Nancy F. Koehn, an authority on entrepreneurial history, is the James E. Robison Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School. Koehn's research focuses on leading in turbulent times and the social and economic impact of entrepreneurship.
She is currently working on a book about the most important leadership lessons from Abraham Lincoln and another on social entrepreneurs. Her upcoming book, The Story of American Business: From the Pages of the New York Times (2009), sketches some of the most important people and moments from the last 150 years of U.S. business history. Koehn's most recent book, Brand New: How Entrepreneurs Earned Consumers' Trust from Wedgwood to Dell (2001) examined six entrepreneurial visionaries who have created powerful brands and best-of-class companies in moments of great change.
Koehn consults with many companies on a range of issues including leadership development, effective brand stewardship, and customer relationship management.
Question: How will this age be remembered?
Nancy Koehn: I think we’ll be remembered as being very anxious; as being in constant motion; as being an age that was overtly concerned with getting and spending, and getting and spending; and more subtly concerned with other perhaps equally or more important issues. But historians want to dig on that. I have to dig for that part of that … . They’ll find it, but we’ll have to dig for it because our public media, our public soap boxes right now in this country, what constitutes entertainment . . . very little of those activities and those channels of communication highlight very much more than getting, and spending, and fame.
Recorded On: 6/12/07
Lincoln's emotional awareness, that kind of explicit, reflective, conversation with himself is how he used all the adverse classrooms, from his mother’s death when he was nine to all those lost elections, to...