It’s hard to know if I’d be as fascinated by Janet Yellen, chair of the Federal Reserve, if I didn’t work for a bank. Obviously she’s an important leader in my current industry, so I pay attention when she speaks about monetary and economic issues or is in the news.
But I just as well might pay attention otherwise. Maybe it’s her accent, her charming manner, and her owlish, unpretentious wisdom. Or it could be the name – Janet – she shares with another official who fascinated me.
When Janet Reno headed the Justice Department under President Clinton, there was something so refreshingly different about her. A tough woman in a field dominated dominated by men – that’s certainly part of it. I also liked how she didn’t take herself too seriously (Hello, Janet Reno Dance Party on “SNL”!) and didn’t try to fit anybody else’s mold of what a powerful leader should be.
Ms. Yellen scored more points in my book recently with her commencement speech at NYU. I discovered it reading one of my favorite annual features – the New York Times roundup of graduation speeches – and found it online. It’s short but worth a look.
I especially like the idea of “grit” as an important element of success:
“There is an unfortunate myth that success is mainly determined by something called ‘ability.’ But research indicates that our best measures of these qualities are unreliable predictors of performance in academics or employment. Psychologist Angela Lee Duckworth says that what really matters is a quality she calls ‘grit’ — an abiding commitment to work hard toward long-range goals and to persevere through the setbacks that come along the way.”
Embrace your grit. Another reason to like Janet Yellen!