How Yo-Yo Ma Sustains His Creative Energy
In this episode of Re:Thinking with Adam Grant, Adam speaks with renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma about his experience with burnout, how he sustains his energy and creativity, and what it means for music to connect—and celebrate—humanity.
Adam Grant is an organizational psychologist who studies work motivation, job design, and prosocial and proactive behaviors. His research examines the forces that motivate employees to help others, and the implications of these behaviors for success and well-being. Although many employees do work that has a meaningful impact on others, all too often, they lack a vivid understanding of how their efforts make a difference. Grant’s studies demonstrate that employees work harder, smarter, longer, more generously, and more productively when they can see how their work affects others. He is the author, most recently, of Think Again among others.
Yo-Yo Ma is world-renowned award-winning cellist. His discography of more than 120 albums (including 19 Grammy Award winners) ranges from iconic renditions of the Western classical canon to recordings that defy categorization. He has received numerous awards, including the Avery Fisher Prize (1978), the National Medal of the Arts (2001), the Presidential Medal of Freedom (2010), Kennedy Center Honors (2011), the Polar Music Prize (2012), and the Birgit Nilsson Prize (2022). He has performed for nine American presidents, most recently on the occasion of President Biden’s inauguration. Among his many roles, Yo-Yo is a United Nations Messenger of Peace, the first artist ever appointed to the World Economic Forum’s board of trustees, and a member of the board of Nia Tero, the US-based nonprofit working in solidarity with Indigenous peoples and movements worldwide. Whether performing new or familiar works for cello, bringing communities together to explore culture’s role in society, or engaging unexpected musical forms, Yo-Yo strives to foster connections that stimulate the imagination and reinforce our humanity.