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Discover the most inspiring insights from season one of Blue Talks, a joint initiative from IE University and LinkedIn.

4 min read

Here are the top ten takeaways from our thought-provoking first season. 

1. Education shapes your values

In our episode with Spanish basketball legend Pau Gasol, he talks about the power of education and the transferable skills it gives you. “Like sports, education gives you strong values to be successful and healthy with your life.” Pau went on to explain that being in school provides you with discipline, routine, and the ability to work in teams—skills that come in handy not only on the basketball court, but in the workplace and everyday life.

2. “Listen, learn, lead”

We had the immense pleasure to welcome former president of Liberia Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to IE University for a conversation on the joys and struggles of leadership.

When asked about her philosophy as head of state, she explained that it can all be boiled down to three little words: “listen, learn, lead”.

The top 10 takeaways from the first season of Blue Talks

As a leader—particularly a political leader—it is your duty to stay humble, to truly listen to your constituents to understand their values and principles, and to use your knowledge and experiences to strive for progress.

3. Mutual respect is key to debate

Michael Sandel, philosopher and renowned professor at Harvard Law School, visited IE University to discuss modern democracy, meritocracy, and the art of debate. Sandel lamented the way civil debate has evolved in recent years, stating that many politicians and public figures have resorted to shouting past each other and not truly listening. “It isn’t debating skills that prevail,” he explains. “It’s the way one connects with and shows respect for others.” How does this impact democracy? Respectful and effective debate is a key factor in shifting public opinion and making democratic progress.

4. Science & art are connected

That’s what Kate Daudy, visual artist, and Sir Konstantin Novoselov, physicist and Nobel Prize winner, are exploring through their Everything is Connected project. The project, which they discussed on Blue Talks with IE University CEO Diego del Alcázar Benjumea, looks to dissect the meaning of life and humanity through the dual lens of science and art. The fascinating talk explained how we use different disciplines to answer life’s biggest questions—which at the end of the day, are unanswerable. What they do know, however, is that everything is interdisciplinary and that art, like the sciences, are constantly inventing new languages to express novel and complex ideas.

5. Leaders should flow like water

We were thrilled to talk with Ban Ki-moon, former Secretary-General of the United Nations, about life, values, and global politics—and his insights were nothing short of fascinating. “Leadership should flow like water,” he explained, referring to water’s inherent—but nearly invisible—power. Water is the strongest element, and yet, indiscriminately covers everywhere that it flows, moving from top to bottom and evolving as necessary. Secretary Ki-moon named Nelson Mandela as the perfect example of a liquid leader, adapting to the needs of the people.

6. We all hold the power of change

In our very first episode of Blue Talks, we had the honor to chat with Allen Blue, the co-founder of Linkedin, and Ana Botín, Executive Chair at Banco Santander. The talk centered around the responsibility that banks, organizations, and individuals have and the role they should play in society. An inspirational takeaway from the talk has to do with the latter: whether you’re a CEO, an entrepreneur, a student… Everyone holds the power to drive positive change, both inside and outside of work.

7. Curiosity is the zest of life

“Learning should become a habit that people value and prize and love for its own sake.” During our conversation with him, Professor Michael Sandel—who teaches one of the most requested courses at Harvard Law School—shared that the drive to learn new things simply makes your life better. “An important ingredient of a good life is the curiosity and openness of mind and spirit.” And we have to agree: this spirit of learning, experimenting, and innovating is at the core of everything we do at IE University.

8. The world’s most pressing issues are intertwined

“We have to address climate change and gender empowerment and the SDGs and youth empowerment in a comprehensive way. We have to make sure our succeeding generations will be able to live in human dignity and with an abundance of resources.” These sage words come from Ban Ki-moon, who believes that, equipped with modern technology, future generations will have a much greater ability to both understand and tackle sustainability challenges in an integrated way. Using Greta Thunberg as a prime example, the diplomat emphasized the importance of empowering children and young adults of all genders, races, and creeds to speak up and get involved in creating a brighter, more equal future.

9. Failure is just as valuable as success

We tend to view failure as a necessary evil—something negative that, at best, comes with a silver lining. But according to Dame Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, it’s more than that. “See it as the upside down of success, because failure enables you to see where your challenges haven’t been fully addressed, where your opportunities haven’t been recognized and taken.” These advantages are not something you can reap from constant success.

10. The formula for growth isn’t static

“What made you successful up until this point might not make you successful from here on out. So don’t fall in love with something that worked really well for you for a long time, but it can change, and that might not be an asset to you going forward.” This is Pau Gasol’s advice when asked about success and adaptability. No matter your desired career path or life journey, resilience and flexibility will be invaluable traits on the road to accomplishing your goals—and even more so in our ever-changing digital world. This season of Blue Talks was jam-packed with wise insights from formidable professionals across industries. Ready to discover the full episodes? You can either watch the videos on our official webpage or listen in audio format on Spotify and more!