Seidman speaks on ‘hows’ of interpersonal behavior

Attitudes toward corporate decision-making have dramatically shifted in the last 20 years. Dov Seidman believes that although the 1990s echoed a “just do it” employee mentality, millenium work environments are more focused on the details, with the journey of getting to an end being as important as the end itself.

Seidman is the Week Three Contemporary Issues Forum speaker for the Chautauqua Women’s Club and will present at 3 p.m. Saturday in the Hall of Philosophy. His talk will be titled “HOW: Why HOW We Do Anything Means Everything.”

Seidman is the CEO and founder of LRN, a company that partners with public, private, local and international businesses to help create principled performances among employees. In other words, LRN is in the “corporate character business.”

“Our focus is helping companies,” Seidman said. “How they’re governed, how they’re led and how they foster a corporate culture.”

Seidman hopes to trace the changing way companies must conduct their business in this “interdependent world.” Specifically, he will focus on what he refers to as the “hows” of behavior: how we communicate, relate to and lead one another and the implications of such in a corporate climate.

“It’s not just that behavior matters more than ever,” Seidman said. “It’s now the source of our ability to thrive, to win and achieve what we want to achieve.”

Seidman envisions himself as more academic than businessperson, “a moral philosopher who wears a suit” — he studied law and philosophy for seven years, earning a bachelor’s and master’s in moral philosophy and graduating from Harvard Law School before founding LRN in 1994. Seidman’s philosophical roots transcend his company; he describes LRN as a “mission with a business,” rather than the reverse.

LRN has worked with companies in more than 100 different countries and counts offices in Los Angeles, London, Mumbai and New York City, where Seidman is currently based. Although each partner company is varied in location and size, LRN’s goal for each is the same: to educate its employees.

Seidman was named one of “The Top 60 Global Thinkers of the Last Decade” by The Economic Times. But Seidman’s path to success was riddled with hurdles. He grew up coping with dyslexia, “didn’t break 1,000 on the SAT” and, consequently — by the time he began college — was in a remedial English class.

“I really pushed myself academically, but that came later in life,” Seidman said.

Seidman’s book How: Why How We Do Anything Means Everything was expanded in 2011 to include a foreword by former President Bill Clinton. It will be available for free to the first 600 audience members at the lecture.

Though this is Seidman’s first visit to Chautauqua, he said the Institution’s ethos is in line with his own view on education.

“I speak a lot about journeys,” Seidman said, “and there is nothing more of a journey than learning.”