CHAPTER: DR. BOSE; THE TWO MIT STUDENTS
It was just another Direct Marketing Group, “Good News” team meeting at Bose. They did make them fun and interesting, and it was a welcome relief from being on the phones all day. I had heard that Dr. Amar Bose, the founder of Bose, would be speaking at the meeting. This was unusual and, I must admit, exciting. At the time, he was also still a professor at MIT.
Here is how I remember it. Dr. Bose began telling us the story of two of his students. One summer, two students were placed in an internship at a large company in the south. Both were smart and good students. The company that they would be interning for had lost a large government contract. The project they were supposed to be working on during their internship went away. However, that company still had an agreement with MIT that they still had to honor giving the students an internship.
They did give both of the students the same job. Both MIT engineering students’ jobs required them to stand at the end of a conveyor belt lined with microprocessors. As the microprocessors came to them all day long, they were to take each one off the belt and place it on a tester. The tester would then light up either red or green. If it was green, it was good and went in one basket. If the light turned red, it went into a different basket for the rejected ones. Not an exciting job for MIT engineering students hoping to gain more insights to prepare them for the engineering job market.
Dr. Bose understood the situation, but as part of the MIT internship program, he needed to fly down and interview the students about what they were learning. Dr. Bose had separate meetings with each of the students. The first one came into the meeting room and was visibly enraged. He described the mundane job and ranted, “All day long! Dr. Bose, this is ridiculous! You’ve got to do something.” Dr. Bose listened.
The second student came into the room and explained the situation as well. He said they were obviously frustrated, but then a few days into the job, they had an idea. The student said they went to the supervisor and asked, “Could we take the bad microprocessors and a few tools and dissect them and study them?” Their boss agreed. The students took the bad processors back to their apartment and studied them for hours. Then the student excitedly said, “Dr. Bose, I learned so much more than I have at last semester at MIT.”
Dr. Bose when on to say, “I don’t know whatever happened to those two students, but I’m pretty sure which way their careers went.” As Dr. Bose said this, he pointed each arm in different directions, one upward and one downwards.
What was the difference? Same students, same situation, and both brilliant. The difference was the mindset. We bring our mindset to every class we take, every book we read, and every situation we face. It’s not the class, the book, or the situation as much as our mindset towards each of them.
I tell you the story with permission from Dr. Bose. It stuck with me. I hope it not only sticks with you, but you check in with yourself when you are learning something new and find the learning that others don’t see. That it inspires you to think deeper and find the lessons that are beneath the surface. Which student have you been? Which student will you be?
What is the Underdog Principle?
- It is not just the situation–it is your mindset about it
- There are always lessons to be learned if you dig deep
- Great teachers from any industry share some universal truths that we can apply to what we do and dream of.
What do you take from this?