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f you could pick one word to describe Jim Collins, leader extraordinaire and author of books such as “Good to Great” and “Built to Last,” it would be curious. From his work in the leadership field to his current work researching K-12 education, Collins’ thirst for knowledge and especially for knowledge about what makes great companies and organizations tick has opened up opportunities that serve as the foundation of his career. “I am driven most by sheer curiosity,” says Collins. “I hope the last thing I say in my life is a question. I want to be lying there and ask, ‘How does this work?’” That curiosity and love of discovery saved him after his parents divorced. “My family fell apart when I was in sixth grade. My parents got a divorce, and it was transformative for me,” he says. “It was a time when my world felt unstable, and I had to find my moorings. That led to two things that eventually shaped my life,” he says. The first was rock climbing, which became a way to channel his energies into something good

rather than “hanging out at the mall with the wrong kids,” he laughs. Living in Boulder, Colo., he had no shortage of rocks to climb plus, he says, he liked the “realness” of climbing. “It helped me navigate out of uncertainty.” Loving to Learn The second thing he learned was that he loved to use his brain and learn. “I got ahold of the idea that the path out of the family chaos was to use my brain. I am on a lifelong quest for learning, and that became the path I chose to follow,” says Collins, who got his undergrad degree and Masters of Business Administration from Stanford University. “In the 1970s, there weren’t any rock-climbing gyms. One thing that appealed to me about Stanford is that they had great sandstone walls.” At Stanford, Collins began his research and teaching career at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, where he received the Distinguished Teaching Award in 1992. And it’s that curiosity

“ I a m d r i ve n m o s t by sh e e r curiosity. I hope the last thing I say in my life is a question. I want to be l y i n g t h e re a n d a s k , ‘ H ow d o e s t h i s wo r k ? ’ ” — Jim Collins



LORE winter 2016  
LORE winter 2016