Be a Sponge: Dr. Bose's TALE OF TWO STUDENTS | Darren LaCroix

Be a Sponge: Dr. Bose’s TALE OF TWO STUDENTS

By Darren LaCroix | Master Public Speaking

It was just another employee meeting at Bose. They made 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, was going to be speaking at the meeting. This was unusual and a little exciting. At the time he was also still a professor at MIT.

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. That company, however, still had an agreement with MIT that they still had to honor to give the students an internship.

They did give both of the students the same job. Both of these MIT engineering students jobs required them to stand at the end of a conveyor belt lined with microprocessors. All day long, as the microprocessors came to them 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 it 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 in the room and explained the situation as well. They said that 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 I take the bad microprocessors and a few tools and dissect them and study them?” His boss agreed. The student took the bad processors back to their apartment and studied them for hours. Then the student excitedly said, “Dr. Bose, I learned so much, even more than I had last semester at MIT.”

Dr. Bose when on to say, “I don’t know what ever 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. Both brilliant. The difference was mindset. We bring our mindset with us to every class we take, every book we read and every situation we are in. It’s not the class, the book or the situation as much as our mindset towards each of them.

I tell that 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. I hope that it inspires you to think deeper and find the lessons that are beneath the surface.

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Darren LaCroix, AS, CSP
World Champion of Public Speaking

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