Lynda Gratton, professor of management practice at London Business School, and co-author of The 100-Year Life: Living and Working in an Age of Longevity


What motivates you?

I am very inquisitive about the world and about people. So I explore the world by travelling quite a lot, and I’m always interested in people and their ideas. I’m a great reader of books and that’s really one of the  major ways that I connect to people.

What has been the biggest learning curve in your career?

Every time I’ve changed direction it’s been a big learning curve. So I had to really learn how to focus when I studied for my doctorate, and then once I worked for a large company I had to learn how power networks work, and when I joined London Business School I needed to learn how to teach a class of MBA students. Since then I’ve had to learn how to write a book, and that’s something that I constantly try to do better.

What matters more, ambition or talent?

I think it’s really both. Certainly focus and hard work is really important, and talent really helps, but as we all know, you become more talented, the more times you try something.

What advice would you give to your 30 year old self?

Just trust the world, try and become the person that you are, continue to work hard.
Who do you admire?

I’m really interested in creative people, painters, potters, writers. I think the creative process is extraordinary and I admire anyone who has the willpower and talent to do it.
In what place are you happiest?

I’m happy a great deal of the time. Sometimes that’s related to a place, for example my house here in London or our house in Spain. Other times it’s just the pleasure of being in the moment.
What’s your biggest extravagance?

Without a doubt, travel. We are trying to see all the places that we won’t see as we get older. So North Korea, Iran, Ethiopian, the Rwanda are all places that we have visited in the last couple of years and next up Argentina and the Congo. Another extravagance is collecting African tribal art – and also tickets to the Royal Opera House – and tickets to Arsenal…
How would you change government policy to help women in the workplace?

Encourage flexibility, and encourage fathers to take paternity leave. I think that the more family responsibilities are seen as a man and a woman’s responsibility, then work will be seen much more integrated with the whole of life.
Do you believe in quotas?

Yes I do.
Describe yourself in 3 words?

Kind, creative, energetic.

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