Professor, podcaster and author, Dr. David Burkus ’12, is the newest inductee in Regent University’s School of Business and Leadership’s (SBL) Alumni Hall of Distinction. He greeted the outgoing Class of 2016 at a May commissioning service, encouraging them to go out into the world and make a difference with their new knowledge. As a professor, podcaster and author, it’s something he’s been doing since he left Regent.
“My goal was to tell them there’s a much bigger task to do,” said Burkus. “You can get comfortable in your habits, especially as a student, because you can dream big while you’re still studying, but do not have to deal with hustling and going to live your dream. You still have time, and you’re not finished yet. It’s just something you want to do later when you finish. A lot of my remarks, in that regard, were, you’re done. It’s time. Go join your alumni cohort, and let’s all go change the world.”
Burkus, author of The Myths of Creativity: The Truth About How Innovative Companies Generate Great Ideas, and Under New Management, and creator of podcast Radio Free Leader, which shares insights on leadership, inovation and strategy, found Regent’s DSL program attractive.
“My career as a professor, writer and speaker is about bridging gaps,” said Burkus. “I was attracted to the DSL program and Regent as a whole, because I think it bridges the gap between the research and great ideas on leadership and the actual practical application. The biggest thing I took away was how to do that, not just how to understand the research, but how to understand it in a way that you can give it to people who need it to apply.”
The application of such research, Burkus says, creates a trained expertise that the organizational and business world needs. He says the advice he learned in the DSL program was empirical and evidence-based, and he had a fun time translating it from English to academic and back. It’s a mission he continues as he reviews cutting-edge research, and repackages its findings to be applicable to his audience. He recently hosted a TEDx Talk where he challenged the notion, with research, that employees ought to keep their salaries secret.
“It’s an example of what the research on human behavior and equity in the workplace says, and yet our commonsense and intuition is the exact opposite,” said Burkus. “I think that’s what we need more of, to put tools like that in the hands of leaders. Maybe the opposite of what you think is a better way forward. As a Christian, it’s something I’m used to talking about since Christianity is the same way. Maybe the opposite of your natural inclination is acutally the right thing to do.”
At the end of his book, They Myths of Creativity, Burkus discusses the mousetrap myth. It’s the idea that, if you build a better mousetrap, the world is going to immediately see it as an amazing, new idea and readily adopt it. Burkus says research shows the opposite, that the world will beat you down, and if you’re lucky, just ignore your mousetrap.
“The world desperately needs good ideas, but a lot of times they don’t know how to recognize the ideas they need,” said Burkus. “In that there’s encouragement, because if you go out there and are trying to do amazing things, and you feel like it’s not working, that’s ok. That’s what everyone else has always experienced. Walt Disney got turned down for a loan for Disney Land 300 plus times, so it’s totally fine.”
Burkus enjoyed visiting Regent for the Class of 2016’s Commissioning and appreciated the chance to reunite with his professors who gave him a thirst for knowledge.