To succeed in business today you have to have the ability to understand a lot of different perspectives.  The best thing that anyone can do is to go out and listen to institutions and to people who are outside their comfort zone. 

I learned this very early on, for example, by going out and having the opportunity to visit with workers in Guatemala in apparel factories, in some very underprivileged neighborhoods outside of Guatemala City where I had the chance to see the women who were actually working in these factories, understand what their lives were like, see that they were taking care of children.  And it was only by being able to see what their lives were really about that I could understand how to ensure that working conditions could be improved.

That’s something you’re never going to learn in a traditional MBA program. But in fact by doing things like that it’s the only way to make good use of a traditional MBA program.  So that’s one example of how cross-disciplinary learning, listening to voices who may be outside the mainstream, actually is a crucial way to succeed in business in the 21st Century.  

In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.

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