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New twists on old tales

When we last saw Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, he was heading the reconstruction of Indonesia’s northern Sumatra region, where the 2004 tsunami left more than 131,000 people dead and upwards of half a million homeless (“Turning the Tide,” November/December 2005).

Having concluded that cabinet-level mission, Kuntoro, MS ’77, has been given another by Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, elected to a second term last July. This time, Kuntoro is charged with expediting the whole country’s infrastructure and development, as well as its bureaucratic procedures, as head of the Presidential Working Task Force on Development Supervision and Control.

Psychology professor Carol Dweck has spent her career figuring out why some people give up in the face of failure while others are motivated to learn from their mistakes and improve. It’s all about fixed mindsets versus growth mindsets (“The Effort Effect,” March/April 2007)

Now Dweck has formed Mindset Works, which “helps human beings reach their full potential.” Its signature product is Brainology, software developed by Dweck and educational researcher Lisa S. Blackwell and now available at following successful pilots in the United States and abroad. The program aims to motivate middle school and high school students to do better in all their subjects by teaching them how the brain works and how to boost their intelligence.

Tim Westergren started the online service Pandora about 10 years ago to help people find music they like, based on a database that classifies up to 400 musical attributes contributing to a particular work’s “genes.” Give Pandora the name of a song or an artist, and it’ll stream a suggested playlist to you (“Sound Advice,” Bright Ideas, September/October 2005).

In our interview, Westergren, ’88, said Pandora had catalogued songs from about 10,000 artists. By last fall, he reported having a list of more than 700,000 songs by 80,000 artists and claimed 35 million listeners and 65,000 joiners daily; he told the New York Times he expected to see profit for the first time in the last quarter of 2009.

When former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina was named to that post in 1999, many were surprised to learn that her academic background was medieval history (“Read Her Clips,” Farm Report, November/December 1999).

A year and a half later, Fiorina, ’76, gave the Commencement address and encouraged graduates to follow her lead and embrace new directions when opportunities arise and gut feelings dictate.

Now Fiorina has changed course again, heading into politics. She was a campaign adviser to Sen. John McCain in the last presidential election and announced in November that she will seek the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate seat held by Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.).

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