it, does not convey values of that nature to it’s young people, to its children, and we have a basic problem of motivation is I guess when I am saying. On the other hand, we do have islands, some in the minority communities, some in the majority community. We have the areas like the Asian American community right now in which the learning effort is enormous. I remember talking to a young Asian student, college student the other day who said to me, they say, “we Asians are just very bright,” he said “I can remember all the nights I spent at the libraries, when my friends who where not Asians in San Francisco, were out playing and partying and I was working all the time.” And that level of commitment and that level of effort is what really is needed. Most American parents are not bothering to instill that at all just too. Now, add one final thing, we have a huge entertainment complex for profit and its purpose is to develop people and it spends enormous amount of time, effort, imagination diverting people in entertainment. So, the broad media industry is a real problem in this regard and of course they deny any responsibility for it all.
Recorded on: 9/27/07