opportunity

Why is a course on ancient Chinese philosophers one of the most popular at Harvard? Because it challenges all our modern assumptions about what it takes to flourish.

Astonishing teachings emerged two thousand years ago through the work of a succession of Chinese scholars exploring how humans can improve themselves and their society. And what are these counterintuitive ideas? Transformation comes not from looking within for a true self, but from creating conditions that produce new possibilities.

The Path: What Chinese Philosophers Can Teach Us About the Good Life is written by Michael Puett and Christine Gross-Loh. 

Our guest is Michael Puett -- the Walter C. Klein Professor of Chinese History in the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations and Chair of the Committee on the Study of Religion at Harvard University. He is the recipient of a Harvard College Professorship for excellence in undergraduate teaching and is a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Science.

Nancy Isenberg’s bestselling book: White Trash: The 400 Year Untold History of Class in America is now in paperback with a new preface covering the 2016 election.

Nancy Isenberg said the following about the political climate years ago surrounding Sarah Palin, “When you turn an election into a three-ring circus, there’s always a chance that the dancing bear will win.” And we recognize how right she is today. Yet the voters that put Trump in the White House have always been a permanent part of our American fabric, argues Isenberg.

In White Trash, Isenberg looks to obliterate the myth of America as a land of unbounded opportunity and social mobility and makes the case that while both class and identity politics matter, neither are sufficient alone to define categories of voting behavior. Again the name of the book is: White Trash: The 400 Year Untold History of Class in America. 

In his popular new TED Talk "What reality are you creating for yourself?," former Saved by the Bell teen star-turned-entrepreneur Isaac Lidsky recalls how the sales person he waved to in the store was really a mannequin, and how he reached down to wash his hands and realized it was a urinal and not a sink.

He learned of his diagnosis at thirteen: a degenerative eye disease that would lead to his blindness by age 25. After initially believing his blindness signaled the end of his independence and achievement, Lidsky found other pathways of perception, turning his life around with his Eyes Wide Open philosophy.

He graduated from Harvard Law School, worked as a law clerk under the guidance of Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and eventually became an entrepreneur.

His new book is Eyes Wide Open: Overcoming Obstacles And Recognizing Opportunities In A World That Can't See Clearly, where Isaac Lidsky probes the many facets of perception, detailing the neuroscience of sight and drawing on his own experience to show how our perception shapes—and often limits—our reality. 

Weren’t women supposed to have “arrived”? Perhaps with the nation’s first female President, equal pay on the horizon, true diversity in the workplace to come thereafter? Or, at least the end of “fat-shaming” and “locker room talk”? 

Well, we aren’t quite there yet. But does that mean that progress for women in business has come to a screeching halt?  It’s true that the old rules didn’t get us as far as we hoped. But we can go the distance, and we can close the gaps that still exist. We just need a new way.

In fact, there are many reasons to be optimistic about the future, says former Wall Street powerhouse-turned-entrepreneur Sallie Krawcheck.  That’s because the business world is changing fast –driven largely by technology - and it’s changing in ways that give women more power and opportunities than ever.

Her new book is - Own It: The Power of Women at Work

Race-based affirmative action had been declining as a factor in university admissions even before the recent spate of related cases arrived at the Supreme Court. Since Ward Connerly kickstarted a state-by-state political mobilization against affirmative action in the mid-1990s, the percentage of four-year public colleges that consider racial or ethnic status in admissions has fallen from 60 percent to 35 percent. Only 45 percent of private colleges still explicitly consider race, with elite schools more likely to do so, although they too have retreated.

For law professor and civil rights activist Sheryll Cashin, this isn’t entirely bad news, because as she argues, affirmative action as currently practiced does little to help disadvantaged people. In Place, Not Race, Cashin reimagines affirmative action and champions place-based policies, arguing that college applicants who have thrived despite exposure to neighborhood or school poverty are deserving of special consideration.

    

  Bishop T. D. Jakes is one of the world's most widely recognized pastors and a New York Times bestselling author of over thirty books. Named by Time magazine as "America's Best Preacher," his message is of healing and restoration, transcending cultural and denominational barriers.

In his new book: Instinct: The Power to Unleash Your Inborn Drive, Jakes outlines how to re-discover your natural aptitudes and re-claim the wisdom of your past experiences. When attuned to divinely inspired instincts, Jakes believes we can become in sync with the opportunities life presents and discover a fresh abundance of resources.

He defines following your heart, a gut feeling, a hunch, or an intuition as instinct – “the inner knowledge bubbling up from a wellspring of wisdom” within that can lead to a bigger, elephant-sized life.