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A Harvard Dean's 5 Essential Questions for Success

Posted: April 21, 2017
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Wait, What? And Life’s Other Essential Questions by James E. Ryan, a unique compilation of help and inspiration, is now a New York Times best selling book.

In his commencement address to the graduating class of 2016, James E. Ryan, dean of the Harvard University Graduate School of Education, offered some surprising advice to the crowd of hopeful men and women eager to make their mark on the world. The key to achieving success and happiness, he told them, can be found in five essential questions. His wildly popular and universally praised graduation speech was posted online, and has since been viewed over eight million times. You can watch it here:
and watch the interview Dean Ryan did with CBS This Morning here:

Wait, What? And Life’s Other Essential Questions (ISBN #9780062664570; $19.99) which Dean Ryan wrote to offer further insights into the art of asking good questions, is available now. In this thoughtful, illuminating book, Ryan builds on his remarks — highlighted by hilarious and surprising anecdotes from his life, as well as stories from politics, social movements, and popular culture. This inspiring book is guaranteed to change the way we all think about questions.

1. Wait, what? is at the root of all understanding.
2. I wonder . . . ? is at the heart of all curiosity.
3. Couldn’t we at least? is the beginning of all progress.
4. How can I help? is the basis of all good relationships.
5. What truly matters? gets you to the heart of life.

By regularly asking these questions and listening to the answers, Ryan promises, you will be in a good position to answer what he calls the “bonus” question, which is ultimately the most important question any of us will face: “And did you get what you wanted out of life, even so?”

James E. Ryan is the eleventh dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Before joining Harvard, Ryan was the Matheson & Morgenthau Distinguished Professor at the University of Virginia School of Law, where he founded the school’s Program in Law and Public Service. Ryan is the author of the nonfiction work Five Miles Away, A World Apart. He graduated summa cum laude from Yale University and first in his class from the University of Virginia Law School. A former clerk for Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, as well as a former rugby player, Ryan has argued before the United States Supreme Court. He and his wife Katie live in Lincoln, Massachusetts with four kids, two dogs, two cats, and nine chickens.

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