Who Is Influencing Your Thinking?


I was recently asked about who has influenced my thinking over the past few years on an internal survey at the Foundation, and I found myself thinking about an eclectic set of conversations that I’ve had in the last year and a half. Here is my list of influencers worth checking out:

  • Ethan Zuckerman at MIT and his thinking about social media and the need for more “thick and impactful” movements at scale.
  • Joe McCannon and Becky Margiotta, founders of the Billions Institute, whom I met through the Einhorn Foundation and have sage words of advice based leadership in two large scale transformation projects – the 100,000 lives and the 100 homes campaigns respectively.
  • Alan Daly at UC San Diego for his efforts to understand social network and influencers and his colleagues Cynthia Coburn at Northwestern and Bill Penuel at University of CO Boulder for their research in this space.
  • Sean Young from the Center for Digital Behavior to understand the role of peers and digital communities in behavior change. I wrote about it in a recent blog.
  • Joe Murphy and his work on professional community and synthesis of how we might think about teacher leadership and the role it plays in school improvement.
  • Vicky Colbert whom I heard speak at the Global Teaching Prize last year and who created a scalable model of schools in Columbia called the Nueva Escuela.

The books that have caught my eye this past year:

  • Thirty Million Words: Building a Child’s Brain by Dana Suskind.
  • Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations by Clay Shirky
  • Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World by General Stanley McChrystal
  • Elon Musk: Tesla, Space X and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance
  • The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg
  • Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions by Dan Ariely
  • Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard by Chip Heath
  • Visible Learning by John Hattie

In case you are trying to connect the dots, all of these folks have contributed to my thinking about how to scale and organize for social change. The collective brain trust spans academics to entrepreneurs to doctors. Maybe it’s time for another group genius dinner party?

-C.