Owen Ullmann is the executive editor at the International Economy Magazine and has worked as a journalist for various publications including USA Today, Business Week and the Associated Press.
Below, Owen shares 5 key insights from his new book, Empathy Economics: Janet Yellen’s Remarkable Rise to Power and Her Drive to Spread Prosperity to All. Listen to the audio version—read by Owen himself—in the Next Big Idea App.
1. Janet Yellin’s life began with excellence.
From her early childhood growing up in Brooklyn as part of the first wave of post-World War II Baby Boomers, Yellen was driven to achieve perfection. It was a goal drilled into her by a loving but demanding mother. Her mother, Ruth, was an elementary school teacher who quit her job to raise Janet and her older brother, John. Ruth insisted that her children get all A’s in school, that they speak with proper diction, dress well, aspire to professional careers, and learn about the wider-world on the international cruises during family summer vacations.
Ruth stressed the importance of being organized and prepared, both character traits that Yellen famously and faithfully observes. Aides joke that Yellen always insists on getting to the airport two hours early and she is known to refine and rehearse her speeches for hours on end. Yellen, now 76, is truly her mother’s daughter. In every job, she has strived to do her best with determination and gusto. That’s why she has succeeded in the most demanding posts.
No one is perfect, of course, as Yellen well knows. When she has fallen short or failed at something, as has occurred throughout her career, she readily admits it without excuse. In a recent interview on CNN, she conceded she was wrong in predicting that …