UPenn President Amy Gutmann on What Gives Her Energy

And the many books that changed her life.

When you have the opportunity to ask some of the most interesting people in the world about their lives, sometimes the most fascinating answers come from the simplest questions. The Thrive Questionnaire is an ongoing series that gives an intimate look inside the lives of some of the world’s most successful people.

Thrive Global: What’s the first thing you do when you get out of bed?
Amy Gutmann: Pilates workout.

TG: What gives you energy?
AG: Driving Penn forward every day with a great team, plus fun and feasts with family and friends.

TG: Name a book that changed your life.
AG: The public library — the treasure chest of the countless books I devoured as a child — changed my life.

TG: Tell us about your relationship with your phone. Does it sleep with you?
AG: Definitely NOT.

TG: How do you deal with email?
AG: I answer it asap, if it’s truly addressed to me.

TG: You unexpectedly find 15 minutes in your day, what do you do with it?
AG: Take a brisk walk outside or (if it’s raining) pick up reading my latest favorite book where I last left off.

TG: Share a quote that you love and that gives you strength or peace.
AG: I have two:

“The doors of wisdom are never shut.” — Benjamin Franklin (who, among his many achievements, founded the University of Pennsylvania)

From the Talmud: “Save a person, save the world.”

University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann is a prominent advocate for increased access to higher education, for innovation based on interdisciplinary collaboration, and for the transformative impact of universities, locally, nationally and globally. She served as Chair of President Barack Obama’s Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues from 2009–2016, and is the author most recently of Spirit of Compromise: Why Governing Demands It and Campaigning Undermines It.