Happiness A Message from Head of Program Dr. Leslie Broudo Mitts
A few months ago, sitting on the beach in Tel Aviv, an insightful friend reflected aloud "I have the right to be happy." For Type A “rat-racers,” those words might slip right through you. Instead, let me suggest you embrace them.
Being happy is linked to being generative – it is essential to thinking, growing, sharing, laughing and, most profoundly, to the ability to reason fluidly and therefore improve. As one of the leaders in our Studio Workshop, Tzachy Milman, said to me, "Happiness is tied to being and boldness. It is the ability to say 'yes' to life."
Yet we know that for entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs, the potential payoff of a BIG WIN can seem like the absolutely most important. As an analytic construct, Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar in his book Happier teases out the tension associated with this emphasis on the long-term, explaining that happiness is the successful reconciliation between a sense of a purposeful future AND emotional gratification in the present. One needs both.
When it comes to an MBA, we emphasize entrepreneurship tied to a sense of a purposeful future as well as to an emotionally resonant present. "Entrepreneurship is a process, not just an end goal," Sofaer Global MBA student Ron Biton (Class of ’19) said in my office. "It's easy to lose sight of this because we live in a world filled with noise. You need to develop a keen sense to seize the world through the lens of opportunity. And that's what this program does well."
How do we do it? How do we create this context? To start, our students feel a sense of belonging, the value of connecting with global citizens on common issues of food safety, healthcare, and cyber-security. They reflect on how much they have learned to learn, not just how much they have learned.
But it is more nuanced than this. Our Studio Lab, conceptualized and delivered by leaders from the Air Force and the Studio Arts, supports students to practice using their intuition to build a strong personal spine and learn to make bold choices as they go through their lives. They discover and delve into their otherwise hidden weaknesses, learning to progress when things seem to be falling apart. They learn how to use chaos and uncertainty to their advantage.
A part of our approach also lies in an academic curriculum tied to practice which draws on data from some of the most successful startups of the early 21st century. This includes opportunities for our increasingly STEM-centric MBAs to participate in our neuroscience and accelerated science incubators, as well as structured internship opportunities in top Israeli startups as well as leading VC Funds.
“Collaboration” doesn’t come close to describing the “always-on” co-creation that is the hallmark of how our students think together within our ecosystem. Our inter-relationships cause our ideas to ricochet constantly off perceived limits, only to start all over again. We don’t just think differently, we actually seek difference, in order to achieve excellence. This is more than a point of parity.
Looking ahead, our students will continue to relentlessly push through complex technological and competitive contexts, the challenges of leading change, and inter-personal growth tied to stewarding the present as they imagine the future. But they will also have fun, and they will make meaning.
Assessing an increasingly technology-rich future, the Alibaba CEO Jack Ma on campus recently noted that, as much as we are focused on what new computer chips will do, humans will always be best because we have the depth and feeling of our hearts. Here, at Sofaer, we have brains, we are working on computer chips, and our entrepreneurs develop amazing innovations for the 22nd century. But as importantly, we have heart.
Seemingly simple words are not so simple…"I have the right to be happy." Let me suggest those words soar to the top of your intellectual agenda. You not only have the right, you have a choice to make. Lead, Dare to be Exceptional …and embrace the meaningful present and future that is yours.
Dr. Leslie Broudo Mitts
Head of the Sofaer GMBA