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Think calmly, think fast

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in Leaders & Managers,Leadership Skills

Early on, John Woolard decided to make energy conservation turn a profit.

By his early 20s, he was asking himself: “What do you do with your life? How do you make it meaningful?”

Several experiences shaped his course. As a kid, he earned money to buy kayaks and transport them. He missed his goal of making the U.S. national team in whitewater kayak slalom, and worked as a river guide on the Zambezi.

By his early 30s, Woolard had co-founded an energy-efficiency software firm, Silicon Energy, sold six years later for $71 million. Next he became president and CEO of BrightSource Energy, a solar facility in the Mojave Desert that is about to become the world’s largest solar-­concentrating plant, lighting up more than 100,000 California homes.

How did Woolard go from the river to the desert? He credits his early camp counselors—kayak champions who taught him clearheadedness and perseverance.

— Adapted from “Electrify the Elements: Sun,” David Ferris, Sierra.

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