Sheena S. Iyengar is the inaugural S.T. Lee Professor of Business in the Management Division at Columbia Business School and the Faculty Director of the Eugene Lang Entrepreneurship Center. Dr. Iyengar’s is a world renowned expert on the subject of choice. Her research explores the factors of good and bad decision making, and what we need to do to choose better. Through pointed research studies, she looks at the relationship between how we choose and who we are, why we are so often disappointed by our choices, and the level of control we have over our everyday decisions. She has examined the freedom to choose in a multitude of contexts ranging from employee motivation and performance at Citigroup, to chocolate displays at Godiva. In her 2010 best-selling book The Art of Choosing, she takes readers on a journey, forcing them to challenge the choices they make—and why.
Her insights are invaluable not only to businesses looking to improve strategy, leadership and customer relations, but to every individual trying to make positive and lasting changes to his or her life. In both her book and her keynotes and workshops, Professor Iyengar discusses how her own life circumstances drew her to study the power of choice. “I always knew I would have to think carefully about what I wanted to do in life. I understood that not all the choices in the world would be available to me so I had to figure out what choices there were, what choices I could create, and what would be the domain of which I would try to add value.”
Who is a model decision maker?
After two decades of studying choice and the mysteries that lie within Dr. Iyengar conditions her answer by saying no one is the perfect decision maker across the board, then answers, “Warren buffet is someone people can really learn from. He’s somebody who has enormous expertise on how to choose and make investment choices. However, what’s remarkable about him is not the choices he’s made, but the choices he’s decided not to make. During the Dotcom boom, he acknowledged his limitations and chose not to invest in something he didn’t understand. That shows wisdom.”
Through this deductive reasoning, Iyengar was led to teach. She says that, “I love ideas. I love communicating to other people. I also enjoy learning about other people and from other people. Teaching is all of that.”
In her keynotes, speeches, classes and workshops she explores three main aspects of choice, combining them based on the interests and needs of the audience. In particular, she can help you Lead by Choice by revealing what effective leaders need to know about choice and showing you how to choose your way to success.
More about Sheena Iyengar:
Although her accomplishments are impressive, what’s more inspiring is how this 41-year-old professor was drawn to the art of choosing in the first place. At the age of 3, she was struck with a disease called retinitis. “Although I had some vision when I was born, I was legally blind. By the time I was 9, I lost the ability to read. Then, somewhere between 15 and 16, I was down to the point where I had only light perception.”
Despite the difficulties posed by her blindness, Iyengar pursued higher education. In 1992, she graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a B.S. in economics from the Wharton School and a B.A. in psychology with a minor in English from the College of Arts and Sciences. She then earned her Ph.D. in social psychology from Stanford University in 1997. The following year, her dissertation “Choice and its Discontents” received the prestigious Best Dissertation Award for 1998 from the Society of Experimental Social Psychology.
Iyengar points to her research as another reason she loves her profession. “No matter what idea you’re interested in, you can follow your curiosity and pursue it. In my case, I’ve dedicated my career to understanding the positives and negatives of choice, and the ways people can balance them to get the most from their decision making.”