Speaking at the Vietnam Education Foundation conference on the introverted leader last week I decided to take in a few sessions. I settled back into my seat in the large auditorium, not sure if I would be bored or intrigued. Sir Harold Kroto, a Chemistry prof at Florida State University and winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry invited the audience of 200 plus engineering, science and technology graduate students into his brilliant mind.
Dr. Kroto blew every stereotype I had about boring nerds. With several other scientists he built on the work of Buckminster Fuller to discover certain carbon molecules. He wove in art, poetry, and even sports to demonstrate the connections in all of life. Sir Harold told us that he never set out to win a Nobel Prize and seemed slightly bemused in describing this accomplishment. It was obvious in his description of his many projects that he loves life and squeezes it like a sponge. What he did do was continue to work on things that interested him (at the age of 73 he is now pursuing another early love – graphic design). And his advice to the students? Do work that you enjoy. Many students converged on him after his speech. I would not be surprised if we hear about a future Nobel Prize winner coming from Vietnam; someone who, like all of us was moved by the genious and passion of this man.