What knowledge is useful?
Professor John Quelch on Ted Levitt
A year or two later, when I was a little bit more mature in the doctoral program, I was invited by Ted to come and talk to him about my research agenda. And, of course, this was in the run-up to developing a thesis topic. Went in and talked to Ted for roundabout five or ten minutes laying out my research plan. And I noticed that he was not offering too much by way of positive, nonverbal feedback. And at the end of my dissertation, as it were, he looked up and he said, “Forget it. Come back next week with something important.”
And I was, of course, flabbergasted, but nevertheless took the feedback on the chin, and went away. And the following week I came back with something important. [Laughs] And it was a very, very good lesson. And one of Ted’s mantras, as you know, was, “You should always work on important problems that are important to important people, and leave everything else for the other guy.