MacArthur, Nobel, and Drucker: Inspiration from Awards Season
October 30th, 2017
“I have been reading for years the acceptance speeches of Nobel prize winners.” – Peter Drucker, 1969.
There is little wonder why Peter Drucker found inspiration in reading about winners of prestigious prizes. When he wrote the above, nearly 50 years ago in his book The Age of Discontinuity, it took some effort to find this information. Now, much of it is readily available on the Nobel Prizes’ website. We are at this time of year awash in inspiration, especially from the ongoing announcements of winners for the various Nobel Prizes. In addition, there is the MacArthur Fellows program (AKA ‘Genius Grants,’) which I wrote about in Create Your Future the Peter Drucker Way and in my October 8, 2012 post “Become Your Own Genius Grant Fellow.” In September, the Drucker Institute announced that We Care Solar, of Berkeley, Ca., was the winner of the 2017 Drucker Prize.
Media coverage provides crucial information about how the various awardees carry out their own work, what their background is, and what motivates them. (Even though these awards are all quite lucrative, money is not a motivation and in the case of MacArthur and Nobel, you cannot apply to receive them.)
This year’s 24 MacArthur Fellows include playwright Annie Baker, anthropologist Jason De León, singer-songwriter Rhiannon Giddens, computer scientist Stefan Savage, and fiction writer Jesmyn Ward. Whether we are engaged in these or other types of work, there is abundant inspiration in the background articles about this year’s Fellows, including:
Columbia Daily Spectator: Columbia professors and alumni win MacArthur “genius” grants
The Daily Californian: 3 UC Berkeley alumni receive 2017 MacArthur ‘Genius’ grants
Hartford Courant: Wesleyan Music Professor Tyshawn Sorey Awarded ‘Genius Grant’
The Harvard Crimson: South Asian Studies Professor Receives ‘Genius’ Grant
Los Angeles Times: Rhiannon Giddens and her MacArthur Fellowship: ‘Genius’? She’s not buying
Money: The 2017 MacArthur Fellows Were Just Announced. Here’s How 6 ‘Genius’ Grant Winners Spent Their Life-Changing Prize Money
The MacArthur Foundation has also posted a file of social media reactions from some of the winners, as well as 9 Quotes from MacArthur Fellows on Immigration.
If he were alive today, I think Peter Drucker would be devouring these articles, and those about the Nobel Prizes, not to mention the Drucker Institute honor in his name. Will you win these or similar awards one day? Maybe or maybe not, but one thing in common for most awardees is that they did not expect to win. And even if most of us will never win awards of this prestige, we should still strive to produce work that provides self-satisfaction and meets our internal, high standards.