Dartmouth Leaders on Life and Leadership

Here are a few favorite observations about leadership gathered from alumni answering The Call to Lead.

A collage of leadership series ads
Mindy Kaling 01

“Root for yourself and root for those around you too. Because success isn't a zero-sum game.”

You have to have insane confidence in yourself, even if it’s not real. You need to be your own cheerleader now. So, I’m giving you permission to root for yourself.

Mindy Kaling ’01 H’18
Television Actor, Producer, and Writer

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Elyse Allan ’79 Tu’84 P’14

“Your values define you as a leader in an ambiguous world.”

As a leader in a world filled with uncertainty, you need confidence and you need to know your values.

Elyse Allan ’79 TU’84
Former Vice President of General Electric and President and CEO of GE Canada

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John Rich 80

“We are finally talking about racism as a problem worth solving.”

Leading educational institutions such as Dartmouth can help effect positive change.

John Rich ’80 H’07
Physician and MacArthur Fellow

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Geeta Anand 89

“Disinformation is the biggest threat to democracy. Journalism has never been more important.”

I see a lot of hope. Many people across the country are realizing just how important journalism is to their communities. 

Geeta Anand ’89
Journalist and Dean of the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism

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Geoff Ralston 82

“Sometimes you need to push yourself and take chances.”

Leadership is being able to listen, to incorporate others’ ideas, and to lead by example. It’s not about imposing authority. It’s about what we can achieve when we work together.

Geoff Ralston ’82
President of Y Combinator

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Shonda Rhimes

“Become a leader that makes room for the idea. Great ideas can come from anywhere.”

The thing that probably surprised me the most is how much work being a good leader requires. You hear people say, “Oh, they're a natural leader.”  That’s a nice idea, but one that also takes away the assumption that there's work and dedication involved.  

Shonda Rhimes ’91 H’14
Television Producer, Writer, and Creator

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Austin Beutner ’82

“Trust is earned by the work you do, not the words you say.”

I wasn’t a club president or team captain at Dartmouth. But leadership is also about having the humility to know there’s probably someone in the room smarter than you, listening to others, applying critical thinking to understand issues, and collaborating to solve problems.

Austin Beutner ’82
Former Superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District 

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Bianca Smith 12

“A leader is the one who brings out the best in everybody on their team.”

True leadership involves the ability to see where everybody provides value, so it’s a cohesive unit, rather than just one person trying to run everything because that never works. 

Bianca Smith ’12
Minor League Baseball Coach

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