Be sure to catch this Q&A between Marvin Olasky, editor-in-chief of World Magazine, and Arthur Brooks, the president of AEI. Throughout the interview, Olasky and Brooks discuss the meaning of “earned success,” an atypical path to a think tank presidency and more.
Arthur Brooks is the president of the American Enterprise Institute, one of Washington’s leading think tanks. His books include The Battle (WORLD’s Book of the Year in 2010) and this year’s The Road to Freedom. Before pursuing an academic career he played the French horn in major orchestras.
How many French hornists have become presidents of the American Enterprise Institute? One. What are the similarities between playing the French horn and being president of AEI? Creativity … the working out of ideas that are of interest to other people … and the privilege of having audiences enjoy your work. The only barriers in front of you are those put in place by your own imagination. Why did you decide to move from a prestigious orchestra position to academic work? Things were going well … and I wasn’t happy. What I wanted to be was an economist. I wanted to do that analysis of how the gears turn in society. I hadn’t even gone to college, so at 28 I had to go to college and get a graduate degree. When you told your dad about your new plan, what did he say? I said, “Dad, I want to become an economist.” After a silence he said, “Why would you want to do that? You’re at the top of your career.” I said, “Because I’m not happy.” He said, “What makes you so special?”
Read the rest of the interview at World.