New York Times columnist offers career advice, journalistic tips


Annabel Edwards/Daily Senior Staffer

Adam Bryant gives a talk on qualities that lead to promotions in the workplace and on other lessons he’s learned from interviewing CEOs. Bryant writes The New York Times column “Corner Office.”

Joseph Diebold, Campus Editor

New York Times business columnist Adam Bryant is sick of the truisms CEOs use when asked what they see as the key to success.

“I’ve done this enough now to know that 63.5 percent of the time they are going to answer me this way: They lean in to me and say, ‘Follow your path,’” Bryant said Tuesday at Northwestern. “And they say it to me like I’ve never heard it before and I’m supposed to fall off my chair.”

Instead, Bryant offered five characteristics he said he has observed in successful business leaders: passionate curiosity, battle-hardened confidence, team smarts, a simple mindset and fearlessness.

Bryant also offered tips for journalists, saying they must develop good questions to get informative answers from executives well-trained in public relations.

“The CEOs that I’m supposed to interview, they’ve pretty much been coached and scripted and trained to know what the right answers are,” he said. “So when somebody says, ‘What are your strengths and weaknesses?’ ‘Well my weaknesses are I care too much, I work too hard, I’m a perfectionist.”

Bryant, who writes The Times’ biweekly Corner Office interview series, spoke to about 60 people at the Ford Motor Company Engineering Design Center. The event was part of the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Sciences dean’s seminar series and was co-sponsored by the Center for Leadership.

— Joseph Diebold