Friedman: “We’ve Reached the 2nd Half of the Chess Board”

Some time ago I heard NY Times columnist Thomas Friedman give a lunch speech at a STEM conference in Denver. The thrust of his presentation focused on our rapidly advancing world and how technology is now advancing faster than our ability to grasp its potential, hence the comparison to the second half of the chess board.

For students looking at college and life after college, technology will be prevalent in their lives but some age-old wisdom and grit will also continue to be necessary. While technology and automation will replace many functions of our lives, business leaders are looking for people who understand the technology but can match that with empathy for their clients and customers.

Right now we can shop online with our mobile devices, request a ride using our cell phone and even have groceries delivered to our front porch, all without uttering a single word or sharing a simple interaction with another person. This might make our lives more convenient, but we still need to have the social skills necessary to handle customer relations calls or explain why the customer didn’t receive what he or she wanted. While we may be pushing our students to a technology and science driven field, we need to remember the importance of social skills.

Friedman broke this concept down saying PQ plus CQ is always greater than IQ. In short, he would hire someone with a higher perseverance and curiosity quotient over simply a higher IQ. He said people with a higher IQ get frustrated when they don’t troubleshoot problems fast enough. On the other hand, people who are curious, never get frustrated.

To help students succeed, Friedman provided two pieces of advice: 1) help students find internships in their areas of study and 2) take an interest in students hopes and dreams. For the most part, college is about helping young people become more independent, but we still have important roles to play to help them on their journey.