By Isabelle Grenier ‘22
Last week, the APH community was lucky enough to chat with Professor Sanyin Siang as part of our Women in Leadership speaker series. Over the course of an hour, students were able to ask questions to the Thinkers50 2019 #1 Coach in the World about everything from leadership techniques to her teenage years.
Professor Sanyin Siang is one of the biggest names in leadership. She has worked with CEOs and executives at Google Ventures, Duke University, Ripcord, and many others. She was a 2017 and 2018 LinkedIn Top Voices Influencer and has over a million Linked LinkedIn. Prof. Siang is also the award-winning author of The Launch Book, which explores action plans for success in work and life based on behavioral research. However, as Prof. Siang told the students, “That is what I do, not who I am!”
Professor Siang herself is a friend, a mother, a wife, and an “enabler of greatness”. She told APH how during her young adult life she was a very type-A perfectionist that chased after greatness. However, as she grew and experienced failure, she realized the larger joy that came from enabling greatness instead. She explained how chasing greatness is a self-fulfilling prophecy and can never be reached. When we chase greatness, we are often actually chasing perfection, which is impossible. However, when you enable greatness in others, you get to help others on their journey and to show them their true potential and in return, you get the pleasure of helping achieve goals without the stress you would put on yourself.
When asked about a defining moment in her life, she explained how it was actually a failure, not a success that changed her. In high school, she was an A+ student that had never gotten below 96%. She was awarded a full-ride scholarship to Duke University and was planning on becoming a doctor. However, when she got to Duke, she was faced with difficult classes and started to struggle academically. She felt undeserving of her scholarship and like an imposter. She got so frustrated that she stopped showing up to her class, and ended up losing her scholarship. This may seem like the end of a sad story but in fact, this was what motivated her to persevere and go on to graduate from Duke.
As the conversation came to a close, Professor Siang shared with APH an invaluable lesson from Martin Luther, “We are not yet whom we shall become”.